I’ve been watching a lot of Star Trek lately and in its own imperfect way, the show is a stab from the heart of the 1960s, an imagining of a future where people aren’t constantly driven by bullshit. A post-nation Earth, where the primary interests of the populace are spreading peace, expanding universal understanding, and seeking to live their best life in harmony with their fellow man. "The acquisition of wealth," says Captain Picard, "is no longer the driving force in our lives." The show does an insanely bad job explaining the mechanics of how the fuck this happened. It’s more like a vibe. The kind of vibe that New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick and people like him live to fucking ruin.
Belichick won his first Super Bowl as a head coach in 2002, almost five months after 9/11, when the United States was snapping out of a decade-plus period of not constantly worrying about being fucking annihilated and slipping into where it lives now: a mess of paranoia and loathing that set everyone in the country against their neighbor and saw every possible spare tax dollar get funneled into lengthy, expensive wars that seek to completely eradicate a fringe political tactic by bombing cities into nothingness. It has been an incredibly stupid time to be alive.
It is a time that is fucking perfect for Bill Belichick, a man who is, by pretty much every measurement, a tactical and spatial thinking genius, a manager of men and a single-minded obsessive who has dedicated his entire adult life to wringing victories out of football teams. He works himself into stupors with a tireless pursuit that other people don’t even come close to reaching. He preaches “DO YOU JOB” ethics and sells his employees on shallow philosophies that keep them out there hitting or running or whatever, week after week. We are talking about a guy who can instill so much value in a bullshit “Patriot of the Week” award that his rich-as-fuck quarterback gets pissy when he doesn’t win it. He obsesses over tape, season after season, leading his team to a depressing Super Bowl victory or a hilarious, deeply random playoff defeat and often seems like he will never stop doing it. He probably masterminded a spying program to get a leg up on his competition and isn’t exactly beyond other forms of gamesmanship to get the Patriots where he needs them to be. This is a creature who lives only for victory, and maybe the occasional wild mushroom poisoning when Linda feels like he’s too in his head.
He is beyond the idea of a personal life, beyond the pursuit of a grand narrative (watch him tell sports reporters, the most sycophantic journalists possible in the presence of genius, to fuck off), beyond warmth, beyond pretty much everything that isn’t winning at football. Last year, when he endorsed Donald Trump, a fat moron who doesn’t seem to know anything, it was less surprising that he could support someone so cruel and racist, and more surprising that he even knew who was running for president in the first place.
But then again, we’re sitting her talking about the dude, the single dude, who has lived and bled for the NFL lifestyle, back to front, from when he was a child breaking down tape for his father to now, slogging into Minnesota and barking at some assistant or whoever to prepare for his nth Super Bowl in 16 years. This is the single dude in his generation who has managed to finagle a fucking lasso around the neck of an entire sports league for more than a decade.
It’s tempting to attribute this mastery to an understanding that floats above the weirdly regressive, anti-modernist, statistics-phobic league he works in, but get the fuck outta here, man. Outsiders don’t succeed in the NFL, at least not for long. Creativity—stretching the limits of the game—gets ground into dogshit eventually, buried under injuries and some asshole’s shitty decisions. Belichick’s specialness comes from being a dude who, quite simply, has almost entirely bought into the bullshit. He's a believer who regards process with a dogmatic fervor that excludes pretty much everything else. Do Your Job. Belichick succeeds in the NFL by manifesting its ethos completely and in case you haven't noticed, the NFL's ethos is insanely cruel and anti-humanist.
That Belichick, this bloated, spacey weirdo, is probably The Greatest NFL Coach of All Time is a sign of the pure moral rot living in the middle of the NFL and America at large. The live-for-fucking-victory mindset isn’t going to liberate this species, decrease suffering, save us from terrorism or global warming or anything. It’s just going to turn the world into a series of struggles, year after year, election cycle after election cycle, fiscal report after fiscal report, keeping our sights off the horizon and in front of our game tape, addressing one crisis after another with no sense of any kind of greater good.
When Belichick lifts the trophy this year, assuming his team manages to wax the totally outmatched Eagles, he will feel a brief rush of pleasure, stick that fucker in his trophy case, then move on to the invented crises of next year, ignoring the approaching black cloud of his death and the degradation of humanity at large. Considering the ways the world has gone to shit as he’s managed to bleed the league for all its worth, it’s hard not to think this headset-and-hoodied fuck straddling the world like a colossus is the only appropriate outcome.