Eli Whitney, the pioneer who popularized interchangeable parts, just sent a text message from the Great Beyond.
OMG! Just got done watching Bill Belichick. Does he realize this is Tom freaking Brady?!?!? ROFL!
Yes, it was ridiculous. The New England Patriots coach stood at a lectern in Gillette Stadium and tried to pretend it's no more a big whoop Brady will miss the rest of the season with a left knee injury than it would be if they'd lost a backup tight end.
Belichick at the top of his news conference matter-of-factly announced his superstar quarterback had been placed on injured reserve. Then Belichick droned on and on about how well the New England Patriots played in the red zone Sunday against the Kansas City Chiefs and how pleased he was with how they stood tall in the fourth quarter and how every team's improving in September and now they're looking forward to the Jets, who also played well in their opener and ...
Did he expect the first question to be: "So, Bill, how do you plan to contain Leon Washington?"
Brady's injury is catastrophic to New England's aspirations. Chiefs safety Bernard Pollard, who had been blocked to the ground by running back Sammy Morris lunged as Brady stepped into a throw. Brady's knee -- and Patriots Nation -- buckled.
Matt Cassel, who hasn't started a game since 1999, when he was in high school, now assumes control of a team that went 0-4 in the preseason without Brady and barely held on to beat the lowly Chiefs.
Belichick played the role of the impervious coach, as if making believe it will be business as usual without the face of the franchise.
"We all just have to do our jobs," Belichick said. "That's what every player has to do. Each guy has a job to do, a coach, a player. They have a job to do and they need to do it as well as they can. That doesn't change.
"He played one position, and he played it very well. There will be somebody else playing that position now. I have a lot of confidence in Matt, and everybody else has to continue to do their job as they always have."
"In spite of what some people are putting out there," Belichick said, "we haven't worked out a quarterback, haven't given one a physical. We had a lot of people call us. I can tell you that."
Asked repeatedly to elaborate on what the Patriots would do with Brady's roster spot -- whether they would go into Sunday's game at the Meadowlands with only Cassel and rookie Kevin O'Connell at quarterback or sign a veteran -- Belichick's response was consistent.
"We'll do what's best for our football team, as always," Belichick said, trying to exude defiance that Brady's absence wouldn't doom the season.
Will the Patriots need to scale back the playbook for Cassel?
"As you know, we change our game plan from week to week anyway," Belichick replied. "We do what we think's best for each individual game."
Belichick avoided comment on whether he thought Pollard's tackle was dirty.
"It doesn't really matter what I think," Belichick said. "The officials officiate the game. I'm sure they'll handle it.
"We always taught our players that it's their responsibility to hit the quarterback above the knees and below the shoulders. You can look at the Vince Wilfork play from last year against Buffalo [a below-the-knees hit on J.P. Losman]. It's not the same, but there's some similarities."
Belichick did seem to show a little emotion when asked to describe how Brady handled the doctor's diagnosis.
"Probably about like you'd expect," Belichick said, his voice wavering a bit.
That was the only indication one could have gotten from Belichick that Brady is, in fact, more than merely one-53rd of New England's roster.
Perhaps that is why Belichick tried to put up a bold front.
Otherwise, he might have broken down.
Belichick deflected two questions that specifically tried to get him to admit Brady is more than just another interchangeable part.
"Everybody's got a job to do," Belichick said. "They've got their job to do. I've got my job to do.
"And there will be somebody else playing quarterback this week."