Can someone please explain to me what in the world ego had to do with Bill
Belichick's decision to go for it on fourth and two Sunday night?
Anyone ... Bueller ... anyone?
This week we've read and heard plenty of potshots at the Patriots head coach.
Most of those include one or more of the following words. "Ego",
"Hubris" or "Arrogant." The commonly held opinion in the
media is that these supposed traits in Belichick were what led him to take the
risky gamble of trying to make a first down rather than punting the ball away.
As we know, the move didn't work. Or maybe it did - it sure seemed like the
ball was in Faulk's hands past that 30-yard line - but it wasn't spotted that
way. The Colts got the ball back, then a few plays later, were in the end zone.
The gamble didn't work, even if stat-man after stat-man this week has shown
pretty conclusively that it was a gamble well worth taking.
But what does Belichick's ego have to do with anything? It's an easy shot to
toss into a column or soundbite, but what are you really saying when you make
"Ego" is defined as "exaggerated sense of self-importance."
OK. So how does Belichick making that decision show any exaggerated sense of
self-importance? How? "Hubris" is "overbearing pride or
presumption." Was Belichick presuming that his offense would be able to
make a two yard gain? Was it overbearing of him to think that they could do
that? This offense had been moving the ball up and down the field all night on
the Colts. He didn't assume his team would make the needed yardage, but was
confident in their ability to do so. If you're confident in your team - who
consist of other people besides yourself - just how does that reflect
exaggerated self-importance? How about "Arrogant?" Was the decision
by Belichick "making claims or pretensions to superior importance or
rights; overbearingly assuming?" Was Belichick claiming that his superior
importance should allow his team to get the needed first down? I don't think
So why have the self-important types in the media rushed to label Belichick in
this manner? The usual reasons - they're just itching for a reason to bash him.
It's no secret, I've talked about it ad naseum, Belichick doesn't fill their
notebooks with snappy quotes, makes them feel stupid, so they're going to take
ever opportunity they can to get their shots in.
You might recall that Belichick has done this once already this season. Against
the Atlanta Falcons, the Patriots were even further back ion the field - the
24-yard line, in the third quarter when Belichick decided to go for it on
fourth down. That play was successful. No forests were killed after that one by
the number of papers being filled with wailing and moaning over Belichick's
out-of-control ego. It was mentioned here and there, but no one said that it
was an example of "hubris" by the Patriots coach. No one said he was
"arrogant" for making that play call. Why?
Because the play was successful, the hue and cry was absent. In fact, because
the play worked out, the call in that Falcons game was praised as
Apparently there is a very thin line separating "Ego",
"Hubris" and "Arrogant" from "Gutsy."
The first down line, to be exact.
Bruce Allen is the creator of Boston Sports Media Watch,
which has recently been recognized by SI.com as one of the best non-corporate
sports web site's on the Internet