Is it time for Bill Belichick to move on? - NBC Sports

Is it time for Bill Belichick to move on?
After another postseason fall, perhaps Pats coach should try a new franchise
Getty Images
Bill Belichick earned three Super Bowl rings while serving as head coach of the New England Patriots, but none since the Spygate scandal broke in September 2007.
January 21, 2013, 2:01 pm

You know, an excellent NFL head coach who has outlived his usefulness with the same franchise and understands that it's time to move on.

Belichick earned three Super Bowl rings while serving as head coach of the New England Patriots, but none since the Spygate scandal broke in September 2007. Maybe it's coincidence or bad luck that Belichick hasn't won another world championship since then. Maybe it isn't.

It seems that year in and year out since that brouhaha erupted, Belichick's Patriots have disappointed. Indeed, he lost two close Super Bowl games to the New York Giants after the 2007 and 2011 seasons. Most coaches would give their entire bank accounts for those opportunities.

But Belichick isn't most coaches. Remember, he's a genius. You can't get through a head coaching debate without the name Belichick being tossed out as the Albert Einstein of the gridiron.

He wasn't the best coach in the NFL this year. He wasn't last year. In fact, he hasn't been since the 2004 season, although I give Belichick major props for the minor miracle of turning Matt Cassel into an NFL quarterback for the 2008 season in New England when Tom Brady was injured.

No one really doubts that Reid can coach. That was illustrated by how quickly the Kansas City Chiefs pounced on him as their choice for a new head coach. In the same way, no one really doubts Belichick can coach.

Yet there is the nagging sense that, for all his ballyhoo and reputation, he isn't getting it done. Obviously he did a much better job this season with the Patriots than Reid did with the Eagles. But disappointment is all relative. The way the Patriots were outclassed Sunday by the Baltimore Ravens was a little surprising.

Plus, Belichick snubbed CBS after that game, reminding us what a classy guy he is. It might be time for him to hit the refresh button on his career, because he doesn't seem to be handling failure well.

Most teams would open the bank vault and do anything it takes to get a coach like Belichick. The Patriots aren't most teams, however. They've had him. Now it might be time to have someone else.

Let the hype begin!
From now until the Super Bowl, you are going to be bombarded with hype. Wear a helmet and keep low.

San Francisco gave us "Dirty Harry." Baltimore gave us "Diner."

San Francisco provided the backdrop for "The Streets of San Francisco." Baltimore provided the backdrop for "The Wire."

Don't visit San Francisco without sampling sourdough bread. Don't visit Baltimore without trying the blue crabs.

The most reviled individual in Baltimore is the late Art Modell. The most reviled individual in San Francisco is Tommy Lasorda.

Tony Bennett left his heart in San Francisco. Earl Weaver left no umpire alone in Baltimore.

Herb Caen captured the essence of San Francisco. H.L. Mencken captured the essence of Baltimore.

San Francisco has a giant stone edifice with a nefarious reputation called Alcatraz where no activity takes place. The closest thing Baltimore has to that is the United States Capitol in nearby Washington.

San Francisco has the Golden Gate Bridge. Baltimore has the Francis Scott Key Bridge.

The median home price in Baltimore is about $265,000. The median home price in San Francisco is about $659,000.

A 49er is a participant in the California Gold Rush of 1849. A Raven is an ominous black bird and title character of Edgar Allan Poe's "The Raven."

Bruce Lee was born in San Francisco. Nancy Pelosi was born in Baltimore.

San Francisco's professional football team has a head coach with the last name Harbaugh. So does Baltimore.

Tour de Public Relations
Most people have no awareness about cycling other than the Tour de France. I'm one of them. I'm sure there's a Tour de This, a Tour de That, maybe even a Tour de The Other. But clearly, the Tour de France is the Grand Papa of all Cycling Events.

And the 2013 version is about five months away.

So this would be an ideal time, in the wake of the Oprah interviews conducted with lying pin cushion Lance Armstrong, for the Tour de France to begin a public-relations campaign declaring that this year's race will be the cleanest ever.

Instead, silence.

The Tour de France is missing an opportunity. Right now, after listening to Armstrong, and considering all the other dopers who have ruined the sport, the Tour de France and the International Cycling Union (UCI) should have unleashed a massive effort to get the word out that testing will be more accurate and more rigorous than ever. They should start now, and continue the PR onslaught right up to, and then through, the race.

Last week the International Cycling Union did announce the establishment of an anti-doping helpline so that professional riders could ask questions or blow the whistle on others anonymously. That's a good step.

But the Tour de France, once one of the most beautiful sights in sports, is uglier now because of Armstrong and others. And that needs to be corrected. Otherwise the cheaters will still control the sport, even when they're long gone.

Fading memories
Theoretically, memories are among the most precious assets of a sports franchise - except when it moves. Then those memories fade, and eventually disappear.

Take the Oklahoma City Thunder, for instance. That team moved to OKC from Seattle for the 2008-2009 season. The Seattle SuperSonics had been established in 1967. They won an NBA championship in 1979. Among their illustrious alumni are Lenny Wilkens, Fred Brown, Slick Watts, Gus Williams, Dennis Johnson, Jack Sikma, Paul Silas, Tom Chambers, Xavier McDaniel, Shawn Kemp, Gary Payton and, yes, Kevin Durant, for his rookie season of 2007-08.

Yet you'll rarely hear anyone around the Thunder - or the NBA, for that matter - evoke fond memories of those great SuperSonics of yesteryear, or stirring moments in the team's history. When a team re-brands itself, it shoves all traces of the past out of the picture. And that's a little sad.

The Maloof brothers, who own the Sacramento Kings, are about to finalize a deal to move the team to Seattle, to become a new incarnation of the SuperSonics. This is a unique situation, because re-establishing the brand in Seattle means restoring the memories, much like the Cleveland Browns did when the original club moved to Baltimore, and a new Browns was later established in Cleveland.

Of course, that's little consolation to the folks in Sacramento - who got the franchise from Kansas City in 1985 - because it's unlikely another NBA team will relocate to California's state capital to replace the Kings. Sacramento fans will have only the memories of that brief period in the late '90s-early 2000s when the Kings had Chris Webber, Vlade Divac, Mike Bibby, Hedo Turkoglu, Peja Stojakovic, Doug Christie and head coach Rick Adelman, and they sniffed at the championship.

Kansas City doesn't hold annual candlelight vigils for its departed Kings. Sacramento won't, either. Because a team's history is only as vivid as a team's present lets it be.

A game of pepper
The Manti Te'o imaginary girlfriend story will not end when all the facts are out, but rather when all the jokes have been exhausted. ...

Tim Duncan got another night off by the Spurs in a recent game against Atlanta. He's the closest thing professional sports has to a semi-retired person. .

I couldn't tell if that was Jim Harbaugh being upset over a call on Sunday, or if that was just his tribute to the late Earl Weaver. .

Harbaugh, Harbaugh, Harbaugh. I haven't heard one last name mentioned this often since Gillooly.

Michael Ventre is a regular contributor to Follow him on Twitter.

Channel Finder