This first: Bill Belichick is the greatest football coach of all-time. I 100 percent believe this.
Second: Two weeks ago I received some “friendly” emails from Patriots honks who said I was being totally unfair by saying Bill Belichick’s reputation as a football coach was forever tarnished.
Well, here’s the deal: In Boston, Belichick’s reputation is gold. He is the modern-day Red Auerbach in terms of acumen. He is loved in the way Larry Bird was once loved because of his similar anti-authority and “go against the grain” mentality and personality.
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But across the rest of the country, despite having won his fourth Super Bowl ring as HC of the NEP on Sunday night, his name remains mud. There will always be a “yeah, but” associated with his name despite mounting evidence that he didn’t know a thing about deflated footballs in the AFC title game and the fact that spying on opponents’ hand signals on the sidelines was once as common a football practice as running the ball when you’re at the 1-yard line.
Now, if Belichick had Pete Carroll’s personality, he would go on Jimmy Fallon this evening, they would splash some water in each other’s faces, giggle for 20 minutes, and then Belichick would don a crown and carry a golden scepter before being hailed as the undisputed greatest mind in the history of team sport.
But Belichick doesn’t play the mainstream game. He is a grump who would rather curl up on the couch, watch “My Cousin Vinny” for the 5,500th time and eat a container of Ben & Jerry’s Cherry Garcia before going to any sort of NFL-sponsored, waste-of-time “gala.”
That is the main reason why people are hesitant to, as a lesser football mind once said, “crown his ass.”
New England fans are beginning to get it, though. They’re starting to “embrace the hate” in the way that Oakland fans loved the ’70s Raiders and Detroit fans loved the late-’80s Pistons. It’s starting to become an enjoyable activity, this “being hated” thing.
When the NFL releases its findings on “Deflate-gate” on the first Friday of the NCAA tournament at 4:30 in the afternoon next month and slaps Belichick and the Pats on the wrist with a small fine, the millions of Belichick haters will cry “I told ya so” on message boards across the Internet. For these people, it won’t matter in the least that the NFL has little proof. The haters will just say that Belichick is hiding so much more and that Goodell burned the tapes for his buddy Bob Kraft.
But if you’re honest with yourself, you know. You recognize that no other football coach has ever had this much success with this much roster turnover. You ignore the noise, and you know that no one in the history of football is better than Belichick.