Tuesday, January 10, 2017

No Coach Is an Island, Even If He Owns a Home on One

It may be as soon as the Pro Bowl or not until the Giants and Patriots have their annual exhibition game come August, but when their paths do cross, Odell Beckham Jr. owes Bill Belichick a sincere thank you and hearty congratulations. The New England coach singlehandedly torpedoed Beckham's status as out-of-shape white guys' sports whipping boy of the week -- at least everywhere east of the Connecticut River.

As you may have heard, Beckham and a number of his Giants teammates took their scheduled day off last Monday with a party the night before and day boat excursion in Miami Beach. Much tut-tutting ensued. The tuts grew to thunderclap volume when Beckham didn't play very well in New York's 38-13 loss to the Packers last Sunday night. His lack of dedication to the cause is this week's what the sports world is coming to outrage.

The outrage ignores that none of the Giants played very well, even those who went home to suburban New Jersey to sip milk and study film on their days off, if any did. I'd pay good money to know how many of 'em spent their time off clubbing in Manhattan, and I'm sure it wasn't none.

No matter. In the fantasy world inhabited by all too many fans and exploited by all too many commentators for profit, losing is a sign of moral failure. It's too simple to say, "hey, Aaron Rodgers sure is good." It's so much more satisfying to tag Beckham, admittedly an emotionally volatile man, as a sinner. He was out late partying? Doesn't he know girls sap your strength?

That part of the Felger and Mazz show yesterday not spent mocking the Texans was spent dumping on Beckham. Then those on the air switched to comparing Beckham and the Giants unfavorably to the Patriots. No New England player would ever engage in hedonistic hi-jinks the week before a playoff game. It's film study and milk for them, warm milk, too. That's why the Patriots are the best team in the NFL.

The obvious counter to this argument is that just five years ago the Patriots went to the Super Bowl with a freaking murderer as an important part of their offense. Aaron Hernandez may have had impeccable practice habits, but his day-off use was somewhat sketchy.

Here's why Belichick is a genius. He came up with an even more obvious counter to the specious Beckham blather and the coach wasn't even awake when he did it.

Sometime late yesterday afternoon, a photograph of Belichick became public. On HIS day off, the coach was on the Nantucket ferryBOAT, sawing serious wood as he traveled to his vacation home, presumably with his girlfriend.

Good on ya, Bill. For a man looking to get away from it all, it's tough to beat Nantucket in January. We all recharge our batteries in different way. While the off-duty haunts of a sixtysomething are unlikely to be those of a rich young jock, the impulse is exactly the same. And so is the freedom to do it.

No honest person can dump on Beckham for spending a day off on a boat without dumping on Belichick, too. Unless, of course, you're so far gone as to believe the coach draws x's and o's in his sleep.

Belichick wouldn't do that. When he's off-duty, the coach recalls an old lost love and dreams about lacrosse.


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