Green: The Grump & (Near-) GOAT do it again

Jerry Green
Special to The Detroit News
New England quarterback Tom Brady celebrates a touchdown during the second half.

Atlanta — The villains win — again.

Tom Brady wins again, Super Bowl victory No. 6.

Bill Belichick is more of a head-coaching genius than ever, Super Bowl victory No. 6.

The New England Patriots truck forward, Super Bowl victory No. 6.

Sports fans love to boo. Jeer. Sssssss. Hoot, America.

This is the bloodlust of the American sports society. The people need their villains to despise, to root against, and they have the Patriots.


Forever it seems.

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In contrast, Super Bowl LIII brought us the Los Angeles Rams. They arrived as a fresh new team with a young head coach, Sean McVay, age 33, with pure enthusiasm. And a young quarterback, Jared Goff, age 24, with a kid’s attitude and powerful passing arm.

It was new combating old, rooting favorites vs. the old villains.

And the villains won again in a Super Bowl that could not be termed super.

It was 13-3 in favor of the Patriots, in the final reckoning. One touchdown with seven minutes left in the fourth quarter and a combined three field goals.

It was the fewest total points in 53 Super Bowls in the highest-scoring season in the history of professional football.

Wake up. It was nap time in America.

And there are Brady and Belichick, the villainous victors.


'Played well in the end'

Brady is indisputably the best-known athlete in our country. And away from prejudiced Boston and the rest of clubby New England — and Ann Arbor — he is, in my calculations, the most disliked. Never heard so many diatribes cutting down an athlete.

It is tough to discern the reason.

He personable. He is quotable. At 41, he beats down the inexorable grips of aging.

Perhaps, his image is spoiled by the deflate gate accusations of several years ago.

Perhaps it is geographic jealousy.

Too many championships in a period when sports society flourishes among villains.

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Brady is now 6-3 in nine Super Bowls. It is a record of brilliance for an athlete, but he remains in disfavor.

This was not Tom Brady’s most shining Super Bowl of his nine.

His offense played putt-putt. The Rams’ offense was worse.

“We weren’t very good on third down,” Brady offered to the media postgame. “We couldn’t sustain it.

“We could have played better offensively, but the reality is you get in these games, you just have to find a way to win, and we played well in the end, and that’s what we needed.”

Brady is not a chip off Belichick — they are different as human beings.

In covering him at Michigan and in nine Super Bowls, I have seen some swagger, but never any arrogance.

'We're still here'

Belichick has now won eight Super Bowls — six as head coach of the Patriots and two as defensive coordinator with the Giants.

He is snarly and rude. And he doesn’t seem to give a damn.

But he is brilliant as a pro football tactician.

“Everybody counted us out from the beginning of the season to midseason,” he said, gloating on Boston radio via the internet postgame Sunday night.

"But we’re still here.”

Unpopular, the NFL, in the past, has convicted Belichick of cheating, spying on opponents. A no-no.

The Patriots, in previous victorious Super Bowls, won because they were productive on offense.

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This time it was their defense.

The Rams came in as the team in offensive production. They had a jazzy offense with their young coach.

Belichick’s defensive forced the Rams to punt on eight successive series. Their farthest penetration was the Patriots’ 27-yard line.

To me, Kyle Van Noy represents Belichick’s wisdom in building Super Bowl winners.  Van Noy was a second-round draftee of the Lions. The Lions dealt him away to Belichick in the middle of the 2016 season for a seventh-round draft choice.

Van Noy has flourished in New England.

He was the Patriots’ best defender playing linebacker in Sunday’s Super Bowl LIII in my judgment.

“Like I’ve been saying all week, we don’t have stars,” Van Noy said in a postgame media session.

“We have football players. That’s what we have.”

53 and counting

It’s been 53 of these Super Bowls for me with The Detroit News.

The Patriots have won some classics. Other teams have played tough and won scintillating games.

This 53rd Super Bowl, well, was a resounding dud — like the primitive Super Bowls of the Vince Lombardi/Tom Landry/Don Shula era.

There was plenty of time to muse.

And I came up with my thoughts that America sports thrives on villains.

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It’s rather sad, to me, that they are disliked and jeered and rooted against by the majority of pro football addicts across the country.

There is plenty admirable about winning six Super Bowls — building a vintage dynasty.

Tom Brady is a great, great quarterback. Not quite the GOAT — Greatest Of All-Time — after Sunday’s performance.

Bill Belichick is a great, great football coach, and it does not really hurt to say such a blasphemy.

But being old-fashioned, Johnny Unitas and Vince Lombardi still get my votes.

Jerry Green, a retired sportswriter, has covered every Super Bowl for The Detroit News.