New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick materialized in the annual NFL coaches photo after pulling a disappearing act in past years.
The Super Bowl-winning coach, wearing jeans, sandals, and an uncharacteristic say-cheese smile, sits next to his opponent in the big game, Pete Carroll. Cardinals coach Bruce Arians dons a scally cap for the cameras. Andy Reid wears a Hawaiian shirt at the Arizona Biltmore. Oakland Raiders coach Jack Del Rio favors a Larry Craig-style, wide-legged posture at the expense of Tom Coughlin, who looks less like a Giant and more like a lilliputian next to the six-foot-four former linebacker.
Sean Payton (he of Bountygate infamy) joined Belichick (he of Spygate infamy) away from the camera’s gaze two years ago. But generally 31 coaches appear in the picture and one, presumably, flips the photographer his finger somewhere outside of the shot. His absence hammed it up before his presence did on Monday.
As Dave Davies once sang, “I’m not like everyone else.” Belichick remains the league’s only sideline strategist who does not belong to the NFL Coaches Association. In contrast to his named peers, he appears in the Madden video game as “NE Head Coach.” He told the NFL to fine him if they didn’t like introducing his team as a team at Super Bowl 36. And the anti-Tom Landry dresses as though he readies to walk his dog rather than coach a football game.
What he’s trying to say to the NFL deciphers far more easily than “It is what it is.”
But Belichick showed a downright loquacious side during his Deflategate presser, expressed his fondness for monkey puppets at Super Bowl Media Day, and even smiled after winning the Lombardi Trophy. Perhaps the current Kodachrome captures a softening in still life.