Published June 11, 2013
| Sports Network
Philadelphia, Pa – Most people yawned when the New England Patriots released quarterback Mike Kafka on Monday.
That is until we all realized what the Pats were doing -- making room for the world's most popular mediocre signal-caller, Tim Tebow.
A more famous Kafka once wrote about a startling metamorphosis, but this alteration was far more benign, a simple belief that Tebow and his versatility offers more than a third-string quarterback who doesn't have the kind of arm strength to be successful if pressed into service.
Of course, the fact that Tebow will be getting another chance in the NFL may surprise some of you who have been following the narrative surrounding the former Heisman Trophy winner in recent weeks.
It started when a source close to Tebow indicated his time in the NFL was likely over. The thought process was that the Florida product was viewed as toxic by most and some of that was fueled by Patriots head coach Bill Belichick, who reportedly "hated" Tebow as a player.
The fact that Belichick and the Pats signed Tebow on Tuesday only added to the intrigue.
"Every single player has strengths and weaknesses but regardless of that, for anyone to have represented that is the way I feel about Tim Tebow is completely untrue, baseless and irresponsible," Belichick told ESPNBoston last week when asked about "hating" Tebow as a player. "It is unfortunate that something so inaccurate was reported."
Sadly, accurate reporting is a bit of a dying art these days. In the real world, the only Bob Woodward-like bulldogs left in this business are across the pond and if you want real, substantive information on the Obama Administration, it's best to look to the United Kingdom and The Guardian or the Daily Mail.
Similarly, if you want information on the NFL, turn away from the league's website and the white noise emanating from a certain worldwide leader. Instead, look to the locals who still take a job on the beat seriously.
Tebow was always going to get another chance in the NFL. As laughable as it is to listen to his acolytes argue that their hero is one of the top 32 quarterbacks in the world, it's an even bigger farce to say he's not among the best 96, meaning the former Gators star deserves the right to at least carry a clipboard on Sundays.
"Anything we do is what we feel is in the best interest of the team. Tim is a talented player that's smart and works hard, so we'll see how it goes," Belichick said when addressing the signing on Tuesday.
When you understand what Tebow's ceiling is as a player -- a change-of-pace backup who can help you spring a surprise on the opposition every now again -- the real issues with him can be focused on. And they begin and end with his popularity.
A backup quarterback can't be the focal point of a team and organizations with impotent head coaches or shaky quarterback situations just can't afford to have him around (see New York Jets and Mark Sanchez). The questions quickly start to mount and Tebow's very presence becomes a far bigger liability than his scattershot arm.
New England, of course, is the polar opposite of that type of environment, possessing perhaps the most powerful and respected coach of this generation, Belichick, as well as a Hall of Fame quarterback who ranks among the top five of all-time in Tom Brady.
The convoy of satellite trucks will certainly accompany Tebow to Foxboro at first, but no one in his right mind is going to pretend he should be getting repetitions in favor of Brady. And even if some ill-prepared scribe does, Belichick has the cachet to nip anything in the bud, the kind of gravitas only legends like Lombardi, Shula and Landry had.
When reporters continued to press Belichick before minicamp opened Tuesday, he shut them down like few coaches could.
"We've already talked enough about him," Belichick snapped. "I think I've covered it. Anything else?"
Belichick's rope is so long in New England he has always been willing to roll the dice on talented players jettisoned by others. Sometimes it works (see Randy Moss and Corey Dillon) and sometimes it doesn't (Chad Johnson and Albert Haynesworth), but Belichick is never afraid to try.
For now, the word in Boston is that Tebow will be a quarterback and only a quarterback with the Patriots. That said, Belichick has flourished in the past by creating the NFL's version of a utilityman who can help him in multiple spots depending on what he might need in a particular week. Troy Brown did it for years and these days you'll see Julian Edelman and Matthew Slater occasionally flip sides for the Patriots.
Since Brady has a death grip on the starting quarterback job with the Pats and Ryan Mallett is thought of as a solid backup, it's not a stretch to imagine Tebow playing some H-back or tight end.
The move also reunites Tebow with Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels, who was the Broncos' head coach when Denver traded into the first round to draft in 2010.
It's finally all coming together for Tebow.
Character and versatility melds with a comfortable situation and an inventive coach -- sounds like the perfect fit for a player running out of chances.