Curran: Belichick does things his way, like it or not

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Curran: Belichick does things his way, like it or not

We have another snit. Panties are twisted. Egos are bruised. Fingers are being wagged. The arrogant Patriots are at it again. Bill Belichick didnt talk to Steve Tasker after the AFC Championship game. And all the prominent Patriots have pulled out of the Pro Bowl.

Its funny. Our truck commercials tell us real Americans are independent, hard-working iconoclasts who march to their own beat. Our erectile dysfunction commercials insinuate that men of a certain age can manage just fine on their own with a wrench and a little blue pill.

But when a 60-something head coach tells The Man to screw again its a tsunami of indignation.

The great Charlie Pierce last year described Belichick as the last anarchist and it is so true. Hes going to do whatever he wants. Yet even the edgy, wacky morning radio guys will take Belichick to task for not reporting to Steve Taskers side when summoned.

Shannon Sharpe of CBS believes that Belichick not talking to Tasker is unacceptable.

"You can't be a poor sport all the time," Shannon schoolmarmed in Sundays postgame telecast. "You're not going to win every time. And he does this every time he loses. It is unacceptable."

Shannons brother, Sterling, spent an NFL career shunning the mic until he needed to make a real-world paycheck, but forget that, Shannon was on a roll. Especially telling was this observation by Sharpe, "Bill Belichick makes it very easy for you to root against the Patriots."

First of all, three grunts, two shrugs and a snort were not going to make the nation draw Belichick close to its protective bosom.

Second of all, that bit about Belichick making it easy to root against the Patriots? Thats the crux of why Belichick isnt interested in seeking out Steve Tasker for a 2012 postscript.

If you do what the suits league, corporate or media expect, they will then bestow upon you their support. If you do not? The suits will endeavor to make your life more difficult.

You see it on Park Avenue in New York and Morrissey Boulevard in Boston. Contingent objectivity. Quid pro quo coverage.

But Belichick has it sussed. As long as he does well what he is paid handsomely for coaching the Patriots he can perform for the cameras or not perform at his own whim.

If he doesnt want to talk to Steve Tasker or dress nicely on the sidelines or loan his image to EA Sports or speak at the NFL Combine or at the Coaches Breakfast at the owners meetings, whats anyone going to do about it?

Generally, he knows the rules better than the people who make them. And its only after the Patriots appear to be benefiting from something shrewd that the NFL moves to add a point of emphasis.

For entertainment purposes, the league would take 32 Rex Ryans. Pre-sell the games, carnival bark all week, make great TV. Rex wants to be loved and even though hes losing consistently he is. And hes been allowed to overstay his usefulness as a result.

Belichick couldnt care less whether hes loved or loathed. And if the football results ever dip, well see how radioactive he becomes.

Another irony worth noting. At about the same time Shannon Sharpe was tearing Belichick a new one for not performing for the cameras, Ravens coach John Harbaugh was processing a postgame conversation with Belichick he said hell treasure forever.

So classy, so gracious, is how Harbaugh described Belichick to Peter King of NBC and Sports Illustrated. Complimentary about how we played, about our game plan, about how tough it is to play us.

In the end, CBS was just fine without 90 seconds of Belichick. That meant more time for them to devote to Ray Lewis. Ray Ray would never miss a chance to speak to the masses. Would never bring the league into disrepute. Would never be slow to produce evidence like Belichick was back in 2007. Hes accessible, win or lose. And thats why its easy to root for Ray Lewis, right Shannon Sharpe?

What will it be like when Goodell shows up in Foxboro?

What will it be like when Goodell shows up in Foxboro?

Tom E. Curran in the Cumberland Farms lounge joins Sports Tonight to discuss what he thinks it will be like when Roger Goodell attends the Patriots home opener on September 7.

Burkhead's former running backs coach: 'He's going to flourish' with Patriots

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Burkhead's former running backs coach: 'He's going to flourish' with Patriots

PHOENIX -- Rex Burkhead was buried on a deep running back depth chart in Cincinnati, but in New England he may finally have a chance to show his offensive value. That's how Burkhead's former running backs coach and offensive coordinator Hue Jackson feels, at least.

Before he was hired as Browns head coach last season, Jackson worked closely with Burkhead for three years and saw the 5-foot-10, 210-pounder's versatile skill set on a daily basis. With the Patriots, under Bill Belichick and Josh McDaniels, Jackson believes Burkhead has a chance to see that skill set maximized. 

"He's very talented," Jackson said during the league meetings at the Arizona Biltmore. "He's a guy that was playing behind some very talented players [with the Bengals], and so he's going to get his opportunity now, and he's going to flourish. He's a really good player. A really good player.

"He's very versatile because he's a good runner, a good pass-catcher. He's a good blocker. He's very bright. He's been a sensational special teams player there so he brings a lot of different elements to that football team."

The Patriots signed Burkhead to a one-year deal earlier this offseason that could pay him more than $3 million -- a sign that they're hoping he'll factor heavily into the offense in 2017. With LeGarrette Blount still on the free-agent market, Burkhead is currently the biggest back on the Patriots roster alongside Dion Lewis, James White and DJ Foster, and he could be in line for a significant amount of work in short-yardage situations and on first and second down.

Burkhead served primarily as a special-teamer during his four-year career in Cincinnati, but in Week 17 of last season, because of injuries to his teammates at the position, he was the Bengals lead back and ran 27 times for 119 yards and two touchdowns. We took a closer look at the qualities he put on display that day right here

It was a performance that gave Burkhead's profile a where-did-that-come-from type of boost as he headed toward unrestricted free agency, but his head coach at the time wasn't surprised.

"Not at all. That's why we drafted him," said Bengals sideline boss Marvin Lewis, who went on to explain why Burkhead was an inconsistent offensive contributor leading up to that game.

"A lot of times when Rex got opportunities to play, he wasn't quite 100 percent and so that kind of limited him some. Even in preseason opportunities and so forth like that where you'd go into the game, and it'd be Rex's -- in my mind, Rex's ballgame -- to carry the ball in the first or second quarter and he wasn't able to suit up that day.

"That's one of the things he's battled over his career is just being 100 percent completely healthy. [But] he's just a hard-working guy who always wants to be out there."

And in New England, it looks like he'll have the chance to be out there more.