Shannon Sharpe of CBS Sports was shocked and appalled that New England Patriots Head Coach Bill Belichick would dare to avoid his network’s sideline reporters following the team’s AFC Championship Game loss to the Baltimore Ravens on Sunday night.

There’s something to be said about being gracious in defeat. We’ve seen the New England Patriots five times in the last 12 years be victorious [in the AFC championship game). We've seen the opposing coaches who lost come out and talk to our Steve Tasker. Coach [Bill] Cowher did it when they lost to them, we saw this last week. Bill Belichick makes it real easy for you to root against the Patriots. You can’t be a poor sport all the time. You’re not going to win all the time, and he does this every time he loses. It’s unacceptable.

Sharpe’s comments might have carried more weight if even a single viewer of Sunday evening’s NFL coverage noticed that Belichick wasn’t interviewed. Or if, for once – just once – something of any interest to anyone was to be asked of a head coach following a football game. Instead, Belichick revealed himself to be one of the 7 billion people on earth who don’t enjoy talking about their failures, and for this Sharpe, in the parlance of our times, called him out.

I understand that sports are entertainment, and that television networks pay a lot of money for the rights to broadcast sporting events, and as part of the price paid for these rights, there’s an expectation of participation from coaches. So, you could make an argument that part of Belichick’s job, as Head Coach of the New England Patriots of the National Football League, is to speak with a television reporter after the game.

However, no one missed out on anything when Belichick opted not to supply the typical stock of bullshit answers to the pedantic questions that plague these post-game interview scenarios. In fact, the only reason this is even a topic of discussion is because of Sharpe’s criticisms following the game. In the NFC Chapionship Game, San Francisco 49ers Head Coach Jim Harbaugh didn’t fulfil his obligation to speak with the FOX broadcast. Since none of the hosts attempted to use his absence as an opportunity to promote themselves, few were actually aware that there was even supposed to be an interview.

Are sports fans today not savvy enough to get by without the cliche-riddled meanderings of media-trained head coaches following a game? What exactly was the CBS interviewer going to discover from speaking with a distraught Belichick? That he was, I don’t know, upset about the loss?

What insights are ever gathered from this dated process? I would hazard a guess that the only time the vast majority of viewers take note of an interview like the one that Belichick avoided is when the coach reacts like a bear that’s been poked with a stick once too often. In these instances though, the media themselves are the catalyst for the response. It’s hardly the recording of an unprovoked, natural moment.

What keeps the National Football League relevant is the public’s interest in the game and the relatively small cost that a lot of people can pay to satisfy their curiosity over seeing who the best is at a particular game. Yes, a television broadcast can certainly shape and bend that interest, but their relationship to the game itself is like a waiter’s to what he’s serving.

Think of the workers of the National Football League, from players to coaches to executives, as a highly skilled chef at a popular restaurant. In this allegory, the meals being created creates are the games and the resulting stories that come from the games. The broadcaster then acts as the server, delivering plates of food to the customer and facilitating their enjoyment.

If, from time to time, the waiter doesn’t feel as though he’s getting enough information from the chef to properly deliver that plate of food to the customer, it’s too bad, but the chef owes nothing to the server. While a waiter is necessary for delivering the food, there are always a stack of resumes in the chef’s office from eager applicants wanting to fill that position. And it’s far easier to replace the waiter than it is the chef, as long as technically, the waiter is paying to be the server of the chef’s production, which is what’s happening in football’s relationship with its broadcasters.

It’s as though a template was formed long ago, and broadcasters have refused to adapt to address their dependence on the cookie cutter items with which they fill that template. What’s insulting to the viewer is that they hold these completely uninformative and uninteresting moments following a game up to an untrue level of importance, imagining that they offer something that they truly don’t. The outrage that follows a coach’s refusal to participate in the delusion of the broadcast is part of reinforcing the supposed importance of Belichick saying:

We just had a tough day. That’s part of the deal. Every team is going to have a game like this. This team will bounce back. I know it. We have to forget about today and come back ready to play next year.

The Dumb Thing That Don Cherry Said

Like a chain reaction of increasingly more damaging explosions, the NHL’s return meant that Hockey Night In Canada was broadcast into millions of Canadian homes, which meant that Don Cherry’s Coach’s Corner platform was also seen by millions.

Instead of getting tough guys, Canadian guys – remember in Anaheim, he had all Canadian guys – he starts getting U.S. College guys, Finns and Swedes. What is this?

I just don’t know anymore.

Manti Te’o Interview Highlights

In the most impressive bit of blatant public relations gamesmanship to come along in some time, Manti Te’o's handlers allowed an untelevised interview with ESPN’s Jeremy Schaap on Friday night. Schaap reported on it Saturday, and a partial transcript was released later in the weekend.

His admission to not being sure of his girlfriend’s existence right up to Deadspin’s article on it, seems to contradict Notre Dame’s statement which claimed to have informed Te’o's family that it was a hoax, after hiring investigators to look into the matter.

Thought Of The Day

Is it not in the Canadian sports media’s best interest to report on how eager hockey fans are to watch the NHL, despite its recent labor dispute?

Your Suspension Of The Week

Shock jock sports talk radio host Dan Sileo attacked FOX Sports reporter Erin Andrews for reasons unbeknownst to anyone over the weekend, and was summarily suspended for two days by WQAM in Miami. He should’ve been fired for first of all, blaming Andrews, of all people, for not properly fact-checking stories on Manti Te’o, and for then tweeting, “Love Erin Andrews either naked or in a porn. Not at a sports desk.” This was after Andrews kindly informed the mouth-breathing neanderthal that she didn’t cover Notre Dame.

