What do you do when the NFL Commissioner - who has never been your ally by any stretch of the imagination - suddenly rules that you have been the victim of an "unprecedented" scheme by a divisional opponent to sneak around behind your back and engage in contract talks with your quarterback? If you're an ordinary man, you rant and rave about the injustice of it all. You make liberal use of the Commissioner's favorite word at times like this, "integrity." You demand an apology. And perhaps declare your franchise be compensated.
But no one has ever suggested Bill Belichick is an ordinary man.
He knows he was done dirty. And were the shoe on the other foot, the empire he has built would never see another draft pick, let alone lose roughly the same draft capital he did for pointing a camera at the Jets sideline is a stadium where 80,000 people had cameras in their pockets. This situation is, by any objective standard, a disgrace and and outrage. The perfect opportunity to do some grandstanding and let the world know how you really feel about the underhanded dealing of an NFL owner, and the betrayal by the kid you once drafted and turned into the GOAT. (See what I did there? "Kid"? "GOAT"? Animal puns are part of the Old Balls Difference.) But such a reaction is for lesser men. One can imagine what kind of a show Mike Tomlin, Dan Campbell or any given Harbaugh brother would've put on in a situation such as this. This diabolical mastermind has chosen the rarer path of remaining calm, deflecting the controversy, suppressing his anger, and channeling his rage.
That's what the greats do. Quiet, stoic, men's men. Rebels. Loners, who live outside the boundaries of society and follow their own moral code. Think John Wayne in The Searchers. Clint Eastwood in the Dollars trilogy or the Dirty Harry films. John Wick. The Mandalorian. All of whom have a clearer understanding of right and wrong than the others who inhabit their wicked worlds. And who believe actions are what define a man, not words. Men who have seen it all. And one look into their world-weary eyes reveals that they mean business. And when they do talk, they say what the mean and mean what they say.
Make no mistake, Belichick is fully aware of what an egregious breach of league rules it is for a player to be working on a contract with an opponent while not only under contract, but in the middle of a season, the way Brady was. But that's not for public consumption. It's for team meetings. It's for the bulletin board. This disrespect is not meant to be complained about. It's to be drilled, piped, processed, refined, and then pumped into the 2022 Patriots tank to fuel their playoff run. This Dynasty is built on talent, hard work and preparation, to be sure. But paranoia has also been an integral building material. Yet once again I'm forced to remind you that it's not paranoia when everyone is actually against you.
So as a devoted follower of Belichickian philosophy, I appreciate him saying nothing about this to the press. As an old Boston mob boss allegedly put it, "Never write if you can speak. Never speak if you can wink. Never wink if you can nod." And never say anything in a training camp press conference when you can say it on the scoreboard when you face the Dolphins.