Rooting for Bill Belichick is like pulling for Tim Donaghy, or hoping that the reign of the phrase, “It is what is,” continues. There’s something extremely distasteful about it.
This makes it natural to wonder if this all-out media maelstrom over Belichick’s fourth-down decision isn’t stilted because the man in the hoodie is such an unlikable cheat. Only, it isn’t. The Patriots’ Super Bowl spyer really did make one hellaciously dumb call Sunday night. It’s not the dumbest call ever, but it’s inane enough to make Yankees’ manager Joe Girardi look like a near strategic genius by comparison.
Worse than the call, though, was the execution. If you’re going to go for it on fourth-and-2 from your own 28, up by six with little more than two minutes left, you need to have a timeout left in case of a challenge. Instead, Belichick and Tom Brady inexplicably morphed into Herm Edwards and Chad Pennington, turning time management into a clown car routine.
And let’s not forget the result this game-winning, giveaway touchdown will surely have on sports. After seeing a three-time Super Bowl winner get skewered for going for it on fourth down when it’s not the right call, how many coaches will now lose the courage to go for it on fourth when it is the right call? There’s no doubt that more NFL coaches need to take more risks on fourth down.
That study showing how it’s often a better decision to go for it on fourth down should be embraced. But no study would show it to be a favorable call when you’re inside your own 30, leading 34-28 with 2:08 left.
Maybe, Bill really is lost without secret tapes. It’s fun to think that a real NFL version of the arrogant creep who always used to ridicule you in Madden is getting his due. Until you realize what it means for original thinking in sports.
– Chris Baldwin covers the sports media for Metro.
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