Bill Belichick is one of the straightest shooters of them all. What you see, hoodie and all, is definitely what you get.
I'll never forget a wake I attended during the 2005 season for Giants owner Wellington Mara. I saw Belichick across the room, but we really didn't get to talk until we were both leaving.
Belichick told me that he was looking at me from across the room and then told me that I looked like s---. I swear. Those were his exact words. You look like s---.
I know how that might look, but he didn’t really mean it the way it sounded.
"I was thinking about it," Belichick told me, "and I suddenly realized something. You never win, do you? Because you have to deal with the losers every week."
By losers, he was referring to me getting complaints about the officiating from teams that lost every week. I told him that I hadn't really thought about it like that, but that he was correct on both counts.
"When you're a coach and you win, it's the most euphoric feeling in the world," he continued. "There's nothing better as a head coach than when you win a football game.
"But when you lose it's devastating. It just eats at you. You can't believe how awful it is, and it takes a long time for that feeling to go away. I looked at you and I realized you never get to feel the euphoria."
He told me that he was going to call me someday after a loss, just to tell me that my guys did a good job. I told him I really appreciated that.
I'm still waiting for that call. I never got that call or any others after Spygate, the Patriots videotaping controversy in 2007. Belichick must have thought I had something to do with that. Clearly, as you're about to find out, he wasn't the only one.
When FOX Sports' Jay Glazer broke the story that the Patriots illegally filmed the Jets defensive coaches; signals from their own sideline during their game on September 9, 2007, Glazer also got the accompanying video that aired on FOX to go with his report.
A lot of people, including several NFL bigwigs, thought I had given the video to Glazer. They thought that because the video was first viewed from my office in the NFL Command Center. The NFL's top brass, including Commissioner Goodell, came to see the tape, and they thought I had a hand in sending it to Glazer.
In reality, it simply wasn't true. I didn't give it to Glazer and I don't know how he got it. And quite frankly, I don't give a damn. To this day, I still don't know.
But at the time, the league made me feel like I was the one being investigated for doing something wrong. Over the next month, I got called into the NFL security department several times and interrogated about how FOX got the tape. It felt a little like how I imagine the Nuremberg Trials went.
It finally got to the point where I was fed up, and I told the NFL to give me a lie detector test if they didn’t believe me. I told them over and over again that I didn’t have anything to do with Glazer getting the video.
Belichick and the Patriots were both disciplined. Belichick was fined $500,000, the largest fine ever imposed on a coach, and the Patriots were fined $250,000 and lost their first-round pick (31st overall) in the 2008 NFL Draft.
Because of Spygate, I think Belichick associated me with that and I've never really talked to him again to this day. Belichick has a tremendous ability to unite his teams by saying that people are out to get them. I think it was true of Spygate then, and I think it was true of Deflategate in 2014 as well.
Everyone knows Belichick is a great coach. He's got the uncanny ability to get a team to play together. You can make fun of his hoody pullovers, you can make fun of his news-conference sound bites like "We're on to Cincinnati" when he doesn't want to answer a question, but you can't make fun of his record or the four Super Bowls he's won.
And then there's former NFL coach and current ESPN broadcaster Jon Gruden. If there's one thing I regret since I've crossed over to the media side, at least to some degree, it is an article I wrote on FOXSports.com about him in 2011, in which I called him a blowhard.
Damn Internet. Unfortunately, I was able to find exactly what I wrote:
I am not a fan of Gruden's. Not today, not yesterday, not when I worked for the NFL and not when I was working on the field as a side judge. He was a loudmouth as a coach who constantly disrespected officials and he is a blowhard in the broadcast booth that spouts off when he doesn't know what he is talking about.
I respect his knowledge about the Xs and Os when it comes to coaching and playing the game of football, but I have very little respect for him when it comes to officiating and his knowledge of the rules.
Looking back on it now, I was probably too harsh. I shouldn't have written that about a fellow media member, but in reality, I did it out of frustration. Gruden was by far the toughest coach that any official had to deal with.
My issue with him was this: Instead of coming to me with a problem, which he never did, he would berate officials on the sideline. It really bothered me because it was a matter of total disrespect. I would get calls from of officials who told me that Gruden had crossed the line. During those conversations, I would always ask them why they hadn't penalized him for his behavior, because I knew that would have stopped it.
But officials have a tendency not to throw flags on coaches, and he was one guy it seemed they just wouldn't flag. He was awful.
There's no question, from 1998 to 2008 when he was a head coach, if you asked officials who was the worst coach they had to deal with on the sideline, Gruden would have won in a landslide.
It was because of the way he would go after them. He consistently disrespected officials during a game.
Then when Gruden got to the broadcasting side, he would bash officials on the air for things they weren't wrong on. It was irritating. And on a late December Monday night, I had finally had enough. So I took out my frustrations and wrote the column.
Look, he's a good announcer. And one could certainly argue he's a heckuva coach. He won a Super Bowl. But the persona of Jon "I love ya, man" Gruden is not the total picture of the man. That was not genuine and not appreciated.
-- Excerpted by permission from After Further Review: My Life Including the Infamous, Controversial, and Unforgettable Calls That Changed the NFL by Mike Pereira With Rick Jaffe. Copyright (c) 2016. Published by Triumph Books. Available for purchase from the publisher, Amazon, Barnes & Noble and iTunes. Follow Mike Pereira on Twitter @MikePereira. Follow Rick Jaffe on Twitter @rjaffe1.