Since the 2007 Spygate controversy, Patriots coach Bill Belichick has been referred to as “Beli-cheat” a number of times, but usually by fans of rival teams. Not by Hall of Fame coaches.
But that’s the name Don Shula, the winningest coach in NFL history, uses to refer to Belichick.
Dave Hyde of the Sun-Sentinel writes in a profile of Shula at the age of 85 that when the subject of Belichick came up, that unflattering nickname was Shula’s response.
“Beli-cheat?” Shula says.
Shula’s 1972 Dolphins have the only perfect season in NFL history. Belichick’s 2007 Patriots, who went 16-0 in the regular season but lost in the Super Bowl, were the team that came the closest to joining the ’72 Dolphins with a perfect season. And Shula apparently thinks that Belichick, whose team got caught that year taping opposing coaching signals, achieved his success using something less than sportsmanlike means.
It’s not something we would have expected to hear from Shula, who rarely speaks out or makes waves in retirement. Shula must not have warm feelings toward Belichick. Or Beli-cheat.