Saturday, February 23, 2008

Credibility-Football Scandal Division

Bill Belichick's constant, unvarying means of dealing with unwanted information is to refuse to acknowledge its existence, especially in public. Be it Deion Branch's 2004 injury or a $500,000 fine, the Pats coach blocks out the topic with a skill he could only wish Logan Mankins had shown in Super Bowl LXII.

Belichick doesn't prevaricate or obfuscate. He stonewalls. This can be frustrating to reporters covering him, but at least one knows what to expect.

That's why, at least to this former reporter, the most interesting thing about Belichick's on-the-record denial he authorized a secret taping of the Rams' walk-through practice the day before Super Bowl XXXVI is that he made it. It is a starting reversal of Belichick's M.O., and on an occasion where the usual tight-lipped silence would've been perfectly appropriate. Belichick was responding to a charge which so far appears to contain a peck of vague suspicion to a pinch of known fact. That is just not like the man.

And that is why I tend to believe him. When in real trouble, people tend to revert to past practice, seeking a comfort zone. Richard Nixon lied. Bill Clinton twisted words. Jerry Tarkanian took new jobs. Etc. Refusing to discuss this weird story would not only have been consistent with Belichick's past practice, it would have been perfectly appropriate. Any objective analysis must conclude there are as many or more reasons to assume there's nothing in this as to assume there is.

This leads me to believe that Belichick made his denial because he can back it up. I realize there's an alternative explanation, that is, that silence didn't really do Belichick much good in Spygate, Part I, so he's made a halftime adjustment. I merely find that a less likely scenario.

I'd say time will tell, but since is the National Football League we're discussing, it probably won't.


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