Whatever else you may say about Bill Belichick, the man can coach. As a New York Giant fan, I have followed his career for over 20 years and I always thought he didn’t get enough credit for the job he did as the coach of the Giant defense. Bill Parcells hogged all the credit for the Giants success but it was Belichick’s defense that was at the root of the Giants’ two Super Bowl victories.When Parcells and Belichick moved on from the Giants, I continued to follow their careers.
I was happy for Belichick when he got the head coaching job in Cleveland and surprised when he wasn’t a sucess. Then, when he got another shot at in Boston, I was very happy when he won his three Super Bowls. I liked the way he put the team together and the way in which he got the Patriots to play as a team. I admired his eye for talent and his intense work ethic and single mindedness. I liked Tom Brady and Troy Brown and Tedy Bruschi and Ty Law and the others. Last year I switched allegiances to root for Tony Dungy , Peyton Manning and the Indianapolis Colts ( They’d no Super Bowl rings, the Patriots had three) but I liked the Patriots too and rooted for them except when they played against the Colts or Giants.
Belichick ‘s post game behavior had always been surly and ungracious but I ascribed it to his lack of people skills. However,beginning about two years ago, there have been other incidents that have caused me to think anew about Belichick and his behavior. First, there was the unpleasantness with Eric Mangini, then his tight ends coach, when the latter left to become head coach of the N.Y. Jets. It’s natural for asst. coaches to want to become head coaches but Belichick was very nasty in trying to get Mangini to refuse the Jets offer. When the Jets and the Pats played each other, Belichick couldn’t bring himself to shake Mangini’s hand post game. Very childish and immature. Then there was Spygate about which enough has been said and written.Reading Belichick’s “apology” after he was found out, it’s clear there wasn’t any real remorse for his actions.What was so inexplicable was that his team didn’t need this extra edge ; they were already good enough to cream other teams.
This year , his actions have been even more reprehensible ; running up the score against the Redskins was a totally unnecessary and classless act. Perhaps the mounting pressure of protecting that unbeaten record took it’s toll. Perhaps the fear of losing sent him around the bend and the single-mindedness became an obsession.Two of his actions during the Game were strange. One was the decision to go for it on 4th and 13 from the Giants 32, rather than attempt a field goal or punt . ( This was remarked upon even as the play unfolded, so it is not 20-20 hindsight to bring this up now.) The other was his preoccupation with the Patriots defense ; he spent several minutes hunkered down with them while the Patriot offense was on the field. I thought the Pats defense played well enough ; he might have better spent the time talking to the offensie particularly the O-line which was being undressed by the Giants pass rush. As for his post game behavior ( he’s being criticized for leaving the field with one second still on the clock), I’m inclined to give him the benefit of the doubt. He apparently thought the game was over and did shake hands with the Giants coach.
There comes a time when people have to stop making excuses for rotten behavior. Today’s news was about Bobby Knight resigning as the basketball coach at Texas Tech. There were all these testimonials from his former colleagues about what a great guy he really is and how he’s been “misread”. Give me a break ! Throwing a chair on the court, abusing refrees and players and throwing temper tantrums is inexcusable, particularly for a college coach. What sort of an example is that for the young men who play for you ?
Belichick’s surliness is being explained away as being a product of his total commitment to winning and to his players, about his single-minded determination to the game. We are told that his players all love him and that he cares only about them and not for what anyone else might think. That’s a load of #%@*.
Belichick will go down in football history as a great coach, perhaps the best ever but , unless he changes his ways, he will also be known as a sorehead and a flawed human being.