The tight ends of the NFL are coming together for a week-long session of training, networking, tips, and ways to improve. The session, organized by George Kittle of the San Francisco 49ers and recently retired Greg Olsen, proved to be a hot ticket for the tight ends of the NFL. So much so that one tight end wasn’t invited, despite being in the news a great deal of late. Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback-turned-punt protector-turned-tight end Tim Tebow won’t be in attendance.
Kittle is one of the top tight ends in the NFL. An All-Pro in 2019, Kittle caught 85 passes in 107 targets and helped the 49ers to the Super Bowl. Injuries limited him to eight games last season, but Kittle still pulled in 48 receptions. Even in half a season, that total ranked 15th among NFL tight ends. Olsen ended his 14-year career after the 2020 season with 742 catches and 60 touchdowns.
Yeah, these guys have a clue how to play right end in the modern NFL.
Nashville gathering booked to capacity in a hurry
Dubbed Tight End University, George Kittle and Greg Olsen put the workshop together as a professional development resource for players at their position. They never expected it to take off quite the way it did. Kittle explained the logistics during an appearance with Olsen on the Pardon My Take podcast.
“We booked up an entire hotel. They’re completely out of rooms. We have every room taken. We blocked off a certain amount of rooms, so we’re completely out of rooms. We thought we were going to get like 20 guys, and the next thing I know, we have 47 confirmed as of last week, and I think we just got past 50. Just, wow, that’s a lot of guys.”George Kittle
Kittle has made the most of his career opportunity, transforming from a fifth-round pick in 2017 to a Pro Bowler in his second NFL season. He’s been the security net for 49ers quarterback Tony Garappolo, with 66% of his 221 receptions the last three seasons resulting in first downs.
Olsen, meanwhile, had three straight seasons of more than 75 catches for more than 1,000 yards for the Carolina Panthers from 2014–16. Cam Newton often used Olsen to move the chains, as Olsen made 161 first-down receptions over those three seasons. Carolina reached the Super Bowl after the 2015 season.
Why didn’t Tim Tebow receive an invitation?
Tim Tebow is a newly converted tight end who last attended an NFL training camp in 2015. As George Kittle explained during his podcast appearance, it was a matter of space.
“I wish nothing but the best for Tim Tebow, and I hope he has a fantastic season playing tight end. But it’s hard for me not to invite a backup tight end on, let’s say the New York Giants, as opposed to inviting a guy who just started playing the tight end position because we do have limited spots.
“I wish I could make it so every NFL tight end can some, (so) it’s accessible to everybody. But what we tried to do this year, we wanted to pay for everything for all the tight ends that come to kind of make it a special event for all tight ends.”George Kittle
Olsen is open to the idea of Tebow attending in the future.
“If he’s on a roster this year, and he plays tight end, we would love to have him; we would love to work with him. Once he’s officially a tight end, we would love to work with him.”Greg Olsen
There are still questions about whether Tebow can make the Jaguars roster in 2021.
Will Tim Tebow be an NFL tight end in 2021?
Tim Tebow signed with the Jaguars in May 2021 to reunite with his collegiate coach at the University of Florida, Urban Meyer. Tebow won a couple of national championships with the Gators, one as a freshman playing behind Chris Leak. But as a junior, Tebow won the Heisman Trophy en route to bringing another national crown to Florida.
He started 11 games for the Denver Broncos in 2011, taking them to the playoffs and leading them to a win in the wild card round. But he was dealt to the New York Jets in 2012 and cut the following spring after playing sparingly. He hasn’t played in an NFL game since.
Meyer won’t talk specifically about Tebow’s chances to make the roster. But he did say it’s an uphill climb, regardless of how well he gets along in the locker room.
George Kittle is one of the premier tight ends in football. If he doesn’t think Tim Tebow has the resume to merit an invitation to his event, he’s probably right.
Statistics courtesy of Pro Football Reference.