Noted great friend of media members Bill Belichick was uncharacteristically unwilling to share his innermost thoughts with the press following his team’s 28-13 AFC title game loss to the Ravens yesterday. So when CBS tried to get him for a postgame interview at which he would have shared some great insights like these, this happened:
James Brown: “We asked Bill Belichick for an interview, but he declined. But NE did make Devin McCourty available to us.” Hahahahahaha
— Jimmy Traina (@JimmyTraina) January 21, 2013
Not surprisingly, CBS did not like the snub. And it fell to Shannon Sharpe, known more on The NFL Today for bits like this (and in general being part of the nonstop cacklefest that is any NFL pregame show) to get serious about exactly what it meant that Belichick wouldn’t stand up and serve some interview tapioca. Here’s what he said:
And Sharpe was exactly right. The point isn’t that Belichick deprived us all of cutting X-and-O insights – obviously he just would have mumbled some pablum about how the Ravens were the better team out there, etc., etc. Nor is the point that everyone already knows Belichick hates media obligations, so that him doing a little less than usual to disguise his contempt for the press is really not that big a deal.
No, this is about principle – the principle that if you really can’t be bothered to take 30 damn seconds to give a few non-answers to a reporter who is going to go out of his/her way to take it easy on you, knowing you’re in a bad mood to begin with, don’t have a job where that’s part of the job description. When you’re the head coach, you get asked to do things like that, and the facts that you’ve won three Super Bowls, a ton of games, and are admittedly a phenomenal football coach don’t make you exempt. Granted, certain other aspects of Belichick’s coaching history also suggest he thinks he’s above the rules, so we shouldn’t be shocked… but again, that doesn’t mean everyone should accept it.
And yes, Belichick did do the standard press conference after the game, but that doesn’t absolve him of neglecting this tiny part of his duties, and – this is important here – letting his player do it for him. Yes, players have media obligations too, but those interviews right after losing? It’s like Sharpe said: those are the head coach’s territory. To say that letting one of your players do it for you isn’t leadership is an understatement – it’s bush league, and fortunately for CBS, McCourty had more respect for the less-fun aspects of being in the NFL than his coach did. (Fortunately for CBS, unfortunately for Belichick – McCourty stepping up made him look even worse.)
There’s often a lot of prattling on in sports, and life in general, about “being a man,” “taking things like a man,” etc. Well, screw that – what everyone means when they say something like that is it’s about being an adult. The adult thing to do here was to stand around for a few seconds of his bad day and vomit up some vanilla, if for no other reason than to keep anyone else, be they player or coach, from having to. Bill Belichick, a 60-year-old man, couldn’t bring himself to do the adult thing. That should embarrass him – but it won’t, and that’s why Sharpe’s mini-rant might be the best thing he’ll ever do as a broadcaster. If Belichick won’t say it to himself, at least someone said it for him.