A Return to Tebow-mania?

By Brendan O’Connell 

Out of the NFL for several years, Tim Tebow has transitioned to baseball. (Courtesy of Wikimedia)

Out of the NFL for several years, Tim Tebow has transitioned to baseball. (Courtesy of Wikimedia)

On Sept. 19, Tim Tebow reported for duty. This time, however, he was beginning a completely new journey.

No longer was he a transcendent, Heisman-winning college football player at the University of Florida, an awe-inspiring, comeback-orchestrating NFL quarterback, a college football television analyst or a religious icon and pop culture phenomenon.

Tebow has emerged from the shadows. The New York Mets signed him to a minor-league contract following a workout he had on Aug. 30 for major league scouts, and he is attending their fall instructional league.

Despite being out of the public eye for a time and being written off by many as a failure or has-been, Tebow has resurfaced under a new guise, pursuing a different passion, yet still generating the same amazing buzz he did while throwing and running for touchdowns on the football field.

In the first day it was available, Tebow’s No. 15 jersey sold at the third-highest clip in all of baseball — unheard of for a minor-leaguer. Fans and media members wait with baited breath to catch a glimpse of Tebow at every passing turn, and everything he says or does is quoted, photographed and analyzed. He is polarizing, entertaining, invigorating and impossible to ignore, no matter how annoying or ridiculous the fanfare surrounding him becomes.

Perhaps the most famous athlete to take his talents from the gridiron to the diamond since Bo Jackson or Deion Sanders, Tebow faces a multitude of skeptics.

For one thing, Tebow has not played organized baseball since 2005 — his junior season in high school. Eleven years later, at 29 years of age, he has much to improve upon after such a long lay-off.

As was the case in the NFL, Tebow has been criticized for having a weak, inaccurate and inconsistent arm — a problem that could again prove fatal for the outfield hopeful. He lumbers around the outfield, sizing balls up awkwardly and looking awkward when making catches.

On the other hand, at six-feet three-inches tall and 260 pounds, Tebow is a monster with rare physical attributes. He runs the bases with speed and is an imposing force with the bat in his hands. Though he needs more work against live pitching, Tebow showcased tremendous power at the plate in his August workout, smacking a few blasts well over the fence.

Many scouts deemed Tebow a waste of time or a fruitless project not worth investing in, but the Mets are giving Tebow a chance, and he is thankful for that. He insists that his foray into baseball is not a publicity stunt, but rather his quest to achieve a lifelong passion.

“I’m doing it to pursue what’s in my heart and live out a dream and live life to its fullest,’’ Tebow stated in a press conference following his first day of work with the Mets.

“I’m part of the Mets family,” he later said, dismissing the idea of a return to football.

The odds are stacked against him, but Tebow’s drive and will to work hard just may lead him to the big leagues. Who knows? Maybe someday we will see him “Tebowing” in the on-deck circle at Citi Field.


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