Monday, February 11, 2008
The Giants - a team written off in week 3 - had just knocked off the 18-0 Patriots to win the Super Bowl. Veterans Michael Strahan and Amani Toomer got their rings. Eli Manning finally emerged from his brother's shadow. Long-snapper Zack Deosse, along with father Steve Deosse, became the first father-son tandem to win Super Bowl rings with the same team. The NFL MVP had been uncharacteristically off with his throws. Randy Moss was going to be a free agent. The Patriots were going to have to rebuild. There were great plays, questionable decisions, and bizarre clock stoppages on the Giant's final drive.
I could go on and on with the abundance of material Super Bowl XLIII provided sportswriters and bloggers. But one story, just one story has really caught my eye. It's a story that demonstrates the true nature of the sporting press as biased and simple-minded.
I'm talking about Leaving-the-Game-Early-Gate, the latest "story" created by those who despise Coach Belichick, and furthered by those myopic people who fail to actually think about things, and instead have purely emotional reactions.
This fresh outrage occurred with 0:01 on the game clock (it actually read 0:00 but was changed to 0:01). The Patriots had just turned the ball over on downs. Photographers, players, coaches, and Belichick swarmed the field from both directions. Belichick shook hands with Tom Coughlin and adjourned to the locker room. The field was eventually cleared, allowing Manning to kneel the ball and end the game.
Then began the media scrutiny over Belichick's actions. They didn't question going for it on 4th & 13. They didn't question the Patriots sticking with the long ball despite its obvious ineptitude. They didn't question going for 4 long passes with 0:35 left, 3 timeouts, and only a field goal needed to tie. The media had a chance to act like a defensive lineman on 3rd & 12, and flat-out rush Belichick's decisions like a QB in an obvious passing situation. Instead him going onto the field with 0:01 left was the topic du jour.
Doug MacEarchen had this to say in his editorial for the Arizona Republic:
"Sure, I liked Tom Brady. I liked the rejuvenation of Randy Moss. I just liked the Pats. But, then, there is Bill Belichick. It is one thing for coaches to push the margins of fair play. But in leaving the field before the Super Bowl - the Super Bowl, for heaven's sake! - was complete, Belichick demonstrated contempt for the game. The Pats' own coach ruined their pursuit of perfection as much as the Giants did."
So he'd rather have Belichick cheat than go onto the field early. This is the level of silliness and stupidity I'm talking about.
Steve Czaban of OnMilwaukee.com had this to say in his editorial
"The captain always goes down with his ship. Apparently, this doesn't apply to New England coach Bill Belichick...
"Staying on the field until the last possible breath of hope is gone is the very least you can expect of an athlete or a coach. Call it protocol, tradition, or simple class...
"When you ditch the last seconds of a brutal loss like that, you are literally turning your back on your team...
"By leaving just a little early, Belichick drew the spotlight away from Coughlin, and onto himself. He can say that was never his intent, or simply not his fault. But it doesn't matter...
"When the world saw him walk that walk, his character came into clear focus: great coach, bad sport. For most men in his profession, that would be a nearly mortal embarrassment. For Bill Belichick, it was just another lowering of his personal bar - one that is already low enough to trip over."
So Belichick turned his back on his team, and tried to upstage Tom Coughlin? He also should be mortally embarrassed? All because he went on the field early?
Aaron Weare of the Murray State News had this to say
"The last Belichick point that had many people up in arms is he left the field with time still on the game clock. I'm not going to beat him up about that, because at his core Belichick isn't a likable guy. It's no secret that Belichick isn't the most likable coach in the NFL, and him leaving the field early is just another example of his typical lack of class. Like LaDainian Tomlinson said after last year's playoffs, the Patriots are a no-class organization and it starts with their head coach."
So Aaron Weare, some writer for a college newspaper, KNOWS that Belichick "at his core...isn't a likable guy?" Are you kidding me? What the hell does Aaron Weare of the Murray State News know about Bill Belichick's core? And of course, alluding to LT is not surprising. I'm stunned Tony Dungee isn't mentioned in this Super Bowl "article."