A Matter Of Timing And Scheduling And Advanced Degrees In Psychology

The biggest controversy to come out of Oprah Winfrey’s interview with Lance Armstrong last week was the decision to not only air the confessional over two parts, but to wait three days before televising the sit down. After all of the speculation over what he would say, the actual telecast was rather anti-climactic.

The reaction to Armstrong’s confession on social media was mainly to label him a psychopath and be done with it. According to the public, using performance enhancing drugs is forgivable, but to treat people like dicks in the process of your cover up is crazy.

Your Piggy Bank Cracking Of The Week

The average resale of a Super Bowl ticket is around $3,000.

Comments (21)

  1. The Don Cherry bullshit is so far beyond trainwreck status at this point. Can you imagine if Sunday Night Baseball had a weekly segment where Chris Berman just yelled about how Latin players were ruining the game?

    • It’s mind blowing that they let him continue with this bullshit. Are the ratings he pulls in really worth sponsoring his prejudice?

    • What Don Cherry should have said (and I’m twisting my spine into a pretzel to believe he meant) was that more stock should be given to hockey players graduating from the canadian development system. The Leafs really pushed deeper into the US college system than most teams do and the results were underwhelming. I imagine that players like Yakupov who played in Sarnia were exposed to ‘level of tough play’ that Grapes was looking for.

      And while I don’t enjoy or condone his xenophobic, ignorant diatribes, I’ve got to say that it’s going to be sad to see an icon (he’s undeniably assosciated with the hockey watching experience of our yesteryear) fall even further off the deep end. CBC will be too afraid to pull the plug before he does even more to tarnish his legacy and we’ll all be forced to watch an old angry many grow older and angrier.

      • I felt this way too, but then I remembered that in the very topic that they covered before, he was complaining about Americans playing in the CHL, and then playing in the WJC.

  2. Dustin, you’re forgetting the tremendous comedy potential of coaches absolutely dismissing the sideline/postgame interview. Gregg Popovich is a master of this. His disdain makes any in-game/post-game interview with him just great.

    In seriousness, CBS and the sponsors pay the NFL a ton of money, and part of the deal is getting access to the coaches/players for interviews like that. Cliche or no, Belichick had an obligation (perhaps just an implied one) and didn’t fulfill it. Sharpe was, in a way, protesting on CBS’ behalf.

    • Haha. I totally agree that there is an expectation for him to participate. I just don’t think it’s nearly as important – given the bullshit questions and answers – as the networks pretend. Did you notice he didn’t give an interview? Did anyone notice Harbaugh avoiding it in the game before?

  3. Canadian media now owns MLSE and the Toronto Maple Leafs, so a little bit of conflict-of-interest going on. That, and every TV commercial plays to the hockey-lovin’ canuck stereotype.

  4. Or I could read the piece fully and see that you noted the “CBS pays gobs of money” point. Good gravy.

    I still like Poppovich’s approach. Just complete and utter disdain.

  5. Stop crying about what Don Cherry says. The guy has a mouth on him, thats why hes got his own show. I’ll be sad the day he kicks the bucket. Who else is going to put 0% effort into pronouncing any euro last name, while telling Ron to sit down and shut up at the same time. GRAPES FOR PRIME MINISTER

  6. Sharpe’s point was that Belichick is a poor sport. He goes off and sulks when they lose. He’s a little bitch.
    And he hasn’t won shit since Spygate.

  7. “According to the public, using performance enhancing drugs is forgivable, but to treat people like dicks in the process of your cover up is crazy.”

    Well, I think they’re recognising a principle, even if not articulating it very well. Ultimately, cheating at a sport is not a big deal. It’s just sport. On the other hand, undertaking a long and elaborate plan to cover-up cheating, which involved (allegedly) perjury, abuse of the justice system to intimidate enemies, threats to teammates and competitors and attempts to destroy the careers of those who have since been shown to have been telling the truth – yeah, that’s a very big deal indeed. Hardly a pyschopath, but certainly a very very bad man.

  8. I can not believe this idiot on the radio only got suspended for two days, it’s disgraceful. It makes me embarrassed to be a man as well, I don’t even know what else to say…

    • Your right. He is an idiot, but it is only a fireable offence if his continued presence hurts the stations business. You ever think that most of the people listening, do so for a reason? Im sure very few of the regular listeners had a problem whatsoever.

      • Its even more sad that a group that large would take no objection or be bothered by his actions…

  9. I used to watch Cherry for the laughs until the Rob Ford speech where he called everyone Pinkos. Now it just makes me uncomfortable.

  10. The issue with Belichek is not whether or not the post-game interviews have any redeeming quality (they don’t), it’s that the TV networks need to fill air time with content, and the post-game loser interview is a overwrought (oops, time-honoured) tradition in that game. Like it or not, the big TV $$$ is what makes the league roll, and the beast must be fed.

    What puts things over the top with Belichek is just his general douchiness and mind numbing ability to come across as being a complete prick. Harbaugh is the anti-Belichek (demonstrative on the sidelines, opinionated, has not been caught in a major cheating scandal that should have had him suspended in a Sean Payton-like manner, etc.) so fans, and the media, will cut him slack because he is otherwise a valuable contributor to the ‘entertainment’ side of the NFL broadcast experience.

  11. Being prejudicial to people of your own race seems to be acceptable still.

    As for Belichick, I would have liked to have seen an interview because I don’t like him. However I never thought of it until Sharpe started chirping.

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