Chum is in the water. The sea runs red with blood. The sharks sense the vulnerability. They have waited for this moment for what seems like forever. At last, there is an opportune time to strike. The opportunity is almost too perfect. The opportunity is too good to pass up.
It must feel good to vent and to crucify. To insist that there must be accountability. That hubris was at play. That the decision projects condescension. That it smacks of a superiority complex.
It is revenge for every perceived slight throughout the years. Screw us? No screw you! You are not infallible. We are just as intelligent as you. You are not the be all end all. You made a blunder and you are going to pay. And pay big time.
Why all the vitriol? Is it the clichéd answers that get under their skin? Covering monotonous press conference after press conference. Not being granted access to practice. Is it the secrecy behind every injury as if the information were some highly classified CIA document? Is it the one word answers? The evasive answers?
The sharks are the usual suspects: Borges, Shaughnessy, Callahan, and Massarotti. I am sure there are others, but, quite honestly, I stopped reading and listening too. In their defense, they have a point – conventional wisdom says you kick it out of there and hope your defense makes a play. Didn’t happen in the AFC championship game in 2006. Didn’t happen in the 2007 Super Bowl. Doesn’t matter. Stats be damned. The argument continues that the defense is younger and better and improving. The punt is what Marty Schottenheimer, Mike Holmgren, Wade Phillips, and a million other coaches would have done.
Fortunately for us, we don’t have other coaches running our team. I used to call Belichick the GENIUS, when writing about him. In conversation, I would pretend to bow or genuflect as a comical sign of respect when his name was mentioned. I have a Belichick for President T-shirt that I still wear with pride even though it is two sizes too small.
Prior to this game, I had taken to calling him Billy Balls. It just seemed to fit his evolution. He makes decisions that you as a fan want made. Challenges the right calls with his red flag tucked in his sock, uses timeouts appropriately even if he has to run out onto the field, makes defensive adjustments series to series, sits guys that don’t produce, etc, etc. We rarely look at someone in this day and age and think, this guy does it better than I could. Do Americans think that of their President? Or Governor? School Principal? CEO of your company? Most of the time it seems these folks, on the surface, are ill suited to handle the responsibilities of their job. Whether that is reality is a separate issue, but it is perception and it pervades our society. I am sure you can relate, for instance, to a decision at your workplace that you completely disagreed with. Or maybe questioned a politician’s motivation on a particular viewpoint. It is what we do, it is all we do.
Now I am not a total sycophant. Based on the outcome, I wish he had punted. I also wish he had signed Deion Branch, Asante Samuel and hopefully soon, Vince Wilfork. I know the man makes mistakes. Clearly, he has some character traits and flaws that are not desirable. We all do and some of his seem to really rub people the wrong way.
Since 2000, I have never, not once, thought that I could do a better job of talent evaluation and coaching than Billy Balls. In fact, I think just the opposite. When he does something outside the norm, like trade Richard Seymour, I barely question it. I don’t try to rationalize it or justify it. I just accept it.
Some people call this phenomenon “In Bill We Trust.” You can call it whatever you want. Homerism. Arrogant Patriot fan. Naïve.
Whatever you call me and those like me, just know we have lived through the Pete Carroll, Dick McPherson, Rod Rust, Ron Meyer, and Ron Erhardts of the world to know better when we have the real thing. I wouldn’t trade Billy Balls for anyone and that includes the aforementioned list or John Wooden, Vince Lombardi or Paul Brown. While you are at it, go ahead and throw in Tony Massarotti. And Dan Shaughnessy. And Ron Borges. And Gerry Callahan too.