I know I'm picking on a college writer, but this is where it starts. This is where the sportswriter is molded into some sort of Crusader for Class, a chivalrous warrior for all that is good and holy in sports. Their #1 enemy is, of course, Bill Belichick.
Mike Toth, on Sportsnet.ca, had this hilariously moronic excerpt from his Scattered Thoughts piece
"Forget about the arrogance Bill Belichick showed at the end of the Super Bowl by leaving the field early after the New York Giants had shocked his New England Patriots."
How the hell is that arrogance? Do writers have dictionaries any more? This is what I'm talking about, though. People just make stuff up that makes no sense at all.
Stick to hockey and curling, Mike.
Jim Armstrong of The Denver Post said:
"Talk about classless. Henceforth, his beloved hoodie won't be Belichick's only prop. He'll have to carry the baggage from his Super Bowl stunt wherever he goes."
Stunt? Carry his "stunt" as "baggage?" Are you serious, Jimmy?
Scott Ottersen of The Bleacher Report had some funny tidbits.
"No one can tell me he thought the game was over—I don't want to hear that excuse. As great a coach as he is, Belichick knows the rules of change of possession. He knows that the game cannot end until that last snap is taken and the clock winds down to triple zeroes...
"How can I respect him anymore? Sure, I can respect Belichick as a great coach, but as a man? Never again.
"It's despicable to think that one of the game's greatest coaches would disrespect the opposing team's coach, the opposing team's players, his own players, the NFL, the Super Bowl, and himself in this way."
Well, the clock did read triple 0, but you were too busy trying to find bullshit to pile onto Belichick to notice, Scott. And as far as you respecting him as "man?" I'm sure Coach Belichick will be crying into his pillow because he's lot YOUR respect.
And how the hell is what Belichick did disrespectful to the Giants, or his own players, or the game? I'm still waiting to find a good justification of this argument. I doubt one will be forthcoming.
Donnie Collins of the Scranton Times-Tribune wrote in his commentary after the game:
"New England Patriots players dutifully wore T-shirts exclaiming their willingness to eat [humble pie]. Enterprising bakeries around town even sold it. Too bad the guy who served it most couldn’t bring himself to taste it on Sunday.
"Half a week has passed, and I’m still waiting for all those national columnists to bash Patriots coach/taskmaster Bill Belichick for high-tailing it off the University of Phoenix Stadium turf with one second to go in the New York Giants’ 17-14 win in Super Bowl XLII."
How was Belichick leaving early a failure to eat humble pie? Didn't he go out, shake Coughlin's hand, do his post-game press conference, and all that? His only wrongdoing was not repeating himself after the clock went from 0:00 to 0:01 back to 0:00.
And this repeating theme of sportswriters imploring other sportswriters to join them is a typical ploy I've read in these columns. They seem to be asking their colleagues to join in their righteous struggle against classlessness, against Bill Belichick.
Donnie's football IQ was thoroughly demonstrated with this statement about Tom Brady's possibly injured ankle:
"You don’t throw with your ankle."
Brilliant analysis. Tell Joe Theisman that you don't throw with your leg. Or tell Patrice Bergeron that you don't play hockey with your cranium. Don't worry, Donnie, with well thought out analysis like that, someday you'll move up from Scranton to Binghamton. Or maybe even Harrisburg!
But the critics aren't just in the rest of the country, they're right here in New England. Local oaf Micahel Muldoon of the Lawrence Eagle-Tribune had this to say:
"Bill Belichick was badly outcoached and just as disturbing was again classless after the Greatest Team Ever Assembled (GTEA) was pushed around by the presumed sacrificial lambs from New York in Super Bowl XLII...
"Maybe the look-at-me-America! dapper red hoodie was too tight and cut off blood flow to the brain. How else to explain the inability to slow down the Giants' pass rush? Worse yet, to even try to slow them down. The Giants sackmeisters were huffing and puffing but no hurry-up offense from the Pats?
