Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Bill Belichick and the Handshake

A record number of viewers watched Super Bowl XLII, so it is very hard to understand how Mike Wilbon can declare that Bill Belichick did not shake Tom Coughlin's hand after the game. Wilbon even said that Belichick should be suspended for this alleged infraction. What a bunch of nonsense. Approximately 100 million people saw Belichick stride across the field, shake Coughlin's hand, put an arm over his shoulder and offer words of congratulation. By Belichick's standards, that was a veritable outpouring of emotion and by any reasonable standard it was certainly a perfectly acceptable display of sportsmanship. It is not Belichick's fault that the timekeeper made a mistake with the clock and that by NFL rules one more play needed to be run after both teams had already come on to the field. Should Belichick have stayed on the sidelines until the clock read triple zeroes? Maybe, but this is hardly a big deal. This is nothing like what Randy Moss did as a Viking when he left the field with time remaining on the clock and his team needing his services to try to recover an onside kick. This is nothing like Tony Dungy having a wink, wink agreement with Jeff Fisher to not call a timeout to force the Titans to have to attempt a punt at the conclusion of the final game of the regular season. Those actions potentially affected the outcome of games. Belichick congratulated the victorious coach and then he left without witnessing the final kneeldown play. Belichick is an easy target for criticism because he makes it clear that he does not care what other people think and because he does not go out of his way to make things easier for the media. He actually has the gall to give terse answers to stupid questions and to not reveal information that might affect his team's team's chance to win. This means that writers covering his team have to actually know their stuff and do some work, instead of just depending on plugging some bon mots from Belichick into their paint by numbers stories. That is why Belichick will be respected, not loved, in victory and why he will be trashed mercilessly in defeat.

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