Sunday, September 24, 2017

The American way is to root against Brady and Belichick. Right?

new england patriots players and coach

Rooting against Tom Brady and Bill Belichick seems nearly a patriotic duty. As opposed to, of course, a Patriots fan’s duty.

Truth, justice and the American way demands rooting for Patriots’ losses. Doesn’t it?

Who but a New England Patriots’ fan could pull for these two?

Brady is the epitome of the NFL’s Golden Boy quarterbacks, handsome, rich and married to a super model. Her name is Gisele Bundchen. With a name like that could Mrs. Brady be anything other than a super model?

Then there’s Belichick, the coach with the personality, it seems, of a rutabaga and the sideline attire of a hobo. And I apologize to rutabaga farmers and hobos everywhere.

He’s the personification of the football coaching culture, where a monomaniacal control-freak approach to life is essential. Anything less than a 100-hour workweek in their world is tantamount to proclaiming oneself a slacker.

Who could root for Tom Brady and Bill Belichick?

Well, I do.

Maybe I shouldn’t but when I watch the Patriots I invariably find myself pulling for Brady and Belichick.

Why? Because they’re studies in sustained excellence. Brady and Belichick have won more games together than any coach/quarterback tandem in NFL history.

And it’s not even close.

Brady and Belichick have combined for 159 regular-season wins. That’s 43 more than the duo second on the list, Don Shula and Dan Marino, who combined for 116 wins with the Dolphins.

Put another way, if Marino and Shula had managed back-to-back 16-0 seasons and tacked those victories on to their total they would have 148 wins, still short of the record.

To further appreciate the wins record, consider this: Only three coach/quarterback tandems have won as many as 100 games.

In addition to Belichick/Brady and Shula/Marino, the only other pair to crack 100 victories is from the Steelers. Chuck Noll and Terry Bradshaw combined to win 107 games.

The 11-3 Patriots play the 3-11 Jets on Sunday. The Patriots will likely win, of course. That would run New England’s record to 12-3 and mark the ninth time since 2003 the Patriots have won 12 or more games in a season.

Brady and Belichick have been together for 15 years. The Golden Boy and the hobo are post-season fixtures.

Their 18 playoff wins together is another record.

Part of why I find myself rooting for the Golden Boy quarterback married to a super model name Gisele is the way he plays.

Brady is not swift of foot. He’d probably have trouble beating Red Sox DH David Ortiz in a 40-yard “dash.”

But he moves around the pocket with nimble footwork, stepping up or aside to avoid rushing linemen. Then he fires passes with as pure a throwing motion as one will ever see.

His passes hum and sizzle and spiral with a velocity and accuracy few quarterbacks can match.

It’s a treat watching Brady step into passes and uncork 40-yard throws to Rob Gronkowski or Julian Edelman or some running back Belichick found on the NFL scrap heap two weeks prior and thrust into the lineup.

Brady plays with a passion and fire reminiscent of the days before football players made millions. He loves the game and he loves to win even more.

In 2000, such a career wasn’t expected for Brady, who was drafted in the sixth round out of Michigan. Quarterbacks selected ahead of him that year included guys named Spergon, Giovanni and Tee. That would be Spergon Wynn, Giovanni Carmazzi and Tee Martin. All long gone from the NFL after brief careers.

Belichick may go out of his way to appear gruff in news conferences, but if NFL head coaches all gathered together in a room he might be the smartest one in the room.

The hobo and golden boy have been at this together and winning for 15 years.

They’re winning this year.

It appears that 37-year-old Tom Brady will keep them winning the rest of this year and for a few more years.

With the help, of course, of that hobo in sweatshirts prowling sidelines, Bill Belichick.

Maybe I’m rooting for them because I like sustained excellence.

I sure don’t like rutabagas.

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