September 20, 2017

Could Bill Belichick Go The Way of Terry Francona?

By Dan Zeigarnik, Patriots Daily Staff

Horrified Boston fans have spent the last couple of weeks watching the disastrous Red Sox collapse in the standings followed by a significantly more despicable fallout. The amount of mud and accusations being slung around is fitting for our politicians but not our beloved sports teams.

If you told me last month that my friends and I would be dressing up as Jon Lester, Josh Beckett, and John Lackey for Halloween with the now requisite buckets of fried chicken and Natty Light as part of the new ‘Red Sox Uniform’ I would tell you that you would have a better chance of firing Tito and letting go of Theo.

So now, the Red Sox debacle has gotten me worried about the Patriots and whether or not the team could ever blow up in Bill Belichick’s face to the point of him getting unceremoniously let go by the Krafts.

The skeptics will point to the inherent differences between the NFL and MLB. They will say:

  • Contracts are not guaranteed in football, so underperforming players or clubhouse cancers can be cut. While in baseball, fans are forced to shovel Lackey’s abysmal performance down their throats and wonder whether he will outlast this Great Recession.
  • There is a salary cap in football, so teams cannot be expected to buy their way into the playoffs. This lowers the expectations for football coaches and gets them a pass from their fans for a bad year hear and there.

The same skeptics will then point to the glaring differences between the Red Sox’s front office whispering and back-stabbing campaigns and the Patriots sense of one-voice camaraderie. They will say:

  • Theo has always had a rocky relationship with the owners. He even left one year.
  • Tito was not a pure numbers guy like both the ownership and Theo would have liked him to be, and therefore there was always a bit of a disconnect.
  • Belichick and Bob Kraft seem to be a team, much like Eddie Van Halen and David Lee Roth or Trey Parker and Matt Stone. They depend on each other for success and it wouldn’t be the same if they were separated.
  • Belichick is a ruthless leader who garners respect by not taking any slack from anyone, while Tito is a ‘players coach’ which is a euphemism for letting them police themselves.

Despite all of this, I am still worried. I’m reminded of one of my favorite political quotes:

In retrospect, all revolutions seem inevitable. Beforehand, all revolutions seem impossible.

Michael McFaul, National Security Council

In the aftermath of a second World Series victory in 2007, no one could imagined that in four short years, Manny Ramirez would be shipped out of town, that Theo Epstein would be described not as a wunderkind, but as a whiny “can’t go out to dinner in public” punk who forced bad free agent acquisitions down the owner’s throats. Could you have dreamed that loyal Tito, who took the team to the promised land twice, would be accused of being an unmotivated and undedicated, painkiller-addicted man whose marital problems got in the way of his job? This is before we even get to the fact that three starting pitchers refused to even watch the games, and instead chose to eat fried chicken, guzzle beer, and play video games in the clubhouse, away from their teammates.

Ever since Bill Belichick benched Drew Bledsoe in favor of Tom Brady, the motto “In Bill we trust” has been the standard cry from fans. However, with no championship rings since 2004 and a golden-boy quarterback in his ‘twilight years’ there is no predicting how the next few years will play out. Brady could have a falling out with his coach, or have another severe injury that will finally spell the demise of the team. Or Belichick’s poor drafting will continue and the team decides to go another route.

Obviously nobody even wants to consider any of these horrible turn of events, but regardless of how it will all go down, it’s important to consider how fragile any state of affairs is and how quickly things can disintegrate into debauchery. Despite this gloomy cloud over the future of the team, it makes me that much more appreciative of the current Patriots’ 5-1 record and enjoy these transient moments of success all the more.

About Dan Zeigarnik

Like Bill Belichick, Dan is a graduate of Wesleyan University. When he's not obsessing over the Patriots, Dan works as a project manager for a nonprofit organization aimed at helping Boston area youths. He has also managed a recent district political campaign.


  1. Chris Warner says:

    Another great way to appreciate 5-1? Watch the Dolphins or the Colts. Yeesh.

  2. In other news… I might get hit by a bus today.

    • Dan Zeigarnik says:

      Point taken Tom,

      However, if your best friend just got hit by a bus last month, I’m pretty sure you would cross the road more gingerly.

  3. This is either brilliant satire or Mike Felger has stolen Dan’s identity.

    As a Patriots fan living in the Washington DC area, I cannot tell you how glad I am that the Patriots have Belichick as their coach/GM/overlord. Every Sunday, I say thanks to the football Gods that I get to enjoy following the Patriots rather than the train wreck known as the Washington Redskins.

    All good things must and will come to an end. Instead of fretting about when/how things will end, enjoy the ride. You will have all the time to fret/worry/complain/cry once the good times end.

  4. I don’t really think the point here is that Dan was fretting about how things would end, but more so to think about the fact that things could always be one second away from falling apart, as we Boston sports fans know all too well, and therefor should appreciate it just like you are.

  5. Classless says:

    I’m not really sure what this column is trying to accomplish. Maybe next time type “you don’t know what you got till it’s gone” and hit submit?

    To your greater point, I DO actually believe it’s possible Belichick will exit New England with venom thrown at him. Since New England is 33% bitter sportswriters (Shank, Borges, Mazz, Felger) and 33% dumb, self loathing fans (“why doesn’t Bellycheck faaahkin tell us anytingggg!!!!!???), I can totally see this happening.

    • CaffeineMan says:

      What Classless said, about Belichick exiting with venom.

      I also want to add that in my opinion the tone of this column (“Despite all of this, I’m still worried.”) is why the rest of the sports world either hates Boston sports fans because of perceived arrogance or laughs at them for being so out of touch with reality. It’s the same thing that triggers both reactions: basically a comparison to perfection. It’s been interesting to me living in New England for 25 years, then living out west for the last 12 years. Because Boston writers/fans compare the coach/player/organization to a perfect standard, the conclusion is either that we’re so arrogant that we can’t appreciate a great coach because our standards are higher then everyone else’s, or we’re so out of touch with reality that we make up things to worry about.

      Belichick is not perfect, but he’s a sure thing Hall of Fame coach. But that perspective gets lost in the crazy comparison to perfection that gets used by the 66% mentioned by Classless above. The writers use it for their own bitter agendas. The fans use it to wallow in misery. Either way, to those outside of New England, it is a tired act and we look spoiled.

      • Dan Zeigarnik says:

        Hi CaffeineMan,

        Thanks for commenting.

        I feel that I must have come across in a way that was unintended. As someone who has been a lifelong Celtics fan, I know how much each win matters, and I never compare the situation to the ‘ideal’.

        Personally, I cherish every Pats victory, but I know how the sports media is in this town and how quickly they can turn on a once beloved golden boy.

        So the column was in essence a warning to the fans that this might happen because of the market that we live regardless of how ridiculous and unfair it might seem.

        • George Cain says:

          Patriots fans are a very, very touchy bunch Dan. It’s funny considering 30 years of futility you would think we would be more weathered. I think Dan is saying, anything is possible.

          Don Shula, Chuck Noll, Tom Landry all were either fired or “encouraged” to retire. They are in Canton. At some point the game passes everyone by. It passed Paul Brown by for crying out loud. I expect the comments should be more about the possibility than the actuality. Its a fun topic given what just happened in Boston. Also, newsflash the Patriots 5-5 in their last 10 playoff games. It’s great here but its Nirvana. Odds are Belichick is smart enough to know when to leave. Kind of like Bill Walsh did or Parcells did with the Giants.

          It’s like the saying about having money and losing it is worse than never having it at all. I can’t imagine Belichick in a Post-Tom Brady era.

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