FOXBOROUGH — In his usual terse tones, New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick blandly said little or nothing to promote Tebowmania Tuesday in his first press conference after the team signed controversial quarterback Tim Tebow.
“Anything we do is what we feel is in the best interest of the team,” Belichick said. “Tim is a talented player, smart, works hard, so we’ll see how it goes.”
Tebow, who chose to wear his high school uniform number (5), wasn’t nearly as guarded. In his first — extremely brief — comments in a Patriots’ practice uniform Tuesday after the opening day of minicamp wrapped up, Tebow said he was glad to have a chance with New England.
“First and foremost, I just want to thank the Patriots for giving me an opportunity. I’m very thankful,” said Tebow. “It’s such an honor to be a Patriot and play for coach (Bill) Belichick and (offensive coordinator Josh) McDaniels, and learn under (quarterback) Tom (Brady), and be a part of this great franchise and very successful franchise. I found out firsthand. Lost to them several times. It’s going to be a lot of fun. I’m looking forward to working hard every single day and getting a lot better, and learning under some great people.”
The Patriots are in minicamp this week and Tebow is participating as a quarterback, though Belichick wouldn’t even say what uses he might have in mind for Tebow.
“We’re going to do what’s best for our football team, we’ll see,” Belichick said. “We’ve all seen him play, he can do a lot of things. We’ve seen that.”
Was there any consideration to the spectacle that Tebow brings with him?
“None. We try to do what’s best for the team.”
In the months since his April release from the New York Jets, it appeared no NFL team was going to sign Tebow, the former Florida Heisman Trophy winner and first-round pick by Denver. But despite winning a playoff game, he became expendable when the Broncos signed Peyton Manning last year. He spent 2012 as the center of controversy with the New York Jets, where he played seldom and was released in April.
Jets coach Rex Ryan commented Tuesday on Tebow’s signing with the Patriots.
“I am happy for the young man to get another chance in the league,” Ryan said. “It didn’t work out here. He obviously had more success in Denver. If they want to replace Brady with him, that’s fine.”
Unlike the Jets, there will be no quarterback controversy in New England, where future Hall-of-Famer Tom Brady calls the signals. Terms of Tebow’s contract weren’t disclosed. Multiple reports said the deal is for two years with no guaranteed money. The polarizing athlete is simply being given a chance to fit in.
Tebow, 25, is reunited with McDaniels, who was the Broncos’ head coach when Denver drafted him in 2010. He’ll likely compete with Ryan Mallett for the backup quarterback spot.