Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Just Bill Being Bill

The NFL is reportedly investigating claims that the New England Patriots spied on the New York Jets coaching staff during last weekend's game in order to intercept defensive signals being sent from coaches in the booth. This clandestine activity apparently has been part of the Patriots game plan for quite some time, and this time, it might cost them a draft pick.

Bill Belichick's personal reputation has taken a few lumps in recent weeks. First, there was his Clintonesque response to questions surrounding his knowledge of steroid use among his players, then came the dust-up about his efforts to cut a back-alley personnel deal with Vikings coach Brad Childress, and now these accusations.

That Bill and his team would engage in this kind of conduct comes as no surprise to those of us who remember the Belichick era here in Cleveland. The only thing that's surprising is that the media is finally starting to notice. It couldn't happen to a nicer guy.

Since Belichick left Cleveland, he's developed into the greatest football coach of his generation. But Bill was a shifty little dirt bag back then, and it looks like he remains one today. If you want a great reminder of that, be sure to read the late David Halberstam's hagiography of the Little Man, and his discussion of Bill's tenure here in Cleveland in particular.

In the Gospel According to Belichick's Ghostwriter, everything that happened to Bill in Cleveland was just a result of a series of unfortunate events. Kosar's skills had diminished, Art Modell undermined Bill, etc. Yeah, yeah, yeah. None of that bothered me too much, but the spin that the book put on the decision to release Bernie Kosar was downright infuriating.

Without getting into the merits of the diminishing skills argument, we all know that there's a two word response to it: Todd Philcox. Nowhere in the pages of Halberstam's book does this guy's name surface, but Vinny Testaverde had injured his shoulder a week earlier, so that's who became Bill's starter when he decided to turn Kosar loose. No matter how far Bernie's skills had deteriorated, he was still light years ahead of Philcox. The Browns were 5-3 at the time of Bernie's departure, and under Philcox's able guidance, they went 0-4 before Testaverde returned to salvage a couple of wins. Funny, those aspects of the story don't get mentioned in the book either.

The bottom line is that by cutting Kosar when he did, the Little Man decided to tank the 1993 season. Since we know that Bill was the smartest guy in the room, it's probably safe to assume that he knew he was doing that when he did it. That's simply outrageous by any standard, but that aspect of the situation was completely glossed over in the book, while fan outrage at Bill was dismissed with this insulting bit of psychobabble:

It was almost like a football lynching, and it became uncommonly personal; in the media fans criticized his looks, his dress, his overall manner. It was so toxic that it seemed he had tapped into something deep and dark and angry in this city... little of it probably in the long run about football. Rather, it was the product of myriad other disappointments, personal and economic and social, but somehow, the continued failure of a not very good football team, a group of strangers who were not viewed as strangers, became the focal point for so much rage; the alternative, one assistant coach privately noted, was probably to beat your wife.

Yes, Cleveland fans, we're all a bunch of repressed wife beaters.

Now the little creep has three Super Bowl rings, not to mention a fawning biography from a Pulitzer Prize winner. You? Well, you had your football team taken from you, and replaced by a half-billion dollar bag-o-shit stuffed into orange helmets that you had to shell out $500+ in PSLs to get the privilege of watching. Serves you right, you lousy bunch of wife beaters.

It's starting to look like Bill and his henchmen might finally be in line for a little karmic payback. If it comes, it will be too little, too late for Browns fans, but the thought of Bill Belichick being given a "cheater" tag to hang around his eventual Hall of Fame bust does brighten up an otherwise depressing football week.

5 comments:

Vinny said...

I had a buddy who used to drive around in a shitty, beaten up Saturn with a bumper sticker that read "Fire Belichick".

I wonder what happened to that Saturn.

Hornless Rhino said...

It was a 1987 Tercel. It eventually threw a piston rod.

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