May 21, 2021
ESPN sports commentator Stephen A. Smith claimed Thursday that “white privilege” is the primary reason that former Heisman Trophy winner Tim Tebow has been given another opportunity to make it in the National Football League.
“If I’m gonna bring up white privilege when I brought up Steve Nash getting the job in Brooklyn, is this not an example of white privilege?” Smith said on ESPN’s “First Take” before asking, “What brother do you know that’s getting this opportunity?”
“Now that makes people uncomfortable because we’re talking about race,” Smith continued. “Let me be the first to say, I don’t give a damn how you feel. I mean what I say. It is white privilege.”
Tebow, an outspoken evangelical Christian and former NFL quarterback, signed a one-year deal with the Jacksonville Jaguars this week in a bid to make the team at the tight end position. Tebow’s former college coach at the University of Florida, Urban Meyer, is now the head coach of the Jaguars.
First Take reacts to the Jaguars officially signing Tim Tebow as a tight end
Meyer has previously defended his team’s decision to give Tebow a tryout earlier this month by claiming his former player was in the “best shape of his life” and a “competitive maniac.”
In a statement expressing gratitude to the Jaguars for the opportunity, Tebow said, “I want to thank the Jaguars for the opportunity to compete and earn the chance to be part of this team. I know it will be a challenge, but it is a challenge I embrace. I am dedicated to taking the direction of our coaching staff and learning from my teammates. I appreciate everyone’s support as I embark on this new journey.”
The 33-year-old athlete last played in the NFL in 2015. He was drafted in 2010 by the Denver Broncos, where he primarily served as a backup over two seasons. However, in 2011, he became the starting QB in Week 5 and led the Broncos to the playoffs where they won their Wild Card game matchup against the Pittsburgh Steelers.
His career fizzled in the following years as it became apparent he wasn’t talented enough to play QB at the professional level.
During the segment on ESPN, Smith said he was happy for Tebow as a person but argued that similar opportunities would never be given to black athletes, such as Colin Kaepernick. He also linked his reaction to the black community’s reaction to George Floyd’s death last year.
“Because black people have repeatedly felt like we have the proverbial knee on our neck,” he said. “We constantly have to scratch and claw our way. When we see someone of a different ilk, of a different ethnicity, getting opportunities we know we would never get, that’s where the words ‘white privilege’ comes from.”