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Thursday, November 1, 2007
From here on out, he's Suge Belichick

By Jemele Hill
Page 2

To quote that astute, ghetto philosopher, Deebo: "Beat him down, I beat you down."

Just one of the many gems Deebo dropped in the movie "Friday," but it's appropriate to recollect for this column since it sums up what we've seen from Bill Belichick and the New England Patriots as they've cruised to 8-0.

Bill Belichick
Suge Knight probably wouldn't wear this shirt,
but you can't deny Bill Belichick's street cred.
The Patriots, who prepare for Sunday's midseason Super Bowl against the 7-0 Colts, have redefined pissed off. No one thought better of poking the bear earlier in the season, when the media and other NFL players took shots at the Patriots for Videogate, questioning their championships and calling them cheaters -- even though New England engaged in a practice as common as corsages at the prom.

But like a man once told my trash-talking momma after he whipped her in a game of pool: "Ain't no fun when the rabbit got the gun."

The NFL world is considerably brighter since the Patriots assumed the role of the strapped rabbit. The venom the Patriots have displayed the past several weeks has taken them from boring, goody-goody multi-Super Bowl winner to the most interesting, reviled NFL team in years.

In fact, Belichick is no longer just a genius coach with a ratty hoodie. He's added an element of pure gangsta to his already impressive game. He is officially the NFL's Suge Knight.

From here on out, he's Suge Belichick.

This is not a rip on Belichick or the Patriots. This is me fully appreciating their contempt and sense of revenge.

Suge Belichick doesn't care if you like him, his team or his methods. He'll ring up 52 on you, beat you like you stole something, and if the media dares question him about it, he makes Barry Bonds' interactions with the press seem like International Coffee moments. And, according to the tabloids, Suge Belichick will steal your wife, too.

Straight from the Book Of Suge.

Has any team gone from beloved to be-hated like the Patriots? And I thought dogfighting had the real staying power. Turns out, nothing has traction like bitching about the Patriots.

Bill Belichick
This is the man who might just steal your wife.
Who will be the next player to call the Patriots classless? Who will be the one to question a Patriot flea-flicker at a supposedly inappropriate time? Who wants to be the sacrificial lamb to ensure that another team on the Pats' schedule gets its hind parts rearranged?

People don't seem to understand that the more they criticize the Patriots, the more it fuels their vengeance.

Concerns about whether the Patriots are setting themselves up for a costly cheap shot at one their best players are overblown. Far more disconcerting is the possibility of Belichick exerting more of his Suge-ness.

Ever hear the story about how the real Suge Knight allegedly dangled rapper Vanilla Ice from a 20th-floor balcony to coerce Ice into signing over royalties from "Ice, Ice Baby"? If someone else calls Belichick classless, I'm afraid he might do the same thing to LaDainian Tomlinson, the first to publicly make that statement because New England players stomped on the Chargers logo after disposing of them in last season's playoffs.

The attacks on the Patriots' character are certainly amusing and highly hypocritical. Naturally, Tomlinson failed to mention what teammate Drayton Florence reportedly told fans at Gillette Stadium following San Diego's 41-17 win in 2005. "[Expletive] New England and their team," Florence said, according to the Providence Journal. "Get that look of shock off your faces. Don't be shocked. We beat your ass."

How could the Chargers ever single the Patriots out for cheating -- "I'm not surprised," Tomlinson said when asked for his reaction to the videotape scandal -- when their best linebacker, Shawne Merriman, went to the Pro Bowl after a suspension for violating the league's steroid policy?

Yep, you stay classy, San Diego.

The Dolphins and Redskins, the latest crybabies, should be more embarrassed by their play than anything the Patriots did to them. Miami is pathetic, and the Redskins looked like they checked out of that game in the first quarter. How is it the Patriots' responsibility to have more respect for these teams than they have for themselves?

Besides, it's not in Suge Belichick's nature to care about offending anyone's fragile sensibilities. In fact, if you think about it, how he's handled the Patriots this season represents some of the most masterful coaching ever demonstrated.

All that these controversies have done is give Belichick an excuse to operate in a bunker mentality. Suge Belichick is proving to his guys he will ride or die for them, rejecting the same NFL fraternity that played innocent while his coaching methods and Super Bowls were being deemed a fraud.

So many have risen to demean the Patriots. Now Suge Belichick demeans you. And he loves it.

Page 2 columnist Jemele Hill can be reached at jemeleespn@gmail.com.