For proof that launching a cult of personality no longer requires an actual personality, look no further than Tom Curran of the Providence Journal’s gushy appraisal of the greatest coach Art Modell ever fired, Bill Belichick.
He wouldn’t stop. They asked him to, but Bill Belichick ignored the suddenly panicked photographers and strode past the Lombardi Trophy like it was an elaborate paperweight.
He knew what was expected of him. He was supposed to stop, stand in the general vicinity of the trophy he’s helped bring to New England twice and let the photographers get their shots. He did it those other times, played the role of the head coach with the coveted hardware within reach. But he wasn’t going to play along in 2005. He walked right past it.
Why? Who knows? Perhaps he did it for same reason he wears that gray hooded sweatshirt on game days while the apparel companies and the league lobby him to wear the latest sideline duds.
Maybe it’s because he is about the game, not the accoutrements, endorsements and accompanying idolatry.
Maybe it’s simply because he’s not a poser.
He had the gray sweatshirt on last Wednesday. It’s far from a fashion statement but it is a piece of clothing that defines him. Like Tom Landry’s hat, Vince Lombardi’s gap tooth and glasses, Paul Brown’s fedora, Bill Parcells’ ill-fitting pullovers, Bill Walsh’s white hair and Don Shula’s jaw, it’s what he’s about. Sweatshirt and shorts, whistle spinning on his index finger.
“It’s the same guy I knew when we were both 18 years old,” said Ernie Adams, who first met Belichick in 1970 at Phillips Academy in Andover, Mass., and who works for the team today. “The people who are in this game do it because they like the game. It sounds simple but, nothing else will get you in the office at 5:30 in the morning. There’s a game to be won. The satisfaction comes from putting your best into it then going out and saying, ‘This is the best I got.’
“He’s always liked hooded sweatshirts,” said Adams, when asked if it held any significance. “I don’t know. Some guys like hooded sweatshirts, some don’t.”
The slightly less reverential Jon Heyman writes in Sunday’s Newsday, There are those who think the Super Bowl will provide no suspense. For me, it’s whether Belichick shows up on the sideline looking like your average vagrant or goes all out and wears his homeless person attire.