It's never easy to know the exactly correct way to react to a death. As Emily Dickinson put it, "After great pain, a formal feeling comes." Or as Schwarzenegger said it in "The Running Man" after cutting a guy in two with a chainsaw in one of his 17 or so perfectly delivered one-liners, "He had to split." But unfortunately in the real world, you can't always send someone off to the undiscovered country from whose bourn no traveler returns with a hilariously ironic killphrase. People expect you to be respectful. Even when the recently departed hadn't burned a single calorie being respectful to you in over 13 years before he or she croaked.
And so it is that we get Bill Belichick delivering a glowing, almost hagiographic tribute to Don Shula, a guy who dedicated his final decade-plus on this planet discrediting everything Belichick accomplished and openly rooting for him to fail. Because that's what's expected of public figures. And short of someone being a terrorist or Jeffrey Epstein, you can't be glad about their demise. If you're honest about how miserable the deceased treated you before he shuffled off this mortal coil, people react like you're the bad guy for speaking the truth.
So allow me to translate Belichick's carefully crafted and reverent eulogy from Public Pronouncement-Speak into the less spoken language of Honest:
Don Shula coached a long time and set a standard for winning football games I grew up admiring when he was friendly with my dad. So I was always respectful of the man and everything he accomplished in our chosen profession. Then in 2007 I took responsibility for a minor infraction of having an assistant point a camera at the Jets from somewhere other than the area in the stadium where you're allowed to point a camera at the Jets. For that misdemeanor, Shula turned on me like I'd just Bernie Madoffed his life's savings. But the real crime in his eyes was my team trying to overtake his '72 Dolphins and go 19-0. That would be the same Dolphins team whose opponents had a combined record of 70-122-4, a winning percentage of .357. But I digress. I'll never forget the Sunday Nighter in Baltimore when we were 11-0, and he was in the Ravens' owners box leading cheers for them and openly rooting for our destruction. From that point on, he lived the rest of his life trying to discredit everything I and my team ever accomplished. By the end, he was basically Christoper Pike in his wheelchair, answering one beep for YES and two beeps for NO, until it came to the subject of us. For that he could form complete sentences about "Bill Beli-cheat" and yammer on about how his record was "always done with a lot of class. A lot of dignity. Always done the right way. We didn’t deflate any balls." And as we learned from LaDanian Tomlinson in 2006, you always can tell someone has class when they constantly remind you how classy they are. So this classy coach is now dead. And as God is my witness, with blood in my eyes I vow to you now, that someday soon so will his record for most wins. Because if there's a real reason Shula resented me, it's here. In graphic form.
See you in hell. You'll recognize me. I'll be the one with all the coaching records.