Now that Peyton Manning has signed with the Broncos, the buzz in the NFL centers on Tim Tebow. Will Denver trade Tebow to his hometown team, the Jacksonville Jaguars? Maybe the Miami Dolphins?
Both teams need to put fans in the seats, and Gator Nation would be sure to turn out for its favorite son.
There's even a school of thought that says the best fit for Tebow would be New England, where the Hooded One is seen as the only person who could turn him into some type of hybrid weapon to compliment Tom Brady.
As intriguing as I find that prospect, there's only one place I think that Tewbowmania can be resurrected:
I know, the Bucs aren't interested. But I'm talking about a deal with the … Rays.
This could be a marriage made in, well, heaven.
Let's set aside, for a moment, whether Tebow can actually play baseball. (Details, details!)
For the Rays, it's a marketer's dream. Tebow becomes an instant goodwill ambassador. Just imagine him, muscles straining the fabric of his baseball uniform, asking you — politely — in TV commercials to support HIS Rays. Think of the promotions at the Trop. A bobblehead of a Tebowing Tim is sure to send eBay stock soaring. Maybe all of those empty seats will morph into fans wearing orange and blue.
Maybe Tebow could even persuade Hillsborough fans to walk on water, well, at least cross the Howard Frankland.
Then there's baseball. Tebow last played in high school. In 2010, he offered a glimpse of his potential when he took batting practice with a prep team in Memphis. Tebow smacked 12 homers on 15 pitches. "The kids were just awed by how far he hit the ball," Tebow's agent, Jimmy Sexton told the Memphis Commercial-Appeal.
Hmm, I envision him as a power-hitting first baseman.
Of course, the Rays know that Tebow would be a project, but that's something the much-maligned quarterback is used to since being drafted by Denver. Still, it instantly livens up spring training and those late-season call-ups. Just imagine him as a pinch-runner on a close play at the plate. (Heck, just imagine him on date nights with the Zobrists.)
Sure, he might never rise above the low minors, but the Rays could pitch a Tebow reality show to HBO while he's putting his faith to the test. (My suggestion for a title: At First, Timothy.) After all, remember the publicity garnered by the White Sox from minor-leaguer Michael Jordan?
Last year, Tim Kurkjian of ESPN mused that Tebow would be a better fit for baseball because his physical idiosyncrasies wouldn't be a liability: "Baseball allows its players to throw a ball, catch a ball, swing a bat and run whatever way they like, no matter how unconventional, inartistic or ridiculous it might be or look, as long as it works."
Rays fans who've seen Johnny Damon play the outfield can attest to that wisdom.
On Tuesday, ESPN reported that the minor-league Lake Elsinore Storm, a Padres (!) affiliate, is pursuing Tebow.
Time to step up to the plate, Rays. And it might help to bow down and Tebow, too.