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Tim Tebow, Rob Gronkowski, and my apologies

Posted by Adam Kaufman  August 31, 2013 01:36 PM

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I wrote on Monday that Tim Tebow – the most discussed third-string quarterback in football history – should be cut by the Patriots as they trim their roster to 53 players, but wouldn’t be.

My favorite of the comments in response came from reader “thor7,” who said, “Adam, if you are wrong, please write a nice column about how you know nothing. If you are right, please double your font size and make it throb in many colors.”

I have no control over the layout of, much as I’d like the appearance of my name to make you feel like you’ve arrived at a trendy club, but that doesn’t matter now. Tebow has been released.

While it seems many readers and talk show callers saw this move coming, I am more than surprised. I am shocked. And, if you look around at most beat writers’ projected rosters, you’ll have a hard time finding anyone who didn’t expect Tebow to break camp with the Pats. It didn’t matter how ugly his play was in the preseason, or that the Pats typically keep only two quarterbacks.

To be clear, that doesn’t signify that I (or anyone else, it seems) felt the polarizing figure deserved to stick with New England; it merely means I expected him to remain here. So, for my borderline obnoxious persistence that he would, I was rrr…rrrrr…wrong.

There were a number of theories on why the end of Tebowmania just didn’t appear near, even if some were farfetched:

  1. He’s a character guy with a great work-ethic, he sells jerseys, the owner loves him (whether or not Robert Kraft was just feeding the crazy for media and fans), and he would have been a good guy to have around in the wake of the never-ending Aaron Hernandez saga.
  2. Bill Belichick doesn’t care what people outside of his inner circle think and he, at least on the surface, seemed to believe there was still some untapped potential in the quarterback that the rest of the NFL was missing, despite his elite college career and his impossible-to-miss run in Denver. The coach was on a mission to prove everyone wrong, and the additions to the playbook (see: Pistol formation, read-option offense) were potential indicators of that.
  3. Keeping the – versatile? – QB around would have been another way for Belichick to show his trust in offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels, who is the long-time president of the Tim Tebow Fan Club. After all, it wouldn’t be the first time a McDaniels guy landed in Foxborough over the last couple of seasons. Here’s hoping Danny Amendola is the first to truly work out.
  4. Belichick may have viewed Tebow as Tom Brady’s replacement – in another five years or so. As a long, long-term project, he could have coached him up behind the scenes while still not playing him a single snap or even activating him for a game. Heck, even if the 53-man roster wasn’t an option, placing him on injured reserve with a mysterious injury and holding him out for the year so he could bond with his playbook (err, iPad) for future seasons wasn’t out of the question. The practice squad, for those wondering, was not an option.
  5. Since no one else in the league wanted Tebow, and given Belichick’s relationship with both McDaniels and Tebow’s former college coach Urban Meyer, not to mention what appears to be a genuine affection for the guy, putting him on the roster for a brief while would have landed the future ex-NFL’er his pension. I said some theories were farfetched.

Maybe it’s just a refusal to let this go, but I’m not convinced that Tebow is gone for good.

Just as we have seen in the past, guys get waived and then re-signed after the season has started all the time. It’s apples and oranges, I realize, but it happened with Deion Branch and Donte Stallworth just last season. It may happen with Daniel Fells this year. It could with Tebow as well now that the money would be on a week-by-week basis and not fully guaranteed. The bottom-line is, we now know for certain that he won’t be around as any kind of sideshow. If he returns, it’s because Belichick really does see a value there. The rest of the NFL will get a chance first, but the QB probably shouldn’t expect many calls.

And then the other big news of the day...

Until the Patriots released tight ends Fells and Jake Ballard on Friday, I was convinced Rob Gronkowski would start the season on the physically unable to perform list. That will not happen; he’s made the 53-man roster, though he will certainly miss at least the first couple of weeks of the season.

Traveling back in time a few months, I wrote that it would be beneficial to the Pats for Gronkowski to begin the year on the PUP list so as to (hopefully) better preserve his health for the end of the year. Obviously, short of putting him in bubble wrap, there’s no sense in not playing the guy if he’s perfectly healthy. If injuries are going to happen, that’s just a part of the game.

But, not rushing the carefully recovering tight end back too soon does make sense, and I find it hard to believe he’s all that close to game-ready fitness. Gronkowski hasn’t practiced with his teammates and, by virtue of that fact, didn’t dress for a preseason game. While he still hulks over a guy like me, he’s noticeably smaller as a result of five surgeries hampering his offseason training. Side work with the strength and conditioning staff alone would look to indicate he’s still a long way off. It’s hard to believe the party-loving Gronk will be the touchdown-spiking guy we remember before mid-season.

The PUP list made a lot of sense for Gronkowski and, to me, this is the wrong call. But, what do I know? Tebow’s gone. Guess it’s time to shrink my font size.

Follow me on Twitter at @AdamMKaufman

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About this blog

Adam Kaufman is a writer and broadcaster who can also be heard regularly on 98.5 The Sports Hub, WBZ NewsRadio 1030, the national CBS Sports Radio Network, and broadcasting Boston College hockey games. The Massachusetts native is a Syracuse grad and a pop culture fanatic who offers a unique and entertaining look at your favorite Boston sports teams. Please don't hold his love for Jean-Claude Van Damme movies against him.

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