Baseball always was Tyler Gaffney’s first love, and after four seasons spent chasing a football dream, the former running back has returned to the diamond.
“I was all-in for football, [but] over the years, I missed baseball,” Gaffney said, via James Crabtree-Hannigan of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. “I had a couple of injuries, and they all just came pointing back to this.”
A sixth-round pick of the Panthers in 2014, Gaffney never played a down in the NFL. But he won two Super Bowl rings as a member of the Patriots, spending 2014 on injured reserve and 2016 on the practice squad.
The Jaguars placed Gaffney on injured reserve last August, and he officially retired from the NFL in April. He returned to the Pirates organization, which drafted him in the 24th round out of Stanford in 2012.
“You can learn a lot from just perspective,” Gaffney said. “I was around all-time greats — Tom Brady, Bill Belichick. I learned from them more than just football. I learned how to go about your business, how to be a professional, how to be successful. I’d like to think that I act like that in this locker room.”
The left fielder, 27, was called up to Class AA Altoona from high-A Bradenton on June 2. He is batting .257 with a .341 on-base percentage.