By Steve Czaban Special to Published Feb 06, 2008 at 5:25 AM

The captain always goes down with his ship.

Apparently, this doesn't apply to New England coach Bill Belichick.

So much for telling your guys: "We have to play all 60 minutes today, men!"

I doubt he'll be using the "We have to play at least 59:59 today" speech, either. Or the "We're going to fight our guts out until the final gun ... Um, I mean at least until there's no hope of us winning. Then we'll hotfoot it back to the bus!"

If you watched the confusing last seconds of the Super Bowl, you might think that Bad Loser Bill was confused or that he thought the game was actually over.

But, then you saw him nearly knock over referee Mike Carey to perform his obligatory "hug" of the winning coach Tom Coughlin.

Hey, Bill -- that guy in the stripes doesn't work at Foot Locker. Maybe you should ask him what's up. Do what he says.

Not a big deal, you say?

I disagree. So does most of the sports world.

Staying on the field until the last possible breath of hope is gone is the very least you can expect of an athlete or a coach. Call it protocol, tradition, or simple class.

It's what people do.

When you ditch the last seconds of a brutal loss like that, you are literally turning your back on your team. We expect this from a guy like Randy Moss. But a three-time Super Bowl winning coach?


Heck, if every coach who was sick of losing a big game were to leave when it was obvious his team would not win, Marv Levy and Dan Reeves would have shown us their tail lights by halftime during some years.

Anybody can be a good winner.

When you lose, be a bigger man than the guy who just beat you. Shake his hand. Offer sincere congratulations.

And then you can retreat to a dark room and pout.

Belichick doesn't get it, and probably never will. But the media and the league seem to walk around him in fear. For a league that fines players $10,000 for wearing an unapproved hat to media day, how come they didn't have the balls to fine Belichick for leaving the field early?

Most of America was secretly hoping the Giants would actually throw a touchdown with 1 second left, just to rub it in.

The :01 second thing is somewhat ironic as well, since some say the first Adam Vinatieri field goal to beat the Rams back in 2002 should have left 1 second on the clock. Go ahead, check the replay.

Did Mike Martz run around like a maniac and demand that he get one last desperate play? No. He let the game end as the officials decided it should end. And that was that.

Yet if the shoe were on the other foot, you just know Belichick would have been a virtual madman.

Moments in sports can illuminate character and teach lessons about what it means to compete with pride. The amazing David Tyree catch, on the heels of Eli Manning's equally amazing escape, was a perfect example. Both Tyree and Manning refused to give up on that play, even when all appeared lost. They gave maximum effort to the very end.

And that's pretty much what competition is all about: Maximum effort, despite desperate circumstances.

By leaving just a little early, Belichick drew the spotlight away from Coughlin, and onto himself. He can say that was never his intent, or simply not his fault. But it doesn't matter.

When the world saw him walk that walk, his character came into clear focus: great coach, bad sport. For most men in his profession, that would be a nearly mortal embarrassment.

For Bill Belichick, it was just another lowering of his personal bar - one that is already low enough to trip over.




Steve Czaban Special to

Steve is a native Washingtonian and has worked in sports talk radio for the last 11 years. He worked at WTEM in 1993 anchoring Team Tickers before he took a full time job with national radio network One-on-One Sports.

A graduate of UC Santa Barbara, Steve has worked for WFNZ in Charlotte where his afternoon show was named "Best Radio Show." Steve continues to serve as a sports personality for WLZR in Milwaukee and does fill-in hosting for Fox Sports Radio.