Different paths to success
Coaches Dungy, Belichick couldn't be more opposite
Posted: Thursday November 1, 2007 4:25PM; Updated: Thursday November 1, 2007 4:25PM
They are the top two coaches in the profession, Super Bowl champions, innovators, and frontmen for their organizations. They have teams built around legendary quarterbacks, smart and agile defenses and pinball-scoring offenses. They have turned former NFL outposts into hotbeds with standing-room-only stadiums.
But as Bill Belichick and Tony Dungy prepare for Sunday's game between the New England Patriots (8-0) and Indianapolis Colts (7-0), could any two coaches be viewed more differently?
Beyond the plot points of homefield advantage and a possible perfect season, Sunday's tussle at the RCA Dome offers an even more visceral storyline: two coaches as polar opposites, one seen as light, the other as shadow. If Dungy has become the NFL's most beloved coach, Belichick easily could be its most reviled.
Dungy is seen as the quiet and classy presence, the author of a best-selling book on faith. Belichick is viewed as an enigma wrapped in a hoodie, a coach unearthing battle strategies from the pages of the Art of War. The truth, of course, is probably more complicated than that, but these are the roles the men have taken deep into their coaching careers.
Whether it is envy at his accomplishments (three Super Bowl titles in four years), shock at his cloak and dagger thievery (Spygate) or anger at his fourth-quarter methods (running up the score), Belichick has poked and prodded his players into an explosive and unforgiving unit. He is the coach who is never satisfied, always nitpicking, even after the blowout wins.
One of his favorite things to say is that Tom Brady has been a pretty good quarterback for the Patriots. No hyperbole. No gushing. Just pretty good.
Belichick talked up Romeo Crennel when he went to Cleveland, locked out Eric Mangini when he went to the Jets, and famously scribbled his own resignation from the Jets on a cocktail napkin.
In talks with the media he can be surprisingly detailed if certain questions move him, but more often he deflects with an array of his favorite monosyllables.