The Super Bowl last season was the feel-good story of the year. Two nice guys who were friends, two African-Americans -- Tony Dungy and Lovie Smith -- coaching in the biggest of games for the first time. We loved it. We cheered. Newborns were named Lovie and Tony. We made love with our faces in celebration of two good, well-liked men being in the championship game.
We called it the Love Bowl.
|Reputation aside, is Bill Belichick such a bad guy? (Getty Images)|
That certainly isn't the case this year.
We have two head coaches in the Super Bowl who are such grumpy geezers they make Donald Rumsfeld look like the Easter Bunny.
The hate is back baby!
Tom Coughlin: screamer; short tempered; high blood pressure; looks like his head will explode any second; drill sergeant wanna-be; cuddly as a squirrel just exposed to a live wire.
Bill Belichick: resembles a man just told his cat was stuffed into a dryer; hard driver; punks the media; balls of steel; has been called Darth Vader. Blood does not run through his veins, carbonite does.
We have never seen two head coaches in the Super Bowl era viewed by so many in the public as first-class jerks.
But what to call this year's Super Bowl festivus? Hmmm ...
The Ass---- Bowl?
The Grumpy Old Men Bowl?
The Jerk Bowl?
The Bill Polian Bowl?
The Pr--k Bowl?
The Jackass Bowl.
That's it. That's perfect. The Jackass Bowl. TJB XLII for short.
There could not be a more fitting name for a Super Bowl that features two of the more polarizing, hated coaching figures we have ever seen. The only thing missing is Mike Martz and Mike Krzyzewski being named honorary captains.
Coughlin inspired such hate former Giant Tiki Barber wrote about his dislike of Coughlin in an autobiography. In his early days with the Giants, Coughlin also had to practically fight back a mutiny from some of his veteran players.
Belichick's name causes the blood pressure of non-Patriots fans to rise at Mach speeds. Spygate made Belichick perhaps the most disliked coach in the modern history of the sport. When he refused to shake the hand of his protégé, New York Jets coach Eric Mangini, he was portrayed as an ogre by the media.
Belichick's press conferences are very Rumsfeldian. Rumsfeld once stated: "I believe what I said yesterday. I don't know what I said, but I know what I think, and, well, I assume it's what I said." Belichick talks similarly before the media.
Belichick would rather have his gonads served with Worchester sauce than give out an iota of injury information.
For the record, I like Belichick. A lot. For those of us in the media who know him fairly well, he is actually a very likeable and respectful guy (sorry to ruin it for you Hatriots). People who know Coughlin well say he is a good person as well.
None of that matters to a number of football fans and media members. They're going to hate one or both coaches and to be blunt, the occasional petulant and obnoxious behavior of Belichick and Coughlin doesn't exactly help the cause of the two coaches.
Players sprint back and forth between liking Coughlin and Belichick and wanting the two coaches to die a painful death. Examples like this are why. The Boston Herald reported that this past summer, rookie Brandon Meriweather spoke to the paper about how Wes Welker is "one of the best slot receivers in the league." Belichick, of course, hates when rookies pretty much speak at all. So the following day, in front of the entire team, Belichick said, "Brandon Meriweather thinks Wes Welker is one of the best slot receivers in the league. How the (expletive) would Brandon Meriweather know! You don't know anything, so shut the (expletive) up!"
It shouldn't be a surprise that Coughlin and Belichick are the way they are. Both men are extensions of the Bill Parcells coaching tree. Parcells is to coaching jerk-dom what the Greeks are to democracy.
Coughlin's short temper and sideline histrionics make him perfect material for the Jackass Bowl.
CBS' Shannon Sharpe once said on The NFL Today: "I would rather die in an abandoned building alone, and my family not know what happened, than play for this guy (Coughlin)." That, my friends, is hate.
FOX's Terry Bradshaw once called Coughlin "mean" and "hateful" and even "stupid." When Bradshaw is calling someone stupid, well, that's true, fiery hate.
After a 42-30 loss to Seattle in September of 2006, tight end Jeremy Shockey said Coughlin was out-coached. "We got outplayed and out-coached," Shockey said. "Write that down."
So it is written, Jeremy.
While it is true that Barber is one of the more phony human beings in NFL history, his rip job of Coughlin is legendary nevertheless. In his autobiography Barber said that Coughlin was one of the reasons he retired from football and that Coughlin removed the joy of playing. Coughlin is thus a joy destroyer, according to Barber.
Former Jaguars wide receiver Willie Jackson once said that Coughlin called him a coward after he didn't run downfield to cover a kickoff as aggressively as Coughlin would have liked. In 1999, Coughlin, again while coaching the Jaguars, fined two rookie players for being late to a team meeting despite the fact they had been in a car accident. The players were not seriously injured even though the car flipped over several times. Coughlin reasoned they would have been late anyway and fined them.
Let me repeat that: Coughlin fined two players for being late after they were in a life-threatening car wreck, figuring they would have been late anyway.
Yes, the Jackass Bowl is more than appropriate.
The Coughlin stories are notorious and numerous. If a player is on time for a meeting, he's late. You must show up five minutes early.
The hate aimed at Belichick by fans has as much to do with the success of the Patriots as Belichick's demeanor. The Patriots have simply become the team to hate because they've gotten so good.
"When you win people want to knock you down," Patriots tight end Kyle Brady told me.
Spygate only added to that phenomenon and Belichick is the figurehead. George Martin, a 67-year-old retired police officer from Manorville, N.Y., and a Jets fan, told the New York Daily News: "I just despise New England, everything about them, and it starts with the coach. That scowl, that damn hood, he just looks sinister. I'll probably root for the Giants, that's how much I don't like Belichick."
When Jets fans are rooting for the other New York team you know Belichick truly inspires hate.
George Knowles, a 50-year-old salesman from North Babylon, N.Y., also is going to pull for the Giants because he says Belichick is "the most disliked man in football, and maybe ever, especially for Jets fans."
Here it comes.
The Jackass Bowl.
Cue the hate and lots of it.