ST. PETERS, Mo. — In two weeks, the Tim Tebow circus will return when the New England Patriots open training camp, and the player everyone either loves or loves to hate will offer a respite from the Aaron Hernandez murder charge saga.
While Tebow’s every unremarkable move in camp will be dissected and analyzed, he will have an unlikely supporter in his corner: Darryl Strawberry.
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The twice-divorced baseball legend, whose Hall of Fame career was derailed by multiple battles with addiction, sees Tebow now and wishes he could have been more like him.
Now an ordained minister who helps others in the throes of addiction, Strawberry – who hit 335 career home runs – sees the path Tebow and former teammate Gary Carter walked and feels pangs of regret.
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Carter, the Hall of Fame catcher often maligned by harder-partying Mets for his straight-arrow ways, died in 2012 after battling brain cancer.
“I wish I could have been like a Gary Carter or a Tim Tebow when I was playing,” says Strawberry, Carter’s teammate on the 1986 World Series champion Mets, “and have Christ in my life the way I do today. When Carter left here, he left here as a right man, a righteous man, who lived his life right. He loved his faith.
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“I look at Tebow. He gets bashed because of his faith. Let ’em laugh. Let ’em talk. He’s a greater man than anyone who might be greater than him as an athlete. He’s a real man.
“He gets challenged about his faith all of the time, but he never wavers because of opinions, or what the media is writing about him. His reward later on in life is going to be even greater because he stood in the midst of everybody criticizing him being a Christian and playing sports at the same time.
“I admire him more than he could ever imagine.”