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Archive for December 18, 2019

Dec. 18, 2019 — An unusual guru

This fall, I have been drawn in by some compelling sports television: the series by the NFL Network selecting the 100 greatest players and coaches of the first 100 years of the NFL.

The most interesting parts of these “reveal” shows isn’t just the revelations of the players and coaches. For me, it’s the discussions between host Rich Eisen, commentator Cris Collinsworth, and New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick.

Belichick’s public persona may be of the coach with taciturn statements to the media, but who loves to discuss lacrosse with Baltimore-area reporters during teleconferences whenever the next opponent is the Ravens. He is a six-time Super Bowl champion who was, frankly, within a possession of three more titles.

And, given what the NFL has written about the selection process, and his comments during the broadcasts, Belichick is a historian of the game of pro football. He teamed with former Oakland coach John Madden in doing research on the first 60 years of the NFL to give context and perspective to the rest of the selection committee so that the TV Era of the league does not get too much influence in terms of the selectees.

And Belichick’s comments have been wonderful and incisive, especially when former players have been brought in. The discussions between he and Jim Brown and Ray Lewis and Emmitt Smith and Lawrence Taylor have been incredible. There was some special repartee between Belichick and Lewis, especially when it came to a certain pass route that Lewis and teammate Ed Reed would sniff out and intercept just about every time the Patriots tried it.

There are a few more installments left to broadcast, and replays are available on demand from the NFL’s YouTube channel. It’s a wonderful time capsule, and it’s the kind of historical perspective on sports that I very much enjoy.