Coach Belichek’s Watergate

October01/ 2007

…. I figured I’d wait and be the last pundit to discuss Bill Belichek’s “cheating”.  Like pretty much anything in sports, it is simply a petri dish of society.  Week Four of college football and local partisans begrudgingly acknowledge that a water drought is not the only “drought” to have settled in for “a while” in the area.  ….. BobLee has six more “invites” to church suppers than local teams will get to bowls. Ouch!

When the world’s most famous mime dies ….. do we acknowledge his passing with a moment of noise? …………. Marcel Marceau died yesterday.  I can’t help but imagine him frantically feeling the confines of his coffin. ….. Was there ever a “World’s second most famous mime”? 

Back to Bill Belichek’s “cheating”.  The easiest question in all of sports is:

Q:  What’s the difference between “gamesmanship” and “cheating”?

A:  “Gamesmanship” is when MY guy does “it”.  “Cheating” is when YOUR guy does “it”.

“Sports” and “Politics” are both so easy to write about.  Just give yourself a tetanus shot and go dumpster diving in the muck and mire.

I took the news of Bill Belichek’s illegal spying on an opponent with the same shock and revulsion I felt when I learned the Dallas Cowboy Cheerleaders were not all virgins.  Shock, dismay and an exaggerated rolling of my eyes.  “Say it ain’t so Coach Belichek!”  

I have this image of a small lad in Walpole, Mass wearing his Patriots replica jersey and holding the Boston Globe front page …. “Belichek Cheats!” as an Iron Eyes Cody-size tear slides slowly down his cheek.

Do ALL NFL coaches “cheat”?  Has there EVER been a virgin wearing those white Go-Go boots on the Texas Stadium sidelines?  “Probably not” and “probably” …. Or maybe vice versa.

The comparison of Belichek being willing to “cheat” in a season opener that he was a heavy favorite to win and Nixon condoning “seeking an edge” against McGovern are unavoidable.  WHY Bill / Richard …. Why?

The issue I decided was more fascinating than the vagarities of Bill Belichek’s moral compass was that what “they did” involved the forethought and cooperative effort of numerous people within the Patriots organization.  Did the owner Bob Kraft know about it?  Did Tom Brady and all his assorted girlfriends know about it.  Did former top assistant Charlie Weiss know about it?  Does Charlie do it know?  Did the woman Belichek had his affair with know “he was a cheater”?

Assuming yes indeed numerous folks knew about it, what well-worn expression of situational ethics did all of them employ in their rationalization?

That what they were doing was “against the rules” has never been questioned by anyone.  The Patriot staffer was holding the smoking video camera when he was nabbed.  To assume “he had never done it before and didn’t know what came over him to do it” was never tried to see how many numbnutz would fall for that one.  Pretty much the tried-and-true old saw was tossed up ….. “everybody does it”.  There’s probably partial if not full truth in that excuse. …. Bill shoulda used a black guy to shoot the video.  Then Al & Jesse woulda sent busloads of protestors to Foxboro claiming RACISM  ….. yawn, burp.

Using the drug user’s lament seems inevitable …. “legalize it and no one wil be a cheater.”  That’s pretty much how society in general is headed in the old “guilty conscience” battle of right vs wrong.

For me it’s not much different than the case of the cheating NBA referee. …. Or Sammy Sosa’s corked bat …. Or Barry Bonds’ juice.  I don’t much care “who wins” so “who loses” doesn’t matter either.  It’s all just “pro wrestling” to me these days.

If I am in line to be appointed “special prosecutor” for any of the mountain of socio-cultural ethical shenanigans occurring in 2007, I will hold-out to get either the mainstream media accountability case or “all politicians are ____” cases.

In my vocational odyssey I have been associated with one absolute dead-to-rights “crook” and several who employed “situational ethics” in probably 70% of their business decisions.  The latter had no hesitation to stick it to customers, competitors or employees under the “better them than me” rationale.  Needless to say, I list none of these individuals among “the best folks I’ve met along life’s highway”.

Week Four of College Football says “offense” is the focus of the modern game.  I like that my self.  One of my “why I don’t much care fors” with soccer and hockey is the dearth of scoring in both.  I’m a Touchdown & Home Run kinda sports fan.

