FLORHAM PARK, N.J. — Eric Decker has no idea if Tim Tebow can actually play baseball. But he does know one thing about his former Broncos quarterback: Ticket sales spike whenever he’s around.
“I don’t know what the chances are, but if I was a Double-A or Single-A team, I’m signing him to get ticket sales up,” the Jets wide receiver said with a chuckle after Tuesday’s practice. “I’m sure he’ll have success in that field. But as far as the skill aspect, I think hitting a baseball is one of the hardest things, so it’ll be interesting to see his progress.”
He would know.
A former outfielder at the University of Minnesota, Decker twice was drafted by a Major League Baseball team — first by the Milwaukee Brewers in the 39th round of the 2008 draft and then a year later by the Minnesota Twins in the 27th round. But he instead opted to pursue an NFL career.
Tebow, meanwhile, had plenty of collegiate success playing football at Florida. But after only three seasons in the NFL, his professional career hit a roadblock. And now, the former Heisman Trophy winner is setting out to conquer the diamond. He plans to work out for all 30 MLB teams later this month.
So, can he do it?
“Well of course, he’s going to do it because someone’s going to sign him,” Decker said, smiling again. “I guarantee you that because it’s Tim Tebow and [fans are] coming to a baseball game with a football jersey on.
“ . . . I want to see what kind of player he is. I haven’t seen him play baseball, but he’s an athlete. He’s a guy that works tremendously hard, so obviously he’s going to put everything he’s got into it. So we’ll see.”
In a separate interview with Newsday, Decker explained why he chose the NFL life over a potential MLB career.
“First, I was better at football. And second, the [NFL] lifestyle is a lot easier if you have a family, a wife, whatever,” he said. “You’re on the road, 80-plus days at least [in baseball]. It just wasn’t, really, what I wanted to do. And I didn’t want to get stuck in the minor leagues, and it’d be even worse you’re on buses.”
He did admit that he once contemplated what could have been early in his tenure with the Broncos.
“For sure,” Decker said, when asked if he ever had his own ‘Tebow moment.’ “My first couple of years [with the Broncos], we used to go to Arizona to work out and spring training is in Arizona. I used to go to Rockies practice and I’d do [batting practice] with them, and I’ll be like: ‘I wish I was still playing baseball.’ But the grass is always greener on the other side.”