ESPN Pardon the Interruption’s Mike Wilbon thinks that New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick is “ruthless” and “will crush you”, as if it were a personal thing. His remarks came in the wake of the Patriots’ 43-0 drubbing of the Miami Dolphins last Sunday in week two of the NFL season.
But the Patriot Way of “playing 60 minutes” and “doing your job” have been the hallmarks of Belichick coached teams for nearly two decades now. And it is those mantras that explain why when his teams get to the Super Bowl – as they have nine times with six wins – they’re already so steeped in the culture of playing 60 minutes and doing their job irrespective of the situation, that the Super Bowl becomes just another situation in which the Patriot players say, “I’ve been here all year. I’m more prepared.”
This is the backdrop for last Sunday’s shutout of the Miami Dolphins in which the Patriots blitzed on the final play of the game to preserve the 43-0 snooker. Pundits like Michael Wilbon were convinced it was further evidence of Belichick’s cold-cold heart – to borrow from Ken Burns’ excellent series Country Music currently airing on PBS – while I would see it more as Belichick’s relentless preparation and mindset.
This has always been the backbone of distance running training, the daily attention to detail. ‘What I do today has no value outside the context of what I did yesterday and what I must do again tomorrow’. It’s that continuum that breeds success, not the single killer workout or waiting for the Big Game to knuckle down. Continue reading
Tom Brady American football GOAT
Super Bowl LIII is this weekend in Atlanta and we’re having a party as we do whenever the New England Patriots enter the fray. Of course, the dominant stories this year are whether Pat’s coach Bill Belichick and quarterback Tom Brady can add a sixth Lombardi Trophy to their display case in Foxborough, or will 32-year-old wunderkind coach Sean McVay and defensive player of the year Aaron Donald, defensive tackle for the Los Angeles Rams, find a way to upset the reigning NFL dynasty and maybe begin a new one of their own.
But another question I have is, who in sports history is analogous to Tom Brady, someone everyone whiffed on – 6th round draft pick, the 199th player chosen – who went on to become the GOAT? Let’s take a look at some other GOAT candidates in other sports and compare. Continue reading
Do top marathoners ever watch tape on their opponents? You know, like American football teams do, studying film from one game to prep for the next? They always say what makes Tom Brady (quarterback for the New England Patriots American football team) arguably the best-ever to play the position is his commitment to the work, his preparation, including endlessly watching film. So does anybody, or any management team in running do opposition research in the marathon game? Should they? Or is it all about getting yourself as fit as you can, then just run the race, and the opposition will come along with the territory?
They say you can’t play defense in running, but is there nothing else you can do to prepare for your opponents except training your fanny off?
We all know that every race has an Alpha, that one person every other runner pays special mind to. Though there was a Big 3 in Berlin, I bet even Wilson Kipsang and Kenenisa Bekele kept a close eye on Eliud Kipchoge. But I wonder whether if you deconstructed enough marathons you could learn anything by watching where the eventual champion took up his/her position in the lead pack? Is there an unrealized “catbird seat” that somehow gives one person an advantage in the critical later stages? Continue reading
As an athlete Alberto Salazar was willing to delve more deeply into the dark raging corridors within than any athlete I ever encountered. That do-or-die spirit is what elevated Al to iconic status as a runner, but it also brought him to the edge of the abyss. Twice he ran himself to the precipice of a serious medical crisis, once at the Falmouth Road Race 1978 (hyperthermia), again at the 1982 Boston Marathon (hypothermia).
Now, with the release of a 269-page interim USADA report on the Nike Oregon Project and its coach by Russian hackers, we find Coach Salazar’s intense drive to succeed once again putting him on the edge between fair and foul, not only in the court of sport, but in the court of public opinion. Continue reading
The Boston Globe’s Dan Shaughnessy – author of The Curse of the Bambino, no less, a book about the Boston Red Sox – suggested in his Super Bowl lead today that the New England Patriots’ improbable, cataclysmic, can-you-effing-believe-it! 25 point comeback win over the Atlanta Falcons in Super Bowl 51 may be the greatest moment in Boston sports history.
So much emotional weight was freighted onto this Deflategate Revenge Tour finale in Houston, along with the possibility of Pat’s quarterback Tom Brady and coach Bill Belichich winning their unprecedented fifth Super Bowl title, that the game rose above any of the previous 50 Super Bowls, which on its own has become the national sporting event of the year. But the best moment in Boston sports history? Let’s consider the rivals in the three other major professional sports and our own minor one of running. Continue reading
Are we surprised Donald Trump, Bernie Sanders, and Dr. Ben Carson are leading in the U.S. presidential polls? Are we shocked Pope Francis seems bent on radically reforming every Catholic prohibition heretofore considered canonical? Are we indignant that women’s marathon world record holder Paula Radcliffe has been linked (though unnamed) to assertions of PED use by a British parliamentary committee during a hearing into doping allegations in athletics?
I wish I were, but I am sorry, I am not. I guess I have been around too long.
From Paula Radcliffe to Tom Brady, Hillary Clinton to the Catholic Church, what we are witnessing is the new assumption of guilt by a public grown too cynical for Norman Rockwell’s vanilla version of life. Nothing is above reproach. Facts may not lie, but like quarks are never directly observed or found in isolation, either. Instead they exist within the larger narrative that forms a constantly moving target that applies only to the moment, never universally over time.
“It depends on what the meaning of the word ‘is’ is,” don’t you know. Continue reading