I can’t remember when exactly I started to refer to Bill Belichick and his Patriots teams with/under the epithet “Coastal media-bias boarding school oligarchy network.” It might have actually been applied before it was actually clarified that Bill Belichick did a post-graduate year at the Phillips Academy in Andover where he was classmates with Jeb Bush and H.G. Bissinger (what the fuck?). Mostly I think the epithet was used to explain adverse luck at Super Smash Brothers at the former Hyperborea (e.g., someone was able to beat the mighty Marf because of the east cast media monopoly boarding school shadow hand)
As it turns out, then, anyway, Bill Belichick went to Andover with the President’s brother. For a guy who is busily being re-marketed as the New God of Winning, which means you might find an inspirational quote from M. Belichick on your office break room wall in 2025, I still fear Belichick. A great deal of my fear originates from being a child during Belichick’s first post of command in Cleveland.
Bill Belichick, at least during his spell as Browns head coach, was like the single most inept communicator in the history of sports. Which is saying something. Most coaches, when you take a step back, are pretty stupid. They taunt players in public (Bill Parcells), they utilize racial slurs to describe the playbook (Parcells, again), they blame players for losses (Larry Bowa, others), they manage to charge answers to mundane questions with some kind of impolitic vibe. Bill Belichick was never dumb enough to do anything like that. He was smart (dumb) enough to tell the truth, pretty much on anything ever. Why did the Browns cut Bernie Kosar: “Diminishing skills.”
What I think happened to Belichick, after getting kicked off the blimp as Modell evacuated Cleveland, was that he realized the important of obfuscation, of covering up that he’s much, much smarter than most everyone else involved with the NFL with the exception of Paul Tagliabue, the lawyers, and maybe that guy on the Vikings who went to Harvard. That’s why his assistant coaches are banned from giving interviews, as a rule. That’s why he’s content to mumble niceties about the other team and spew teamwork cliches when other coaches might be talking up themselves, or their players, or both, at any opportunity. I’m curious to find out more about why Belichick has some kind of blood feud with Tony Dungy.
The aimless Belichick notes portion of today’s writing is over. I actually have to do something sort of like work here, so I want people to marinate on Belichick Theory, and we will get to the bottom of this. Before i move on to my discussion of what the dynastic Patriots represent for the future and eventual collapse of Democracy in America, I will say that Bill Belichick is clearly like the Robert McNamara of the parity NFL and will clearly live to 150 and live in a tower like the one guy’s dad in Braveheart and even then he’ll be coaching teams to Super Bowl glory, even with like one eye held in with scotch tape and shit. Also, side note: Do Not Chew Nicorette for Fun. It always goes south, fast.
What The Patriots Are For
I’ve always had a football-team-shaped hole in my lung or kidney for the Patriots. There are two reasons for this. The first is the 1985 Patriots and what happened to them in the Super Bowl. It’s very hard to not to feel deep and lasting sympathy for the entire fanbase of a team that gets stomped that bad. They probably couldn’t have beaten that Bears team in 50 tries. The second reasons is that Pat the Patriot is possibly my favorite team logo-mascot-signifier of all time. It’s a Minuteman and he’s playing football. It’s like a shark wearing a monocle playing hockey, except slightly more likely, in that sharks cannot ice skate or wear clothing and it would be hard to diagnose a shark with vision problems so that you would know to give him a monocle. And, sharks don;t really have cheeks, which makes it difficult to like actually wear the monocle.
I continue to have love for the Patriots, at least as I know the Patriots, which is mostly though my friends who like the Patriots. It’s hard to watch Three Games to Glory or Three Games to Glory, Again or the forthcoming Three More Games to Glory without feeling a deep fondness for New England sports fans. When they’re not being drunken assholes or whining about the curse, New England fans are generally OK. The Patriots, as of 2001, were especially appealing because their entire season, up to the playoffs, did not really make any sense, nor did they appear to be especially good, on paper (Tom Brady? Come on). The Pats also had the charm of being an old AFC team with a long track record of sucking. I always thought of them as the NFL’s Clippers/Brewers.
All of that, plus the irony of a team called “The Patriots” winning the first post 9-11 Super Bowl had every casual to serious NFL observer grinning their ass off, when Vinatieri sent the Mike Martz asshole Rams home. The Rams had already gotten their title two years earlier, the Kurt Warner story, although hard to fuck with, could be one-upped by the combo Tom Brady/Bledsoe returning to win the AFC title game thing. So everybody was pleased about the Patriots.
