One of the most painful things I endure as a sports fan is watching Bill Belichick talk. The Patriots’ head coach is The Football Genius of my generation. He’s got three championships in four years. He lives and breathes football. He shows up on gameday in a sloppy Pats sweatshirt, probably because he’s thought about every single aspect of the game to such a degree that he didn’t get a chance to decide what to wear. I’m positive that he is the only NFL coach to think about football more than the most rabid fans themselves. So with all of these credentials, aren’t you chomping at the bit to hear what words come out of his mouth? There’s a scene in “So I Married an Axe Murder” in which Mike Myers is promised pancakes, French toast, and freshly squeeze orange juice by his girlfriend’s sister, only to be handed Apple Jacks instead. I think Myers must have felt a whole lot like I do when I catch a Bill Belichick post-game interview.
Reporter: “Are you looking forward to the chance to do what only two other teams have done: win three consecutive Super Bowls?”
Belichick cuts him off, “That’s so far down the road, we’ve got the Giants next week and we can’t even think about that stuff right now.” – Does he know that the game against the Giants is preseason, which means it won’t count in the standings?
“What’s your reaction to the word dynasty?”
“We’re respectful of the league and last year doesn’t mean anything, we’re one of 32 teams.” The clichés are flowing now as if Kevin Costner from “Bull Durham” were delivering them personally.
This particular press conference includes many other insightful comments by Belichick; for instance, he points out that the Patriots will have to go on the road 8 times this season. Wow. That’s genius with a capital Gee.
The reporters are what make these press conferences entertaining in the end. Here they are, confronted with the best coach in the league, hands down. They need quotes. It’s not that they need Belichick to look good; but let’s face it, their stories makes much more sense when the genius coach actually talks like one. So they ask questions, leading questions. This is what I gather they must be thinking: Can he just, for one moment, ponder on the success his teams have had over the last four years? Can we get some sort of existential slip that shows that this man actually appreciates what an amazing thing he has done with his life, and for the people of New England? Oh wait, there . . . he’s smiling!!! Nope, dang it, that was actually a grimace.
Could it be that a man, who is pure genius at making his team win on the football field, is fairly inept at expressing himself as to what makes him so good? Is it possible that he literally lives for football, and everything else falls by the wayside? What does this say about our beloved sport? I saw an interview with Bill Parcells a couple years back. Parcells offered some discourse on the word genius, saying that that word should be reserved for people saving lives. It hurts to type these words . . . but . . . I may have to agree with Parcells, in fact, he may have hit upon the very reason it is so painful for me to listen to Belichick speak. I came expecting a guru, one who would offer me word after word of wisdom and lead me down the path of enlightenment. Instead, I got a football coach.