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The Mets sign Tim Tebow

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Deacon Greg Kandra - published on 09/08/16

Will he kneel after a home run?

Tim Tebow is changing teams—and sports. And it’s bringing him, almost literally, to my backyard:

The New York Mets signed Tim Tebow to a minor league contract and said he will begin his professional baseball career on their instructional league team in Port St. Lucie, Florida. The Mets decided to sign Tebow on Wednesday, a source told ESPN’s Adam Schefter. General manager Sandy Alderson met with team co-owner Jeff Wilpon, who signed off on Alderson’s suggestion that they get a deal done. The instructional league runs from September to October. Tebow, who hasn’t played organized baseball since his junior year at Nease High School in Ponte Vedra, Florida, in 2005, has been working out with former big league catcherChad Moeller in Scottsdale, Arizona, since Memorial Day. Tebow spent almost two hours last week at the USC’s Dedeaux Field running a 60-yard dash, shagging fly balls, throwing from the outfield and taking swings against former major league pitchers David Aardsma and Chad Smith in his audition for clubs.

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His faith has been on very public display:

Football is Tebow’s platform for his charitable work and to espouse his Christian beliefs. The term “Tebowing” was created to describe him bending on one knee in prayer after scoring a touchdown. When the Eagles signed Tebow in April, a local pretzel chain created a pretzel in that pose. At Florida, Tebow wrote “John 3:16” on his eye black for his second national championship game. Tebow was later told that 94 million people used Google to find out what the verse says.

And it’s been controversial: 

While Tebow is not the first openly religious athlete, the circumstances surrounding his performance this season are so unusual, the N.F.L. is experiencing a rare, if not unprecedented, religious feud. The latest chapter in the Book of Tebow played out Sunday, when he threw two touchdown passes in the Broncos’ upset of the Oakland Raiders, perhaps saving his status as the starter, but not ending the larger debate.

“The role religion plays here is enormous,” said Kurt Warner, the former N.F.L. quarterback and a similarly outspoken Christian athlete. “When somebody professes their faith, and I was that guy for a long time, people automatically think when you praise God it’s because He makes passes go straighter or helps win games. When you lose, they say, your faith doesn’t belong here. Your God’s not helping you win.”

…Reactions toward Tebow can seem polarized between those who lionize him as a mythological athlete and those who perhaps resent the idea that Tebow taps into some higher power on the field.

“I feel like it’s a little much,” [Football analyst Tim] Hasselbeck said. “At ESPN, with so many different outlets, you feel like you’re having the same conversation over and over again. There’s a lot of talk about him. You can’t say it’s just religion. At the same time, you hear a lot of things that sound like an attack on his beliefs.”

Photo: Justin Edmunds/Getty Images

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