You know what would make Bill Belichick unquestionably “evil”? If he ended Tim Tebow‘s career.
Think about it. Tebow coming to New England is being pitched as the best thing that could happen to him — and it is, if it works out.
Tebow would remain in the position of his choice and learn the art of quarterbacking — from mechanics to the mental game — from one of the best passers and one of the best coaches in the game. He would avoid the over-the-top attention and scrutiny that have not helped him, and he would reboot his career with the only NFL club where it could be imagined his unique game could find a home.
But there’s a flip side to this, and it’s the “if” — if it doesn’t work.
People are pointing to Belichick’s ability to make use of pieces that few others would have touched, from Corey Dillon to Randy Moss. But seeing the situation that way means there’s also judgment when Belichick can’t make use of a player. From Chad Johnson to Albert Haynesworth — and Moss, to an extent, after he was let go — there’s a certain scarlet letter that adorns the players who couldn’t capitalize in a system that is supposed to capitalize on any player’s skill set.
Tebow shouldn’t have been written off after he failed to catch on with the Jets, considering head coach Rex Ryan, owner Woody Johnson and everyone else involved in that situation did precisely what was needed to sabotage Tebow’s potential. Tebow got too much of a knock leaving New York, where he never really could have succeeded. The problem with the Jets was that not only did they misuse Tebow, but they also did it with such bombast that no other team wanted to touch him.
That’s why Tebow’s time with the Patriots is now do or die. When other teams look at scooping up Tebow in the future, it won’t be based on how he develops in Foxboro (unless he turns into a great player overnight with inherent value in that regard). They’ll look back to the Jets tenure and wonder whether they can put up with that. Tebow has signed with the Patriots for two years, but there’s a good chance he won’t make it out of camp. Any questions of whether his career can continue have to consider how teams would feel about him if he were cut at that stage — not just how they’ll feel about him a couple of years down the road.
By saying the Patriots are the one team that can make use of Tebow, everyone is intrinsically saying that if he doesn’t work out here, he won’t work out anywhere. That may not necessarily be true, but it’s far more damning than what people purported after Tebow’s time with the Jets ended, when no one was sure what Tebow could or could not do because New York mangled it all so badly.
“If Belichick couldn’t make use of him, then who can?” will be the reasoning, no matter how true it is, or how unfair it is to Tebow.
Something interesting to note, however, is that the Patriots are approaching Tebow much like Josh McDaniels approached him when he drafted him out of Florida. The Patriots are treating Tebow as a quarterback. They are really treating him like a quarterback, according to reports — no meeting with the running backs or tight ends, no practicing with the return team.
Tebow gets his do-or-die chance at quarterback, the one position where there is plenty of evidence that he will struggle and possibly fail. Whereas Belichick may have been able to save his career at another position — a position other teams likely would have tried — instead, Tebow is set up for the least possible amount of success, and other teams will probably never try him at those other positions now.
The people who say Belichick did this because he always does the opposite of what people think, or that he wants to do the opposite of what people predict, are missing the point. For every time Belichick goes against the grain, or makes a Pro Bowler out of a Mike Vrabel, he puts together good, old-fashioned football. He is a good coach because he does a mix of both. His teams win on fundamentals, and players are required to perform.
Tebow will be asked to do what every other Belichick player ever has: what’s best for the New England Patriots.
By bringing Tebow in under the expectation that Belichick is his last hope, and that he may be able to do something at quarterback, there’s a chance that Tebow can fulfill that goal and help the Patriots.
But there’s also a good chance that, in doing that, Tebow could be playing into the hands of everyone who wants a final, definitive word from the football genius himself that Tebow’s career is over.