There isn’t a more utilitarian gesture than the middle finger. If you’re a curmudgeon, the middle finger is your answer to every question you don’t like. Nobody illustrates this better than Bill Belichick.
For as long as he’s been a head coach in the NFL, Belichick has been raising his middle finger to every outsider who dare tries to gaze into his bubble. Opposing coaches shaking Belichick’s hand after beating him? Up goes the middle finger, as Belichick responds with a handshake icier than Lil Wayne’s wrist.
Opposing coaches trying to run out the clock when Belichick’s beating them? Ding – another raised finger, this one as Belichick protects a 28-point fourth quarter lead with a deep pass out of the shotgun on fourth down inside the red zone.
Or best of all, how about the suits at 280 Park Avenue who tell Belichick that he must wear official Patriots team apparel during games because, you know, it’s important that the league abide by the terms of its 10-year contract with Reebok and everything. Sure, the coach plays by the rules and wears the sweatshirt. But – here comes the middle finger – the rules say nothing about preserving the sleeves. So, he cuts them off. Factor in the mangy hair and the man in the raggedy sweatshirt looks terrible. Some might ask, Bill, why even pick such a petty fight? Bill’s answer? Another middle finger.
Reporters know what it’s like to have their questions answered with Belichick’s middle finger. It happens every time he has a press conference (i.e. all the time).
Sometimes the middle finger doesn’t work. Like when he would give it to management in Cleveland during his 36-44 five-year tenure. Or when he gave it to whoever sent out the memo from the Commissioner’s office last year telling coaches to stop filming opponents’ defensive signals during games.
But those are the only two viable examples of Belichick’s middle finger backfiring. Considering the man has three Super Bowl rings, simple logic says, overall, his middle finger strategy works.
This year, Belichick is giving perhaps his most intriguing middle finger yet.
He’s directing it to all the naysayers who are griping about the complex game plans that New England is heaping on backup-turned-starting quarterback Matt Cassel. The two-tight end and full house formations we thought we’d see from the Patriots after Tom Brady went down simply haven’t been there. Instead, the Pats have continued to spread the field and attack.
They’re asking Cassel to work through his progressions and hit one of his four or five targets perfectly on every play – just like Tom did. To do this, a quarterback must have brilliant pocket presence and ingenious diagnostic abilities when surveying a defense. Oh – and a strong arm and pinpoint accuracy are also required. Tom always had all of these things; Matt sometimes has some of these things.