Dear Bill Belichick,
I’d like to take this opportunity to welcome you back to Indianapolis and Lucas Oil Stadium, site of Super Bowl XLVI. Hard to believe we’re coming up on four years since the Giants … OK, OK. Don’t bring that up. Not a game you want to remember.
Hey, at least you made it to the Super Bowl that year. Here in the Hoosier State capital, I could introduce you to thousands of Colts fans who have often wondered how many times their beloved boys in blue would have reached the NFL’s championship game if not for you. But I digress.
Let’s get to the matter at hand. You’re bringing your unbeaten, defending Super Bowl champs back to Indy for a Sunday night game against the Colts. And while the pregame rhetoric has been predictable from both sides — that this is just another game — we both know that simply isn’t true.
I don’t blame you for wanting to stick it to the Colts. They sure stuck it to you and Tom Brady after January’s AFC Championship Game. Who knew DeflateGate would become such a big deal? Seriously, even your harshest critics, many of whom happen to live here in Indianapolis, didn’t expect a controversy about under-inflated footballs to blow through the entire offseason.
Many in the New England media have mentioned how this game will be payback for all the aggravation Colts’ management caused your franchise with DeflateGate. I know, I know. Your boss, Robert Kraft, got fined a bit of cash and the Patriots were docked a couple of draft picks. You haven’t forgotten, sure. But you still got the Super Bowl ring, right? And if my math is correct, that makes six for you? And barring a reversal upon appeal, quarterback Tom Brady beat the rap, did he not?
If we can somehow put that ugly mess aside, here’s the thing. The Colts players had nothing to do with what happened. Not really. I’ve spoken to a few and they didn’t even know the Patriots were accused of sticking it to those footballs until the plane ride home. And you’ve got to know, after the 45-7 butt-kicking your guys administered to the Colts, that had to be one of the longest plane rides back to Indianapolis in NFL history.
Because you’ve been so successful, it’s human nature for many to resent you. But I’ve gone on record in the past, as recently as last year before your guys came in here and beat the living daylights out of the Colts yet again, as saying you’re the NFL’s best coach. You might be the best coach to ever walk any sideline. And I’ll get hate mail for even making that suggestion.
I’m not sucking up to you, it’s just the truth. You’ve got the rings and the wins to back it up.
Our paths have crossed too many times over the years. You won’t remember but I’m the guy who came to Foxborough, Mass., in January of 2007 to advance the AFC title game later that week in Indianapolis. I know, I know. Another game you don’t want to remember. But it’s the only time the Colts have beaten you in five playoff meetings, and you’ve more than made up for it.
When I visited that time, and was writing yet another story about how you’re such a formidable foe, I got some help from former Colts coach Ted Marchibroda. You remember Ted. Good man. He remembers you well. Called you “Billy” when I phoned him on the drive to Gillette Stadium.
Anyway, some people might not realize Mr. Marchibroda gave you your first NFL job as a special assistant on his Baltimore staff in 1975. I asked you about it eight years ago, how you were responsible for driving the Colts coaches to Memorial Stadium each day from a Howard Johnson’s.
And you gushed. You smiled, too. I will never forget it. In a media room packed with reporters, you asked how Ted was doing.
You couldn’t have been more gracious about acknowledging the men who taught you so much back in the day. A few Patriots reporters came up to me the next couple of days and said they had never seen you gush like that. It might be my proudest moment as a reporter, the time I was able to show Bill Belichick was a human being, not this emotion-less enemy who continually crushed the Colts.
So about Sunday night and all this payback talk. We both know you’ve got the better team. Not disrespecting the guys I cover. I actually like them a lot. Good bunch of guys. And I know you respect several of them, too. You’ve spoken at length about your admiration for quarterback Andrew Luck, as have many of your players. I remember that from last year.
Anyway, when you’re up on these guys and looking to keep the throttle down and humiliate them because of what transpired in the offseason, I implore you to back off. Show some compassion and just finish the game without leaving too much blood on the FieldTurf.
Is that too much to ask?
That’s what your first NFL boss, Mr. Marchibroda, would do. Remember what a kind-hearted soul he was as a head coach? One of the nicest guys I’ve ever met in the business. Perhaps you think so, too.
Forget about payback. Forget about DeflateGate. Again, you got the Super Bowl ring.
Admittedly, this is as an absurd request. It’s off-the-charts preposterous, I know.
But, seriously, you’ve got bigger fish to fry. Big picture, the Colts are not yet a threat to your Patriots. You know it. I know it. And by late Sunday night, anybody who doesn’t know in Indianapolis will be reminded.
It is, in fact, just another game. It won’t change the past. And last I checked, you’re 14-6 against the Colts in your career, so you’re way ahead on that score.
Trust me, you’ve already humiliated the Colts much more than they ever will you.
Some scribe you don’t remember who has written about you too many times and is just trying to be creative about seeing your smirk again.
Phillip B. Wilson also can be found on Facebook and Google+.