New England coach Bill Belichick inspires fear and loathing in the professional football industry. He is the Dark Lord of the Gridiron, wearing a ratty hoodie and a perpetual scowl on the sideline while plotting his next unpopular triumph.
Sports pundits are taking turns pondering Belichick’s mystique during Super Bowl week in Indianapolis. Perhaps seeking to throw the scribes off their game, the dour tactician showed his human side while yukking it up during his initial media sessions.
This got the media’s attention:
Alex Marvez, FoxSports.com: “Four years ago, the Patriots arrived for Super Bowl XLII tighter than a Tom Brady spiral. Belichick’s first news conference was filled with questions about New England’s quest for a perfect season and his quarterback’s then-gimpy ankle. Those topics were as pleasant for Belichick to talk about as the lingering stink of the Spygate scandal from earlier in the 2007 season. Compared to then, Belichick was downright jovial when meeting with Super Bowl XLVI media for the first time in Indianapolis.”
Mike Reiss, ESPN.com: “He likes this team. That is one conclusion that can be definitively drawn at Super Bowl XLVI, where New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick has been relaxed, engaging and humorous over the past two days. There have been a lot of smiles in his daily news conferences. If there has been a consensus among media types after listening to Belichick talk about everything from injuries -- yes, injuries -- to his background and influences in the game, it's this: Who kidnapped the old Belichick and replaced him with this one?”
Gregg Rosenthal, NBCSports.com: “Perhaps he’s just getting mellow as he gets older, but we doubt it. Everything Belichick does and says has a purpose. He may have received some feedback or realized that his team was a little tight before the Super Bowl four years ago.”
But the Dark Lord is still the Dark Lord, as veteran football scribes observed:
Jerry Izenberg, Newark Star-Ledger: “His rhetoric falls a couple of light years short of Patrick Henry. He throws interesting quotes around as though they were manhole covers. But he is not running for the coaching equivalent of Mr. Congeniality. Belichick’s emotions are as easy to read as tea leaves at the bottom of a cup of Mississippi Delta mud. Watch him on the sidelines, bundled up in a dull, colorless sweat shirt, his face as frozen and emotionless as if it had just escaped from Mount Rushmore, staring at the 100-yard morality play before him like he were squinting through a foggy day in London Town.”
Ron Borges, Boston Herald: “On the sidelines one turns red while the other seems perpetually gray. That may be the biggest difference between Tom Coughlin and Bill Belichick, and perhaps the only one that separates them on a football field or in a meeting room. Outwardly, Coughlin is a boiling cauldron of emotions, slamming down his headset or play sheets when things go awry while Belichick stands stoically, his face and emotions hidden deep inside the shadowy folds of his signature hoodie. Belichick is Mt. Rushmore to Coughlin’s Mt. Vesuvius.”
CRUMMY EFFORT OF THE NIGHT
Illinois and Michigan State set Big Ten basketball back three decades Tuesday night as the Illini squeezed out a 42-41 victory.
The Spartans shot just 24.1 percent from the floor and nearly won. Illinois shot slightly better at 32.6 percent. Illini standout Brandon Paul suggested there was too much air in the basketball and coach Bruce Weber was forced to call on higher powers to help get shots to drop.
“When the shots go up, I just say, `Please, God, let it go in,”’ Weber said. “Some of the shots just sat in there and then popped out.”
FROM THE TWEETDECK
Gary Parrish: “I have dozed off three times during this Michigan State-Illinois game. Every time I wake up the score is basically the same.”
Peter Schrager: “The Kris Humphries paradox continues. Played great tonight in a Nets loss. Makes me cringe with douche chills an hour later on E!”
Darren McCarty: “Final rumor clarification of the nite b4 I sign off. I never (went the distance with) Kim Kardashian. 1st 2nd or 3rd base - I won't admit or deny tho. Lmao!”
FROM THE BLOG-O-SPEAR
Clay Travis had this lament in Outkick the Coverage:
Every year Super Bowl parties bring together awkward groupings of people who are then forced to sit and watch a football game. Inevitably this drives me crazy. Primarily because I don’t understand why I should suddenly be forced to watch football games with people who haven’t bothered to watch a game all season. I mean, is there any other event that celebrates idiocy more? For instance, I don’t feel compelled to show up in New York City and crash some Broadway actors Tony Awards party. You know why? Because I don’t like musicals and haven’t even seen a Broadway play in the past five years. But I respect the fact that for someone who enjoys the Tony’s, it would be sort of annoying for me to begin the night by saying, “I just don’t understand how anyone could ever like a musical.” Yet, somehow, people arrive at Super Bowl parties and say things like, “I just don’t understand why the teams don’t score more touchdowns. Pass me a Zima,” with absolute impunity. It’s lucky these parties only have plastic utensils.
Even worse than that these Super Bowl gatherings require small-talk, ginger ale, finger foods, awkward banter, excessive genuflection over sugar-free sugar cookies that someone made, insufficient supplies of beer and overly abundant Mike’s Hard Lemonade, poor seating options, and require you to listen to some guy explain what a first down is to his girlfriend with an IQ that would barely be sufficient to allow her to be executed were she to commit a murder. Basically the Super Bowl forces the legitimate football fan to be tortured for about four hours with people he or she wouldn’t even think of spending time with on any other sporting occasion. Essentially, a true football fan has three options when confronted with a Super Bowl gathering of football imbeciles, a. actually answer idiotic and rhetorical questions b. make everyone at the party uncomfortable by calling out the idiots and telling them to shut-up and c. doing your best to ignore the outrageous commentary and the idiots you are amongst. Regarding this, I’ve always thought it would be classic for someone to roll up for a Super Bowl party, sit down on the couch, and put on headphones to listen to the radio broadcast.