The Alliance of American Football got off to a solid start over the weekend, but don’t expect a case of Tebowmania to break out.
Tim Tebow, who won the Heisman and won two national championships under Urban Meyer at Florida, prefers to focus on baseball. Spurrier, who played at Florida and formerly coached the Gators, is now the coach of the Orlando Apollos and he reiterated that, no matter how much he might to partner with Tebow, it most likely will not happen.
“I don’t blame Tim,” Spurrier told Pro Football Talk Live. “Tim’s got a chance to go to Major League Baseball. I think Tim’s probably headed in the baseball direction. I don’t blame him. If I were in his situation, I’d probably do the same thing.”
Spurrier’s team boasted a high-octane offense, a Philly special play and the admonition to the quarterback to tell a wide receiver “to catch it next time” in its 40-6 victory Saturday. As for Tebow, he had short-lived success in the NFL, sparking wholesome Tebowmania by kneeling in prayer and leading the Denver Broncos to a playoff victory in 2012. But he never really fit as an NFL quarterback after that and lacked the inclination and the quickness to switch to another position. Still, Spurrier admitted last summer that he had entertained the hope that Tebow would join him when the AAF launched.
“I actually got in touch with Tim before I took the job,” Spurrier told ESPN’s Paul Finebaum last June. “I sent him a text and I said, ‘By the way, I’m going to be the coach of an Orlando team in this new Alliance of American Football.’”
The 25th overall pick by the Broncos in the 2010 NFL draft, Tebow certainly would be a popular draw for a team playing in Florida, but he wasn’t interested.
“He basically just said, ‘Hey coach, I’m going to keep swinging the bat and see what happens,’” Spurrier told Finebaum. “And I agree that’s what he should do. If he can get to the big leagues, that’s what he should do.”
Tebow is entering his third season in the New York Mets’ system and was invited to join the team’s major league camp when it opens Saturday. Because he wasn’t on the 40-man roster, he needed an invitation, which was all but assured because he draws big crowds. Before his season was ended by a broken hamate bone in his right hand in July, he hit .273 with six home runs and 36 RBI in 84 Class AA games. Now 31, he has hit .244 average in 210 minor league games.
Mets General Manager Brodie Van Wagenen, Tebow’s former agent, said recently that Tebow was one step away from the big leagues. “He’s a guy that is fueled by challenges and I think we’re excited to get him back into camp and — hopefully after a trip to [Class AAA] Syracuse — he can prove to us and everybody in baseball that he can make an impact in the big leagues,” Van Wagenen said.
And if a major league career isn’t in the cards?
“I told him we have a No. 15 down in Orlando waiting for him,” Spurrier said last summer. “I think Tim Tebow is a winner.”
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