Bill Belichick is the best coach in the NFL, and also the shadiest. He has the emotive skills of either a kumquat or an armadillo, depending on whether or not the armadillo is alive or has just been turned into road pizza on some West Texas two-lane. It's rumored he smiled once.
Here's what you can't say about Belichick, though: That he's incapable of the occasional elegant gesture.
The Patriots made the traditional Super Bowl champions visit to the White House yesterday, and of course Belichick was there. And of course, being Belichick, he spoke volumes without ever saying a word.
What he did was wear a small Armenian pin on his lapel, and not by accident. As it happens, yesterday marked 100 years nearly to the day that the Turks' attempted genocide of its Armenian population began. It was one of the first major episodes of mass murder in the 20th century, and, like so much about the First World War, presaged other, gaudier slaughters to come.
The United States government under both George Bush and Barack Obama has been loathe to call it what it was, however, because of the strategic importance of Turkey in the Middle East. Bush killed a bill in 2007 that would have condemned the Armenian genocide, and Obama has consistently refused even to refer to it as genocide. It's one of those instances when political cowardice occupies both sides of the political aisle.
Belichick is no politician, but he recognizes a political opportunity when he sees one. And so there he was, front and center, wearing an Armenian pin.
Hate on the man all you want. But yesterday, in his own Belichickean way, he was on the side of the angels.