Sports Outside the Beltway

Belichick Shoves Camerman – Media Goes Bonkers

Watch it for yourself.

Now read the shock and horror:

This was the same coach who complained a week earlier about the hit that one of the Tennessee Titans had delivered upon Patriots defensive back Rodney Harrison. Perfect: One cheap – shot artist standing in judgment of another.

Belichick apologized to [Jim] Davis yesterday, and Davis, the consummate professional, refuses to make a big deal of the incident. He’s already thinking about the next game, the next shot, and doesn’t want anything like this to get in the way. He’s widely hailed as the best sports photographer in New England, and even after the encounter recovered quickly enough to get an unimpeded shot.

It’s great that Belichick said he was sorry, but like Tom Finneran’s apology in federal court, this is another one of those cases in which actions speak so much louder than words.

Belichick, in that brief instant in Foxborough, went after a guy’s livelihood. He shoved a piece of metal equipment perilously close to Davis’s eye. There’s not a single member of the Globe’s star-studded stable of photographers who hasn’t been jostled while doing the job, but usually it’s by some self-important minion, not by the big man himself.

Here’s Belichick’s problem, and it has nothing to do with the fact that he dresses like he’s from Appalachia and has the personality of a wet mop: He thinks he’s above everybody else. He treats every Sunday with more secrecy than the US generals handle our strategy in Iraq. He believes three Super Bowl championships give him immunity against moronity. They don’t.

Believe me, I understand he’s brilliant. I wouldn’t miss a moment of next Sunday’s game. I know that if they win, it’s disproportionately due to painstaking work of the coach.

But why does it have to be an either/or? Why can’t a model sports franchise like the New England Patriots have a coach who is both excellent and at least somewhat of a decent guy? Why can’t Bob or Jonathan Kraft call him aside and teach him a modicum of class?

Deep breath people. Okay, first and foremost, Jim Davis works for the Globe, as does Brian McGrory, the author of the excerpted piece. Obviously, Mr. McGrory is looking out for his colleague. And that is a good thing, but obtuseness is not a good thing.

The constant swirl of camermen and reporters at news events has become a post modern punchline in movies and television and books. The camerman, “just doing his job” has become a figure difficult to garner sympathy with, because frequently, we cringe as we watch these guys do their jobs, sticking cameras in people’s faces at moements not ideally suited for such intrusion.

And the most troubling thing that McGrory writes is that he knows what Belichick’s problem is. At that moment, Belichick’s problem was that he was in the midst of a mosh pit trying to get to Eric Mangini. It’s not that he thinks that he is above everyone else. Never mind the gratuitous ad hominem attack on him and how he chooses to dress. Bill Belichick is hired by the Krafts to do a job. That job entails some degree of media relations. When the media are antagonistic as is Boston’s – in particular Ron Borges of the Globe – an antipathy quickly develops.

If Mr. McGrory is so concerned about mixing brilliance with decency, perhaps he should couple his writing to a modicum of decency and refrain from ad hominem attacks and also invest in some reality about how the media are perceived in America.

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