FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — Bill Belichick walked into the New England Patriots interview room, looked to his right and smirked when he saw the line of cameras in the back and the horde of reporters in front.
That rare moment of personality, of the publicly dullest coach in the NFL acknowledging even he is amused by the attention Tim Tebow generates, was not indicative of what was to follow.
Tebow signed a two-year deal Tuesday at veteran-minimum salaries of $630,000 and $730,000 with no signing bonus or guaranteed money, according to a person informed of the contract details.
The person, who spoke to USA TODAY Sports on condition of anonymity because the terms weren’t to be discussed publicly, said there are playing-time escalators in the second year of the deal.
So, what is Belichick getting for the money? Who knows?
In what was surely an effort to immediately show he intends to stomp out any possible distractions Tebow could bring into his team’s locker room, Belichick was evasive and terse when asked anything from how he plans to use Tebow to whether he’ll care if his, uh, quarterback does a little Tebowing on the field.
“Anything we do is in the best interest of the team,” Belichick said. “Tim’s a talented player that works hard, so we’ll see how it goes.”
Did you talk to him about dealing with the attention?
“In all honesty, we’ve been in front of bigger crowds than this. Just keep doing what our job is and try to get better as a football team individually and collectively.”
What position will he play?
After an awkward pause, Belichick countered: “What position? We’re going to do what’s best for the football team. We’ll see.”
“We’ll see. ... He’s a talented guy who’s smart and works hard. We’ve all seen him play. He can do a lot of things.”
You’re close with him, right?
“I’ve never coached him before. I’m certainly close with a lot of players that I’ve coached in my career.”
Do you feel he can play quarterback?
“I’ve already said that.”
Specifically about quarterback?
“I’ve answered the question twice. He’s a talented player, he’s smart and he works hard.”
Did offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels, who drafted and coached Tebow with the Denver Broncos, have anything to do with this signing?
“I don’t know.”
But wait, there was a report that stated you hated Tebow as a player, one that drew a strong reaction from you denying such sentiments.
“I don’t have anything to add.”
This one, because it was a peach, we’ll quote word-for-word: “Coach, will you have any objections to Tim kneeling down and praying after he makes a big play, Tebowing as it’s come to be known?”
“I think we’ve already talked enough about him. I think I’ve covered it. Anything else?”
Belichick survived one day of Tebow questions. And considering his experience in deftly handling media inquiries, no one should worry whether future sessions with reporters mentally will tax him.
But Tuesday, the first day of the Tebow era in New England, revealed Belichick’s patience will be tested more so than in any other previous case. The Tebow sideshow is here and as fervent as ever.
But if anybody can control it, it’s Belichick.
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