The Unwritten Rules of Belichick


The Unwritten Rules of Belichick

Dont pull into a parking spot if someones already backing in. Keep your head down in the locker room, and straight ahead at the urinal. Dont fart in the elevator. On a plane, the middle seat gets both armrests. In the car, the driver picks the music. On moving walkways at the airport, its highway law: Left side for business, right side for pleasure.

Dont re-heat fish in the office microwave!

As human beings, there are an endless number of unwritten rules that we navigate around on a daily basis, and for the most part, everyone does a pretty good job of staying between the lines. But inevitably, from time to time, we all find ourselves on the wrong end of a broken rule: Some wankster steals a parking spot right from under your nose. The guy in the aisle seat falls asleep with his elbow jammed into your ribs. You walk off the elevator smelling like rotten eggs and processed taco meat.

To be honest, I think we get more upset when people break the unwritten rules than when they break actual laws. Why? Because the real criminals will eventually get caught. If someones desperate enough to smash a car window or break into an apartment, chances are hell do it again and again and again until he's busted and brought to justice. We have ways of dealing with people who break real laws. The unwritten rules? Theres nothing. No consequences. Only frustration, anger and disgust. Honestly, I have more contempt for a guy who talks loudly on his cell phone at a restaurant than I do for a drug addict who pick-pockets strangers on the T. Is that wrong? I mean, at least the druggie will get caught. The guy at the restaurant will go on for the rest of his life torturing society with loud, one-sided conversations about the real estate market in Charlestown.

Anyway, we all know that unwritten rules play as big a role in sports as they do in real life. Id need a few thousand words to break down all the secret sports codes that if broken will send the offended party into a two-year-olds temper tantrum:

Dont watch a home run too long. Never break up a no-hitter with a bunt. Dont shoot threes in a blow out. Dont take slap shots after the whistle. Dont under any circumstances run up the score. Dont incite a brawl by karate kicking a catcher in the chest. And apparently, when a team waives a player with the intention of re-signing him, do NOT put in a waiver claim on said player.

That last ones a little tricky, and Im not sure it makes sense, but theres no question that it exists. Why else would 28 other teams pass up the chance to land the rights to a very capable 24-year-old, 6-foot-6 tight end who in three short years has gone from captain of Ohio State to undrafted free agent to Super Bowl Champion and who's only getting better. I dont care that hes out for the year, check out some of the tight end depth charts around this league, and tell me there aren't teams who need Jake Ballard. They all could use him even if it means waiting a year. But no one flinched. Well, no one except Bill Belichick, a fact that only further enhances the perception that this unwritten rule however ridiculous it might be does exist. That when the Giants waived Ballard on Tuesday, they assumed hed find his way back to New York. That despite all the reasons why numerous teams might take a flyer on the young tight end, Coughlin and Co. never imagined anyone would.

Lets face it: Bill Belichick is an unwritten rule breaker. He'd steal that parking spot from you in a second. Hes the guy who takes your armrest. Who farts in the elevator just because he has to. Who keeps flicking the radio back to Bon Jovi when all you want to listen to is Howard Stern. "Errr, I'm riding shotgun. It's my choice. Everyone know that's the rule"

And right now, the Giants are acting like we all would in any of those situations theyre pissed. Not only because they lost their tight end or that they lost him to a rival. But because there's nothing they can do about it. Because as "wrong" as it might be, Belichick didn't break any rules. There are no consequences for his actions. You want to try and get even? OK, now you're playing his game. Now you're down to his level. Now you've justified his original action and have nothing left to stand on. Basically, he wins.

And that's the thing about unwritten rule breakers: It always works out in their favor. They're the one with the parking spot while you're still driving around in circles. They're fast asleep on the plane while you're wide awake watching your fourth straight episode of VH1 Storytellers. Their stomach feels better, while you're the one who needs an emergency shower. Regardless of the situation and as much as everyone else might hate them they come out on top.

And while I hate that person in real life, I love him as my football coach.

Rich can be reached at Follow Rich on Twitter at http:twitter.comrich_levine

Five quick impressions: Patriots 27, Steelers 16

Five quick impressions: Patriots 27, Steelers 16

The Patriots went into Pittsburgh and beat an under-manned Steelers team Sunday afternoon, 27-16. Here are some of our quick takeaways.

PATRIOTS 27, STEELERS 16: Curran's Best and Worst | Troy Brown: Pittsburgh didn't capitalize on Pats' mistakes

-- With all eyes on the matchup between Antonio Brown and Malcolm Butler, the third-year Patriots corner held his own. After allowing nine catches for 133 yards to Brown in their first meeting last season, Butler allowed Brown to catch five passes for 90 yards Sunday. Butler also took advantage of some of the chances taken by Landry Jones, intercepting one pass intended for Brown in the end zone in the first quarter. Butler finished the day with two pass breakups and a pick on 10 targets. The four catches he allowed to Brown were the only catches he allowed in the game. 

-- Julian Edelman looked like Julian Edelman in the win. He caught 9 of the 10 targets sent his way for 60 yards, getting open underneath while seeing one-on-one coverage for much of the contest. Edelman has been on the injury report for the last two weeks, limited with a foot injury, but he was able to get open on the intermediate routes that has made him one of Tom Brady's favorite targets over the last few years. Edelman did have one drop on third down, and he did fumble a punt return, which allows us to . . . 

-- . . . take a look at what was a rough day for Patriots special teams units. Kicker Stephen Gostkowski missed yet another extra point -- his second in as many weeks. He has now missed five kicks on the season, including three field goals. The Patriots kickoff unit also had a difficult day, allowing three kicks to be returned past the 25-yard line. The punt-coverage team made one costly error at the end of the first half when Brandon Bolden kicked a bouncing ball out of the back of the Steelers end zone. Instead of the Pittsburgh drive starting at the 6-yard line, where Bolden touched the football, it came out to the 20. At the end of the half, the Steelers kicked a 32-yard field goal. Bolden also dropped a third-down pass that would have gone for a first down. On another punt, it appeared as though Bolden got up slowly after trying to down the ball near the goal line. It was his first game back after suffering a knee injury in Week 4.

-- LeGarrette Blount had a big day against his former team. The 250-pound back didn't want to be a story line earlier in the week, denying interview requests, saying that he would speak after the game on Sunday. His performance at Heinz Field will certainly keep those requests coming. He ran 24 times for 127 yards and two touchdowns, beating up on the Steelers front-seven late in the game as New England protected its lead. 

-- While the Patriots offensive line provided Blount with enough room to run, it was a relatively sloppy day for Brady's protection up front. Left tackle Nate Solder turned in one drive during which he allowed a pressure and was then flagged for back-to-back holding penalties (one of which was declined). Shaq Mason also appeared to have trouble with Pittsburgh's Jarvis Jones, allowing a couple of pressures and picking up a flag for holding. Joe Thuney and David Andrews -- both of whom had good blocks on James White's score -- also picked up penalties. There will be plenty for offensive line coach Dante Scarnecchia to pick at and try to improve in the coming week of practice.