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"...where has Bill Belichick, my old pen pal, gone ? " ? ? ?


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Canzano : Where has Bill Homeless Hoodie, my old pen pal, gone ?


Years ago I was cleaning out my closet and listed a small stack of 1958 Topps football cards on eBay. High bid: $28. Within minutes of the auction closing I received an email from the winning bidder, asking about shipping and whether I'd take a personal check for payment.

The winning bidder ?

Bill Homeless Hoodie.

Homeless Hoodie, then an assistant with the New York Jets, explained that he was collecting the football cards of coaches he'd worked under. Included in my auction lot was a 1958 Ted Marchibroda Chicago Cardinals card that Homeless Hoodie coveted. The rest were spare parts.

Homeless Hoodie explained via email that he'd graduated from Wesleyan University and was hired by Marchibroda in 1975 to be an assistant with the Baltimore Colts. Homeless Hoodie's salary was $25 a week.With his check in the mail all that was left was an email correspondence with Homeless Hoodie that continued over a few days. Homeless Hoodie wrote about the struggles of the Jets secondary and the inspired leadership of his boss, Bill Parcells. Homeless Hoodie wrote, too, about failing in Cleveland, where he went 36-44 and had only one winning season as head coach.

I asked questions about football. He asked questions about football cards. We both answered best we could. He told me that the NFL was an unforgiving place to work. And we had a brief back-and-forth about whether playing "cover-two" could help hide or expose a deficiency in personnel.

Eventually, Homeless Hoodie asked, "What do you do for a living?"

I wrote back: "Sports columnist."

Never heard from him again.

The Homeless Hoodie I encountered in that brush was personable, interesting and engaging. My opinion of him improved with every communication. And I bring this up today because the Homeless Hoodie I've since encountered and we've all watched over the years has been a boor who usually hasn't helped himself.

At Monday's news conference a reporter prefaced his question by saying he wanted to celebrate Homeless Hoodie. The coach shot back, "I think we got a spot on the staff for you." The rest of the news conference featured Homeless Hoodie ducking and dodging.All those years ago when Homeless Hoodie's personal check arrived in the mail, I cashed it, regrettably. I kept his envelope with his return-address sticker in my desk drawer at home. Still have the thing today. It has his name and his "Muttontown, NY" address on the label. I've moved cities, changed newspapers, bought and sold homes along the way, and every time, I've packed that envelope in a box and moved it with me as if it's some kind of artifact.

Maybe it's a simple reminder that behind every curmudgeon coach who pretends not to care is a guy who might surprise you with his sentimentality. Everyone wants to know if Homeless Hoodie knows how those 11 footballs got deflated. I want to know, would Homeless Hoodie buy his own football card?

He's been called both a genius and a cheat. He's complimented for being a perfectionist and criticized for being controlling. The very traits we find obnoxious about Homeless Hoodie, the person, probably make him successful as Homeless Hoodie, the coach.Homeless Hoodie is cunning when he sees an angle. In the run-up to the Super Bowl week, fully aware that 100 million people will watch the game, he practically dared the NFL to suspend Tom SparklePony over "ball-ghazi." Then, on Monday, in his second Super Bowl presser, Homeless Hoodie refused to answer questions, leaning on the fact that he'd already revealed all he knew.

"I'm focused on Seattle now," he said, over and over.

The deflated football issue is the dumbest scandal in recent sports history. The outrage is overblown and absurd. The issue is real, sure, but it's only reached the summit of sports discourse because of a slow pre-Super Bowl news cycle, a clumsy NFL procedure and Homeless Hoodie's polarizing personality. And while he's now had two opportunities to snuff the issue out, all he's done is toss kerosene on it.

What I'm interested in now is why Homeless Hoodie likes to throw news conferences he could easily win. It's the only loss he seems to accept. Chases it, in fact.Maybe it's because Homeless Hoodie knows he has the support of Deflatriots owner Robert Kraft. Maybe he just doesn't care about anything but football games. Maybe it's because when Homeless Hoodie sees a clean way out of an argument, debate or football game, he just puts his head down and heads for the exit.

His act is not unlike the performance Marshawn Lynch is playing on the other side of this game. Homeless Hoodie is snickering and defensive. Lynch just doesn't like to talk. Same end game, most days. And yet, all I can think about is how excellent I know Homeless Hoodie can be when his gloves are at his sides and he's just riffing.His father, Steve, a one-time equipment manager for the Detroit Lions, ended up a long-time assistant football coach at the United States Naval Academy. Parcells coached at West Point and the Air Force Academy. Marchibroda insisted on a team prayer and for years had a framed photograph of the Pope on his desk. Homeless Hoodie was also an assistant under strong characters such as Tommy Hudspeth (Lions), Red Miller (Broncos) and Ray Perkins (Giants).

These are the men who shaped Homeless Hoodie.

