|GOLDBERG ON FOOTBALL: 2 great coaches, 2 totally different people|
|Written by Admin|
|Monday, 29 October 2007 10:55|
Bill Belichick, barely audible, mumbled into a microphone that Indianapolis is the best team in football.
Tony Dungy, smiling, said he doesn't want to talk about The Game of the Millennium until Wednesday, then added: ``It's going to be a circus.''
Just shows that great football coaches aren't all from the same mold.
So different in personality are Dungy and Belichick that the only similarities are rather funky exteriors: the famous sleeveless sweat shirt Belichick wears on the sideline; and the aging Chevy Blazer Dungy parks in a lot otherwise full of players' ultra-luxury vehicles.
They meet again next Sunday, unbeaten New England at unbeaten Indianapolis, combined winners of four of the last six Super Bowls and both dominant this season in the AFC, the far superior conference.
Prime examples of their superiority were on display Sunday when each demolished presumed challengers from the NFC, the Colts beating Carolina 31-7 and the Patriots routing the Redskins 52-7.
New England's win raised a legitimate question whether the 2007 version of Belichick was running up the score.
Hardly a charming personality, he's never hung out with opposing coaches. This year, dislike for him runs deeper after ``Spygate,'' the confiscation of tapes showing New York Jets defensive signals that cost Belichick a $500,000 fine from the NFL, the Patriots $250,000 more and the loss of a first-round draft pick.
Now there is the perception Belichick is coaching angry, seemingly intent on proving he doesn't need to cheat.
Proof of that is based on facts, or the perception the facts have created.
Fact: The Patriots haven't scored fewer than 34 points in any game, and their closest was a 34-17 win over Cleveland. The Browns are coached by Romeo Crennel, Belichick's former defensive coordinator and one of the few coaches with whom he is friendly.
imacy of the Patriots' three Super Bowl wins.
After New England's eighth victory, the questions that weren't about running up the score on the Redskins (going for first downs on fourth-and-1 with 38-0 and 45-0 leads) were about Indy. Answers from Belichick and players from Tom Brady down all were something like: ``They're the Super Bowl champions and they're unbeaten, so they're the best team in the league right now. We will have our hands full.''
Dungy, on the other hand, was able to step outside the very narrow world of a football coach with his ``circus'' line.
It acknowledged the overwhelming interest in the Game of the Millennium and in Peyton Manning-Tom Brady X, the 10th meeting of the two quarterbacks who, without question, are the best in the league. While Dungy acknowledged telling his players to hold their comments, Belichick never acknowledges a ``party line'' that's obviously been spread throughout the organization.
Dungy can be cautious, though.
A year ago, during the week before the AFC championship game, he shunted aside questions about the possibility his Colts might face Lovie Smith's Chicago Bears in the Super Bowl, a meeting of two black coaches in a game in which there had never been one before.
Yet, once both made it, Dungy had plenty to say about race and overcoming bias to get where he was.
``I grew up watching Vince Lombardi,'' he said. ``That was the vision of an NFL coach: a middle-aged white man in a suit.''
Dungy has never been afraid to speak out on non-football issues. Or turn the worst personal adversity into a positive. Since the suicide of his son James nearly two years ago, he has worked with families who have suffered similar losses, letting them know fame and fortune doesn't immunize people from tragedy.
At the Super Bowl and since his victory, he's also spoken more about his deep religious faith, including it in his book, ``Quiet Strength: The Principles, Practices, and Priorities of a Winning Life,'' which remains a best seller.
``They were going to three different sections of the bookstore to buy it,'' Dungy laughed. ``Football, Religion, African-American. That makes for a broad audience.''
Belichick doesn't joke much, at least in public. In the occasional moments he lets his guard down and talks informally (always outside the range of television cameras), the discussion is football: Xs and Os mixed with his philosophy on building a team.
In some ways, his lack of affability was as much an impediment to his career as Dungy's race.
Back in the late 1980s, as New York Giants defensive coordinator, he was considered one of the game's brilliant young minds. Yet, when he asked the late George Young, the team's general manager, if he would be considered for head coach when Bill Parcells left, he was told ``no'' because he didn't have the personality for the job.
Nonetheless, the Cleveland Browns hired him in 1991, but he did little there, bickering constantly with the media and going 37-45 in four seasons. He became an assistant to Parcells in New England and with the New York Jets, where he was supposed to succeed Parcells, but ended up going to the Patriots after one day as coach on Long Island.
Even then, Patriots owner Robert Kraft fielded a number of calls from team and league officials wondering why Belichick was hired. ``The smartest man I've ever encountered,'' Kraft responded.
Belichick has proven him right with a 95-39 record and three titles, with a fourth on the horizon.
Dungy's record isn't bad either: 130-70 and his first Super Bowl win last season.
Obviously, great football coaches come in all varieties.