There is an incredible moment in the career of General George S. Patton where he was relieved of his command in the middle of World War II. After kicking the Nazis out of North Africa and helping to capture Sicily, he slapped a soldier who was in the hospital complaining of what they then called "Battle Fatigue." After a huge public outcry, the War Department essentially benched him and he didn't command troops in combat for 11 months. After repeatedly getting their asses handed to them by Patton, the Germans were ecstatic. They shouldn't have been. Because all Ol' Blood & Guts did in the extra time he had was fume, grow more determined than ever, and strategize. And by the time he was sent back into the fight, he liberated more territory and killed and captured more Germans than any American general ever. In the movie "Patton," the Gen. Omar Bradley character says to him, "That soldier you slapped back in Sicily did more to win the war than any private in the army."
Which brings us to Bill Belichick. Over the last 20 years, he's had less offseason time than any coach over any stretch in NFL history. A trip to the Super Bowl means you get five fewer weeks than the non-playoff teams. He's been to nine of them. Make it to your conference championship, and that makes three fewer weeks. He's done that four other times. This year Belichick's team only had a one week postseason, something they haven't experienced since 2009. And when they lost the Wild Card game, the other NFL teams were ecstatic. They shouldn't have been.
This is what Belichick is doing with the extra time fate has handed him. Leaving no stone unturned. Beating every bush. Combing through every haystack for needles. Searching the breadth and depth of this land for the men who are going to help him win that Seventh Ring that has eluded him for 12 months now. No school is too small. Now prospect so unknown that The Hooded One isn't willing to stand out in a monsoon to run drills with him.
Which brings us to Tyshun Render. An edge defender on a Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders team that went 3-5 in Conference USA. Regardless of how well Render played in those epic battles against Old Dominion or Charlotte, he's such a low level prospect that he doesn't even have a scouting profile on NFL dot com's draft page.
But that doesn't stop the busiest man in the NFL from flying down to Murfreesboro to get a first hand look at the kid in a deluge. There'll be dozens, scores, maybe hundreds of such prospects this offseason that he simply hasn't had time for over the past 10 years because he was too busy working on Super Bowl game plans. And I promise you the next truly great Patriots player will come out of these visits. Be afraid, NFL. Be very afraid.