And that seemed like the end of the story. The next year, as per the guidelines of parity, the Pats crumbled to 9-7, although they did manage to shit all over the Dolphins in the process, which was enjoyable. Everybody agreed that this seemed about right. Then last year happened. I admit that by the second quarter of the Super Bowl last year, I was openly pulling for Carolina. I think the only way to explain this is entropy. This year, again, being not in the presence of anyone who might be offended by not rooting for the Patriots, i was loosely in favor of some kind of upset victory, just because it was an upset, and who gives a shit, right, as long as mobody’s feelings are stepped on?
My own complicated response-systems for the Patriots being good are not terribly germane. What I’d like to excavate is what this Patriots team being good encodes about America.
Tom Brady is problematic, specifically in how predictable he is. Dude is like the Bob Dole of superstar quarterbacks. Bob Dole, at this point, is a sort of cuddly old punchline for both parties, but in his time, he was like the meanest Republican ever (referring to the war in which he lost the use of his arm as a ‘Democrat war’ to make a point in a vicepresidential debate is pretty goddamn raw, really). Now that he’s a Daily Show regular and in Viagra ads and what have you, everybody has a laugh. But beyond qualitiative shifts in what Bob Dole means, there’s no denying some facts about Bob Dole: For a person whose job, essentially, is to connect to people and make them want to vote for him (i.e. a candidate for the Presidency and other high offices) he was really bad, in his heyday, at connecting with people and making them want to vote for him. It’s clear that Bob Dole getting 40-some percent of the national vote in 96 was not so much his viability as a candidate (at that point, with him falling off stages and mumbling, his viability was non-extant) but a creeper commentary on how Republican shit was getting, quietly. The values-driven gestalt shift that everybody just figured out in November. It took the Brett Favre of Democratic leaders (Think about imporant parallels b/w Favre and Clinton) and an abortive Perot run to keep Dole from coming close to actually getting elected to the leadership of the free world.
Here’s how Tom Brady is like Bob Dole: For a multimillionaire athlete-playboy, he;s a bit of a prig. He’s very dorky, yet women love him. A Republican, but still somehow, according to marketing, in touch with the spending habits of young people. He’s supposed to be cool/flamboyant/some kind of sex symbol. He’s not any of those things, except arguably a sex symbol in the way that your boy Kirk Herbstreit is a sex symbol for emotionally-trampled women and or closeted married men on saturdays in the autumn. The real clincher for the Brady-Dole comparison is that both are clearly Not Good, yet somehow Good, at their respective occupations. The problem is that Brady doesn’t have a Clinton to keep him out of the White House. Brady as game-manager-virtuoso, as well as Brady as cultural figurehead, get over because 2005 American can’t really produce an alternative. Baseball’s biggest stars are either crusty misanthropes/jerks (Schilling, Bonds, Randy Johnson) or not American (the hispanic guys) or both (Pedro Martinez) which is why Derek Jeter keeps being on the box for All-Star Baseball video games, because he’s one of like six likeable MLB players left, likeable in a broad sense, even though i can think about 75 people who I know would kick Jeter in the face if they thought they could get away with it, or maybe even if they thought they couldn’t. Back to Brady:
That’s not to crap on what the Patriots did on the field. They’re clearly the best team of the past five years, and Tom Brady is clearly their quarterback. So who’s the (Caucasian) face of the NFL right now? Peyton Manning.
How come? Well, Manning’s willingness to chant “Cut that meat” and “Let’s go, insurance adjusters, let’s go” is clearly a part of it. Being the son, and brother, of famous NFL players also inches up his Q rating, or his notoriety, or whatever you want to call it. His being Southern eventually fits into gunslinger tradition (Starr, Unitas, A. Manning, Stabler, Phil goddamn Simms, Favre, Elway [somehow a hick, despite being from So. CA], Vick.) Not to mention that Manning is probably, as far as just like being inside-your-own-limitations good at football, the best player in the league right now. But he’s also a big loser, by anybody’s standards, playing for a loser coach on a loser team in ultimately a loser city (when was the last time the state of Indiana won a title? 1986?) I don’t know what my ultimate point about Manning being more visible than Brady despite having three less rings. I think what is creeping in is a kind of New Victorianism, a reemphasis of Order. Manning was mocked by NE fans during the divisional game with a impressive ad hoc chant of “Cut that meat.” Obviously this was no more meaning-laden than chanting “Who’s your dealer” at the Yankees during the baseball playoffs. But I sort of wonder whether the Patriots fans weren’t in some way acting out a sort of castigation of Manning, shaming him for ‘running it out’ and making a buffoon of himself. Maybe this is all still the fallout from Nipplegate or whatever you want to call it but I think the pedigree from Andover/Wesleyan/model of restraint Belichick 2.0 shit, as well as the advent of the Humble Champion Patriots clearly signifies the arrival of New Victorianism in America. Bush might even be pulling some Disraeli-type shit by coopting important bits of liberal reform rhetoric and using it to dress up his shit and get it through. OK I promised to myself that no politics. I should really do some work.