View Full Version : Football Cassel trade reveals Belichick's soft side? Um, he doesn't have one

03-03-2009, 01:00 PM

March 3, 2009
By Gregg Doyel
CBSSports.com National Columnist

This might be the strangest argument you ever read and it better be the strangest argument I ever write, because I'm about to defend the indefensible. I'm about to defend New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick.

And I'm going to defend him by ripping him.

Told you. Strange.

Football coaches are notorious for being hard-hearted; Bill Belichick isn't, since he doesn't have a heart. (Getty Images)
Football coaches are notorious for being hard-hearted; Bill Belichick isn't, since he doesn't have a heart. (Getty Images)
The story is the weekend Matt Cassel trade between Belichick and his former protégé with the Patriots, new Kansas City general manager Scott Pioli. And the truth is this: The very qualities that make Belichick despicable are the qualities that, in this story, make him blameless. The qualities that indict Belichick as a human being are the ones that set him free in the curious case of Kansas City.

Belichick is too big of a jerk to do a favor for Pioli. It's as simple as that, and unless you have evidence to the contrary -- and I'm not counting ESPN "reporter" Chris Mortensen's anonymous source as "evidence" -- you must keep that in mind. Bill Belichick doesn't have the heart to give the Chiefs a gift trade for one very basic reason:

Bill Belichick doesn't have a heart.

The case against Belichick looks interesting. I'll admit that. Worded in the most damning way possible, it's possible to look at the trade like so: Belichick sent a proven starting quarterback in Cassel, and a proven, classy, versatile and richly experienced starting linebacker in Mike Vrabel, to Kansas City for one player in the 2009 NFL Draft. A second-round pick.

Not sure if that looks bad, but it definitely doesn't look good.

However it looks, it looks worse with the added speculation, accepted in some circles as fact, that Belichick turned down a much sweeter deal from the Denver Broncos. According to Mortensen's anonymous source, the Broncos would have given the Patriots a first-round pick in 2009 -- No. 12 overall -- for Cassel.

Briefly, and then we can move on to the more substantive part of this entire issue, Mortensen cannot be taken seriously. He has been wrong so often that he cannot be accepted as an authority. There are some reporters whose reputation is so sterling they have earned this right: Whatever they report deserves to be accepted as fact. Mortensen is not among those reporters. So if you're hanging your hat on Mort, your hat is now collecting dust on the floor.

Moving on ...

This entire conspiracy theory has a hole as deep and dark as the one in Belichick's soul. Think about the man's track record. What reason has he ever given us to assume he would do a favor for Scott Pioli? Or for anyone, for that matter?
Your Turn: Reader Rip
Elstunn GUnn: Best part of this article? Doyle ripping Mortenson.... You gotta love it when an online 'journalist' rips into a guy who has a better job, makes more money and is taken more seriously.

Doyle, if you were so good, you would have his job. How's your novel coming along?
Writer Retort
Gregg Doyel: You misspelled my name, Mortensen's name and, considering you inadvertently capitalized the 'u' in GUnn, your own name. And you think I'm taking you seriously?
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Giving Cassel (and Vrabel) to the Chiefs for anything less than market value would be a sentimental thing to do, and Belichick is as sentimental as a sea snake. When defensive lineman Richard Seymour lost his grandfather to cancer in 2003 and missed a practice to attend the funeral and mourn with family, Belichick benched him during the next game.

And he's going to do Scott Pioli a favor? You can't possibly think that. Belichick is all about logic and numbers, which you'd expect from a former economics major, which he is. Moving Cassel was logical. His exorbitant cap cost, combined with Tom Brady's exorbitant cap cost, would have hamstrung the Patriots for years. Vrabel, who turns 34 in August and whose number of tackles has decreased every year since 2005, was going to struggle to make the team this year. Cassel had to go, and Vrabel might have gone anyway. On that level, the trade makes sense.

Belichick accepted less from Kansas City than he could have received from another team? That makes no sense at all. There's nothing soft or generous or sentimental about Belichick. Players who have been loyal to him still get released at the first sign of wear and tear, and of course you know the story of Ted Johnson -- the hard-nosed, overachieving linebacker in the Belichick mold who was urged to practice with a head injury against the advice of team trainers.

To believe the Cassel trade was fraudulent implies something even more ridiculous than the notion that Belichick would help another franchise. It implies that Belichick would hurt his own. Accepting anything less than the maximum deal he could have received in exchange for Cassel (and Vrabel) means Belichick willingly cheated his team at the expense of his buddy in Kansas City. And surely you can't think that.

Belichick is so competitive, he was the evil genius behind Spygate. He's so competitive he refused to give his blessing to longtime assistant Eric Mangini to coach the New York Jets -- and when Mangini went to New York anyway, Belichick disabled his security code before Mangini could return to his old office for his personal items.

Belichick is ruthless. He throws into the end zone in the final minute of blowout wins. He adds talented but outer-space rejects most teams wouldn't touch, like Corey Dillon and Randy Moss, because Belichick is Darth Vader. And Darth Vader isn't afraid of E.T.

Darth Vader just wants to win, and he'll win at any cost. Belichick is the same way. Help another franchise? Even a franchise run by his friend? That's currently the most popular conspiracy theory in the NFL, but there are two problems with it:

One, Belichick has never helped another franchise in his life.

Two, Belichick doesn't have friends.