Monday, February 04, 2008

Idle threat of the week

It always seemed to me New England Patroits' coach Bill Belichick's churlishness was borne from his desire to control everything around him. The coach as a control freak is nothing new but, unlike his colleagues, Belichick has made little effort to conceal his tendencies.

Belichick shows his true colors every week when he renders the league-required pre-game injury report useless by always listing star quarterback Tom Brady as questionable. Then, from the sidelines, Belichick thumbs his nose at the league's mandate that coaches wear team merchandise by attiring himself in the most ill-fitted officially-licenced hoodie he can find and then lopping off the sleeves, ending up with a parka-like creation unmistakably his own.

While coaches who were once jocks, or have Southern accents, have been playing dumb charmingly ever since the beginning of the press conference, Belichick, who comes from the same elite Northeastern intellectual background as most of the reporters who cover him, hardly masks his disdain for those whose pesky articles could potentially derail his perfect script when he stonewalls them.

Lest anyone suggest he might have a relationship with a fellow coach like Eric Mangini or Tony Dungy, Belichick's dismissive and disrespectful treatment of his colleagues makes sure the world knows he would never let such things as human emotions or professional respect get in the way of his quest to annihilate the rest of the league.

Belichick's lack of manners and refusal to toe league lines has always been secondary to his winning ways. As another great football coach once said, "winning is the only thing."

But when a defeated Belichick jogged off the field with one second remaining yesterday, triggering mass confusion, the Super Bowl didn't end. Football games are exactly sixty minutes long and, unlike a league dress code or a reporter's question, this parameter can't be ignored or manipulated.

The game finished with Belichick in the locker room. And his feeble attempt to control the moments in which his team's dash towards immortality ended abruptly is the Idle Threat of the Week for January 28th to February 3rd. While a sore winner is still, first and foremost, a winner, the line between the sore winner and the sore loser is as thin as next week's results.

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