We've seen many faces of Bill Belichick.
There's Dead-pan Bill. He of the "we were outplayed and outcoached in all phases of the game."
There's Bill the Spy.
There's Bill the Master of the Dark Side.
There's Bill the Genius.
There's Bill the Motivator.
There's Bill the Manipulator.
There's Bill the Grump.
We even got Bill the Truly Contrite after the arrest of Aaron Hernandez.
They're all so lovable.
Monday, we got something new. Bill the Angry Crybaby.
Not very pretty.
There is little question that was the case, despite denials by Welker to the contrary.
Belichick accented his assessment by calling the hit "one of the worst plays I've seen."
Really? Here's a guy who coached Lawrence Taylor when he was defensive coordinator with the Giants, and led character stalwarts like Brandon Spikes, Brandon Meriweather and Rodney Harrison with the Patriots.
Belichick has to be hurting today. Another AFC title game ending in defeat, frustration and tepid offensive performance. His defensive secondary - minus Talib - was helpless against Peyton Manning, who flat-out played the game of his life Sunday. Belichick's defense yielded a season-high 507 total yards. It's pretty hard not to be ornery the day after that happens.
"I feel badly for Aqib, the way that play turned out," Belichick said at the start of his season-ending press debriefing Monday. "I went back and watched it, which I didn't have a chance to [Sunday], it was a deliberate play by the receiver to take out Aqib."
I guess we know who won and lost the "Wes Welker for Danny Amendola" trade. As we noted in our post-mortem Sunday, this hit was truly Belichickian. An innocuous-looking technically-clean hit off the ball that's likely not to be called with the aggressor not going for the victim's [Talib's] head or knees, but rather up into his ribs and shoulder.
Ex-Patriots' wide receiver Donte Stallworth, he of multiple similar plays over the years, failed to back his former coach on this one:
I have nothing but love and respect for Bill Belichick, but he's absolutely wrong about Wes Welker's hit on Aqib Talib... and he knows it.— Donte' Stallworth (@DonteStallworth) January 20, 2014
That tweet drew - as expected - lots of criticism.
I wish I could do a film session to explain to the people who have NOT seen a rub play 1,000 times over on film, practices and games...— Donte' Stallworth (@DonteStallworth) January 20, 2014
Again, spoke like a true two-time ex-Patriot.
Fox officiating guru Mike Pereira also weighed in via Twitter:
People asking about the hit on Talib. That is not a foul. Ball was touched by 88 about the same time as contact, Can't be OPI.— Mike Pereira (@MikePereira) January 19, 2014
So the hit wasn't illegal, just plain dirty and nasty.
That doesn't sit well with Belichick. Only he, apparently, is allowed to stretch and tweak the rules, let his receivers set picks, or encourage his corners to chip as far off the line as possible before a flag is thrown.
Belichick is clearly angry at Welker on a personal level. It's sort of sad to see him come out of the gate today and complain about a technically-clean hit less than 24 hours after his team mustered only 192 feet rushing, one passing touchdown and 16 points in the AFC title game. True to Patriots' form, no one ever said what actually happened to Talib injury wise, beyond the fact that he was injured early for the second straight time in an AFC title game. CBS reporter Tracy Wolfson said Talib had a "rib and knee" injury. Belichick defended Talib's grit Sunday and again on Monday. Sort of in the same way John Farrell often defended Clay Buchholz's toughness during his eternal recovery from that bad night's sleep.
Belichick's partner in greatness, Tom Brady, will be 37 when the 2014 season begins. Brady's biological clock is not getting any slower. "For me there's only one goal [now] and that's to win a championship," Brady said during his weekly sponsored appearance on WEEI's "Dennis and Callahan."
"Brady, The Lost Years," has to be another factor in Belichick's anger surfacing Monday.
Of course, none of this would have happened had the Patriots been straight with Welker this time a year ago and figured out a way to keep him in the fold. He infamously joked on the Comcast Sports New England Patriots post-game show last year about it being "nice to stick it in Bill's face." That remark, and that Rex Ryan foot joke from back in the day, didn't help the relation between Welker and Belichick. But, as was demonstrated Sunday, Welker proved too good a talent to let walk over personal differences and a few million bucks.
Pride and the Patriot Way goeth before the fall.
Clean, dirty, nasty, vicious, illegal and/or legal, Welker certainly stuck it in Bill's face on Sunday and is now headed to the Super Bowl.
That's something that you just don't do.
Just ask Bill the Angry Crybaby.
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