NFL Films did a typically excellent job with the first installment of the Bill Belichick documentary series. It’s a well-done, insightful look into the monomaniacal life of the Spite King of The Hobos. The problem is, “Hard Knocks” spoiled us by making audiences accustomed to documentary subjects who actually have personalities. Whereas Rex Ryan gave stirring, memorable speeches that we’ll quote through the ages, Belichick deadpans brittle platitudes and coldly lists team shortcomings. Rex appeared briefly in the first episode tonight, if only as a source of trash talk against the Patriots. Belichick is asked for a response by a reporter over the phone, whereupon he stammers for about 20 seconds before brushing off the question. GREAT TELEVISION. LOFTY TELEVISION. That he lacks a way with words and human feeling doesn’t make Grumblelord a lesser coach, obviously, just a far more boring one. And really, is anyone shocked that that’s how Belicheat actually is? Of course not.
It’s great viewing if your idea of humanizing portrait is a coach disdainfully eating melon while conducting phone interviews with reporters, playing golf in jeans and crying about how much he misses spending all of his time watching film and being berated by Bill Parcells in the Giants team headquarters way back when. In the end, Belichick is still football culture’s platonic ideal of an NFL coach: lifeless, uncaring and obsessed with minutiae. But he’s fantastically successful so he gets a documentary series. It’s about as fun to watch as it probably is to experience. Which is to say, not very much. Like I said, unprecedented access that was rewarded by a good job putting it together. The part where Brady and Belichick sat in the coach’s office and scouted the Ravens defense was legitimately illuminating, but I could have mostly done without the rest.
Quick KSK programming note: Because I’ll be attending Drew’s reading in NYC on Monday night, this week’s regularly scheduled live blog will instead be the Sunday night Eagles-Falcons game. It’ll be just like the time Brett Favre went back to play the Packers in Lambeau BUT BLACK.