Tim Tebow and the Patriots: Nice Move, Coach Bill

Bill Belichick and his coaching credentials

Bill Belichick and his coaching credentials

I’m amazed by how many people are driven batty by Tim Tebow and his ways of giving thanks to the Almighty. Legitimate evaluations of his football ability almost always get smothered by ad hominem blather.

Please correct me if I’m wrong, but I believe that Tim “Tebows” in gratitude after accomplishing something. It’s not as if he asks God to help him and his team win. I don’t remember that he ever compared his God to an inferior one worshiped by the teams he’s defeated. And there haven’t been too many of those lately anyway.

Let’s chill, see how he does, and save our opprobrium for the real religious hypocrites of the world. There are enough of them to go around. Thus far Tebow hasn’t murdered anyone who disagrees with him.

As for the football possibilities, I’m reminded of the old priest-and-rabbi joke where the two of them go to a boxing match. Just before the bell one of the boxers makes the sign of the cross. The rabbi turns to the priest in puzzlement. “What does that mean? What is it going to do for him?” The priest answers, “Not a damn thing if the kid can’t fight.”

And so it will be with the New England Patriots. Tebow’s feats in long-ago college and his pious, clean-living ways will not matter a whit to Bill Belichick. If Tim can’t contribute, he’ll be on the first train to Clarksville.

Tom Brady and Gisele Bundchen - Tim Tebow and Lucy Pinder

Tom Brady and Gisele Bundchen – Tim Tebow and Lucy Pinder

Boss Bill was certainly being himself at the press conference, wasn’t he? “He’s talented. He’s smart. He works hard. Let’s see how it goes.”

Tebow can’t be expected to direct the team the way Tom Brady does. But really, now – can anybody? Tim’s quite competitive with Tom in other areas of life, as one of the accompanying photos shows. But on the field, he needs to do different things. Belichick and his guys might just fashion a complementary role that will finally allow Tebow’s strengths to emerge while masking his shortcomings.

Chuck Fairbanks

Chuck Fairbanks

Think of Andy Johnson, one of New England’s most talented and underrated players ever. He played halfback for Chuck Fairbanks beginning in 1974, and lasted with the Pats until 1982. He could run, catch the ball out of the backfield, and throw the option pass – four TD passes in 1981.

Fairbanks spoke at a Gridiron Club dinner a few years ago. After the dinner we had a drink in the bar – he favored Pinot Noir – and I told him that I’d always liked Andy Johnson. He smiled and said, “Let me tell you about Andy Johnson.”

Before coming to the Patriots, Fairbanks had built a number of unstoppable wishbone-option teams at Oklahoma. One day he got a call from his buddy Vince Dooley, the coach at Georgia. Dooley told him that he had recruited this tremendously talented quarterback, and that he needed to build an offense around him. Problem was, he and his coaches didn’t know a thing about options or wishbones.

Fairbanks dispatched a few of his assistants to Georgia that summer to teach Dooley’s coaches all about the option. That season, sophomore quarterback Andy Johnson led the Dawgs to a record of 11-1. He ran for 870 yards and passed for 341. During his three-season college career he rushed 431 times for 1799 yards. At Florida, Tebow played four years and rushed 692 times for 2947 yards.

Sam Cunningham leads the way for Andy Johnson

Sam Cunningham leads the way for Andy Johnson

Fairbanks, like Belichick, knew all about selecting and managing football talent. He drafted Johnson in the fifth round and made him a running back. Johnson was in the backfield with Sam Cunningham and Steve Grogan – and I remain convinced that the 1976 Patriots, 11-3 and robbed by referee Ben Dreith in the playoff at Oakland, was the Patriots’ best team ever.

Is something similar going to happen with Tim Tebow? It can’t happen only if they don’t try. As Bill said, “Let’s see how it goes.”

Yes, let’s. Praise the Lord and pass the prolate spheroid. Nice move, Bill.

One Response to “Tim Tebow and the Patriots: Nice Move, Coach Bill”

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