By Ernie Palladino
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If any ex-athlete deserves a shot at an alternative sports career, Tim Tebow does.
That’s why I will stand right in front of the rooting section as the former Jets quarterback tries to entice a Major League Baseball franchise to give him a job. He’s not asking for a great one. No direct ticket to the majors leagues.
Just a chance.
And why not? Once the guffaws die down over his agents’ announcement Tuesday that the Mark Sanchez’ former backup has been training the past year with the intention of inviting all 30 teams to a late-August tryout, perhaps he will prove he can actually play the game.
That would be a good thing, not because of the interest it might add to a sport looking to gain a foothold among the young, but because it would provide a bit of redemption for a guy who did nothing but show up to earn the wrath of football fans.
Tebow never really deserved to become the carnival act he did when the Jets thought it would be a good idea in 2012 to run him out there in the “Wildcat” with Sanchez when he wasn’t serving as the personal punt protector. Sanchez, now trying to make it as Denver’s starter, had enough problems without the specter of Tebow and his unique set of talents looming over him.
In the end, signing Tebow proved not only to be a disservice to Sanchez and the entire franchise, but a devastating blow to a good, God-fearing man.
True to his nature, Tebow handled it all with aplomb, even as opponents stuffed his runs and kept him out of the end zone. The chaotic coverage of training camp never did translate into the defensive confusion his presence was supposed to create.
Yet, he never put his head down and never begged for more field time, save for one moment of pique when rookie third-string quarterback Greg McElroy started in place of an injured Sanchez instead of Tebow.
When it came time to go, he called his misbegotten year “a learning experience” that happened for a reason.
Perhaps the reason involved this: a transition out of his football analyst’s job into a sport he excelled at in high school. The Angels might have drafted him in 2005, a year after he hit .494 as a junior, if not for a paperwork snafu.
No less than Gary Sheffield has lauded Tebow’s abilities.
It can happen.
It isn’t unheard of for folks to move onto the diamond from other surfaces. Raiders running back Bo Jackson did a magnificent job in his five years as a Royals slugger, making the All-Star team in 1989.
Chicago Bulls great Michael Jordan beat the bushes with the Birmingham Barons in 1994 in a bus he bought himself. His baseball career ended after that season.
The point here is that even at age 29, there’s no reason Tebow shouldn’t try. If some team does bite, he’ll take his hacks free of the circus atmosphere that accompanied his final NFL stop. Nobody is going to make a big deal about an ex-quarterback playing in the MLB backwaters.
The upside is that if he does rise, he could become a curiosity. That would benefit baseball.
If he doesn’t, he tried.
No harm done.
He’s done the work.
Now he deserves a look.
And maybe he’ll get a happier ending than his football career provided.
Follow Ernie on Twitter at @ErniePalladino