Friday, November 24, 2006

Halberstam: The ed-u-ma-cation of a sportswriter

I just finished The Education of a Coach, David Halberstam's book on Bill Belichick. Good reporting, but vague and distracting prose, with lots of Simon Schama errors--storytelling that extrapolates from single sources and reports verbatim, decades later, quotes and motivations that have brewed in memory and were not recorded at the time.

Halberstam does not succeed in explaining Belichick's strategies except in pat analogies. Still, it's wonderful to relive the amazing Tom Brady story, and to hear about the success of Belichick's innovations, especially considering how heartbraking the Patriots' losses to the Colts and Jets have been this season. And it's inspiring to hear how long and hard Belichick struggled to succeed as a head coach.

When Halberstam is short on details, his covering can be silly. Describing Belichick and former Cowboys coach Jimmy Johnson:
The two men were friends in the delicate sense of friendship that football coaches are allowed--in the we-may-be-on-opposite-sides-of-the-field-but-we-have-similar-
problems-and-similar-enemies-and-we-may-need-each-other-yet-you-coaching-
for-me-or-me-coaching-for-you kind of friendship.
What's your source on that again? If it's actually something Belichick or Johnson said, I wish you'd let me know!

P.S. It seems on Oct 30 the cast of Ugly Betty gave Belichick a makeover (in absentia) during the pre-game show before the Patriots beat the Vikings; sadly, I can't find an image of the result.