Bill Belichick might be both a genius and a jerk — they are not mutually exclusive. Just because you are the smartest person in the room doesn’t mean you also can’t be the smarmiest, smuggest person in the room.
Today, I am going to turn over most of this space — I realize the naysayers out there will crow that this is a cheap way to avoid writing a real column — to a training-camp exchange the exalted New England Patriots coach had last month with a plebeian reporter in regard to an undrafted rookie wide receiver.
I am providing this dialogue, courtesy of the Boston Herald, partly because I found it breathtakingly boorish, but, hey, we’ll discuss it briefly among ourselves afterward.
Here it is:
Reporter: “Austin Carr had a nice grab yesterday in the corner of the end zone. What have you seen from him from the spring until now?”
Belichick: “Right. You know, you guys are asking a lot of questions about what have we seen from this guy, what are we seeing from ‘that’ guy. We’ve yet to put on pads, all right? I understand that this is a pretty talented group of evaluators in this room, but in all honesty our evaluations come more in training camp when we actually practice and we can fully execute the techniques and the plays that we’re trying to do. So the main thing we try to get done in the spring and the main thing we’re trying to get done in these two days is to teach the players what to do to give them the most fundamental instruction that we can, given the restraints that we have on practice. Then when padded practices and, I would say, real training camp starts tomorrow, we’ll continue for quite a while after that, including the preseason games, is when the real evaluations start. So I know everybody’s all excited when a guy catches a pass, but when the defense doesn’t jam him or they’re not allowed to really because we don’t want heavy contact out there and they aren’t competing for contact at the end of the play, then it’s not quite the same as when all of that’s going on.
“I’m not taking anything away from the receivers. I’m not taking anything away from anybody. I’m just saying it is what it is. The competitive level out there is not what it’s going to be starting tomorrow, so to evaluate players competitively when they’re not on a competitive level, I have a hard time with. But I know a lot of the people are real good at that and they can make a lot more out of it than I can, but due to my personal limitations and my personal inability to make those evaluations, I don’t make them. We can keep asking about how everybody does on this and how everybody does on that. The main thing for me is to see if they’re doing the right thing, doing it properly, how we can correct that, and then there will be a point in time where everybody will be able to go out and do it to the best of their ability against very competitive players on the other side of the ball, and we’ll see what happens. That’s when the evaluations really start, other than if a person can’t take the instruction and do what you’re asking them to do or can’t do it properly, you can evaluate that . . .”
Uh, next question?
Okay, I can’t disagree with what Belichick says, but I disagree with the intent of how he says it.
Even if the query is stupid, it’s pretty benign — I mean, what are you going to ask Belichick about, his buddy in the White House? It’s just a midsummer’s inquiry to get the coach to talk a bit, but to Belichick, it’s a call to condescending arms.
He could have just answered, “We won’t know anything until we put the pads on and play real football.” Rather, his playbook is to belittle every little being in the room holding a notebook or a tape recorder — he must remind them that they live a dullard’s existence on the sidelines of life while he tirelessly pursues the vital, momentous work of out-game planning Rex Ryan.
This is a small man who wins football games, that’s all. I’m just saying it is what it is.
Q. Making golf great again — how about increasing the cup hole’s diameter from 4¼ inches to seven inches for the recreational duffer? (Craig Tasens; Woodbridge)
A. Why stop there? How about moving the 19th hole to the 10th hole and offering an open bar-on-wheels on the back nine?
A. If Mayweather were in the NFL, he would be on the cover of “Madden NFL 18.”
Q. Do you think I should hang on to my solar-eclipse protective glasses to use when Stephen A. Smith is on ESPN? (Jeff Dent; South Charleston, W.Va.)
A. They also might come in handy the next time Blake Bortles throws a third-and-18 pass.
Q. Now that high school football participation is tumbling, will cheerleading and marching bands be next? Is this the “slippery slope” the president was referring to recently? (Mitchell Shapiro; Rockville)
A. Pay the man, Shirley.
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