In an ironic twist, you might be able to credit Tim Tebow’s signing by the New England Patriots to Bill Belichick’s disdain for the media. Maybe, it was just a matter of oppositional defiance, but there were no audible whispers about Tebow becoming a Patriot before. Yahoo! Sports’ Mike Silver reported that Belichick hated Tim Tebow. In fact, the only person who had faith that his NFL career wasn’t over was Tebow himself.
It wasn’t completely his fault. His value as a quarterback is disproportional to the attention, scrutiny and praise he receives and most organizations weren’t willing to deal with the media onslaught. The New York Jets were more interested in what Tebow could bring to them as a pop culture figure than as a football player. That didn’t go too well. The reaction to Tebow’s signing was a prime example of the strange bubble he lives in as well as the dichotomy between the Jets and Pats organizations, and it shined a floodlight on cronyism in sports.
It’s not as nefarious as the old boys club, but there are multiple layers of cronyism involved in the Patriots’ acquisition of Tebow. The only thing more apparent than Belichick’s disdain for media types is his rapport with Florida head coach Urban Meyer.
Belichick has spoken at Gators coaching clinics, attended practices, invited Meyer to practice and has incorporated Meyer’s spread offense principles into his own scheme.
“The No. 1 thing, from a football sense, I think we see a lot of things the same way,” Belichick told NFL.com last year about his relationship with Meyer. “The basic philosophy of coaching, both on a fundamental level and a more technical strategic level, I think, are similar.”
However, Belichick isn’t even the most devout Meyer crony in the Pats locker room.
Three years ago, the Pats selected three Florida Gators in the NFL Draft. Those draft picks, Brandon Spikes, Jermaine Cunningham and Aaron Hernandez, have each achieved varying degrees of success throughout their short NFL careers, but it was Denver that snagged the most high-profile Gator. That night, Bill Belichick’s former offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels – who installed the Pats spread offense two years prior – selected a defective, but intriguing, quarterback prospect named Tim Tebow.
McDaniels accepted the Broncos job in 2009 with a young Jay Cutler throwing fireballs in his offense. McDaniels insulted Cutler by secretly pursuing Patriots backup Matt Cassel. Obviously, Tom Brady is safe, and the Patriots are uniquely well-equipped to deal with the Tebow celebrity machine. Brady is a starting quarterback impervious to the Tebow aura. There won’t be any sensational headlines comparing passes in seven-on-seven drills.
After the VH1 Jets’ media circus gobbled Tebow up and spit out the NFL’s Kim Kardashian, the Patriots C-Span-boring organization is the best detox imaginable for Tebow.
It’s also the ultimate test for the Patriots’ insular culture. The same franchise that’s discouraged Rob Gronkowski’s shirtless party habits is welcoming the least talented superstar in sports into its fold.
There will be a litany of punchlines emerging in the next few days and weeks including Tebow’s possible deployment as Rob Gronkowski’s fill-in at tight end, but Tebow has practical uses. Today, the same principles that won Tebow a Heisman in Florida have spread like wildfire throughout the NFL.
Watching Tebow play is an interesting experience. It's like waiting for a catastrophic wreck to occur or for Captain Sully to miraculously land an airplane on the Hudson, however, in short-yardage situations, Tebow’s momentum can’t be stopped. Belichick is a renowned daredevil on fourth downs.
Before Tebow was collecting NFL coin, Meyer laid into NFL teams for lacking the ingenuity to run the spread option.
If there’s anybody willing to go against the grain and do Meyer a solid, it’s Belichick. Belichick is rolling the dice, but there aren’t many chips on the table. This isn’t New York’s little brother franchise or Denver; Belichick’s got his eyes on a bigger prize and Tebow is just a small fry in New England. He may fit right into the locker room, but don't expect to see him fit in so easily on the field.