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Burke: Reputation of Bill Belichick tarnished forever

America is back to hating Patriots head coach Bill Belichick.Getty Images

“Heyyyyyyy … quit it!!!!! … quit cheeeeaaaating!!!!!!!!!!!!”

You probably remember this whine from your childhood buddy when you were pressing the “B” button too fast while playing Mortal Kombat.

“Cheating” – a childish word if there ever was one - is defined at Dictionary.com as breaking a “rule or a law usually to gain advantage at something.” That “something” is a game, and by that definition, you and Bill Belichick are perpetual cheaters.

Belichick isn’t being accused of murder like a certain former tight end of his. But in the court of public opinion right now, his reputation lies somewhere between former Oakland Raiders owner Al Davis and former U.S. President Richard Nixon thanks to “Deflate-gate.” Not good.

ESPN.com reported this week that 11 of the 12 footballs the Patriots used in their 45-7 blowout win over the Colts in this past Sunday’s AFC Championship Game were inflated 2 pounds per square inch below what’s required. The idea there is that a football is easier to throw and grip in inclement weather when it’s slightly deflated.

It’s truly a shame when it comes to Belichick, because the Patriots head coach was just one win away from distancing himself from his first “cheating” scandal – 2007’s “SpyGate,” in which the Patriots were caught video taping opposing team’s signals. Many in the national media and many message board trolls across the country were actually beginning to budge on Belichick. Just one post-SpyGate Super Bowl victory and his first three Super Bowl titles with the Patriots would again be thought of as being on the “up and up.” Just one post-SpyGate Super Bowl victory and Belichick would surpass Vince Lombardi as football’s “G.O.A.T.” when it comes to coaching.

But Belichick’s hyper-competitive nature, his relentless attention to detail, his micro-managing, and yes – his unprecedented arrogance – again caught up to him. And this time, there’s no turning back. He’s forever an asterisk in NFL lore. He’s a Barry Bonds-level cheat in the eyes of everyone outside of New England.

Now, there’s the possibility that in the next day or two the NFL could find that Belichick had zero knowledge of the deflated footballs. No one, of course, will buy that. Especially considering the type of season the NFL, itself, has had when it comes to dishing out punishment.

Another strange twist to this whole thing is that this latest scandal could actually prove somewhat beneficial to the Patriots in the short-term. Belichick’s Pats are simply terrific when the poop hits the fan. They ripped off playoff wins over the favored Steelers and Rams in the 2001 season to capture their first Super Bowl title after the “Tuck Rule” controversy against Oakland, and after they were caught with the cameras in the first game of the 2007 season, they ripped off 17 straight wins.

In other words, Belichick’s Patriots thrive on controversy, and as of Wednesday they were not-so-surprisingly 2-point favorites against the mighty Seahawks in Super Bowl XLIX.

Oh, and there's this. There's a small chance that Belichick could be fired in the days following a Super Bowl win. In the book “Coaching Confidential” by Gary Myers, Patriots owner Robert Kraft called Belichick a “schmuck” for embarrassing the organization with “SpyGate.”

See, football is not “just a game” to someone like Kraft, and maybe the owner has finally had enough with Belichick despite the non-stop winning. It’s painfully clear that the rest of America has had enough with him.

 
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