Ending one of the more surprising — and unlikely — attempts at a two-sport career, Tim Tebow, the superstar college quarterback turned N.F.L. curiosity turned minor-league baseball player, announced his retirement from professional sports on Wednesday.
“I loved every minute of the journey, but at this time I feel called in other directions,” Tebow said in a statement released by the Mets, who signed him to a minor-league deal in 2016. “I never want to be partially in on anything. I always want to be 100 percent in on whatever I choose.”
While Tebow never went beyond Class AAA in baseball, he drew a great deal of attention, because of both his exploits on the football field and his charitable endeavors. He is the author of several books and has done missionary work around the world. He was often polarizing, though, with fans of both sports regularly disagreeing about his value and potential, as well as his outspokenness as a Christian. But wherever he went, Tebow drew a crowd.
“It has been a pleasure to have Tim in our organization, as he’s been a consummate professional during his four years with the Mets,” said Sandy Alderson, the president of the Mets. “By reaching the Triple-A level in 2019, he far exceeded expectations when he first entered the system in 2016, and he should be very proud of his accomplishments.”
Tebow, 33, showed tremendous athleticism at every stop of his journey, but after a standout career at Florida, during which he won the 2007 Heisman Trophy and two national championships, he never found the right fit professionally.
A first-round pick of the Denver Broncos in 2010, he struggled to make his run-heavy approach to playing quarterback work in the N.F.L., but he did manage a surprising close to the 2011 season. After going 7-4 as a starter, he shocked the sport by leading the Broncos to an upset of the Pittsburgh Steelers in the wild-card round of the playoffs.
That success was short-lived, however, as he was traded to the Jets before the next season. After arriving to much fanfare, he threw just eight passes for the Jets over the course of two games and was released. Attempts to catch on with the New England Patriots and the Philadelphia Eagles went nowhere.
A year after his release from the Eagles in 2015, Tebow, who had not played organized baseball since his junior year in high school, was signed by the Mets.
“This decision was strictly driven by baseball,” Alderson insisted at the time of the signing. “This was not something that was driven by marketing considerations or anything of the sort.”
Tebow homered in his first professional at-bat, but over all he hit .223 in four seasons, with 18 home runs. In 2019, he hit .163 with four homers for Class AAA Syracuse.
In announcing his retirement, he acknowledged the Mets fans who had pulled for him in his quest to join the ranks of Bo Jackson and Deion Sanders, athletes who reached the pinnacle in both football and baseball.
“Thank you again for everyone’s support of this awesome journey in baseball,” he said. “I’ll always cherish my time as a Met.”