Belichick & McDaniels: A tale of two sweatshirts

Tue, Dec 7
12:09
PM ET
BelichickAP Photo/Barry GutierrezYou are sorely mistaken if you think wearing Bill Belichick's hat pom pom will bring you success.

Sweatshirt-lovin' Denver Broncos coach Josh McDaniels had his firing unceremoniously announced via Twitter on Monday. Hours later, sweatshirt-lovin' New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick -- the trap-springing, future-foreseeing Emperor Palpatine to McDaniels' hapless, crooked-shooting clone trooper -- directs a triumphant, nationally televised colonoscopy of the New York Jets.

There's a take-home here, and the lesson is this: Clothes do not make the man.

It's more like the other way around.

Oh, sure, men's magazines that rely on advertising revenue from fashion companies will tell you otherwise. So will the NBA dress code. Along with society at large. Look professional. Dress to impress. Women really, really care about the shoes you're wearing.

Blah blah blah.

Fact: President Obama is the most powerful man in the world. Like Bill Clinton, he sometimes wears track pants to work. Also fact: I have never seen a man more resplendent in a perfectly tailored suit than former Toronto Raptors coach Sam Mitchell. Who is, just to be clear, a former coach. Unlike current Orlando Magic jefe and mock-neck aficionado Stan Van Gundy.

In the late, unlamented ESPN series "Playmakers," someone noted that, "When you're a playmaker, the rules don't apply." The same holds true for fashion. For appearance in general, really. Did anyone tell Albert Einstein his physics career would truly take off if he just got a sensible haircut? Granted, humans have eyes. We're visually oriented. Scientific studies indicate that we tend to judge core competencies on the basis of looks.

Outside of the laboratory, however, the reverse holds more often than not. Go back to Belichick. He's a winner. An acknowledged coaching maestro. His signature hoodie gets made fun of. But the teasing is harmless. Nobody thinks Belichick is less of a coach -- less of an authority figure -- because he doesn't dress like Tom Landry. To the contrary, we see the hoodie as a symbol of Belichick's commitment to football, a vanity-free focus on results. It takes on a positive connotation. McDaniels, on the other hand, resembles an overeager frat pledge crowding the keg. Because he's accomplished nothing of note as a head coach. He's a failed Belichick mini-me. His sweatshirt reads accordingly.

To put things another way: stick George Clooney in Zubaz pants, and Zubaz pants become stylish; stick Ron Jeremy into a bespoke tuxedo, and he still looks like Ron Jeremy.

The bottom line? Wardrobe is overrated. If you're really good at your job, it doesn't matter what you wear. And if you're really bad at your job, it doesn't matter what you wear.