"How else to explain Randy Moss being such a minor part of the game plan against the aforementioned group of Ellis Hobbs wannabees that comprise the Giants' defensive backfield?
"You have to wonder about Moss' future in Foxboro after he made a point to include coaching among the Patriots' problems Sunday night in the desert.
"But as [Bobby] Knight also discovered, when you fail to win the big one, which has been the case the last three years in New England, you don't get carte blanche to act like a jerk.
"That's the only way to describe Belichick's actions after the game. With referee Mike Carey trying to give him a 15-yard horse collar to get him back on the sideline, Belichick continued to march across the field despite there being a second left to play.
"He gave Coughlin an awkward hug, continued on to the locker room and later gave one of his intentionally painfully bland interviews with Fox's Chris Myers.
"Just the latest examples of classless behavior by a coach who needs to consume some of his homemade humble pie...
"In this his darkest hour for his coaching and his classlessness, Belichick deserves the same treatment."
The fact that Muldoon alludes to Randy Moss saying that coaching was a problem demonstrates his raging idiocy. After every game, Patriots players - particularly Brady - go on their schpeel about playing better and coaching better. It's what they do. And guess what Michael, have you ever heard of the franchise tag? Do you really think Randy Moss wants out of a team that got him 3 points away from a ring, and the record for receiving touchdowns?
How was Belichick "badly" outcoached? It was a 3 point game that was won with 0:35 on the clock! How is that being badly outcoached?
What the hell does Belichick have to do with stopping the pass rush? All he can do is formulate the scheme, then hope it is executed. Instead of blaming Belichick for the Giants pass rush, maybe, just maybe, you could give credit to THE GIANTS PASS RUSH!!!
Why not go with a no-huddle? Because your 35 and older linebacking corps might not like a one minute 3 and out for their rest in between defensive series.
Moss wasn't part of the gameplan? He had several deep balls thrown to him that were badly off-target. But I suppose that was Belichick's fault, too.
I'm still eagerly awaiting an explanation as to why Belichcik's actions were classless, even more classless than breaking NFL rules by taping opponents' sidelines, or trying to embarrass an opponent, or giving half-hearted handshakes.
Michael Muldoon is actually the sports editor of the Lawrence Eagle-Tribune. His kindergarten level of understanding football, and his baseless attacks on Belichick have ensured that I will probably never buy an issue of the Lawrence Eagle-Tribune. If he's the kind of man they have running an entire department, God knows what else goes on there.
And calling the Giants' defensive line "sackmeisters?" Did you go to the adult video store before writing this, Michael?
The Chicago Tribune's Steve Rosenbloom wrote on his blog:
"Dr. Evil Bill Belichick tried to explain his classless move of leaving the field before the Super Bowl ended: "Basically, on that last play I wasn't really sure of the time. Everybody started on to the field and then I got over there and I wanted to congratulate Tom. I wanted to get over there and congratulate him and tell him that -- congratulate him on the championship. There really wasn't much left at that point." Wasn't sure of the time? What a crock. Videotape shows referee Mike Carey getting in front of Belichick and telling him that there was still time left on the clock. Just admit you're classless and move along, pal."
Well, pal, I think calling Bill Belichick "Dark Lord of the Sith" would have been funnier. The clock read 0:00. Yet you, and your agenda-laden media buddies have ignored this fact. All you continue to do is perpetuate this notion of classlessness without any supporting argument.
Mike Beas of the Anderson Herald Tribune (that's in Indiana, home of the Classy Colts)
"Leave it to the most classless organization in all of professional sports to swing a steel wrecking ball into four decades of Super Bowl tradition...
"Then Mr. Funnybone, Bill Belichick, reacts like the spoiled second-grader he is and for once you find yourself chuckling at the losing team’s expense if not laughing hysterically.
"By running off the field with time remaining on the clock during New England’s 17-14 loss to the New York Giants on Sunday, Belichick, whether he intended to or not, swiped a large portion of the winning team’s thunder.
