WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — Tim Tebow has a lot of fans. One of them is former NFL defensive back and Major League Baseball outfielder Brian Jordan, who will be cheering on the Mets prospect from afar as Tebow makes his debut in a spring training game on Wednesday.
Jordan, who played three seasons in the NFL before a 15-year MLB career, doesn’t know Tebow. But he knows how difficult it is to attempt to do what Tebow is attempting — to switch sports at the highest level.
So Jordan, 49, said he’s going to do whatever he can to watch Tebow’s first spring training game against the Red Sox. Tebow will be the DH and face reigning AL Cy Young Award winner Rick Porcello.
“I’m really excited to see him face Porcello tomorrow,” Jordan told Newsday on Tuesday in a telephone interview. “I’m definitely going to keep up with him, whether it’s on my iPad or if I’m around a TV and they’re showing it. I definitely want to take a look at it.”
Jordan is so into Tebow’s story that he not only is looking forward to Wednesday’s game, but also Friday’s. The Mets have already announced that Tebow will face the Astros on Friday.
“Even when they bring him up to play the Astros, I think it’s going to help him more than hurt him to be able to recognize pitches from a major-leaguer,” Jordan said. “I’m pulling for Tim Tebow. I think athletic-wise, he can make some adjustments rather quickly and that’s why it’s going to be interesting to see how he handles major-league pitching.”
Jordan’s journey from the NFL to MLB was far different from Tebow’s. Jordan played a limited minor-league schedule from 1988-91. He played in the NFL with the Atlanta Falcons from 1989-91 before committing exclusively to baseball. Jordan made his major-league debut with the St. Louis Cardinals in 1992 when he was 25 years old and stayed in the big leagues until 2006.
Tebow started his professional baseball career in the Arizona Fall League last year at age 29 after basically not swinging a bat since high school. Tebow is expected to begin this season in the low minors and is a long shot for any big-league career, let along one that lasts as long as Jordan’s did.
Still, Jordan remembers being told he should have stayed in the NFL, that baseball was too hard and making the majors too uncertain. So you’ll understand if he has a certain affinity for Tebow and his quixotic quest.
“He’s a winner,” Jordan said. “To me, you can never fault a guy for winning. When you have a winning attitude and a competitive attitude and you’re very athletic like Tim Tebow, you tend to make adjustments rather quickly. I think he’s motivated enough to have that drive and that confidence to go out there and do it. That’s why I’m loving the fact that he’s getting the opportunity to face some big-league pitching already at this stage. It’ll be interesting to see how he handles it and what he learns from it and how he’s going to take it into his minor-league season and hopefully move along very quickly.”
And if Tebow one day does make it to Citi Field . . .
“It’s New York,” Jordan said. “I hope he gets there because it’s going to be a packed house and I would love to be in that packed house if he does make it.”
TWO GAMES TO PLAY
These noteable players are among the many athletes who played professional baseball and professional football:
Bo JacksonKansas City (1986-90)L.A. Raiders (1987-90)
Chi. White Sox (1991, ’93)
Vic JanowiczPittsburgh (1953-54)Washington (1954-55)
Brian JordanSt. Louis (1992-98)Atlanta (1989-91)
Atlanta (1999-01, 2005-06)
L.A. Dodgers (2002-03)
Deion SandersYankees (1989-90)Atlanta (1989-93)
Atlanta (1991-94)San Francisco (1994)
Cincinnati (1994-95, ’97, ’01)Dallas (1995-99)
San Francisco (1995)Washington (2000)
Jim ThorpeGiants (1913-15, ’17, ’18-19)Multiple teams (1920-28)