Urban Meyer Has Coasted on the Reputations of His Former Players

Urban Meyer is a brilliant football coach. He’s also a terrible person who has depended on his well-placed former players in the media to hide just how terrible he is.

Kimberly Joyner
5 min readOct 5, 2021
Credit: Screenshot from unknown IG account reposted by the Twitter account @Juicewag

Last Saturday a video clip surfaced on Twitter that appeared to show Jacksonville Jaguars head coach Urban Meyer receiving a lap dance by an unknown woman at a bar. At the time, it was unclear when or where the video had been filmed; but based on social media posts from Meyer’s wife, Shelley Meyer, and others it seemed the video had been filmed during a birthday party Meyer attended while in Ohio on Saturday night.

Until a Monday morning press conference, no one in the Jaguars organization, the Meyer family, or even the big sports cable news outlets had commented on the video clip. According to ESPN, when Meyer was asked about the video during the Monday press conference, he claimed that he apologized to his team and staff for “being a distraction.” But at no point during the press conference did he acknowledge that his behavior as a married man and leader of young men was wrong. In fact, he blamed party attendees for “pull[ing] me out on the dance floor.”

The lack of moral reflection on Meyer’s part should not come as a surprise, though. For nearly two decades Meyer has been a brilliant football coach and a terrible person who has depended on his well-placed former players in the media to hide just how terrible he is.

To be sure, after 35 years of marriage, it would not be unusual for a couple like the Meyers to have an understanding— a little flirting, a kiss, or bodily touching might not cross the line into infidelity they’ve established for each other. But the Meyers, particularly Shelley, have built their public brands on being Christian, and Urban has attached himself at the hip to the most famous outspoken Christian in the sports world, Tim Tebow. If anyone believes that what Urban Meyer did was wrong, it should be Urban Meyer.

Meyer is also very close friends with former Ohio State and Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Cris Carter. Carter, now a sports podcast host, regularly posts Bible verses to his Twitter account. Although he has remained mostly silent on Meyer’s return to coaching this year, Carter was one of Meyer’s biggest supporters during his scandal-plagued final months at Ohio State and his subsequent resignation from the football program in December 2018. While he was co-host of the FS1 show First Things First, Carter delivered an impassioned defense of Meyer’s stated reason for stepping down from the Ohio State job — his health — claiming at one point that he feared coaching might literally kill his good friend.

Nearly three years later, Meyer is back coaching under the extreme pressures of the NFL. And if recent reporting is any indication, he’s not much better a leader in the pros than he was at Florida or Ohio State. A CBS exposé published last month revealed chaos and low staff morale inside the Jaguars organization, in part because Meyer has created divisions among the staff with his temper and inexperience with managing an NFL schedule. He has also alienated players by defending his decision to hire Chris Doyle, a former strength and conditioning coach at Iowa who had been accused of racism and bullying during his Iowa days. Doyle immediately resigned from the Jaguars following the backlash to his hiring.

Today’s reports of a toxic workplace under Meyer align with the stories heard around the Florida program under his watch. Back then Meyer was alleged to have played favorites among the players, covered up player drug use, and misreported players’ medical injuries in order to land new recruits.

This is who Urban Meyer is. As so long as he’s been a head coach somewhere, it’s who he has always been. His success on the field — three national championships at two different college football programs— has no doubt afforded him second chance after second chance in his career. But he’s also got a cadre of enablers in the media who lean on their born-again Christian brands to justify giving Meyer another shot to self-destruct. And another program to run aground.

The night her husband was caught with another woman gyrating on his crotch, Shelley Meyer appeared to react on Twitter by retweeting a photo posted by one of the men in attendance at the party. “Meanwhile, I am babysitting,” she wrote, followed by the hashtag “#BuddyDeservedANightOut.” According to photos from his Twitter page, the man Meyer retweeted, Brian Schottenstein, is a real estate developer and Ohio State booster who is friends with former President Donald Trump.

Running in the same circles as Trump loyalists, the Meyers are no doubt familiar with how the cult of Christian enablers works. Despite decades of allegations of sexual assault and misconduct — and admitting to it on tape — former President Trump built a right-wing movement whose most devoted members identify as white evangelicals. Like Donald Trump, Urban Meyer coasts on the reputations of his Christian enablers. If prompted, Tim Tebow will surely come to Meyer’s defense, just as he has when others have questioned if Meyer will stay the course in Jacksonville amid a losing record and organizational turmoil.

That’s because the religious right are foremost committed to securing power and will enable anyone who gives them access to more of it. Tebow and Carter aren’t just former players enamored with their former coach. They are men who crave the institutional power he wields both as a current NFL coach and as a legend in the sport. Tebow found this out when he got to tryout with Meyer’s new squad as a tight end despite having no prior experience in that position.

Tebow was eventually cut from the squad, but this won’t be the last time he needs a favor from Meyer. And right now, Meyer could probably cash in a few favors of his own.



Kimberly Joyner

I write about American politics, current events, and gender/feminism in TV and film. Based in Atlanta, GA. Email: kimberlyjoyner87@gmail.com