How Bernie Kosar can Help the Patriots Win...in 2020!
The weekly unveiling of the NFL 100 All-Time Team last year on NFL Network showed an entirely different side of Bill Belichick. One with a little bit of humour and an intense love of the game. Something in complete contrast to the gruff, ‘give nothing away’ press conferences that the public are used to hearing out of One Patriot Place.
What was the number one takeaway however, at least for those who didn’t know this already, was the sheer appreciation and affection that Belichick has for the history of the game. This was a man that lit up talking about past coaches and players. Put it this way, even without his storied career, if there was a history degree in Pro Football, Belichick would easily graduate with first-class honours and then ace the masters degree to boot.
So, for a man that is so intrinsically intimate with NFL history, there is no question that Belichick will understand just how unusual a period in his own coaching timeline that he is currently facing. We all know about the current shape of things at quarterback, Belichick has even admitted to the press that his current quarterback back room of Stidham, Hoyer and Lewerke ‘wasn’t by design’. But it is understandable considering no other quarterback has been entrenched for so long and then left with no natural heir-apparent.
That is before you get to the overriding uncertainties that all current coaches have to face. Having no idea when they can next see their players or even if there will be a 2020 season at all. Something that is completely unprecedented considering, as Belichick himself surely would not need telling, that not even the Second World War could stop the NFL.
As a result, when we consider how the one true NFL team supremo (except Bill O’ Brien perhaps!) deals with what is the biggest personnel decision of his entire career, we can use history to inform us as it will certainly influence Belichick.
So, where do you look when you think about personnel history in the NFL, especially relating to quarterbacks?
This is a man whose first ever draft as a GM was with the Baltimore Colts, where he actually had the advantage of the number one overall pick. However, he was then told by John Elway that he would rather play baseball than join the Colts.
A full 21 years later, Accorsi managed to be on the other end of things when as GM of the Giants he managed to trade for Eli Manning who was pulling the same stunt on the San Diego Chargers that Elway was pulling on him.
However, there is a third major quarterback deal in the middle that maybe has more basis in the current climate on what Belichick might do than either of these. That deal is how Ernie Accorsi managed to get Bernie Kosar while GM of the Cleveland Browns.
Back in 1985, players had to have graduated in order to come out early. Kosar, as a redshirt sophomore, had earned so many extra credits that he could graduate and declare. However, Kosar desperately wanted to be a Cleveland Brown. Unfortunately, there was no way that the Browns could get far enough in the draft to get him.
Between Kosar, his family and his agent (as well as some rather nefarious discussions with Accorsi), they worked out that if he missed the declaration deadline, he would end up in the Supplemental Draft allowing the Browns to trade for the number one pick in the supplemental draft, essentially useless to the Buffalo Bills, and nab Kosar.
After protests and a four-team meeting with commissioner Pete Rozelle, it worked and the Brown got their Youngstown native QB… only for them to never get past John Elway and the Broncos!
How does this affect Bill Belichick in 2020?
Primarily as a result of the above move by the Browns, the NFL has changed the rules of the Supplemental draft to say:
“…the league may hold one supplemental draft for players who eligibility has changed since the NFL Draft. A player may not bypass the NFL draft to be eligible for the supplemental draft.”
The second part of that is a clear reference to Bernie Kosar. The first part however, is where the Patriots may find their golden goose. We live in uncertain times, who knows the state of the NFL season in 2020, let alone the NCAA season in 2020.
Right now we have already seen the California State University system say they are planning on all of their campuses being at least partially closed in the fall with the possibility that they would only be open for medical students. If campuses are not open and state leaders are against it, what can players do?
At this moment in time, if things stay just with California universities, players like Walker Little and Paulsen Adebo from Stanford and Jay Tufele out of USC might be able to get a hardship waiver in order to transfer. However, what happens if this extrapolates beyond California.
Add that to the fact that even if you are able to play an NCAA season, you are forcing players to play in what could easily be considered dangerous environments without pay, and if campuses are closed, unable to take advantage of their scholarships. If those are not reasonable conditions for players to potentially claim that their ‘eligibility’ has changed, I understand. From a legal perspective though, there is no question that other 2020 seniors like Dylan Moses and Travis Etienne, could use this to sue their way into the Supplemental Draft.
From there, if you are heading into your junior season, faced with an uncertain future, why not join the plaintiffs and challenge the rules about needing to be three years out of high school at the same time. Sure, running backs would definitely be front and centre of the queue for wanting to challenge that rule given how their careers now drop off a cliff just as they should be getting paid, but players in any position may want to test these rules…
Trevor Lawrence, Justin Fields…Bill Belichick, take your pick.
Image credit: Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports & Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports