By Lord Castleton | Miscellaneous | November 9, 2014 |
By Lord Castleton | Miscellaneous | November 9, 2014 |
Ramesses the Great or Ramesses II was the Third Pharaoh of the Nineteenth dynasty of Egypt, and ruled over a period of of the Egyptian empire known for its power and prestige. He was immortalized in gold and stone and poetry and lore, and thanks to romance poet Percy Bysshe Shelley and his sonnet “Ozymandias” (an alternate name for Ramesses II), we have the perspective to reflect on our own impermanence. All Empires fall. All leaders die. Every one of us will, in the words of Joe Abercrombie “return to the mud.”
I met a traveller from an antique land
Who said: “Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desert. Near them, on the sand,
Half sunk, a shatter’d visage lies, whose frown,
And wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command,
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,
The hand that mocked them and the heart that fed:
And on the pedestal these words appear:
‘My name is Ozymandias, king of kings:
Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!’
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare
The lone and level sands stretch far away
There was a time when Ozymandias was the very top of the food chain. The most powerful man on Earth. Presiding over millions of souls, affecting millions more. Imagine what it must have been like to have been alive to see it with your own eyes! What if there was someone like that these days, who presided over an empire filled with unlikely successes, who ruled over an army of powerful soldiers, who ushered in an era of prosperity never before seen. I’m here to tell you that there is. Right now. There is only one Ozymandias operating in the NFL of today, and his skill was on display last weekend when the Patriots played the Broncos. So who is the mastermind worthy of this praise?
This past weekend, we got to see two amazing players go head-to-head. They each have phenomenal stories.
Manning, son of an NFL star who idolizes his father. At the age of five he would con his father’s friends into watching how he “dropped back and set up.” At five years old. The Golden Child, a heralded, glorified dauphin who actually lived up to the hype and exceeded it. The first overall pick in the draft. Five time MVP of the league. Now thirty seven, he owns many of the league’s most notable records and is in the conversation of greatest NFL player of all time.
Brady, an unheralded college player. Consistently overlooked. Drafted in the sixth round of the NFL draft. Began his NFL career as a backup. But the minute he got his chance, he never looked back. Three time Super Bowl winner. Perennial All-Pro. Two Super Bowl MVPs and two league MVPs. And his wife is one of the most photographed women in the world. Also considered one of the best of all time. Look at the image above. That’s what Brady used to be, and now he’s this.
Whether you admire the chosen son story or the ugly duckling story, they’re both NFL legends, and they bring different skill sets to the table. Brady throws a much better, tighter ball than Peyton. Peyton sees the field better than Brady. Brady is more clutch in big games. Peyton is more consistent in every game. No modern quarterback has done more with less than Brady. No modern quarterback commands the field better than Peyton. But if you’re comparing apples to apples, I think you have to end up siding with Manning. Because he never had this:
This creature. This myth. This thing that conjures wins out of the ether. Brady has never been without this thing. Manning has had to walk the world alone, first with the “aw, shucks” politeness of a very talented but limited Tony Dungy, and now with the down home cookin’ good ol’ boy affect of John Fox. Manning has never known what it was like to have a monster, an enigma, a stone-cold killing machine at his back. Brady is a revelation. Manning is a juggernaut, but neither one of them can hold a candle to the real Ozymandias of the NFL.
Make no mistake about it: Bill Belichick is the greatest coach in NFL history. Better than Paul Brown or Don Shula or Vince Lombardi himself. In the time Belichick has coached the Patriots, they are the winningest team in any professional sport anywhere in the world. The players have changed, the offensive and defensive philosophies have shifted, but they just keep winning. Over and over again. And all this inside a salary-cap structure. He will win another championship that will finally put all of the spygate-spouting haters to rest once and for all. It may not be this year. It may not be with Brady at the helm, but he will. In an NFL where everyone else is playing checkers, he’s playing chess. When he finally hangs up his skates he’s going to be leaving behind a legacy that will last for decades.
I know, I know. I’ve drunk the kool aid. Fine. Time will tell if I’m right or not. I get that it’s tough for some people to get past the spygate stuff. But believe me, NFL teams will do anything to win at any cost. You don’t think so? Watch any NFL game and tell my why play-callers cover up their mouths with the play card. Because the other team is trying to lip-read from the other side of the field. Every single team, every single play, is trying to get a competitive advantage. Espionage is alive and well in professional football. Always has been, always will be
That’s why hand signals have become so elaborate, because each team needs their own enigma machine to just get the play to the players. But let’s say Belichick pre-2006 was the dirtiest sonofabitch in league history. Let’s say he taped every practice of every other team. Let’s say he paid the KGB to steal every playbook in the league. Fine. So since then, how does he have the best record in the league? True, he hasn’t won the big game, but he got there twice and damn close three other times. The team under the most scrutiny since spygate hit. How has he managed to cheat since then?
He hasn’t. Belichick will press every single advantage to the very edge. He will cut or trade veterans who are about to lose a step before they actually do. He will make trades at the eleventh hour. After a record breaking season in 2007, he lost Tom Brady in the very first game of 2008 and still went 11-5. With Matt Cassel at quarterback. That’s like having a Cossack ride at you, saber drawn, and defeating him with a pool noodle. It’s unbelievable. As are Belichick’s unorthodox coaching moves. Pooch punts, drop-kick extra points, intentional safeties. He’s capable of anything.
My favorite moment of last weekend’s win was the fourth and one fake the Patriots tried to pull in the fourth quarter. It didn’t work. But that wasn’t the point. The second the punt team ran off the field and the offense ran on the Broncos were ready. It was amazing to watch. Usually, when a defense stops an offensive drive and the punt team gets on the field they huff it to the bench, take off their helmets and kick back. They get oxygen. They drink gatorade. They basically rest until it’s their turn again. What they don’t usually do is stand on the sidelines, helmets on, ready to pounce. I mean, the reaction from the Broncos was instantaneous. But then again, they’re not usually playing against the diabolical Napoleon of our football time. You can almost hear them curse and panic as they line up quickly to stop the patented Tom Brady quarterback sneak. You can almost taste the holy shit in the air.
What I’m saying is that, even if you’re not a fan of the Patriots, instead of standing back and despising Belichick from a distance, allow yourself to live in the now. We are all in the presence of greatness. He’s not infallible, he’s just a man like anyone else. But right now, while Ozymandias stands there on the sidelines, his mandatory NFL apparel ripped intentionally to spite the powers that be that force him to wear it, take a minute to admire this tactician. Manning is a witch doctor…
… and Brady is a control freak…
But Bill Belichik is a the greatest football mind of his time. Someday his legacy will fade and turn to dust, but right now, in 2014, this sideline pharaoh is built of solid gold. Watch. Enjoy. And stop doubting the master, because he’ll beat you every time.