by Ryan Meehan
There’s been a lot of criticism tossed in the direction of Bill Belichick after he refused to give a postgame interview to CBS following his team’s 28-13 loss to the Ravens in Foxboro on Sunday evening.
Over the past few days, we’ve heard some criticism from the sports media calling Belichick a “poor sport” and other playground names for skipping the on-field postgame interview after that game. A heavy amount of that criticism has come from CBS commentator and ex NFL Tight End Shannon Sharpe saying that Belichick’s actions were that of an individual who was being “a poor sport” all of the time.
That’s a huge steaming load right there. And it’s a gross exaggeration of a situation that almost didn’t even warrant a comment from someone like Sharpe or any of the other talking heads on NFL Today or elsewhere for that matter. It does however make me a little bit upset that somebody would even complain about it, and here are five reasons why I feel that way.
1. There are way too many interviews at the end of (or during) these games to begin with
Let me get this straight: Two teams just fought like hell on a football field for three hours. They are out of breath, tired, and usually dripping sweat everywhere. The coaches’ voices are hoarse, and within seconds of time expiring all of a sudden the field is full of microphones just waiting for somebody to say something without having been given the time to collect their thoughts in order to say what they really mean.
In other words, it’s a horrible time to be attempting to retrieve information from anybody about what just transpired in the game. These in-game interviews that go down in basketball games between quarters are a perfect example of this – Why would a guy tell a national viewing audience what he’s going to do differently in the fourth quarter in order to win? Same thing goes for interviews after the game, except in this instance Belichick can’t make changes that need to be made immediately because there is no next week for the Patriots. (More proof this is not a big deal)
There is nothing we are told in these interviews that will change the way the game is played on the field. Sometimes too much access isn’t a good thing…NBC’s interactive Sunday Night Football HyperAccessOnlineCoverageOrWhateverTheFuckItsCalled is another good example…How can one person possibly be watching the game on TV, Tweeting on their phone, responding to the RSS feed of the sideline reporter, and watching different angles not available on TV all at the same time? After a certain point, it just becomes sensory overload because your brain can only process so much information at one time.
2. He still gave the postgame press conference afterwards
All coaches face a fine if they do not step to the podium and address the media. Belichick did just that…So what’s the problem here? Doesn’t the sideline reporter that usually gets to do the postgame interview with the coach have access to the press conference as well? I sure as hell hope so, otherwise there really isn’t a point towards having total access to an entire conference worth of teams the way CBS does with the AFC. I seriously doubt there’s a bouncer at the door of that room checking IDs and saying “No way Tasker, you already had your shot”. As a member of the media, it would make more sense to be the bigger man and realize the guy was mad and ask him the question during the press conference. Hell, if you could find someone who works for the NFL in there (which shouldn’t be that hard) I’m sure if you explained you felt cheated out of your silly little post game interview they’d make sure your voice was heard in the press conference.
So why is the on-field interview necessary? That doesn’t make any sense to me at all. If you know the guy is going to hit the showers and put on something decent to wear and talk to you anyway what’s the point of talking to him on the field – “to capture the emotion”? Fuck that…Those aren’t the moments that we watch sports for, at least not to me. I think a lot of that stuff is seriously overrated and if that’s what you’re looking for in this case, haven’t you gotten enough of it out of Ray Lewis already?
But regardless of how the interview is done after the game (be it on a freezing cold field that nobody wants to stand on any longer or in an enclosed press are located in the depths of the stadium) usually no matter who does it, it’s not full of earth shattering information. But since we’re talking about Belichick…
3. None of Belichick’s postgame interviews are ever good anyway
Another reason why this is really puzzling to me because everybody is well aware that Coach B is a shit interview. He never has anything unpredictable or exciting to say, his voice almost lulls to you sleep, and if the interview in question is after a game it just sucks the life out of the sporting event you just watched. Win or lose, he’s going to have the same monotone delivery and he’s going to tell you something that sounds like it was written in a high school newspaper.
I can tell you exactly what he said in the post game press conference without even looking. Here it goes…
“You know we had some opportunities, (mumbling) couldn’t move the ball on 3rd down, (unintelligible) just couldn’t get the job done. (Hrrmmmhph and something about how we’ll be looking to improve next season, something else that sounds like he’s about to be hanged)”
So why would anybody care about us missing that? Most people who watch the NFL are hammered by that point anyway, so it’s not like they’re sitting around on pins and needles waiting for Belichick to explain where it all went wrong. They’re just glad that they don’t have to hear anything about the Patriots for another seven to eight and a half months, which leads me to my next point…
4. Jim Harbaugh did it last year and there was not this much news coverage because he’s a likeable guy that coaches a likeable team
This should prove right here how much sports fans in America hate the Patriots in general, be it justified or otherwise. Last year after Jim Harbaugh’s 49ers lost to the New York Giants, he did the same thing. Everybody seems to like Jim Harbaugh and what he’s done to turn that franchise around, but most importantly he doesn’t have anything to do with the Patriots so for now he’s safe.
