Tim Tebow’s NFL career certainly didn’t hold a candle to his college career, but it wasn’t for a lack of effort. The quarterback always gave his all, and when he signed for the Patriots in 2013 he saw it as an opportunity to learn from Belichick and Brady, two of the best at their jobs in the entire league. He ultimately got cut before the season even started, which was disappointing given his respect for Coach Belichick.
In his new book, Shaken, Tebow reveals how deep that respect was. He shares an anecdote about how he turned down a 1 day, 1 million dollar endorsement offer because Belichick wanted him to.
I remembered when I had signed with the team in June. Then I’d had an offer on the table to make a one-day appearance endorsing a product for a million-dollar paycheck. I’m sure you’d agree that a million bucks is a lot to make in just twenty-four hours. But I wasn’t quick to say yes.
So when the offer for the one-day commercial turned up, I was sure to discuss the opportunity with him. “I want to know what you think, Coach,” I said. “I respect you and I want to fit in. I want to be one of the guys. Should I do it?”
He thought for a moment and then shook his head. “Timmy, I would really appreciate it if you didn’t.”
Highly respecting the man, I turned down the deal. I didn’t even think twice about it. I wanted the chance to impress Coach Belichick more than I wanted the money. I’ll say that if I were on any other team, I would have probably said yes to the offer. But the thoughts he offered in our initial conversation mattered to me — even more than a million dollars.
Back to the conference room.
“It’s not the right fit,” Coach Belichick said.
My stomach reeled in that moment. I felt disappointed. I felt I had let myself down. I didn’t believe I performed as well in practice or the preseason as I could have, but I was getting better. I had been stoked about the opportunity to learn and train under Tom Brady, one of the best quarterbacks of all time, and planned on using that experience to become one of the best quarterbacks of all time too. At the beginning of training camp, I put a lot of pressure on myself to be like Tom and train like Tom and do like Tom, but then I realized it wasn’t about being Tom Brady; it was about being me and doing my best. Yet, despite improving my performance during the preseason, my effort wasn’t enough.
Frankly, it hurt. I had hoped Coaches Belichick and McDaniels would give me the benefit of the doubt. They were some of my biggest supporters. If they didn’t believe in me, who would?
He was later interviewed on Fox and Friends, where he was asked why he put the decision in Belichick’s hands in the first place.
“I didn’t want to be a distraction on the team. I wanted to be just another guy in the locker room, someone that could work, someone that could be a backup to Tom, and I didn’t want to be a distraction, having stuff all over the headlines, so that’s why I called coach Belichick to say, ‘Hey, what do you think about this? This is a great opportunity that I would say yes to, but I want to do what’s right for the team first.’
“He appreciated me calling, but said, ‘Hey, I would prefer if you didn’t do it,’ so of course I didn’t, because it would put the team first. And that’s not something that I look back and regret at all. It was me trying to honor the team, and if I could do it again, I would’ve done the same thing.”
It speaks a lot to Tebow’s character that he turned down $1 million without batting an eye when his coach asked him to. But in retrospect, he probably should have taken the money.