By Laura Amato
It’s “Tebow Time” for the Mets—or least for the Mets’ developmental league.
The team announced it signed Tim Tebow—the former Heisman winner and NFL player—to a minor league contract last week and the 29-year-old is set to report to the Mets’ instructional league Sunday.
“I just get to go pursue my passion, do what I love,” Tebow said in a release by the team. “I get to pursue this awesome game of baseball. I’ll give everything I have to it.”
Of course, the move comes as a bit of a surprise to the sports-watching world.
Tebow first announced his intention to give baseball a try earlier this summer and his on-field practice sessions at the University of Southern California drew media hordes. But he’s far from guaranteed a spot on the Mets’ roster.
In fact, Tebow may need to overcome even bigger odds with this latest venture than any he faced on the gridiron.
The instructional league is typically used for younger players to fine tune their game during the offseason and Tebow is far older than just about all of his prospective teammates.
If everything goes well, Tebow could advance to the Arizona Fall League and winter ball, but the Mets aren’t making any promises—except to point out that this isn’t a publicity stunt.
“I understand this is not a typical situation,” Mets general manager Sandy Alderson said in a statement. “We understand that he hasn’t been around the game for a while. We understand he’s 29 years old. We understand he’s a tremendous competitor and is going to be a tremendous—I think—role model for the players in our system. This is an opportunity to associate with excellence.”
Tebow’s road back to baseball has been a long and winding one. He hasn’t played the sport competitively since 2005—when he was a junior in high school.
He eventually walked away from the diamond to pursue a career in football, leading Florida to two national titles and winning the 2007 Heisman Trophy Award.
Tebow was drafted by the Denver Broncos in the first round of the 2010 NFL Draft and his time in the league was chock-full of emotional moments. He led the Broncos to a dramatic overtime playoff win over the Pittsburgh Steelers and became an internet sensation for his “Tebowing” move – kneeling on the sidelines in silent prayer.
However, despite his early success, Tebow’s NFL career came to a screeching halt last year when he was cut by the Philadelphia Eagles before the season began. He hasn’t made a full-time roster since his second season in Denver.
Still, the former quarterback is certain he can find success in baseball.
“I would consider success giving everything I have,” he said. “I would consider success putting in the work, and looking back on this opportunity and this journey 10, 15, 20 years from now and saying I did everything I could to be everything I could be.”
Alderson classified Tebow as a power-hitting outfielder—he hit a home run in his August workouts—but was quick to point out that nothing is guaranteed.
For now, Tebow is just like any other player hoping to make his mark on the game.
“Aside from the age, this is a classic player-development opportunity for us,” Alderson said. “The idea that any one player has no chance to make it to the big leagues, I reject.”