NEWYou can now listen to Fox News articles!
Four years ago, when my father was in his last weeks due to kidney failure, I arranged for an ambulance to take him from the hospital near his home on Long Island, New York, to a care facility near our home in Boston. When he arrived, I asked him if he knew where he was.
He looked a little confused and asked, “Connecticut?”
“Boston,” I explained.
Unlike me, my father was an ardent New York sports fan. His love centered on his treasured New York Jets. Dad processed the information about his new residence, and finally snarled a single word.
My father, like all Jets fans, like all Cleveland Browns fans, and like countless fans across the land, despised Bill Belichick. I understood. Of course, we in New England loved the scowling coach in the cut-off hoodie. He turned a sports wasteland into Titletown, alongside a quarterback you may have heard of. Guy named Tom Brady.
And now the Belichick era in New England ends not with a bang but a whimpering loss to my father’s beloved Jets.
Sports fans know the broad outlines of Belichick’s story. Two rings won with the New York Giants as their defensive coordinator. His disastrous head coaching stint in Cleveland, where he cut loose the beloved quarterback Bernie Kosar.
And then resurrection in the form of six rings with the Patriots, including the victory over the Falcons, down 28–3 at halftime.
Most Belichick haters ascribe his success to serial cheating (cf. Spygate, Deflategate, et al). But we in New England knew that Belichick won because he out-prepared everyone else.
According to his subaltern, Michael Lombardi, Belichick would have his staff “pad” every player in the league, noting every detail about them, even down to which foot they typically moved first when a play began.
Padding was grueling grunt work, and the perfectionistic Belichick wouldn’t tolerate a single error in the pages of copious detail his minions had to assemble for every single opponent on every single team.
Our love for the coach was not all-consuming, however. We resented his policy of releasing favorite players if he sensed that they were on the verge of becoming too expensive or too slow. But you can’t argue with success.
The only regret most Pats fans have regards Belichick’s stubborn inability to give Brady the fatherly praise the GOAT deserved. We also remain bewildered by his decision to keep cornerback Malcolm Butler, dressed and standing in tears on the sideline, from playing in the Super Bowl against the Eagles.
What if Butler, whose stunning interception in a previous Super Bowl ripped the hearts out of Seattle Seahawks fans, had played? Then Brady might not have had to engineer yet another stunning drive time after time, until time finally ran out.
Many of us trace Brady‘s decision to leave New England to that inexplicable, and never explained, choice.
As my father would snarl, “Belichick.”
He spent the last, Brady-less years of his Pats coaching career as a tragic figure of Shakespearean proportions, scowling on the sidelines, in a forlorn chase of Don Shula‘s all-time coaching wins record.
And now he likely moves on to another team, a fresh start at 71, with the hope that he can somehow reclaim the glittering victories that seemed to come so easily in Foxborough. He won’t have Bob Kraft, the world’s most supportive and wise team owner, and he won’t have Brady. But he’s still Bill Belichick, and somehow, to the likely dismay of my father, who art in heaven, he’ll figure it out.