Rod Smart will be brought to Foxborough for the coin toss before the Patriots play host to the Jets Sunday.
He Hate Me. Standing on the new FieldTurf at midfield. Official mascot for the inaugural postseason Hate Bowl featuring Bill Belichick vs. Eric Mangini.
Hate is a strong and ugly emotion. We teach our children not to use the word. Still, it gets tossed around willy-nilly, like "great," "awesome," and "fat-free." It gets diluted to a point where it loses its true meaning. We may not have a taste for mushroom soup, but do we truly "hate" the wretched broth inside the bowl?
No. Hate should be reserved only for abject abomination. It must be saved for those things we truly despise -- like new age music, Kevin Costner movies, spam (both edible and Internet versions), car insurance deductibles, and cable companies that send us into voicemail hell when we call with service needs.
Curt Schilling endeared himself to millions of Red Sox fans when he first donned a Boston jersey and announced, "I guess I hate the Yankees now."
But the 100 Years War between the Red Sox and Yankees has a football cousin in this century, and it'll be on display for all to see Sunday afternoon at the Razor. Bill Belichick hates the New York Jets with the proverbial fire of 1,000 suns.
Naturally, Coach Bill won't admit any of this. But we know. Belichick hates the Jets more than he hates Bill Parcells and Bill Polian. He hates the Jets more than he hates Titans receiver Bobby Wade. He hates the Jets more than he hates the Inside Track, more than Cleveland football writers, more than Tom Jackson. He's collaborating with David Halberstam on a new book, this one about his relationship with the Jets. Belichick was distraught to learn that his working title already had been used for a major motion picture: "10 Things I Hate About You."
It goes back to the days when Belichick was Little Bill in the Jets' hierarchy, under the thumb of Big Tuna Bill Parcells. Little Bill never got the credit he deserved, just like when they were together with the New York Giants. When Parcells finally stepped aside, and magnanimously prepared to put his crown on Belichick, Little Bill revolted. He cut a deal with Bob Kraft and resigned as "HC of the NYJ," triggering new hostilities in a border war that goes back to the earliest days of the American Football League when the Jets were known as the New York Titans.
In the last half-century, the Patriots and Jets have played 94 regular-season games vs. one another (Jets lead, 48-45-1), but have met only once in the postseason (26-14 Patriot win in 1985).
Belichick's defection to New England was not well-received in New York. Steve Gutman, president of the Jets at the time, went so far as to suggest that Belichick was mentally unstable. The Jets raised a stink, the commissioner intervened, and the Patriots grudgingly sent a draft package (including a first-rounder) to New York to compensate their enemy.
It's gone downhill from there, especially when Mangini took the Jets' head coaching job after last season. Belichick views this -- going to another team in the division -- as the ultimate act of disloyalty (which, of course, is what Belichick did when he left the Jets to come to New England). Belichick feels betrayed by his protegé.
You probably know the history. Belichick and Mangini are both Wesleyan men. In 1995, Mangini got his first taste of pro football when he served as an assistant under Belichick with the Browns. Mangini was 24 years old. From 1997-99, Mangini worked under Belichick with the Jets. When Belichick became HC of the NEP, he brought Mangini to New England and they won three Super Bowls together. Mangini was New England's defensive coordinator last year.
But then he took the New York job, giving Belichick more fuel for his hatred of all things Jets. It got particularly nasty when Mangini tried to take some Patriot staffers with him. Then the Patriots filed a tampering charge, accusing the Jets of messing with holdout Deion Branch (no ruling yet on that one).
The animosity was obvious when the rivals met twice during the 2006 regular season. Getting Belichick to say Mangini's name became a parlor game with media members in Boston and New York. The perfunctory postgame handshakes were downright hilarious. Remember the look on the face of German Chancellor Angela Merkel when President Bush gave her an impromptu back-rub? Remember Nancy Kerrigan on the podium with Oksana Baiul? That's what Belichick looked like when he shook Mangini's hand. The soundtrack for that video should be Dylan's "Positively 4th Street."
"You say, 'How are you? Good luck.' But you don't mean it." In a stunning development, Coach Bill actually mentioned football's Voldemort when he spoke with the Globe's Mike Reiss Sunday.
"Eric Mangini, his staff, and entire team are doing a phenomenal job," said Belichick.
It's a nice step toward civility and maturity, but hardly indicative that Belichick will be taking Mangini to the Stockyard on the eve of the big game. No. We can expect a week of hollow praise and feigned indifference when the subject of Eric and the Jets is raised at Belichick's news conferences.
Mangini took the high road yesterday at Club Jets. He said nice things about the Patriots and cited all Belichick did to advance his career. But we know what he was thinking . . .
He Hate Me.
Dan Shaughnessy is a Globe columnist. His e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.