Bill Belichick, Football Coach, Style-Maven
Way back in late 1960's, Bill Belichick got away with cheating.
He was a star athlete at Maryland's Annapolis High, lettering in football. And faced with an important test days before the big game, he copied down the answers of the kid next to him. He had no time to study, not with all those hours of practice. Besides, he figured, copying another student's answers wasn't really against the rules. Plagarism was defined in the student handbook as "Copying another student's work." I'm not copying his work, Bill thought to himself. I'm copying his answers. I didn't do any "work" at all. According to his interpretation of the rules, Bill didn't think he'd done anything wrong.
He got an A on that test and many years later, went on to become head coach of the New York Jets... for a day, before skipping town and becoming head coach of the New England Patriots.
In November last year, after losing to the Colts and the Jets in consecutive weeks, the Patriots faced a surprising Green Bay team that had won three of its last four games.
Green Bay's offense was stymied, especially after their 3-time MVP quarterback Brett Farve was knocked out of the game late in the first half. New England, on the other hand, had no problem carving up Green Bay's defense, moving seemingly at will up the field. On their first two scoring drives, the Patriots converted on two 4th-down plays. Tom Brady threw for four touchdowns and was only sacked once.
A stellar performance by one of the NFL's most powerful teams... or was it something more sinister??
During the game, Packers security spotted a man videotaping the Green Bay sideline. The man was a member of the Patriots staff, and had no business with a video camera. They made him put the camera away and issued a warning. At the time, it was a mysterious footnote to an ugly game.
But last Sunday, against the New York Jets, another Patriots employee was spotted with a camera. This time, security officials confiscated the camera. And what did they find? The man was videotaping the Jets defensive coach. Videotaping his signals to his defense. The Patriots were studying which signals matched with which defenses, so they could change their play accordingly.
According to ESPN:
The "Game Operations Manual" states that "no video recording devices of any kind are permitted to be in use in the coaches' booth, on the field, or in the locker room during the game." Taping any signals is prohibited.Bill Belichick had been caught cheating. And what was his response?
"Earlier this week, I spoke with Commissioner Goodell about a videotaping procedure during last Sunday's game and my interpretation of the rules. At this point, we have not been notified of the league's ruling. Although it remains a league matter, I want to apologize to everyone who has been affected, most of all ownership, staff and players. Following the league's decision, I will have further comment."Repeatedly asked by reporters to clarify his "interpretation of the rules," Belichick instead walked away from the podium and left.
The truth is, I have no idea whether Bill Belichick cheated in high school or not. What I do know is that falling back on "interpretation of the rules," is the mark of a cowardly cheater. And Belichick's blatant disregard for fair play is worse than cheating on a high school test... if he cheated then, he only cheated himself-- now, he's cheated both Patriots and Jets fans out of seeing a fairly played game of football. Which would have been something exciting to watch.
So do to Belichick what you'd do to a kid who repeatedly cheats on tests. Kick him out.
[Note: I write this as a Jets fan.]
PLUS: Went to the Clap Your Hands Say Yeah concert in NYC last night. Their website offers some tunes for free. Go to clapyourhandssayyeah.com and look in the right hand column.
To the Jewish readers out there: HAPPY ROSH HASHANAH!!! Have a sweet New Year!