September 20, 2017

Garber on Belichick

by Scott Benson
[email protected]

In case you missed it earlier in the week, ESPN’s Gene Garber takes a look at Pats coach Bill Belichick in the wake of Spy-Gate, or Camera-Gate, or whatever we’re calling it now.

I thought this piece was noteable in that Garber actually seems to view Belichick as a human being, which has probably gotten him drummed out of the Press Corps already. Further, I believe this is the first time (at least this week) that someone has compared Belichick to both Niccolo Machiavelli AND Lawrence Taylor. I admit, I’ve heard Nixon and Machiavelli, and Nixon and Taylor, but never Machiavelli and Taylor.

Which means this piece is, well, groundbreaking. Dig this:

More than anything, Belichick is committed to winning. Frankly, it’s all he cares about. Every minute of his time is weighed by its ability to effect a positive result. It is not unreasonable to compare Belichick to Niccolo Machiavelli, the Renaissance political philosopher. In his well-known work, “The Prince,” Machiavelli argues that successful rulers, while remaining above reproach in the public eye, may sometimes cross the line into evil for the public good. In Belichick’s mind, if the Patriots are a public trust, the ends justify the means.

Most teams spend considerable time trying to decipher the opposition’s defensive signals, using conventional advance scouts and the study of broadcast footage. But that is slow and ploddingly inefficient work. Capturing those signals on film speeds up the process and eliminates the possibility of error. Belichick made a point of saying that the Patriots had not used the information gleaned from videotape in the same games it was shot. Although that hardly excuses the illegal practice, it prompted Belichick to claim that his mistake was in the “interpretation” of the rules.

When details of the signal-stealing emerged a few weeks ago, I thought of something Belichick once told me about Taylor. Despite his bouts with drug use and his sometimes messy personal life, Taylor always gave his best effort — such that it sometimes was — on the field.

“Lawrence completely sells out on every play,” Belichick said. “He doesn’t care about his body — or anyone else’s for that matter. He will do anything it takes to win. Anything.

“The same thing that makes him [an unlikable] human being,” Belichick added in a telling aside, “makes him one of the greatest players who ever lived.”

I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately. I believe the same is true of Bill Belichick.

That’s heavy, man. And that’s what we here at Patriots Daily are all about. The heaviness.


  1. When Belichick came out with his “misinterpretation of the rules” excuse, everybody dismissed it immediately as BS, myself included (see link above).

    Although it doesn’t excuse the illegal activity, or the continuing of the practice after the league warning, could there be some merit to his reasoning that the taping was for future use rather than in-game use?

  2. I think most had a problem with that interpretation was that the rule didn’t say anything about the USE during the game or not. It just said you can’t videotape during the game.

    Unless we’re not privy to the rule in its entirety.

    Doesn’t make his violation evil or anything, and it may actually be what they were doing.

  3. jamesgarnerisgod says:

    I’m so glad we’re still talking about videogate because illegal taping is clearly the only reason the Patriots walloped the Chargers and Bills.

  4. I’m just AMAZED at all the success the Patriots are having without their “magic camera”

  5. jamesgarnerisgod says:

    Garber’s column is pretty intriguing — I only now just read the whole thing. I haven’t yet read Halberstam’s book, but the excerpt in the column makes me want to buy “Education of a Coach” tomorrow.

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