Tim Tebow returns to enemy territory in SEC country to play baseball

RAW: Tim Tebow talks about returning to SEC Country, motivation for playing baseball

ROME, Ga. -- Number 15 jerseys were everywhere. Very few of them were from baseball.

Some were marked with the Florida Gator, some the Denver Bronco. Among the screams for Tebow to sign an autograph, there was the occasional "Go 'Dawgs!"

Tim Tebow was back in enemy territory once again in the southeast. This time, about 100 miles west of Athens, Georgia where the people are equally as passionate about Georgia football.

The Columbia Fireflies began their second road series of the season against the Rome Braves. The game was sold out, which doesn't happen very often. Nearly every fan had the same answer for why they were there, regardless of whether they had a Tebow jersey on, Rome Braves jersey, or even a Georgia G on their hat.

They were all there to see Tebow, and he knew it. 

"If I have the opportunity to make some people smile or happy by shaking hands or signing an autograph, that's pretty awesome," Tebow said.

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Fans showed up to State Mutual Stadium early.

"We get to see Tim Tebow," 6-year-old Ramsey Hancock said, who claimed he's been a fan of Tebow's for 30 years. "He's a good Christian guy." 

"He's just a good role model for my kids," Emily Bird said, admitting they were there to see Tebow and didn't care about the game.  "We are Braves fans."

The Heisman Trophy winner and former NFL quarterback wishes there were some days where he could just focus on his game and get away from the mania, but he embraces it.

"I've always wanted to be someone who would transcend a sport I'm playing. If all you do is get a base hit, strikeout, score a touchdown, throw an interception, it's just a game. But if you can do more than that with the platform you're given, that's something I strive to do."

Maybe it's a bit easier because Class A baseball doesn't get quite as fierce as SEC football.

"I think that people don't really realize about SEC Country is that when you're playing the other team, it gets incredibly intense, and they may say some things they really don't mean. But when you're away playing against someone like Georgia, and then-- people support people from the SEC. It was really that way in the NFL. You'd leave college and you'd see guys you played against, so you kind of have something that you know you went through together, and it was pretty special," he said.

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Tebow grew up in Jacksonville, Florida, and he said he was a Braves fan at times, especially because of guys like Chipper Jones and Greg Maddux. But he also liked Frank Thomas from the White Sox, so his allegiance was all over the place. 

Kind of like how one day, he was a guy trying to make it in the NFL. Then the next, he switched his sport to baseball. He said he knew he had to make the change because of the feeling he got when thinking about picking up the bat again.

"Every time I thought about baseball, I got really excited. You can't manufacture that," he said. "It's just fun competing everyday, and you have a game and they're keeping score and they matter."

Tebow is focusing on the process. He said his swing is improving; he's finding his timing and rhythm. He's getting used to playing every day and making adjustments game in and game out, a radical change from football. But he's also in it for the teamwork, even if his teammates ask a lot of questions about his glory days.

"'When you got knocked out against Kentucky, did that hurt?' " he said one of his teammates said. "They still ask a lot of questions about football."

© 2017 WXIA-TV


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