Mr. Gooddell, What Did You Expect?

Anyone remember “V For Vendetta?” Pretty good movie, definitely the best Alan Moore adaptation so far (“Watchmen” was more accurate, but also more boring), even if some of its message about terrorism’s potential upside hasn’t held up in the five years since its release. Point is, there’s a line in it where Mr. Creedy, head of the black ops “fingermen,” tells police inspector Finch, “At this time it would behoove you to cease any investigation of matters that have long since passed, and concentrate on the concerns of the present.”

Minus the approving opinion of mass murder and scorched earth strategies (unless he thought he might get a mid-level draft pick out of it two years down the road), we have a real-life “Creepy” Creedy in Patriots coach Bill Belichick. And NFL Commissioner Roger Gooddell is definitely Mr. Finch. In a recent article by Sports Illustrated, Gooddell said that he feels “deceived” by Belichick’s stonewalling the press on the “SpyGate” issue. Gooddell said he expected Belichick to clear the air about the decision-making process that led to his getting fined a half-million dollars for illegally videotaping opponents’ sidelines and coaches. But when Belichick was told of Gooddell’s reaction, he basically told ESPN that he never agreed to full public disclosure, only saying that he felt he dealt with the issue appropriately at the time. Cue Sinatra singing “My Way.”

So now Gooddell is pissed. I only have one question for Gooddell: really? Well, o.k., here’s a few more questions: You’re actually going to get mad that Belichick wasn’t forthcoming with the press? Have you ever talked to Belichick? Have you ever watched a press conferece? Belichick is never forthcoming. When his team wins, he spreads credit all around without singling out a single player for a specific achievement. When his team loses, he similarly spreads blame, often onto himself. His voice never wavers, his emotions never change. Straight, flat affect, all the time.

And let’s not even start talking about Belichick’s injury reports. For some reason, Belichick gets off on sticking it to the press, and he does so by revealing as little as possible, week in and week out. The injury report is Belichick’s idea of a joke. The only other time Belichick shows a sense of humor is when he can evade a reporter’s question with a quick, sarcastic barb. Belichick isn’t forthcoming about anything. Why on earth would he be forthcoming about an incident as humiliating as the fines and lost draft picks of “SpyGate?” If he won’t talk about why his team won or lost, who’s injured, or what the Patriots’ strategy is for their next opponent, why on earth would he talk about why he cheated and for how long he’s been doing it?

And don’t pretend that any of these tendencies are somehow new. We all remember Bill Belichick’s press conference after winning his third Super Bowl with the Patriots, cementing the team’s dynasty status and his personal place in history as one of the all-time great coaches. Did he allow himself a moment to reflect on the magnanimity of what he’d just accomplished? Did Belichick even smile?

Gooddell took over in 2006. Belichick’s song-and-dance was old long before then. So for Mr. Gooddell to sit there and say he felt deceived by Belichick’s withholding SpyGate details from the press shows an ignorance that borders on delusion.

Look, Commissioner, you got what you secretly wanted. The Patriots lost their bid at perfection in 2007, and have since lost two straight home playoff games. Their credibility as a franchise wanes a little more with each consecutive playoff loss. So why are you still harping on something that happened over three years ago. Don’t you have more pressing matters to deal with? Maybe the public relations nightmare that will result if the accused rapist quarterbacking the Steelers wins the Super Bowl? Or how about the two possible class-action lawsuits you’re about to face from former players who suffered brain damage playing for your league?

The matter of SpyGate has long since passed. Gooddell would do well to let it fade into history, and concentrate on the concerns of the present.

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