Bill Belichick is the Richard Nixon of sports

Nixon was so crooked that he needed servants to help him screw his pants on every morning. – Hunter S. Thompson

Every time the New England Patriots win, I kind of assume they’re cheating. Even if they aren’t. Part of me wonders what they’re up to and how they’re getting away with it.

My Patriot friends call me a hater, but it wasn’t always like this. Like 95% of all New England fans, I didn’t even know they had a football team until 2001. But they found a great QB in Tom Brady and started winning Super Bowls, and I’m human. Any team other than mine that wins three championships is going to begin smelling like an evil empire, and in their case they didn’t even have the decency to be dramatic or interesting. Belichick is evil at its most banal and more often than not watching them play was about as exciting as watching Himmler knit with his grandmother.

But then they got busted. Spygate. Motherfuckers were cheating. No damned wonder they won all those titles. Which was infuriating, but give credit where it was due – finally something about them was entertaining.

The league fucked them up for it, too. The NFL fined the team $250k, they withdrew another $half mil from Belicheat’s account, and docked them a first-round pick for good measure.

Fast forward to 2010, when Belichick disciple Skippy Fucking McDaniel, then head coach of the Denver Broncos (yes, that’d be my Denver Broncos) got caught doing … well, pretty much exactly what the Pats had been accused of, embarrassing the franchise and leading, in short order, to his termination. Wonder where he learned to do that.

Now the NFL is investigating the congenitally twisted bastards again – this time for allegedly letting some air out of the balls they were using in yesterday’s trouncing of Indianapolis.

I assume they’re guilty, even though it made no difference whatsoever in the game. It’s one thing to cheat to win, and quite another to cheat just for the sheer joy of it. Why did you cheat? Why not?

Not only that, I find myself thinking back a few weeks. Pittsburgh RB LeGarrette Blount, who used to play for NE, decides to leave a game early. Now, the Pats were dealing with a hit and miss running game – a couple big performances by Stevan Ridley, but a lot more games where their top rusher was posting 30, 40, 50 yards. Not great.

So Blount summons up his inner punk, gets cut, and wham bam thank you Bill is in a Patriots uniform the next week. Wow. NE gets a power back who knows the system, bolstering the running game, and it didn’t cost them a thing. I’d never ask this about a team that had a history of never cutting corners, but what about a pack of rogues with a certain situational flexibility to their ethical code?

I wonder – was a late night call made from a burner cell in the Foxboro area to Blount’s home? If so, what was discussed? Enquiring minds and all that…

Am I being unfair? Am I being a conspiracy theorist? Am I just a stone cold partisan hater? Maybe. But reputations are funny things. If you lie to me, I’m going to be suspicious of the next thing you tell me. If you steal from your company, not only are you going to get fired, you might have a hard time getting another job. If you cheat on your S.O., he or she is going to wonder if you’re stepping out every time you’re five minutes late.

Fact: Belichick won three Super Bowls.

Fact: Then he got caught cheating.

Fact: His Super Bowl record since then is 0-2. He’s single-handedly punched Eli Manning’s ticket to Canton.

Coincidence? I don’t know. We’re not dealing with a large sample size. Winning the division and getting to the Super Bowl in the first place, that’s not nothing. But it isn’t my fault that I’m suspicious.

I occasionally trot out this question when talking sports with friends: If they were to build a Mt. Rushmore for pro football coaches, who’d be on it? You figure three slots are locks: George Halas, Vince Lombardi and Bill Walsh. Who’s the fourth? Invariably somebody asserts that it has to be Belichick. He won three Super Bowls! Best coach in history.

Except he won three before he got caught cheating, which means I can’t assume that he won any of them clean, especially given his record since. So no, not Belichick.

He’ll have another chance in a couple weeks. But I won’t lie – if he pulls it off, I’m going to be wondering if something underhanded was at work.

The Richard Nixon of Sports. On Super Bowl Sunday, who will be there to help Bill Belichick screw on his pants?

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10 thoughts on “Bill Belichick is the Richard Nixon of sports”

  1. I wrote a long and thoughtful reply which my computer ate before I could send it.

    Simply put. They stink of corruption.

    1. It’s OK Denny. Of course, it can’t be cured, but it can be treated with medication. Scotch is typically prescribed.

      Unless of course you also have a Red Sox problem, in which you need to find a rehab program that will wean you off sports all together. I recommend living in Chicago.

      1. O: When you’re born in New England, you acquire up to four specific recessive genes — Patriots, Celtics, Bruins, and Red Sox (and, for a time, Hartford Whalers and in extreme cases even the New York Giants).

        I caught the Celtics and Red Sox genes. My dissertation adviser, who was born in Massachusetts, left the state when he was only three weeks old. Still, he caught the Red Sox gene.

        I should point out I’m more of Boston Patriots fan. I began as a sportswriter and covered the Pats, especially when their training camp was at UMass. In the ’70s, professional athletes were far more approachable than these days. It was easy to walk onto the practice field and, during a break, approach Steve Grogan or Sam Adams for a few minutes. They spoke fairly openly and bluntly. They did not “mediate” their comments as players do today.

        I enjoyed those days. Today, a sportswriter covering the NFL needs to be a labor lawyer, even a criminal defense lawyer or former prosecutor, to find the stories that need to be told.

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