"The 55-year-old Patriots coach made the moment about him. His disappointment. His insecurities as a coach and as a person...
"Go wrap a heartfelt bearhug on New York defensive end Michael Strahan, a future Hall of Fame inductee who in his 15th season finally earned a taste of a Super Bowl championship. Tell him how happy you are for him even if, deep down, you’re not...
"Millions of impressionable teens and preteens, many of them athletes themselves, were watching at home. Nice example, coach. The ball was on the tee. All Belichick had to do was swing. He refused and now looks more moronic than ever, which is saying something."
Bill Belichick's leaving the field early has destroyed decades Super Bowl tradition, at least according to Mr. Beas. Next year's Super Bowl just won't feel the same, because it's been ruined. Thanks, coach!
Mr. Beas found himself "chuckling at the losing team's expense, if not laughing hysterically." Then he goes on to rip Belichick for being classless. Look in the mirror, Mike. You're going to have the audacity to preach about magnanimity in victory and defeat, while simultaneously reveling in the Schadenfreude of some team's failure? You're a hypocrite.
Oh, and way to stay unbiased, Mike. Apparently Mr. Beas hasn't hear the expression "there's no cheering in the press box," or in his case, there's no hysterical laughing in the press box.
Mr. Beas is another writer who asserts that Belichick's running onto the field was an effort to take away the spotlight from Tom Coughlin and the Giants. Mr. Beas, the spotlight is controlled by its operator, not the actor on stage. You, Mr. Beas, are a spotlight operator, and YOU have decided to put it on Belichick. So don't blame him for what you and your anti-Belichick cronies have done.
And since when does Bill Belichick have insecurities as a person? Do you, Mr. Beas, at your Anderson, Indiana newspaper, have some sort of personal access to Bill? Do you have some close connection, maybe a mole working on the inside? Or are you just like the others of your ilk: a fiction writer posing as a sports journalist?
And the part about impressionable teens and preteens being influenced was the most hackneyed bit of trite I've seen in this whole exploration of the media's Belichick hatred.
What's sad is that by being such a slogan spouting retard, you'll probably move up quickly in the world of sports journalism, Mr. Beas. The contemporary sportswriting environment not only tolerates overly opinionated loudmouths with more bark than substance, it encourages them. You could be the next Skip Bayless or Woody Paige. Just continue making stuff up, spouting cliches, ignoring the truth, and keeping one eye closed. You'll be on Around the Horn in no time.
I could go on and on with these excerpts of hate. That's truly what they are. Has any head coach ever been so reviled by the media as a person? Coaches are often vilified for their decisions, and their actions on and off the field are criticized. But the attacks on Bill Belichick are directed squarely AT HIM, as a human being. Tom Jackson once said about the Patriots "they hate their coach" (they went on to win 23 of 24 games after that fantastic analysis), but it's apparent that it is the media that truly hates him.
What's stunning is that in all of these pieces, there's not a single reference to the Giants' reaction. These sportswriters claim that the G-Men were somehow overshadowed or disrespected by what Belichick did.
So what did Giants' head coach Tom Coughlin have to say about it?
"I didn't attach anything to it. He came over and said some nice things. Chances are, at the end of the game he wouldn't have made it over."
Does he sound like a man whose thunder has been stolen?
If anyone thinks the Giants were somehow miffed by what the opposing head coach did with 0:01 in their SUPER BOWL VICTORY, then that person needs to immediately seek a CAT scan.
These Belichick hate mongers also ignore the basic facts of the event.
Fact #1: The game clock expired to 0:00 prematurely. It was one of countless errors in the clock that night.
Fact #2: Coach Coughlin went out to meet Belichick, as did many members of his team.
Fact #3: With 0:01 on the clock, the Giants were already wearing their Super Bowl Champion hats.
Fact #4: Belichick did his coaching duty and went out to shake Coughlin's hand. He didn't simply run into the locker room, crouch in a corner, and sulk.
