The New England Patriots – a team that is obviously very good as its 18-1 record indicates. Not a Super Bowl winner this season, but a very good team, nonetheless. A team that overwhelms opponents almost at will – until today. What 74,000+ people and millions across the country witnessed at University of Phoenix Stadium was a championship game for the ages. What they also witnessed was a head coach who, as is his custom when his team loses, has no sense of decorum, decency or sportsmanship; tonight magnified this head coach at his worst. The head coach I am referring to, you ask? I am referring to the head coach of the New England Patriots, one Bill Belichick.
Let’s go back to what happened today in Glendale, AZ. The Giants had already scored the go-ahead and winning touchdown late in the 4th quarter; the Patriots were driving with less than a minute to go and unsuccessfully, they couldn’t convert on downs and turned the ball over to the Giants with 2 seconds left to go in the game. So what does Belichick do? He runs onto the field for a quick handshake, then bolts to the locker room – and the game’s not even over. Kinda smacks of “I’m taking my toys and going home” to me. And totally classless, to boot.
There’s still time on the clock, his team’s been beaten – humbled, if you will – outplayed and lost their rare chance at history, and Belichick doesn’t have the decency to remain there and take his loss like a man till the game is officially over. All of his actions at the end of the game were disrespectful, unsportsmanlike and make him look like a coward/sissy – take your pick. The Patriots’ opponent tonight deserved better than that tonight. It has been said that most great winners do not take losing well at all; yet at the end of the day, a sore loser is just that – a sore loser.
But regardless of that fact, that is no excuse for Belichick’s behavior on the field whatsoever. Ironically, one of the Patriots’ players, Randy Moss, did something quite similar while he was a member of the Minnesota Vikings. Back in 2004, Moss left the sidelines during a game against the Washington Redskins. Moss was selfish, a quitter, didn’t respect his teammates and didn’t respect the game. Perhaps the difference between what Moss did and what Belichick did was that Belichick did it on the biggest stage of all – the Super Bowl – and did it as a “leader” of men. Which is, in my opinion, unforgiveable.
I wonder what Robert Kraft, owner of the Patriots, was thinking when all of this went down at the end of the game. It opens up speculation as to what Belichick’s future with the team will be starting next season. If Kraft is the man of character and values that he claims he is, then he will do some deep soul-searching and ask himself whether Belichick, after all the things that he has done to put the Patriots in an unfavorable light, is worth keeping around. Only time will tell, especially with the NFL Draft around the corner. But to summarize this debacle, if you’re an adult – whether it is Pop Warner, high school, NCAA or the NFL – you finish out the game, and give your opponent the respect they deserve…on the field.