Heisman Trophy winner and former NFL quarterback Tim Tebow on Thursday agreed to terms with the Mets. As noted in this very space, Tebow, who's 29 years old and hasn't played organized baseball since high school, will report to fall instructs to work on his fledgling yet aging baseball skills. Needless to say, this is a critical and very fundamental step toward his stated goal of making the major leagues.
That, though, brings us to this interesting wrinkle in L'Affaire Teebs ...
Tebow will miss a few days each week during instructional league to continue broadcasting for ESPN and the SEC Network.— Mike Vorkunov (@Mike_Vorkunov) September 8, 2016
And here's the official word ...
Tebow initially worked for ESPN and the SEC Network as an analyst in 2014, and then he resumed his duties not long after he was released by the Philadelphia Eagles in September of last year.
Before we go any further, let me say that I have no issue with Tebow's pursuing a baseball career and no issue with the Mets signing him. Having a high-profile athlete like Tebow choose baseball is a good thing insofar as the sport's cultural prominence is concerned, and suffice it to say he won't make the majors unless the Mets deem that he's earned it and can help the organization at the highest level.
My problem is that Tebow isn't fully committing himself to this endeavor. Or, if you prefer, my problem is that the Mets didn't negotiate his full commitment to baseball. In fact, Colin Cowherd reports that the Mets were the only one of the Tebow's suitors who would allow him to continue his television career. On that point ...
So success for Tebow would be "giving it everything I have," but he's going miss time in instructs to keep working for the SEC Network. OK.— James Anderson (@RealJRAnderson) September 8, 2016
That's straight from Tebow, as you can see. If these two parties negotiated an arrangement to allow Tebow to continue his work for the SEC Network, then that's fine. However, let's not traffic in platitudes about full commitment and single-mindedness.
Signing a 29-year-old who hasn't played since his prep days is unconventional enough. Throw in the fact that Tebow has the whiff of novelty about him, and it's even riper for mockery and dismissal. You need not dig too deeply into social media to see that.
Tebow, though, could've muted some critics first by showing an unswerving dedication to his new chosen sport and second by actually clawing and learning his way to bigs. This decision to reduce significantly his time in fall instructs in order to continue analyzing football games compromises both the former and the latter. Someone too into politics might say it's "bad optics."
So when critics inevitably say that Tebow is pursuing baseball for attention or to enhance his personal brand, he can't point to a full commitment to the game as a counterpoint. It bears repeating that this is fine to the extent that the Mets and Tebow hammered out such an arrangement, but Tebow and the Mets likewise should spare us any talk of absolute dedication to his baseball career.