Because that’s just it, everyone seems to hate the New England Patriots. Personally, I have always thought that the whole “spygate” controversy was blown way out of proportion. It’s just another example of how in this country the media builds up a certain team or player only to bring them down when they find the slightest problem or flaw in their strategy and/or plan. It’s the sports media equivalent of when a movie star in Hollywood has some girl over who he’s not dating and then some assbag sits in their tree, snaps a picture of them in the morning and by that night he’s the biggest prick in the world. Maybe if the 49ers win the Super Bowl a couple of times and Harbaugh runs over somebody’s pet rabbit with his Hummer and the whole thing is caught on tape, then if he skipped another interview we’d feel right hating him.
Or maybe we wouldn’t. But no matter what, America seems to have a genuine hatred for the Patriots, which holds a very interesting irony in a grammatical sense. But not nearly as ironic as this…
5. Remember, this is Shannon Sharpe complaining about someone not talking
In a world seemingly never devoid of aforementioned irony, the guy with the absolute worst diction on television is complaining about the individual who provides the least interesting interviews in the world sparing us the torture of sitting through him telling us things we already know. How hilarious is that?
This is what Sharpe said verbatim:
“There is something to be said about being gracious in defeat. We’ve seen the New England Patriots five times in the last 12 years be victorious [in the AFC title game]. And we’ve seen the opposing coaches that lost come out and talk to Steve Tasker. Coach Cowher did it when he lost to them. Bill Belichick makes it real easy for you to root against the Patriots. You can’t be a poor sport all the time. You’re not going to win all the time, and he does this every time he loses. It is unacceptable.”
Unacceptable to who? Does Shannon Sharpe work for Roger Goddell? He’s got no say in what’s acceptable and what isn’t…he’s simply an analyst. If Goddell thinks it’s unacceptable, he will handle it accordingly. He’s not going to hire a translator that speaks gibberish, call up Shannon Sharpe and say – “Hey man, communication is your thing…What should I do here?” The Cowher thing was nothing more than blowing smoke up the ass of said co-worker, as Cowher works on the same panel. Cowher and Belichick are not just two different types of coaches, they’re two entirely different types of people. It shouldn’t be news to anybody that they would handle a situation like this in different ways. Staying within the confines of your panel, what does Dan Marino think? He played his entire career in Miami, so surely he wouldn’t have a biased opinion about the Patriots…would he?
The problem here is that not only does Sharpe himself not know when to shut up, apparently he doesn’t realize when other people know that they should. Perhaps instead of bagging on Belichick for passing up an interview when he had nothing to say, he could take a page out of Bill’s book and learn a little bit about how to talk on camera or in this case how to not talk on camera.
Great NFL coaches are in the position they are in because they’ve been able to maintain a high level of control over the communication that surrounds the teams which they manage. With social media and 24/7 news coverage everywhere, I actually applaud the guy for skipping the interview when he was probably mad as hell and very likely might have said something stupid. Say Steve Tasker walked up to him after the game and said something stupid like “Coach, what was the problem with your offense in the second half”, and then Belichick snapped back by saying “We didn’t score a single point…what the fuck do you think the problem was?”
Would Sharpe have made a huge deal about it then? Of course he would…he would have also called it “classless” and likely play the “what about the children?” card that always seems to come up in every censorship debate. He would never leave Belichick alone, and it would start a firestorm of controversy that might even lead to Belichick losing his job. The only difference between Belichick swearing on camera as opposed to Shannon Sharpe doing it is that we’d at least be able to understand Belichick. So as crazy as it sounds, it might comes down to pure jealousy.
The moral of the story is, sometimes it’s what you don’t say, and athletes and coaches don’t always owe us an explanation for everything. There’s no worse time to ask for someone’s thoughts than right after something awful has happened, and losing a conference championship game at home after two quarters of nothing on your end would definitely qualify as being something awful.
Hate Bill Belichick if you like, but the fact that he skipped a postgame interview isn’t a very good reason to do so.