The Super Bowl is filled with plenty of compelling matchups on the field.
How much Aaron Donald and the Los Angeles Rams’ pass rush can disrupt Tom Brady and whether the New England Patriots defensive front can contain Todd Gurley and C.J. Anderson will play significant roles in the outcome of the game.
Belichick vs. McVay is matchup to watch
But the most interesting matchup of the Super Bowl is on the sidelines. Courtesy of three straight Super Bowl appearances after already having won four, Bill Belichick has progressed from arguably the best coach of all time to the no-brainer greatest ever in the minds of many.
Walking the Rams sideline is 33-year-old wunderkind Sean McVay, who’s ushered in a new era of innovative offensive schemes and calculated aggression that seemingly every team in need of a new head coach is attempting to emulate.
It’s the GOAT vs. the prodigy, a matchup that could signal the changing of the guard or the continued dominance of a juggernaut.
McVay and Belichick talk football
It’s also a contest of respected rivals who have taken time to wish each other well and talk shop.
McVay told Peter King’s “Football Morning in America” that he got to know Belichick at the pre-draft scouting combine last year and that Belichick has been in regular communication with him throughout the season.
“This season, he has basically texted me after every one of our games,” McVay said “After we beat Minnesota in September, he texted, ‘Man, you guys are really explosive and impressive and fun to watch. Congratulations— keep it rolling.’ For him to even take the time to say congrats, it’s pretty cool. That’s one of the things I like about our business, our fraternity of coaches. As competitive as it is, guys find time to share when they can. I’m still young, still figuring it out. That stuff’s been really helpful to me.”
Softer side of Belichick
It’s a shocking revelation on a couple of fronts.
Any time Belichick’s personality is exposed, it’s a surprise. Aside from the occasional expression of emotion like his infamous “No Days Off!” chant after Super Bowl LI, the Patriots coach maintains his status as the NFL’s resident stone-faced curmudgeon with a remarkable level of consistency and precision.
It’s comforting to know that he, like most football observers, also thinks that McVay’s Rams are “fun to watch.”
Respect among rivals
Even more surprising is the idea that Belichick would talk football with any of his rivals, much less one that looked like a potential Super Bowl opponent.
But football is like any other profession on this level. Yes, it’s highly competitive. But it’s also a field where the best continue to strive to learn and innovate. And that’s done by building relationships and learning from peers and rivals.
McVay didn’t divulge if there was actual football strategy being discussed in those text interactions. It’s doubtful either coach would have tipped his hand much about what may be coming in a big game.
But the idea that Belichick has warmed up to McVay feeds the narrative that he’s the next greatest thing on the coaching front.
It also adds a fascinating new wrinkle to how things will play out on the sidelines come Sunday.
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