Tuesday, February 19, 2019

There's a Limit to Even Mad Science

Mark Geragos must be a pretty good attorney. It doesn't matter how much Colin Kaepernick got in his settlement with the NFL. To force a settlement from a league that took Tom Brady to the appellate courts over the air pressure of footballs takes some quality lawyering.

Geragos, however, may not have equal gifts as an NFL pundit. His statement that NFL teams now considering hiring the Nike martyr as a QB included the New England Patriots inspired this reporter to a spit take on the old keyboard. My first thought was Garagos must be related to somebody big in Boston sports talk radio.

"Consider," however, is a verb with many meanings. It could mean Robert Kraft and Bill Belichick discussed signing Kaepernick long into the night last week. It could also mean some drunk came up to  a Pats PR intern in a bar on Route One, asked him about Kaepernick, and the kid very properly refused to say anything. Amazing NFL rumors, ones far bigger than Kaep-to-Pats, have been started in just such circumstances.

Let's acknowledge that if Geragos wasn't just talking through his hat, his consider is probably close to the second meaning, not the first. But before I dismissed it as an impossibility, I remembered that Belichick has given tryouts to two other controversial (for strictly football reasons) quarterbacks who were otherwise unemployable in the NFL -- Tim Tebow and Doug Flutie.

In each case, Belichick did so not out of team need, but out of his own desire to weigh every possible option for his football team, or even for football itself. He didn't want to see Tebow leave the NFL without seeing for himself if he could find some way to employ Tebow's, uh, unique skill set. In the event, he couldn't, which Tebow took as advice to take his dreams to the Mets.

I firmly believe Belichick signed Flutie and kept him on the Pats' roster solely to have him try a drop kick in live action. Bill was much younger then, more willing to take a harmless flyer out of pigskin whimsy.

It's not impossible to believe Belichick has thought about signing Kaepernick because it's impossible to imagine him not thinking about any aspect of pro football that comes up or has ever come up. So let's play a little game. What possible circumstances could make New England think Kaep was worth the inevitable bullshit that'd surround his arrival? How could he help Belichick win games? And do these scenarios have any connection to reality as it exists at Gillette Stadium?

The most obvious thought is that Belichick wants to see if Kaepernick could be an upgrade over Brian Hoyer as Brady's backup. This has some connection to reality, but there's never been any suggestion anyone in the organization, Brady most importantly, is in any way unhappy with Hoyer. When it comes to quarterbacks, the Pats have adopted the policy the Colts had with Peyton Manning, as elucidated by offensive coordinator Tom Moore. Asked why Manning's backup saw almost practice time with the first string, Moore replied, "if 18 gets hurt, we're fucked, and we don't practice fucked." Unless Hoyer himself is unhappy, and why should he be, it's unlikely Kaep would be hired just as a backup.

Except for another unless. What if Belichick has decided that the 2019 college quarterbacks do not include any he wants AND can get with New England's draft spots? Then he might think of Kaepernick as a future bridge, a guy who could start while some yet-to-be rookie is groomed upon the unthinkable disaster of Brady retiring.

That's a plausible idea except for Brady retiring part. Tom's a terrible dissembler who can't even keep a poker face, and his every word indicates he's not leaving any time soon. That could change if he was faced with long-term rehab of a serious injury, or if the Pats suddenly declined to a 9-7 bunch, but those are long shots no coach would waste time preparing for.

So all in all, my personal guess is that Belichick HAS thought about Kaepernick, more than once, too. Kaepernick's good seasons showed a lot of skills, including the icy night where his 49ers won at Gillette in 2012. One thing about spending every waking moment on football thoughts is that it gives Belichick time to consider all sorts of such thoughts, from the concrete and immediate, to blue sky daydreams.

Geragos may have invented Pats' interest in his client, but it probably wasn't a lie, just a lucky guess. Well, kind of lucky. The bet from me is that Belichick spent about 20 minutes sometime since the Super Bowl considering Colin Kaepernick. He probably drew something on a napkin, or even pulled some tape from the Pats' library.

Then Belichick said to himself, "oh, fuck no!" and went on to consider something else.


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