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Wed, June 19

COLUMN: Tim Tebow signed with the New York Mets, so what’s all the fuss about?
"On the Ball"

Tim Tebow’s recent career venture from analyst to baseball player has generated so much ire from those involved in the baseball world and beyond, it makes me think: What’s all the fuss about?

Should athletes discontinue their desire to compete at the highest level, to commit to something greater than themselves and just fall in line with the masses?

When did an American man suddenly need permission from every person under the sun who holds a job writing about sports, talking about sports, playing sports or possesses a social media account, to strive for something no one’s ever done, or dared to attempt?

It took ESPN senior writer Jayson Stark all of 10 minutes and a cup of coffee to say Tebow would never be a major leaguer, and listed the reasons why.

Forbes contributing writer Ben Berkon called Tebow’s dream a “long shot,” all while explaining a career in the NFL didn’t work out, so why would baseball?

Fox Sports columnist Dieter Kartenbach accused Tebow of not taking baseball “seriously” because he plans to stay on with ESPN while pursuing a baseball life with the New York Mets.

His baseball peers already don’t respect him, because the Mets gave a guy who hasn’t played since high school a $100,000 contract to head to Port St. Lucie, Florida, and begin with the fall instructional league on Sept. 19.

Resentment from current minor league players is already beginning to fester, especially since many of them haven’t made that much in five-plus years playing baseball.

Current Mets’ outfielder Jay Bruce was recently asked about Tebow, and quoted by ESPN writer Adam Rubin as saying, “I don’t particularly care. Nothing against or for him. He’s become a number at this point.”

If there’s someone out there that wants to give him a chance, why shouldn’t Tebow take it? If he fails, he fails. But what if he succeeds?

And please, stop comparing Tebow to Michael Jordan. Jordan was the best basketball player on the planet when he walked away from the game to go play for Terry Francona and the Birmingham Barons. I don’t think anyone’s confusing Tebow with being the best NFL player out there, are they?

MY TAKE

First and foremost, let’s get it out of the way that I’ve always respected Tebow. I enjoyed watching him lead the Florida Gators to two national championships, and win a Heisman Trophy along the way.

He was one of the greatest college football players to ever set foot on a field, and despite what anyone thinks, they can never take that away from him.

I lauded the Denver Broncos for picking him 25th overall in the 2010 NFL Draft. Did I honestly think he’d be a great NFL quarterback? Of course not. But a career backup, a leader, a guy that could maybe play another position for the good of the team? Yes. He eventually led Denver to a playoff win over the Pittsburgh Steelers in 2011, the first Bronco playoff win since John Elway was quarterback.

Tebow went 8-6 as a starter in the NFL, and I never felt he was given a chance. Yes the New York Jets, New England Patriots and Philadelphia Eagles signed him to try out, but it was always as a “gimmick” player in a league that eats “gimmick” players for breakfast.

Despite efforts by numerous coaches and trainers to change his throwing motion, to change how he played the game of football (all of which a self-sacrificing Tebow went along with by the way) while most would have given the proverbial finger, did anyone ever think, “He’s gotten this far on his talent, why not let him improve on it instead of tearing it down because he doesn’t fit the mold of what an NFL quarterback should be?”

Because nobody ever made it by being unconventional...ah-hem...Cam Newton?

Unfortunately, it’s now baseball’s turn to tear him down, chew him up, spit him out and say he’s no good. Well, if Tebow was sitting next to me right now, I’d say the heck with that, go get em!

Who cares what people think? Be the best you can be. I don’t care that you haven’t played since high school. You obviously showed some talent at the open tryout in front of 29 teams, or they wouldn’t have signed you.

Whether he succeeds or not, Tebow is teaching all of those youngsters out there to believe in themselves, and to make their dreams come true. And for someone that has two young children himself, I admire that. Will Tebow ever crack a Major League roster? Probably not, but at least he’ll know in his heart he tried. And folks, to any man or woman chasing a dream, that’s all that matters.

Brian M. Bergner Jr. is a sports writer and columnist for The Daily Courier. Follow him on Twitter, Instagram, Periscope and SoundCloud at @SportsWriter52, or on Facebook at @SportsAboveTheFold. Reach him by phone at 928-445-3333, ext. 1106.

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