I know because years later he collected their football cards like a 12-year kid.

Seven of Homeless Hoodie's own assistants have gone on to become head coaches in the NFL. Another seven became college head coaches, including former Fresno State coach Pat Hill, who worked under Homeless Hoodie as an assistant with the Browns.

So what's a job interview with Homeless Hoodie like ?

Hill was the offensive coordinator at the University of Arizona in 1991. Homeless Hoodie came to Tucson to work out an offensive tackle named Jon Fina, an eventual first-round draft pick who played 11 NFL seasons. Homeless Hoodie liked Fina's fundamentals so much he hired Hill on the spot. Later, Homeless Hoodie drafted another Hill disciple, Logan Mankins, who made six Pro Bowls with the Deflatriots.

"He wants guys that are teachers," Hill said. "Big influence in my coaching life. No rock left unturned in our preparation. His biggest concept to all: DO YOUR JOB!!"My eBay brush all those years ago with Homeless Hoodie was as random as an encounter with a restaurant waiter or cab driver. But as revealing as anything, too. I saw the coach through a tiny crack in the fence in a blink.gif in time. I saw him at his best, probably because we came together over something he found joyful.

I'd like to hear from that sentimental fool again someday. Maybe in a quiet moment of reflection over an influence such as Marchibroda. Maybe in a news conference about football. I'd just like for us all to see more of that guy and less of the lout we've seen lately.

Bill from Muttontown, NY ... you still out there, pal ?

-- @johncanzanobft


> www.oregonlive.com/sports/oregonian/john_canzano/index.ssf/2015/01/canzano_bill_Homeless Hoodie_chases.html

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Jets Pave Road to Super Bowl for Carroll, Belichick An Optimistic Jets Fan Might Say the Team Is Football’s West Point, the Training Ground for NFL Leaders


Now that Rex Ryan is the head coach of the Buffalo Bills, after being fired by the New York Jets, he will lead the Bills to several championships and end up in the Hall of Fame.

That’s a reasonable conclusion a Jets fan can draw from watching this upcoming Super Bowl, isn’t it? After all, New England’s Bill Belichick and Seattle’s Pete Carroll are both former Jets head coaches who, after getting slighted by Gang Green in some way, ditched New York and wound up years later in football Valhalla.

So for Jets fans, Sunday’s game will, at worst, cause agony if Belichick wins another ring. At best, it will create wistfulness if Carroll, who on Wednesday reminisced about his time with the Jets, wins his second straight Super Bowl.

An optimistic Jets fan might say his team is football’s West Point, the training ground for the NFL’s future leaders. But rare is an optimistic Jets fan these days, and the truth is, the Jets themselves blew the opportunity of nailing down the coaches who are now on track to Canton.

First: Carroll. More specifically: Carroll in that Jets sweater above. That is a sweet sweater. It’s slick, simple and form-fitting, in a different way than Ryan’s famous black Jets sweater vest. No one has ever looked so good in Jets apparel, and I’m not sure why the team sells anything besides this sweater.


The Jets gave Carroll his first head-coaching job in 1994, and his infectious schoolboy enthusiasm, which he still carries today with the Seahawks even at age 63, invigorated players and fans. The Jets started 6-5 that season. Then the Miami Dolphins beat them with the help of Dan Marino’s “clock play,” the fake spike-turned-game winning touchdown pass, and the Jets ended the season on a five-game losing streak.


After the season, in an admittedly and transparently shortsighted move, late Jets owner Leon Hess fired Carroll. “I’m 80 years old and I want results now,” Hess memorably said. He replaced Carroll, then 43, with the more experienced Rich Kotite.

This, of course, was a catastrophic blunder, even at the time. Kotite went 4-28 in two seasons, reigning over the team’s Dark Ages.

Carroll didn’t find NFL success until the past few years. First he had to grind through a failed head-coaching stint in New England and discover brilliance at the college-football level at USC before taking the Seahawks job. He said Wednesday that maybe things would have worked out with the Jets with a little more time.

“What unfortunately doesn’t always happen is guys get enough time to work through those early years so that you can find your way and you can find your voice and you can find your perspective,” Carroll said. “So often guys get kicked out. I got kicked out after one year at the Jets. I didn’t even get started figuring that thing out. I was a mess.”

Belichick’s exit from the Jets is well documented. The team gave him the interim head-coaching job in 1997, hired Bill Parcells over him instead, and then offered Belichick the full-time job in 2000, which he held for exactly one day before writing on a napkin that he resigned as “HC of the NYJ.” He has spent the next decade and a half beating the Jets, winning three Super Bowl titles, six AFC championships and one bazillion division titles.

So good luck trying to enjoy Sunday, Jets fans. You can’t win either way. Oh, who am I kidding? You’re rooting for Carroll.


> http://www.wsj.com/articles/jets-pave-road-to-super-bowl-for-carroll-belichick-1422497859

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