The Morning According to Us: Dr. Seuss and Bill Belichick
In the NFL, simplifying is a process of endless elimination.
Meet the NFL's Dr. Seuss.
Dr. Seuss didn't set out to write Green Eggs and Ham with complex metaphors in mind. He still may have pulled it off, but he did so merely on a bet, the wager being that he could write a book using no more than 50 total words. So he did. And because he did he knows what it's like to work for Bill Belichick.
This week at the NFL Combine, several new coaches and GMs who've worked beneath Belichick described what amounts to endless hours helping him craft the perfect game plan. What did new Browns GM George Kokinis recall, working under Belichick, for example?
"Probably that I didn't see the light of day," he said. "You talk about learning how to work in this league.… it's a competitive league and everybody's working their tail off and if you're lagging behind you're not going to win."
Or new Lions coach Jim Schwartz, who recalled, working for Belichick "probably had more to do with my development than anything. I was young, worked 18 hours a day." Schwartz recalled the detail. Learning "from Bill, it's probably just preparation, watching him cross every 't' and dot every 'i'—there was never a situation the team wasn't prepared for."
The complexity of the NFL is Green Eggs and Ham. The absurd level of preparation that takes place isn't because there is so much to know, it's because you have so little you can utilize and in such a short period of time, and even the slightest edge—the knowledge that "green" would be catchy, whereas "yellow" would be as un-memorable as a failed fullback dive—is the difference between a win and a loss, a lowly regarded book and a worldwide best-seller. There are over 500,000 words in the English language—that's probably only a third of Mike Martz's playbook.
Coach after coach describes endless hours of preparation while working with Belichick, so ya wonder: if they're all using his 50 words, and he's taught them so many patterns, what new puzzles does he have left to create with the same pieces? The maxims—being more physical, not turning the ball over, using the clock, staying healthy, etc—stay the same, but that just cloaks the complexity involved with turning these same "50 words" into a new kind of masterpiece.
And worse, at least for Belichick, training so many others to do is just as well.
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