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What Bill Belichick should do next

Wednesday 11/15/23

Despite F. Scott Fitzgerald's contention that there were are no second acts in American lives, you can have all the acts you want if you are either someone who grows or who is open to reinventing one's self. (Fitzgerald was a bit like Dylan in that Fitzgerald would always go for the quote, and Dylan always went for the rhyme, regardless of how much truth or sense either held.)


If I were Bill Belichick's agent, or someone like that, I'd tell him to forget about coaching anymore, because that's all played out. I think Belichick should have been fired after the 2020 season, as I wrote in these pages. By not firing him this year, the Patriots are wasting time rather than using this time to begin to build for the future. The Don Shula all-time coaching wins record doesn't matter. Who cares? Does anyone venerate Shula as the best of the best? History, for instance, regards Vince Lombardi as the better coach, so what does that wins record really do for you?


The Patriots aren't going to fire Belichick this year. They would have done so yesterday if they were. I expect language will be drawn up that says and means nothing and which is all about Belichick and the Patriots parting ways as if all was still kosher to the last, and that will be that in the off-season.


Or, some team will hire Belichick, but that seems unlikely to me, because of all he'd want, if he even wanted to work elsewhere. You couldn't just make him the coach, I'd think. He's done this for fifty years, and his expectation is to be the guy in charge of the whole thing.


Now, most people are very dumb and owners of football teams are certainly no exception, so I guess that's possible. But why would Belichick want that? He has his Cape Cod life here, his interests, he's in his seventies. Is it worth the bother?


I don't think he'll ever be successful in the NFL again. So there's also that. He's been passed by, he's not the same, he doesn't have it like he used to, he cuts corners, he can't summon the energy, a combo, whatever it may be--this is no longer a good football coach.


And that's before getting into the GM and team-building stuff, which he's become bad at. Among the worst in the league. Find me a worse roster than this Patriots one.


But here's what Belichick should do, and he'd be a huge hit, a sensation, and people would be bowled over: He should become a TV guy and let the personality fly. People think he's this crank, a curmudgeon, this snorting villain. He chooses to be that way.


The truth is, Belichick is funny. He's good with a one-liner. He can talk if he wants to talk and he's better at talking than most people in media. He's a natural storyteller when it comes to the game, and his stories help the person who knows nothing about the game--which is basically everyone, even the meatheads who live for the game--learn about the game, its history, how it's played, what's happening out there right now.


People went gaga for Romo a few years back, and he's not any good. They'd flip for Belichick. He could have a little edge, too, but for show. Some sarcasm. Play off of the cranky old guy persona, but with a wink.


Now, I've seen all of this from Belichick, but I'm me. Other people would be stunned. It'd be like this whole new guy who is the opposite of this guy everyone thought they knew so well, which was really this caricature.


He'd be seen as transformed, as "living his best life" and all of that nonsense, the presence people wanted in their living rooms for a big game. Idiots would say, "Didn't have Bill Belichick as America's most popular sports media personality on my 2024 bingo card."


And he'd like it. He could be himself, and be like some cool grandfather type with a lot of knowledge and pithy, incisive comments to go along with the stories, the anecdotes. It'd be a sea change, and this would also help his reputation as a coach, which has plummeted.


People now think it was all Brady. It wasn't. When the Patriots were at their very best--and they only ever had two truly great teams--it was as much Belichick as anything. The rosters were stacked, but no team was better prepared, more disciplined, or equipped with superior game plans.


People are far, far, far too dumb to know that, though. They're crude and simple. They never understood what was happening as it happened, and they're sure as hell not going to cast their minds back into the past and realize what went down and why. They can't recall anything from four weeks ago.


Belichick could actually become a beloved figure. He'd need to have some fun with it, and commit to this reputation reversal. But he could certainly do it if he wished to, and I daresay he'd be happy in the job and could have his Cape Cod life and lots of free time. He could write a book. Multiple books. One could be about his coaching career, and another could be about football history. Belichick has his own personal library of football books. Add your own volume or volumes to the literature. Pull your version of a Ken Dryden. People don't watch old games. I do. But I'm not other people. Your books will be around, though. They will be read. Record your knowledge. Don't just have it end with your coaching career, with no one really know how you thought and what you knew.


All of this would humanize Belichick for people, and I bet most would actually enjoy him, and be shocked at first that they did. He'd have a whole new thing.



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