Bill Belichick's Disgrace

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THE PLANK FEBRUARY 2, 2007

Bill Belichick's Disgrace

New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick has won three Super Bowls. He devises defensive strategies that opposing teams marvel at. David Halberstam writes books about him. He is, without a doubt, one of the most respected coaches in football history. And he's also blatantly irresponsible, and a far cry from the "class act" he's so often reported to be.

Today's New York Times has a devastating report on the career of former Pats linebacker Ted Johnson. As reported by Alan Schwarz, Johnson sustained a concussion in 2002, only to find that Belichick rejected the team doctor's recommendation and put him through a full contact practice. A few days later he received another concussion. Now out of the NFL, he has battled drug addiction, as well as severe physical and mental problems:

Mr. Johnson said he was not suicidal, but that the depression and cognitive problems he had developed since 2002 had worsened to the point that he now takes Adderall, a prescription amphetamine, at two to three times the dosage authorized by his doctors, who have been unaware of this abuse."There's something wrong with me," said Mr. Johnson. "There's something wrong with my brain."

Eagerly awaited: The sure-to-be-forthcoming excuses from New England's relentlessly classy sports fans.

--Isaac Chotiner

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