PORT ST. LUCIE — Be it on a Triple-A field in Syracuse or a tennis court in South Asia, Tim Tebow is still working, hoping for a shot at the majors.
Now 32, the former celebrated quarterback is back for his fifth year as a minor league outfielder for the New York Mets.
A two-time national champion at Florida who won the Heisman Trophy and later a playoff-winning QB for the Denver Broncos, Tebow was contacted by the XFL in its return to football action this season. He said he loves the opportunity the league is giving to players who will eventually, he feels, make an NFL roster.
“But for me, this is what I wanted to do and pursue it and be all-in. When I’m 50, I can’t come back and do this,” Tebow said Sunday at the Mets’ spring training complex. “This is part of a season and a time, and I feel I’m in that season. I don’t know when I’ll feel like I’m out.”
Tebow’s steady dedication has resulted in some odd workout locations, including one in the Maldives last month with his wife, Demi-Leigh Nel-Peters, a South African who was crowned Miss Universe in 2017.
The couple wedded on Jan. 20 in Franschhoek, South Africa, and honeymooned and participated in Tebow’s Night to Shine program internationally. While in Maldives on his honeymoon, Tebow got in some baseball work.
“(The Maldives) doesn’t have baseball cages there, but they do have a really sweet tennis court. I was able to get soft-toss against the back of the tennis net,” said Tebow, who sent footage out on social media. “People were like, ‘Dude, just stop.’”
“Our trip was so fast in the Vatican that I was thinking, ‘It would be kind of cool if I ran up the Vatican steps like Rocky,’ but I didn’t,” he said, laughing.
For the second consecutive year, his season ended with an injury in July. In 2018 it was surgery on the hamate bone in his right hand. Last season he attempted to field a ball hit to him with his bare left hand, resulting in eight stitches and the end of another campaign.
“I didn’t even know it. I picked the ball up and was like, ‘Yes, we held the guy at third.’ I glanced at my hand and saw blood going everywhere. That was frustrating. It’s just random, fluke things,” he said.
Tebow hit .163 with four home runs and 19 RBIs in 77 games last year in his first Triple-A action.