No emotion from Bill Belichick
No emotion from Bill Belichick
GOLDBERG ON FOOTBALL: No emotion from Billy B
FOXBOROUGH, Mass. (AP) -In Bill Belichick's ultra-secret world, good news can be bad and bad news can be good.
So the question is whether Belichick's moderately flippant attitude about Tom Brady's left knee injury on Sunday means the NFL's reigning MVP may be OK soon. Or whether it might mean the worst.
It could even mean that Belichick was telling the truth when he said after his Patriots beat Kansas City 17-10 that he really doesn't know how badly his quarterback is hurt. So Vinny Testaverde may have to wait another day on his couch in Long Island to see if his phone rings and Belichick asks him to get his soon-to-be 45-year-old body up I-95 to Foxborough.
Belichick was straight-faced as he began his media session and relatively upbeat, praising Matt Cassel, Brady's backup, for an efficient game. Then he praised his defense for preserving the win by stopping the Chiefs from the Patriots 5-yard-line on four straight plays in the final minute.
Then he rattled off a sentence about Brady, saying he knew little before adding: ``I doubt anyone is interested.''
Everyone was interested, of course. So after a few questions and a few non-answers, he said, again with a straight face: ``I'm sure there's someone here with a medical degree.''
Maybe 1,200 miles away in Miami, where Brett Favre had just won his first game as a New York Jet, setting up a meeting in the Meadowlands with the Patriots next week.
``Just found out. I heard about that,'' said Favre, who may have secretly studied orthopedics and long-range diagnosis during his three-month retirement. ``That's terrible. Terrible. I guess it's an ACL or something. They've always overcome injuries and things like that, but that's pretty difficult, Tom Brady.''
Just once, let's just give Belichick the benefit of the doubt and suggest he really doesn't know how seriously Brady is hurt. With knee injuries, an MRI is usually necessary to get a really good look and those are almost never given on the spot - after the Giants' Osi Umenyiora injured a knee in an exhibition game, Tom Coughlin was optimistic until an MRI the next day showed Umenyiora needed season-ending surgery.
Moreover, coaches tend to believe their own cliches - that injuries are part of the game - and have to act stoically so as not to panic their teams. Coughlin took immediate steps to fill the hole left by his best pass rusher, and Belichick will do the same at QB if Brady is lost for a while. Plus, he's encouraged at least for now by Cassel's performance Sunday.
The bigger question is what Belichick says when he finds out about Brady, holding out perhaps until Friday to keep the Jets preparing for both Brady and Cassel.
Brady had been on the injury sheet with a ``shoulder'' problem for every game since the 2005 Super Bowl, the one in which New England beat Philadelphia. His shoulder was so bad that he threw an NFL record 50 touchdown passes last season and Sunday's start was his 128th straight, third longest in NFL history behind Favre's 261 and Peyton Manning's 160 going into Sunday night's game.
But Brady did injure his right ankle before last season's Super Bowl and it may have limited his mobility in the 17-14 loss to the Giants. And he didn't play a down in exhibition games because of an injury to his right foot.
Yet he was mysteriously taken off the injury list last Thursday. Presumably his foot injury and that shoulder that had bothered him for 56 straight weeks had healed on Wednesday, when he was listed with ``foot'' and ``shoulder.''
In hindsight, Brady seemed less mobile than usual in the half a quarter he played. He still managed to complete 7 of 11 passes for 76 yards and had at least two dropped, one each by the ultra-reliable Randy Moss and Wes Welker.
Then he was hit by Kansas City safety Bernard Pollard and lay on the ground in pain. He limped off between two trainers and went to the locker room, never to be seen again. At first his return was deemed ``questionable.'' Early in the second half he was deemed ``out'' for the game.
That's about all anyone ever gets from the closed world of the Patriots, who got a decent relief job from Cassel: 13-of-18 for 152 yards and a touchdown. He saw more meaningful action than in any game since high school; Cassel backed up Carson Palmer and Matt Leinart at Southern Cal.
At least one Patriot was worried
``After he left, every time the fans cheered I looked at the door to the locker room to see if Tom was coming back on the field,'' Moss said. ``It hurts to have him out.''
In the mysterious world of the Patriots, it may take a while to determine how long.