Bill Belichick will step on the field Sunday at the Super Bowl for the seventh time as a head coach — a record in the NFL. And should the New England Patriots beat the Atlanta Falcons on Sunday, Belichick will have more Super Bowl rings than any head coach in NFL history.
An argument can be made that Belichick's is already the best coach in the history of the league. But on Thursday's episode of Undisputed, Shannon Sharpe and Skip Bayless explained why Belichick's record will always have an asterisk attached.
Shannon: The Patriots' history of bending the rules is always in the back of your mind
“No, I can’t go there. I can’t. Spygate happened. It’s on his resume. It’s like Olympic sprinters, when they test positive: Everything they do after that you call into question.
Even though he’s winning these games, I still [wonder], ‘Are they doing something underhanded? Are they still cheating?’
Because let’s just say this: They got caught in 2007. They were punished in 2008. He became the coach in 2000. Did it start in 2007? Does it go back? And I know this for certain: Had he not been caught, he would not have stopped. Because winning is like alcohol. It’s drug, it’s addictive, and it’s intoxicating.”
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Shannon: Bill Walsh's legacy is intact
“When you have this kind of success, and it’s come through ill-gotten means, it’s hard to let that go. It’s hard. I can’t go there. I’m going to still say Bill Walsh for one reason: His legacy is intact.
There were never any questions about if he did something illegal. His coaching tree speaks for itself. His offenses are still intact in the National Football League.
If coach Belichick did not have this stain on his resume, there’d be no question. I wouldn’t even know why we would ask this question. But because Spygate happened on his watch, Deflategate — whether you believe or not he had anything to do with it — happened on his watch. And for those reasons, I can’t give it to him.”
Skip: Walsh was a better team builder than Belichick
“I may be biased here. I knew Bill Walsh very well. I love that man. And he was a genius. If anybody ever qualified for that label that gets tossed around pretty loosely … he was a genius. He was a much better coach and team builder than Belichick has proven to be over time.
If you just look at the drafting, remember Belichick has the final say on the draft picks. So did Bill Walsh.
Bill Walsh was a savant at picking players in late rounds. He did draft Joe Montana in the third round and in the same draft Dwight Clark, who became a dominating receiver, in the 10th round of that draft.
And then his first breakthrough Super Bowl … he started three rookie draft picks in the secondary — which is kind of Atlanta-esque this year, but it was unheard of."
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Skip: Belichick has a spotty draft history
"Bill Belichick’s draft history is pretty spotty if you look at it, because he pulls the final trigger. Brady fell into his lap in the sixth round, but I’ll give him credit for that one, and I’ll give him Gronk in the second round. That’s a great pick, because he became a dominating player.
And then Edelman in the seventh round, it turned out to be a really good pick. After that, I can’t make much of a case for his drafts, because that’s not the way he’s built his teams. He’s swung and missed too many times. [Richard] Seymour, I’ll give you that.
He has acquired players that other teams gave up on too quickly, like Randy Moss in Oakland for a fourth-round pick. Wes Welker for a two and a seven from the Dolphins. Corey Dillon he got for a second-round pick and that ignited that run. [Aqib] Talib was a great pick-up by him for a fourth-round pick."
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Skip: Tom Brady deserves credit for the Patriots' offense, not Belichick
“But Bill Walsh invented the most creative offense in the history of the National Football League: The West Coast offense. And simultaneously built one of the top two or three defenses in football with his draft picks. He didn’t coach that side, but he built that side.
And Tom Brady became his own offense for Belichick. He sort of built his own offense around himself. Belichick didn’t really have to give him any receivers. He had Randy Moss for a minute, and that helped that ’07 burst, but in general it’s basically Julian Edelman and Chris Hogan, back to Troy Brown and Reche Caldwell, David Patton. It’s been a bunch of justguys that Brady made into — Deion Branch, who was Super Bowl MVP and went elsewhere and was just another guy."
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Skip: Belichick has been accused of cheating for the bulk of his career
“Now we get to the legacy of cheating. It is hard for me to have that much respect for a quote-unquote ‘greatest coach ever’ when he has a history of bending or breaking rules.
Which smacks of insecurity, because remember, five of his first six years as a head coach, including his time in Cleveland, he lost. He had losing records five of his first six. And until Brady fell out the sky, Drew Bledsoe was the quarterback, and he was about to get fired again.
Remember, the first two Super Bowls, the St. Louis Rams accused the Patriots — it’s never been proven, but they have very vehemently — publicly accused Belichick’s staff of spying on their walkthrough the night before the Super Bowl.
And then Marty Hurney, the ex-GM of the Carolina Panthers, accused Bill Belichick’s staff of spying on their walkthrough the night before the second Super Bowl that the Patriots won.
How many teams have gone to Foxborough and complained that their electronics got weirdly jammed, inexplicably jammed, or Peyton Manning told Peter King that, ‘I never held a strategic conversation in the visiting locker room in Foxborough because I didn’t trust that it wasn’t bugged.’"
Geoff BurkeGeoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports
Shannon: Belichick's legacy is tainted forever
"And don’t forget now, one of coach Belichick’s lieutenants [Steve Scarnecchia] went to the Denver Broncos and lost his job because he tried to tape a San Francisco 49ers walkthrough in London. That happened.
… If these scandals were not on his resume … and it has to be on his resume because he’s the head coach. He runs *everything* in New England.
… If Michael Phelps were to have ever tested positive, no matter how many gold medals he’s won, people are not going to say he’s the greatest swimmer because they’ll say, ‘He cheated.’ That’s where I am with coach Belichick."