It's moments like this when I wish there was a sarcasm font.
New England Patriots coach was thrilled (that sort of works) this week after the NFL's league office publicly praised cornerback Brandon Merriweather for conforming to the league's
overreaction emphasis on preventing hard hits. In a phone call with the Associated Press, executive vice president of football operations Ray Anderson specifically mentioned Merriweather, who had been fined the previous week for an illegal hit:
"Last week, we were appropriately calling him out and chastising him. [Sunday] in the Patriots' game at San Diego, Meriweather made two very tenacious, effective and legal hits in similar situations. But you could see it, he lowered the target area, blasted the opponent with his shoulder. He adapted, showing it can be done. It is appropriate to praise him for the tough play."
Belichick was told this quote and then asked if he could ever remember a league official praising one of his players. In as sarcastic a tone as he could muster, he responded:
"Nah, it's got to be a first for me.
"The officials now are evaluating the players and their performance, I mean, that's great. [...] I can't say how much that means to me, really."
Well done, Bill. You may be crotchety and droll, but sometimes it works.
The league wasn't wrong to emphasize cleaner hits. But there's no need to repeatedly call players out when they do wrong and certainly no need to do so when they do right. It's pedantic. It gives off an elitist air of entitlement. "You may be on the field, but we control what you do on it." Anderson wasn't praising Merriweather as much as he was praising himself for changing the way Merriweather plays.
Belichick didn't appreciate it. Let's hope Anderson and Roger Goodell get the memo.