Tebow knelt on one knee — an expression of faith known as Tebowing — in the end zone.
But then a career of accomplishment descended into adversity.
Tebow led the Broncos into Foxborough the next weekend and lost 45-10 while completing barely a third of his passes.
He was traded to the New York Jets the following March and languished on the bench while coach Rex Ryan ignored fans’ calls for Tebow to replace a struggling Mark Sanchez. Tebow threw just eight passes, ran only 32 times and was cut last April 29.
For six weeks no team wanted him until the Patriots signed him to a low-risk, two-year contract with no guaranteed money. One person with knowledge of the deal told The Associated Press that Tebow would make the veteran’s minimum salary, $630,000 in 2013, with incentives.
At least he wouldn’t be in the center ring of a media circus that surrounded him in New York, not with Belichick’s tight rein on players’ interactions with reporters.
If anyone could turn him into a good NFL quarterback, it seemed, it would be Belichick. And McDaniels was a booster of Tebow, drafting him in the first round in 2010 as Denver’s head coach. There even was speculation that Belichick might find other positions for the mobile Tebow to play, but he worked out only with the quarterbacks.
And his passes still bounced at receivers’ feet and flew over their heads.
“We see things like the pass that he threw in overtime to Thomas,” Brandt said. “I think we see that every once in a while. It really gets us excited about the guy.
“I don’t know if he’s ever going to be a quarterback, and the reasons that I say that is that I think it’s very, very hard with somebody that doesn’t have real good accuracy (and) I don’t know if he has a real good feel for the game.”
The Patriots have carried just two quarterbacks in three of the past four seasons. So with Ryan Mallett entrenched as the backup to Tom Brady, Tebow’s challenge was a difficult one, even before the preseason started. Then he posted a quarterback rating of just 47.2 with two touchdown passes, two interceptions and seven sacks in three exhibition games.
With two scoring passes, it was the best of Tebow’s three games during a shaky preseason in which he completed 11 of 30 passes for 145 yards and ran 16 times for 91 yards.
“It’s not just one game (that matters),” Belichick said Friday about the player evaluation process, “although every game is important. But the body of work, the camp, the rate of improvement, the ability to do the things that players are going to be asked to do at their respective positions (also matter).”