Rodger Sherman has a good compilation of Urban Meyer’s greatest hits, and among the ones not involving outright immoral behavior this might be the most telling:
All in all, Meyer’s decision to invite his former Heisman Trophy–winning quarterback to Jaguars training camp wasn’t particularly consequential. Tim Tebow played in only one preseason game and was cut quickly thereafter.
According to Pro Football Focus, Tebow was a run blocker on just two of the 16 snaps he played, and here they are. He’s the guy in between the 21 competent players who looks like he’s participating in a dizzy bat race.
Honestly, the Tebow block that went viral wasn’t even his worst block of the night. This was *the very next play* pic.twitter.com/tINWyJpWSE— Chris Towers In A Taylor Swift Shirt (@CTowersCBS) August 16, 2021
Tebow never got into anything resembling a blocking stance, repeatedly spun around, and was thrashed by the few defenders he did touch. At one point, he became so disoriented that he speared his own teammate in the chest. Tebow looked like … well, a 34-year old who hadn’t played football in six years, who had never been asked to block, and who had spent the past five years failing in his attempt to make the majors in baseball. It’s unclear how the Jags staff could have put Tebow through any drill without instantly realizing that he was incapable of doing anything useful.
The fact that Tebow even got a jersey, a locker, and a chance to play in a preseason game was insulting to all the other players trying to make an NFL roster. It was a telltale sign of the unseriousness of Meyer’s tenure.
The idea that Tim Tebow could be a good NFL tight end was extremely dumb even when he was at the height of his athletic powers, let alone as a 34-year-old who had spent the last several years struggling to hit minor league pitching. And while the waste of a roster spot isn’t the biggest deal in the world, for a performative hardass to bring in his massively unqualified crony and give him reps he didn’t earn is an excellent way to destroy your credibility before the season starts.
I sometimes see comments along the line of “his only crime was losing,” or “you really have to be good to get away with this stuff.” But it completely misses the point. You can apparently win in peonage ball acting like this, but in the NFL there’s zero chance it will be effective.
But, some will say, Belichick! No, no, no, no, no:
Something I’ve heard from former Patriots is that while Belichick (b. 1952) isn’t cuddly, he always treated them like adults. Mutual respect and professionalism isn’t “fragility.” https://t.co/U8sFB8mn1H— Mina Kimes (@minakimes) December 18, 2021
Belichick isn’t a “player’s coach;” he’s blunt and sometimes cutting, and like many (although not all) successful coaches he generally doesn’t make an emotional commitment to his players. His concept of loyalty is Casey Stengel’s rather than Rex Ryan’s. But by all accounts his conduct towards his players is respectful and professional. It’s telling that the players who were particularly appalled by Meyer’s conduct were grizzled veterans like Lambo and Marvin Jones. You can’t treat professionals this way and be successful, and it’s probably going to be less and less successful even at the NCAA level as players start getting more leverage.
Of course, the weakest branches of the Belichick coaching tree are often those who similarly misunderstand what makes the master successful.