The Mets have signed former NFL quarterback and now aspiring pro baller Tim Tebow to a minor league contract that includes a $100,000 signing bonus, the team confirmed Thursday.
The national sports phenom and Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback will head to the Mets Instructional League in Port St. Lucie, Florida, Sept. 18 to start his professional baseball career, the team said.
"While I and the organization are mindful of the novel nature of this situation, this decision was strictly driven by baseball," Mets general manager Sandy Alderson said during a conference call.
"This was not something that was driven by marketing considerations or anything of the sort. We are extremely intrigued with the potential Tim has."
Last week, the 29-year-old Tebow worked out for nearly 50 scouts from 28 Major League Baseball teams, including the Mets, in Los Angeles as he embarked on yet another chapter in his unique athletic story.
The outfielder went through drills at the University of Southern California's Dedeaux Field for more than an hour, confidently chasing a dream deferred for 12 years. Declaring his football career essentially over, the 255-pound left-hander insists he is serious about becoming more than a baseball curiosity.
Tebow, who once led the Denver Broncos to a hail mary playoff win and whose plane was tracked by media nationwide when he flew to New York to sign a deal with the Jets as a backup quarterback, hasn't played baseball regularly since his junior year of high school. He left early to enroll at Florida, beginning a fabled college football career that led to the 2007 Heisman and two national titles for the Gators.
But 12 years ago, Tebow was a .494-hitting, all-county outfielder who loved hitting a baseball every bit as much as he loved leading a huddle.
"The second-hardest decision I ever made was giving up baseball to go to the University of Florida and play football," Tebow, whose choice of Florida over Alabama was the toughest, said last week. "There wasn't a season that went by that it wasn't something that I thought about. When I felt like I had this opportunity, I wanted to take it and pursue it with everything I had."
"The goal would be to have a career in the big leagues," Tebow added. "I just want to be someone to pursue what I believe in, what I'm passionate about. A lot of people will say, 'But what if you fail? What if you don't make it?' Guess what? I don't have to live with regret. I did everything I could. I pushed it. I would rather be someone that could live with peace and no regret than what-if, or being scared."