Bryant-Denny Stadium in Tuscaloosa has become quite the House of Thrills since Nick arrived.  I like QBs with double Southern Living first names like “John Parker”.   With “John Parker” as QB and “Major” Applewhite as Off Coordinator, the Tide has become my “best names” team.  Apparently Mike Shula left Nick and Major with a fuller cupboard than local Triangle area coaches have found.

UVa beating “the quite amazing Jon Tenuta” surprised me.  Is Algroh’s kid a better coordinator than the legendary GaTech manipulator?

Was it only last November that Navy’s Paul Johnson was on everyone’s short list to move into a “big time” head coach slot?  A buzzer-beating shootout with Ted Roof isn’t exactly a resume enhancer.

Downeast, Skip’s future may not be as fast track as figured a few weeks ago.

Using the old A>B>C>D>E formula …. Wofford beater NC State could beat Penn State.  Alas, this edition of the Wolfpack doesn’t play JoPa.  Will Louisville get serious or go in the tank after getting juiced by the Orange?  Clemson forestalled its annual 4-game sleepwalk by at least one week.

Down in Tampa, a similar outcome was expected and endured.  I have no idea how many games Nick Saban or Steve Kragthorpe or even TO’B would win with what Butch, Blake and The Beav have to work with.  I am pretty sure all the above would win more than Burly John, Marvelous Marv and 40-Point Frank would have won.  I found Burly John’s interview with Dave Glenn very sad ….. not unlike Dan Rather on Larry King except I feel sorry for John and naught but contempt for Rather.   Lock Dan Rather and Jimmy Carter in a root cellar and throw away the key.

Next weekend I will be with Lane Stadium’s legendary Hokie Jim & The Clubhouse Tailgaters.  The food and fellowship will be “as good as it gets” ….. the game will probably not be.

I ran the full socio-cultural gamut of extremes on Saturday afternoon.  We attended a wedding/reception for a longtime friend.  Both the bride and groom were baby boomers in a second time around situation with blended families, etc.  The 40-50 attendees gathered in the bar of a local trendy restaurant complete with rich hors-oeuvres and very loud music.  The “wedding singer” was a talented fellow and the wattage of his speakers was sufficient for a MUCH larger room.  Ergo it was mostly standing around Cheshire grinning, munching and pretending one had a clue (or gave a rip) whatever anyone mouthed in your direction.  There was a high % of “Cary people” in attendance who seemed quite comfortable in such a scene.

I had to bail early to hit a totally different “Sleeper Cell of Americana” ….. another rural Brunswick stew supper.  Prince Albert had invited me to be his guest at the annual Bahama Ruritan Brunswick Stew / Barbecue Supper up in northern Derm County.  My recent Keep Your Fork column has resulted in SIX invites to assorted church / community socials.  I’m not complaining.  There were NO “Cary people” in attendance at the Bahama Ruritan Lodge in northern Derm County.  Nor were “The Edwards” anywhere around.

Prince Albert knew, and was known by, pretty much everyone there above the age of 60.  The Boy Scout troop in full uniform being the exception.  A lifetime of living around one community will get one a full rolodex of acquainti.  It helps that Albert is an Exalted Grandmaster of the “Hail Fellow, Well Met” Order of Gregarious Guys.

The food was fine, the folks could not have been friendlier and the whole event was what it has been for multiple decades.  It was cooked in 55 gallon kettles and stirred with a paddle.  I saw the paddle…. and the kettles.

Both of the above events were decidedly non-political but the vast majority of attendees at both would fall in the “right-wing” camp.  “Country Clubbers & Country Folks” ….. yet I mighta been the only attendee to feel both “at-home” and “alien” in both environments.  I have characterized my life as like “Johnny Appleseed” in that I’ve wandered into and out of assorted cultural scenarios ….. a half-century+ of which has prepared me for exactly what I do ……

….. try to explain how it all fits in some Andy Warhol / Picasso / Norman Rockwell / Al Capp mosaic called America 2007.


 Speaking of “Guys named Marcel” ….. Jerry Clower had a buddy. 

What was his name?


    Old dogs and Children …. and Watermelon wine.


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