Super Bowl coaching matchup is a clash of generations
ATLANTA — Bill Belichick vs. Sean McVay.
It’s the Baby Boomer vs. the Millennial.
It’s your father’s Oldsmobile vs. the Mazda MX-5 Miata
It’s The Old Man And The Seedling. Woodstock meets Coachella. Wayne Newton vs. Wayne’s World.
Welcome to Super Bowl LIII.
The coach of the Patriots is 66 years old. The coach of the Rams is 33 years old. We could also mention that the quarterback of the Patriots is 17 years older than the quarterback of the Rams, but for today let’s confine the discussion to the two head coaches.
Has this ever happened before? It’s established that McVay is the youngest head coach in Super Bowl history, but has the head coach of one team ever been twice the age of the head coach of the other team in any championship event? Was Red Auerbach ever double the age of the poor guy on the other sideline? Did Papa Bear George Halas go up against any thirtysomethings when the Chicago Bears were dominating the NFL?
Belichick has shoes and sweaters older than McVay. Belichick grew up when America liked Ike and everybody had a rotary phone. McVay was born when Ronald Reagan was pledging to Make America Great Again. I’m guessing McVay has never placed a collect phone call on a land line. Or used a fax machine or a record turntable.
High school Belichick drank milkshakes and ate onion rings. High school McVay read “The Onion.’’
Kid Bill thought Richard Nixon was ludicrous. Kid Sean listened to Ludacris on his Sony Discman.
Bill Belichick read about the Lufthansa heist in the Denver Post in 1978, when he was an assistant with the Broncos. Sean McVay played “Grand Theft Auto” on his Xbox.
Sean McVay was an Atlanta high school football star two years after Adam “Pacman” Jones. Bill Belichick played Pac-Man and Mrs. Pac-Man in sports bars around the Meadowlands.
McVay lives in a world of Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. Belichick snorts and makes jokes about “Myface,’’ “SnapFace,” “YourBook,” and “Insta-Chat.’’
What Belichick and McVay have in common is football bloodlines. Both are football lifers. Belichick’s father, Steve Belichick, played for the Detroit Lions and coached football for his entire life. Little Bill learned to watch film at the right hand of his dad when Steve Belichick was an assistant coach and scout at the Naval Academy. McVay is the grandson of former Giants head coach John McVay.
Here’s an intersection of football dynasties: John McVay was head coach of the New York football Giants from 1976-78. That’s when young Billy Belichick was a special teams assistant coach with the Lions. Sean McVay was born on Jan. 24, 1986, two days before the Chicago Bears smoked the Patriots, 46-10, in New England’s first trip to the Super Bowl. That same week, Belichick — then defensive coordinator of the Giants — was preparing for the 1986-87 season that would yield his first Super Bowl ring. The Giants beat the Broncos in Super Bowl XXI, one day after Sean McVay’s first birthday.
Now Belichick and McVay are battling for the Lombardi Trophy.
It’s the aging, cagey King vs. the whippersnapper Next Big Thing.
Belichick is Elvis trying to stay atop the charts after the surge of the Beatles. He is Gordie Howe, wondering just how great teen angel Bobby Orr could possibly be. He is Golden Bear Jack Nicklaus, somewhat suspicious of kid Tiger Woods.
We have a coach who keeps notes during the game with a pencil and small notebook vs. a coach who’s all about tablets and digital information. We have a guy who grew up mapping road trips with AAA TripTiks vs. a guy who knows no world without GPS and Waze.
McVay grew up in an era of helicopter parents who insisted that every kid get a trophy. Belichick grew up in a world of “go figure it out, kid,’’ and trophies awarded only to champions.
Belichick knows that the Lombardi Trophy is not awarded merely for showing up. He got no ring when he “participated” in this game last year.
The trophy goes to the winner.
How very old school.
When the game is over, McVay no doubt will hop on the Rams’ charter aircraft, recline his seat, and read all the postgame tweets and analysis on his Smartphone.
I’m hoping that Belichick will wait to read his Monday morning Globe, folded and sealed in plastic, waiting for him on his front porch when he gets back to his South Shore home. If you’re a 66-year-old guy who has spent a life in sports, there’s nothing like reliving the big game by reading all about it in your local paper.