SI Follies

I’m not sure if I’m supposed to blast Sports Illustrated or praise them this afternoon.

Last week, as part of the national media’s 24/7 bash-fest on Patriots coach Bill Belichick, SI’s Phil Taylor wrote a scatching piece that was typical of many written around the country. Taylor cited the events of last week as the latest in a “disturbingly long list of behavior that paints Belichick as paranoid, unsportsmanlike, classless and, if (Ted) Johnson’s claims are true, even abusive.”

Part of the article also talked about Belichick’s encounter with Peyton Manning following the Colts’ AFC Championship game win over the Patriots. Taylor blasted Belichick for what many have portrayed as having happened in that encounter. Last week, you might recall that in a piece I wrote tearing apart a Bob Cook article, I posted a picture of that Belichick/Manning handshake.

Today, if you look at Taylor’s article, there is a note at the bottom, which says:

Editor’s note: In a previous version of this story, Taylor asserted that Belichick treated Peyton Manning pretty much the same way he had treated Eric Mangini. Belichick did, in fact, shake Manning’s hand after the AFC championship game. SI.com regrets the error.

Then, today, Frank Deford decided it was his turn to take on Belichick for how he handled the meeting with Manning. Check out this runup:

I am always touched when, after all the savagery of a football game, the opposing players and coaches mingle pleasantly in the middle of the gridiron. Why, it's even reminiscent, on a reduced athletic scale, of the famous Christmas Eve armistice between the trenches in the First World War.

So it is that my lasting image of Bill Belichick came at the conclusion of the AFC championship game this past January after his Patriots had been beaten in a close game by Indianapolis.

The Colts' magnificent quarterback, Peyton Manning, spotted Belichick and sought him out in the crowd on the field. But Belichick ducked away, brushing by Manning, refusing to pay homage to the man who had been most responsible for his team's defeat. The look on Manning's face: some embarrassment, but mostly, it seemed, disappointment mixed with surprise.

That column was on the front page of SI’s NFL section, but has since been pulled. You can still access it in the SI archives page. I wonder what the retraction on this one is going to say, since Deford was so descriptive in what happened there to create the “lasting image.”

Edit: SI has added this to Deford’s article:

(although Belichick did shake Manning’s hand for the cameras somewhat later)

I’m trying to get more detail on this claim, which obviously is hard to substantiate.

In another note, Peter King seems to turning away from the Belichick-bashing and moving onto targeting Mangini.

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