Fact #5: The game was over. There was no chance of a Patriots victory. None. Belichick was conceding defeat, something which I've seen done in college football in similar situations.
Fact #6: The field at the end of any game, but especially the Super Bowl, is an insane mess of activity. Photographers, players, coaches, trainers, families, officials, it's a madhouse.
The haters wanted something to attack Belichick with. Instead of attacking his coaching decisions - which would have been understandable, appropriate, and expected considering some of his questionable calls - they wanted to attack the man. They wanted to use this game as an excuse to stab him with their pens, throw their Black Berries at him, and pound him with their laptops. They wanted to rip him limb from limb.
They have no regard for truth, reason, logic, or sense. They're sick of Belichick. As fans, they're sick of the Patriots success. As writers, they're sick of Belichick and his players keeping their mouths shut.
It's somewhat disturbing how these people act. They're self-proclaimed Crusaders. They're the Protectors of The Class.
The Class is a very special thing. LaDainian Tomlinson has it. Peyton Manning has it. Tony Dungee has more of it than anyone in the NFL. Some people have a great deal of it, some have very little, some have none. Bill Belichick not only has none, he has a great deal of Anti-Class.
Who determines what is Classy, and what is Anti-Classy? Doug MacEarchen of the Arizona Republic. Steve Czaban of OnMilwaukee.com. Aaron Weare of the Murray State News. Mike Toth of Sportsnet.ca. Jim Armstrong of The Denver Post. Scott Ottersen of The Bleacher Report. The Chicago Tribune's Steve Rosenbloom. Donnie Collins of the Scranton Times-Tribune. Michael Muldoon of the Lawrence Eagle-Tribune. And Mike "Think of the Children" Beas of the Anderson Herald Bulletin. These men, and others like them, are part of a society that determines all that is Class, all that is not Class, and all that is Anti-Class.
These men need not justify their claims. What they say in this realm must be taken at its word. No thought is required. In fact, critical thinking is explicitly forbidden by this group.
Remember when Belichick was criticized for shooing away Pittsburgh Steeler trainers from one of his injured players? A former sportswriter once suggested to this cabal of Class that maybe Bill Cowher should have been criticized for interfering with a Patriots player, and not the other way around. The critical thought, and the defiance of the group resulted in the death penalty for this poor sportswriter.
I'm kidding, of course.
But these critics have done nothing but attack Bill Belichick for nearly a decade. Why? Why such hatred? Is Bill really that bad of a guy. And if he were a bad guy, who cares? Who cares if he helps his neighbor take out the trash? Who cares if he gives Eric Mangini a half-hearted handshake or an enthusiastic handjob?
And who the hell are these people, thinking that they are the judges and juries of what is classy and good? I'm sure if I stalked one or two of these guys, I'd be able to dig up tons of dirt on them. Everybody's humans, and humans are imperfect. But these clowns feel like superior beings; basking in the heavenly glow of their Vaios; pouring over film of the last second of the Super Bowl (ignoring the previous 3,599 seconds); finding some minutia to be misconstrued, misinterpreted, overblown, and insufficiently thought through.
So feel free to attack these writers. E-mail them obscenity filled ramblings about how much you hate them. You'll be surprised at how good it feels to type the F word and C word in all caps. You can slam down on your keyboard and everything. And don't feel bad. By casting the first stone, these dunderheads have opened up the door for people criticizing them without logic, facts, reason, or sense.
I, for one, will do my part.
Arizona Republic editorial
Murray State News article/editorial. I really couldn't tell if it was supposed to be an article or editorial. It had the word "I" in it, which suggests editorial, but the headline and rest of the story suggests an article. Aaron, I hope you have a good minor.
"Scattered thoughts" on sportsnet.ca
Denver Post column
The Bleacher Report
Scranton Times-Tribune column
Lawrence Eagle-Tribune column
Anderson Herald Bulletin column
Boston.com article by Chirstopher L. Gasper