Unless you been completely disconnected from the media over the last week, you have undoubtedly heard about the purported scandal arising out of the New England Patriots’ alleged deflation of footballs prior to the AFC Championship game. We here at Abnormal Use have our thoughts on the scandal, but we are not interested in wasting valuable space on the legal blogosphere reveling in the inflation pressure of pigskin. We do, however,want to discuss the most notable thing to come out of the “Deflategate” scandal – New England Head Coach Bill Belichick’s comparing himself to My Cousin Vinny’s Mona Lisa Vito.
The scandalous comparison occurred last Saturday during an impromptu news conference held in an effort to clear the Patriots of any wrongdoing. (You can find the full press conference here). In the conference, Belichick offered an elementary physics lesson in an attempt to explain how eleven of the Pats’ twelve footballs were discovered to be 2 psi below the required pressure limit. After doing so, Belichick exclaimed, “I would not say that I’m Mona Lisa Vito of the football world.” No, Coach, you are not.
There is no limit to the differences between Bill Belichick and Mona Lisa Vito. Personality, charisma, and class are the obvious ones, but that isn’t what Belichick had in my mind. He was referring to his use of scientific knowledge as a lay person to support his case in a manner similar to, but not quite the same as, Vito in the Vinny trial. In reality, the differences between Vito’s testimony and Belichick’s comments are far more stark.
For starters, Vito was actually qualified as an expert. Everyone remembers the infamous voir dire in which she rattled off enough information about ignition times to make Henry Ford jealous, leaving the district attorney speechless and with no concerns about her qualifications. Belichick, on the other hand, likely used no first hand knowledge at all and relied on whatever information team informants obtained from a Google search on air pressure. No one left that press conference thinking Belichick could teach a high school physics class.
Base of knowledge aside, the biggest difference between Vito and Belichick is that Vito’s testimony left no doubts as to its truth. With her testimony, the case was won. The judge knew it. The jury knew it. The State knew it. There were no doubts. On the other hand, Belichick offered a possible explanation, at best. His comments sparked more debate on the accuracy of his science and in his credibility than they settled. No one listened to Belichick speak and definitively felt that the Patriots were innocent of any charges.
After devoting a full week to My Cousin Vinny‘s twentieth anniversary, Vito and her trial testimony are topics we know well. For Belichick to compare himself to Vito by saying he is not like Vito is heresy. We assume he made the reference because, at least to him, he thought there was some similarity. But Coach, we have news for you. Absent your reference, no one on the planet would have opined that using scientific words fed to you by your public relations manager makes you Mona Lisa Vito.
Real knowledge comes from being an out-of-work hairdresser.
Oh, and many thanks to friend of the blog Jay Hornack for reminding us that we needed to draft a post on this fateful subject:
I’m looking forward to the @GWBLawFirm blog take on Bill Belichick comparing himself unfavorably to Mona Lisa Vito.
— Jay Hornack (@panicstlawyer) January 26, 2015