A few random thoughts after watching the Bill Belichick Deflategate press conference:
— First the obvious: He is pissed. This is post-losing-to-the-Jets level Mr. Angry Eyes Bill, and well it should be. He’s coming off one of the most complete and impressive playoff wins in the NFL in a decade, heading to the Super Bowl and here he is — back against the wall fighting off the zombie horde of media to talk about the air in the football? He is seething. And only the fact that he’s the most media-savvy football coach ever kept this from being a future Coors Light ad.
— This will come as no surprise, but I believe him when he says he knew nothing about this until Monday. The Belichick we sat with on Dale & Holley Monday afternoon was nowhere near the rage monster this Bill was. To put in visual terms, Patriots Monday Bill was about here *hand at chest level*, Thursday presser Bill was here *hand at eye level*. No one in the Patriots organization wants to see him here *hand over head*.
— I love the part about how he doesn’t give a damn how hard the football is to hand. That was the perfect defense. As Bill Parcells used to say, “Give players an excuse to lose and they’ll take it every time.” Why on God’s green field turf would a coach who pours water on the ball in practice on a sunny day and practice in arctic temperatures with a perfectly nice practice bubble right next door obsess over how many PSI the ball is?
— That Gillette Flexball ad was the best product placement of all time.
— The knee jerk take from most people in the immediate aftermath was he was throwing Tom Brady under the Jerome Bettis. I take it more as he was telling the truth. He didn’t know. Why would he? He had 99,000 problems Sunday and air pressure wasn’t one of them. I’m glad he didn’t do the perfunctory “As the head of football operations this is all on me”… “Success has many fathers but failure is an orphan”… “Buck stops here” nonsense. Because it’s BS. And it would have just thrown red meat to the jackals who are calling for his head, and possibly cost the Patriots some draft picks. If it was Brady, he’ll get a fine (which he can afford) and have to suffer through a lecture by Roger Goodell, which is punishment enough. If this was all the fault of some equipment guy — well I’m sorry for him but the world needs ditch diggers too.
— Some of my favorite Belichick moments in his whole career are times like this when engages the deflector shields on reporters. Particularly the “real” news types. Like the time that pompous anchorman came to the first day training camp 2013, introduced himself, gave his hard news curriculum vitae and asked about Tim Tebow and The Hooded One just repeated, “Here to help our football team” line until everyone packed their TV trucks and went home. This was reminiscent of that. These empty hairdos are used to dealing with political flaks who have to kiss their asses. They have no idea how to handle a guy who gets his power from winning, not good press.
— That said, “I told you everything I know” and “I have no explanation” are good. But neither have the simple, concise brilliance of “We’re onto Cincinnati.”
— The grandstanding hack who thought he was getting in a good zinger with, “What do you say to critics who are challenging your character, which seems to go well beyond the sport of football?” should find himself a safe house or a relative close by. Lay low for a while.
— Part of me still wishes he’d gone all wrestling heel manager on everybody. “Footballs? We don’t care about your footballs! We don’t care about your air pressure! We crushed the Ravens! We broke the backs of the Colts! If they’re too stupid to figure out how to beat us, what am I supposed to do? Coach them too? Do you think this brain thing is a gimmick? And Sunday, February 1 we’re gonna do the same think to those pukes from Seattle at University of Phoenix Stadium! Ticket are on sale now! Be therrre!” — Billy “The Brain” Belichick. But I’m a victim of Belichick’s respect for the game I guess.
— The circumstances around this presser aren’t anywhere near what they were on the Aaron Hernandez one, obviously. But I have to say his performance was right up there with that one. He has really refined his technique over the years. I can’t wait to see how good he is with his next major scandal press conference.