In an article titled “Humble Pie”, Sports Illustrated writer Peter King, has re-written Bill Belichick’s apology.
“I accept without protest the penalties Commissioner Goodell has imposed on me today, and I will not challenge them in any way. I appreciate the work the commissioner is doing to keep football the greatest game in this country, and I’m sorry I have dishonored the game the way I have.”
“This is not a time to say how much I know about what other teams do to bend the rules by spying, or to say it’s wrong to punish me so severely. This is the time for me to take my medicine, admit I was wrong, and apologize to everyone involved. I apologize to the owner of the Patriots, Robert Kraft, who has given me every possible resource I need to win and does not deserve the black eye I have brought to this franchise. I apologize to the players, past and present, who have contributed to the tradition of greatness that has been established here this decade. They have achieved their victories fair and square, and they should not have their triumphs tarnished by the actions of one man.”
OK, from a pastor’s point of view, this is a little over the top. Strike the first sentence. It is an attempt to temper the wrong that was done. That sentence is not necessary.
“I also apologize to the game of football. It’s a great game, one I’ve cherished and studied for 50 years, since my father, a coach at the Naval Academy, took me under his wing and taught me everything about the game. Generations of children have grown up being taught lessons by the game of football, and all the lessons are good ones.”
I’m not sure this paragraph was necessary. It really doesn’t add to a good apology.
“One of the lessons is that there are no shortcuts to success in football, which is also true in life. By my actions, I violated that basic tenet of the greatest game I know — the fact that you succeed in football through hard work and dedication. You should not succeed through any illicit means. It pains me to know that youth coaches and high school coaches and professional coaches — many of whom have written to me or visited our team or held me up as an example of how to coach — now know that I authorized an underhanded way of trying to compete with the opposition, instead of the fair-and-square path my father raised me to follow.
I think this is over the top also. There are shortcuts to success in professional sports, and it is in the news constantly. It is true that one “should not succeed through any illicit means”. A specific focus on this may have been helpful. Might I suggest that instead of “underhanded” an apology might have said “illegal” or “prohibited” as a way to make a stronger apology?
“Don’t go looking for a trail of blame to lay here. I am the one who authorized the videotaping of other teams’ defensive coaches, so we could get an edge. Blame me. This is such a competitive game that my competitive side got the better of me. But that is no excuse. One of the things that has made football such a great game is the integrity of competition. I crossed the line, and the consequences are bitter ones. But they are fair.
I love the “my competitive side”. That distances the choices made from who I am. That is an example of disassociation or not taking full responsibility for one’s actions.
“Words are hollow at a time like this, but I can assure you that for as long as I work in football I will strive to be an example of the good things this game teaches us every day.”
This was missing from Bill Bilechick’s apology, and would have improved his apology significantly.
A good apology is hard to come by … even when you are attempting to write one for someone else.