What’s Allegedly Happening: New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick is such a relentless jerk he’ll do whatever it takes to protect a win, even if that means risking his players’ safety, going for it on fourth down when he doesn’t need to or, in some cases, just flat out cheating. The guy just wants to win so badly he doesn’t care how he accomplishes it or, least of all, what anyone else thinks about it.
What’s Probably Happening: Could it be that Bill Belichick, the most reviled head coach in modern NFL history, has actually been a victim this entire time?
Let’s start in Week 1 of 2007, when Belichick was caught illegally filming the defensive signals of the New York Jets, even though the Pats would go on to post the first 16-0 regular season in NFL history later that year and the Jets would finish a miserable 4-12. The controversy that followed still taints the coach’s legacy to this day and, looking back, seems downright ludicrous given how much the three-time Super Bowl Champion risked in obtaining the footage for so precious little in return.
On the surface, the Spygate controversy paints Belichick as merely a greedy, immoral tyrant who strives to gain any advantage he can possibly can, fair or unfair. But could there be more to this story?
What if Belichick really thinks his team needs an unfair advantage to win or, at the very least, is so scared of other teams winning that he literally can’t control his actions?
That would explain not only why Bill felt it was necessary to spy on the lowly Jets in ‘07 but also why he habitually leaves his starters in during blowouts and is constantly accused of “running up the score.”
Later that same year, the Pats won three games by more than 30 points (in Week 8 they scored two fourth quarter touchdowns against the Washington Redskins while already up 38-0), they finished with the highest single season point differential in NFL history and in Week 17, while 15-0 with the AFC’s No. 1 playoff seed already locked up, Belichick played his starters all 60 minutes against the New York Giants in a game that, at least in respect to the approaching postseason, was completely meaningless.
The Patriots’ 2010 season was notably similar in that Belichick again won three games by more than 30 points (in Week 13 that year Tom Brady was still throwing passes while up 45-3 against the Jets with under three minutes left in the game), 2011 saw the Pats score a fourth touchdown against the Kansas City Chiefs while up 27-3 in Week 11 with only 64 seconds left to play and 2012, our current season, has so far been simply more of the same.
As of today, the Pats have yet again notched three victories of at least 30 points this season and in one of those contests, a 59-24 thrashing of the Indianapolis Colts in Week 11, we saw firsthand just how easily this “no mercy” strategy can totally backfire: After producing their eighth touchdown that day (on their way to tying the franchise record for single game scoring) with less than four minutes left and up by 34, Belichick watched in horror as his record-breaking All-Pro tight end Rob Gronkowski injured his arm blocking for the ensuing extra point, an injury substantial enough that Gronk has already missed four games so far and still has not been cleared to return.
Did Belichick just underestimate the potential for injury that exists anytime an NFL player takes the field? Or is the NFL’s second-longest tenured head coach (until Philadelphia fires Andy Reid, that is) really such a prick that he considers rubbing in a lopsided victory a bigger priority than protecting his team’s best players?
Is it really any crazier to ponder those suggestions than it is to question whether maybe, just maybe, this guy—who makes more money than any coach in sports but still chooses to dress like a homeless person every game for no apparent reason, mind you—is secretly a paranoid sociopath who’d still be calling flea flickers and post routes even if his team were up by a hundred? Could it be those shocking Super Bowl losses New England suffered in ’08 and earlier this year only further fueled his dementia? Or that his dreams are forever haunted by that one epic comeback his team was on the losing end of six years ago this January?
Whatever is motivating this behavior, don’t expect it to change anytime soon, and even if it turns out there is no personality disorder cover-up taking place here, rest assured some new and disturbing twist to Belichick’s legacy will inevitably break at some point in the not-too-distant future either way.
If there’s one thing we know about Bill Belichick, after all, it’s that the man is a magnet for controversy, and considering it’s now been three whole months since the last time everyone’s favorite real-life Star Wars villain made headlines for his reckless behavior, it’s safe to assume another memorable misstep is just around the corner.