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How to love Bill Belichick, the NFL's last romantic

There are a number of people and things associated with the NFL worthy of your contempt. Bill Belichick shouldn't be one of them.

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There are two kinds of people in this world: those who like ornery, difficult, bastard type things, and those who don't. You either understand why you would love a dog who eats the bacon out of the fridge and turn your couch into a biohazard site, or you don't. Those people who don't understand this own Golden Retrievers, wear khakis and drive Altimas. There is nothing wrong with any of that because those are all good and fine things, and I hope you enjoy them.

Then there are those of us who watch Bill Belichick stonewall an entire press conference after his team has been caught cheating and somehow come out of it liking him, and wanting to put on a hot bowl of coach-gruel for him as a sign of respect.*

*Belichick probably only eats coach-gruel, a kind of protein-rich goo he can hork down from a bowl placed in front of him at eight-hour intervals. He eats it without hands, like a dog hopping on a bowl of gizzards. Do not think that coaches aren't thinking about mimicking this right now; they're probably ground-floor investors in Soylent, and heavy users.

There's a kind of sick logic to this affection for Belichick and his complete refusal to work on the same page with the rest of humanity. Belichick cheats, albeit at the fringes of a sport whose rules allow for a lot of on-field and extracurricular edge-seeking. He speaks as few words as possible to the media, though he's more than capable of giving brilliant answers to football questions when he likes. He does not understand clothing, or what it does besides prevent the body from embarrassing public exposure. He is an adult who periodically sleeps in his office without shame, a practice which is really only acceptable if you're a lighthouse keeper or fireman.*

*Someone please make sure Bill Belichick is not actually a lighthouse keeper, and that he does not actually live in the lighthouse built into Gillette Stadium.

The greatest football coach of an era lives like a bridge troll who pays only the bare minimum of humanity taxes. And you either find that hilarious, or you don't. I do, because Bill Belichick is only paying the barest of lip services to society past the requirements of his job, and I admire the hell out of that. It's a pessimist's life goal, like living in a place where your nearest neighbor's house couldn't be hit by a well-placed gunshot from your front porch.

And if Belichick makes things hard for reporters, then they're not being imaginative enough. You're getting a villain, a grumbly, mercurial villain so petty-villainous George R.R. Martin himself called the Patriots the "Lannisters of the NFL." Like Marshawn Lynch refusing to answer questions with anything but "yeah" and "I'm just thankful," he's making your work for you. Maybe someone's actually frustrated by this, but otherwise just enjoy turning this into kayfabe and thank your lucky stars people pay attention to your sport.

A full disclosure here before we go any further: On its best days, I hope for the NFL to be sucked into a galactic sewer pipe. This is a business that terminates its workers at will after asking them to perform their jobs at great risk. They then market that risk, and sell it with the gruntiest, stupidest cliches imaginable about masculinity and toughness, and use the media to propagate that myth. The owners press taxpayers for subsidies and complain about lack of support while threatening to move franchises. Depending on the day or the motive, they are either socialists when it comes to revenue sharing and stadium financing, or the most cutthroat capitalists in the world when it comes to player contracts and concussion settlements.

There is nothing fickle about the NFL's variety of "fickle:" name the day, and they will be reassembling their arguments into a different mound of gibberish to justify the pursuit of a higher profit at lower cost. It's a horrible, reductive, narrow-minded and deeply unimaginative business that takes its best ideas from elsewhere and stifles innovation in the name of profit and safety.

Its focus on THE SHIELD at all costs is almost a form of integrity -- almost, but not quite. If Bill Belichick makes me howl with laughter when straight-faced denying he, a legendary control freak among control freaks, knew anything about ball pressures, it's because Bill Belichick might be one of the few pieces of total integrity in that room. He is going to win football games, and will do anything to win them even if it makes your job harder as a reporter, or you think he's a total dick. It's a schoolboy's motivation, but ultimately it's a childish one to want to win, an aspirational one that makes little sense in a league where a .501 winning percentage can keep you employed for decades.*

*Hello, successful multimillionaire Jeff Fisher! You have more money than I will ever have; please give me some.

And unlike the need to sell PSLs or maximize a contract or continue to deny that football might have to be rebuilt from the ground up as a sport, you can identify with that urge, yes? The abstract appeal to victory is one you can understand from a sentimental sense. Who doesn't like winning, and winner-y things? Victory's at least a human concept, a nod that we are playing a child's game, or at least a game.

Worrying about Bill Belichick -- or Tom Brady, or a few pounds of air -- somehow infringing on the integrity of the NFL would be a mild form of real, live insanity. The NFL doesn't have much in the way of integrity to worry about in the first place. The league is well on its way to becoming what the sport of boxing is now, with college football just behind it thanks to the real risks posed by long-term exposure to the business' main ingredient, the game of football itself.

If this somehow still bothers you after considering everything else you could be mad about as an NFL fan or observer, well you can't be helped. You could at the very least respect the consistency here. Accuse him of cheating, and Bill Belichick will tell you nothing all day in the most bored, half-annoyed manner imaginable. It's all he's ever done, and it might be the most honest thing you'll hear in the NFL all day.