Editor’s Note: At the time this article was written, Tim Tebow was unsigned. On Thursday, Sept. 7, Tebow signed a minor-league contract with the New York Mets.
It’s time for another semester of Cool or Drool. Whether you enjoy spending your weekends watching endless reruns of ESPN’s SportsCenter or prefer to delve into the latest TV obsession like Netflix’s Stranger Things, there’s no denying your fascination with the lives and actions of professional athletes. Their behavior is discussed equally, if not more frequently than Lena Dunham’s latest verbal slip. Each week in “Cool or Drool” you are asked to be athletes’ harshest critic. Feel free to judge, hate, and love the mysterious and exciting world that celebrity athletes now occupy.
With that said, we now direct our attention to former NFL quarterback Tim Tebow. He is best remembered for becoming the first college sophomore to earn the Heisman Trophy after winning the National Championship with the Florida Gators in 2007. Although his tumultuous NFL career flamed out in 2015, Tebow still seems to be at the center of much media attention.
Tebow first transitioned to a career as an analyst at ESPN and seemed to be doing well. He wrote an autobiography titled Through My Eyes, starred in his own documentary, focused on his charity, etc. He accomplished so much in his first year of retirement.
But, throughout that year, Tebow was not-so-secretly working on his fielding and batting at training sites throughout Arizona and Los Angeles. He recently announced that he hopes to make his return to professional sports, this time on the diamond.
For starters, Tebow is no stranger to baseball. At his Florida high school he was an All-State player, batting .494 before he was even a senior. At 29 years old, he is arguably in his athletic prime. Last recorded at 6 foot, 3 inches, 245 pounds, there is little doubt that Tebow is a physical specimen, one that baseball scouts certainly could not ignore.
The thing that is perhaps most important to consider, though, is that this is not Tebow’s first choice career. The NFL does not want him.
Tebow’s 2013 signing with the New England Patriots was the beginning of the end of his NFL career. The Patriots signed Tebow shortly after losing Rob Gronkowski’s sidekick, tight end Aaron Hernandez, who was indicted for murder and eventually sentenced to life in prison. At the time, there were significant suspicions that the New England coaching staff was interested in converting Tebow to a tight end or anything other than his beloved quarterback position, where the Patriots comfortably house two-time MVP Tom Brady. Although revenue skyrocketed on Tebow’s jersey sales in the offseason, he never saw a minute of playing time with the Patriots and was eventually cut by the Patriots. Many believe the coaching staff found him too stubborn.
Tebow’s stubbornness shone through once more during his time with the Philadelphia Eagles. Many well-known coaches and commentators asserted that, if Tebow wasn’t willing to switch positions, he should humbly leave the Eagles, and spend some time playing quarterback in either the Canadian Football League or Arena Football. He refused, simultaneously growing his brand in sports media without earning any significant playing time in three seasons.
The media first obsessed over Tebow’s stubbornness and ego. Then attention turned to his commitment to religion and vow to remain a virgin until marriage. His signature “tebowing” celebration became so viral that many may not even know its origin as a religious prayer. He became a household name with a fraction of the NFL career that many players have. So if you’re asking yourself why a failed NFL quarterback believes that he can play professional baseball after an 11-year hiatus from his high school career, there’s just one answer: He’s addicted to celebrity. As a player that attained so much fame at such a young age, he is not predisposed to settle for anything less.
Tebow is not going to have an MLB career. His best-case scenario is to earn a spot on a roster, make some money off the royalties from the inevitable jersey sales (to whichever petty Tebow fans would actually purchase a $150 jersey before he has seen any playing time) and eventually be cut.
This past week, Tebow held a tryout in which scouts from 28 MLB teams watched him embarrass himself. At least that is what some thought. Some of the offerings from scouts included, he “has a long way to go,” and, the tryout “was a complete waste of time. It was like watching an actor trying to portray a baseball player.”
Is it really a surprise though? In 2011, ESPN Senior Writer Tim Kurkjian wrote a piece that changed the way many baseball-hating sports fans viewed the American pastime. For his article published on June 1., “Celebrating baseball player’s athleticism,” he conducted some field research discovering that the number of baseball players that can dunk a basketball is extremely high — probably over 70 percent. But beyond all the numbers, he ventures to say that baseball players “are more well-rounded than the athletes in any of the four major sports.” That’s a pretty bold claim for a sport that allegedly has 18 minutes of action spread out over three hours. Is Tebow in way over his head here?
The evidence almost completely says that Tebow will undeniably fail — unless the goal was to get the attention of a judgmental Oberlin Review writer. However, the Atlanta Braves are reportedly considering signing him to a minor league contract. While it is unlikely that he will turn that potential contract into an MLB debut — after all the basketball GOAT Michael Jordan couldn’t — there is admittedly a chance.
Overall, this chapter in the Tebow Tales looks more like a publicity stunt than a genuine prospect. As cool as it would be to see someone tebow (verb) on a baseball diamond, we have to be skeptical and realistic. He may be a physical specimen but he is not Bo Jackson — former football star that enjoyed a short, successful stint as a power hitter in the MLB, while leading the league in strikeouts in 1989. Tebow earns himself a DROOL, for as much respect as we will nod him for putting in a year’s work towards baseball, the stench of stubbornness and self-righteousness has grown too foul not to cover our noses. We’re on to you, Tebow.