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The reason Bill Belichick is unemployed, plus the lingering worry around Joel Embiid

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Good morning! Lindsey Horan wasn’t talking about you. Or was she?

Cold Worlds: Why Bill Belichick is still unemployed

The Washington Commanders hired Cowboys defensive coordinator Dan Quinn as head coach yesterday, closing down this year’s NFL coaching carousel. That meant the following statement became true: Nobody hired Bill Belichick, arguably the best coach in league history. 

  • On one hand, yes, of course. This is a 72-year-old who went 29-38 in his post-Tom Brady era. Why would an NFL franchise looking toward the future dip into the past?
  • And still: This is Bill Belichick, the man 15 victories shy of the all-time wins record. He is a defensive savant. He has won more Super Bowls than any other coach. This guy couldn’t get a sniff? Really? 

I find it one of the heavier storylines of the entire postseason. And thanks to some reporting from our own Jeff Howe this morning, we now know why Belichick actually didn’t land a gig. A few takeaways: 

  • Surprisingly, the Falcons were apparently Belichick’s only real suitor. While owner Arthur Blank seemed to jell with Belichick, the coach’s relationship with other front office members was “frosty.”
  • Which leads to a bigger point: Belichick resisted giving up the complete control over football operations he’d enjoyed during his Patriots tenure. That rightly scared some teams away — just look at the Pats’ weird personnel moves over the last few seasons. Not great!
  • There is a perceived stubbornness about Belichick in league circles. Jeff even reported that some teams were relieved that Belichick would not be their head coach, simply because of how he would’ve reshaped a front office.

So what’s next for Belichick? Richard Deitsch has pondered the coach’s prospects as a TV analyst. And maybe he gets a look during next year’s cycle. Still weird to see him just … gone.

There are plenty more insights in Jeff’s full story.

News to Know

New O’s make a splash
Two days after the Angelos family agreed to sell the franchise, the Orioles completed a late-offseason blockbuster trade for Brewers pitcher and former Cy Young winner Corbin Burnes. Even better: Baltimore didn’t have to give up any of its deep farm system’s top five prospects to land Burnes. Unsurprisingly, everyone gave the O’s an A in our trade grades, while Ken Rosenthal argues the Brewers had to trade Burnes, who will be a free agent after this season.

Horan causes a stir
In an exclusive interview with The Athletic’s Meg Linehan, USWNT captain Lindsey Horan took a sideswipe shot at American soccer fans, saying “most of them aren’t smart” and “don’t know the game” before adding that things are getting better. She admitted the comment would cause strife, but I frankly found her honesty refreshing, especially at such a fraught time for USWNT. Her full comments are worth a read.

Andrews’ quick thinking
Ravens tight end Mark Andrews is credited with helping to save a woman’s life on a commercial flight yesterday, according to a passenger who testified on Twitter. Andrews’ quick action with his diabetes testing kit helped stabilize the situation. The whole story is intense. Good job, Mark.

More news

Zooming Out: The nagging worry about Joel Embiid

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Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

Joel Embiid officially suffered a meniscus injury, per Sixers officials, late in Tuesday’s loss to the Warriors. The outlook for Embiid’s return is unclear. The worry, however, is palpable. Consider: 

  • Embiid is one of the most gifted players to ever grace the sport. The things he does at 7 feet tall are otherworldly. He possesses beautiful mechanics, an elite shot and not to mention one of the game’s best personalities.
  • Despite all that and last year’s MVP award, his career has been marred by disappointments. Injuries sidelined him for his first two years as a pro, and he’s never played more than 68 games in a season (which would barely qualify for major awards now, by the way).
  • His Sixers have the rare power to fail spectacularly at each important juncture. Embiid has never made it past the second round of the playoffs. Partially his fault? Sure. Does he deserve blame for the Ben Simmons debacle, the James Harden debacle, or not retaining Jimmy Butler? No. 

Embiid is going to be 30 soon. We don’t see many NBA centers with his size remain healthy enough to feature in the MVP conversation past 32 or 33, outside of legends like Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Hakeem Olajuwon. 

How many more chances will Embiid have to be the centerpiece of a contender after this year? One? Two, max? Sure, his current injury could mean missing just a couple games, rendering this entire thought experiment moot — for now. Nonetheless, there are high stakes every time he crashes to the floor. 

I thought Sam Amick’s column was particularly great on this whole saga, with a central point I agree with: Embiid deserves better.

Watch This Game

NBA: Magic at Timberwolves
8 p.m. ET on Bally Sports North
Both of these teams were early-season darlings, but only Minnesota (currently first in the West) has kept pace. Are the Magic fully on the way down? We’ll see. 

NCAAW: No. 15 USC at No. 4 Stanford
10 p.m. ET on Pac-12 Network
Take your chance to see Trojans superstar JuJu Watkins play against elite competition. Best game of the night.

Pulse Picks

Another incredible A1 story today: Cooper Flagg is the country’s best high school basketball player, but he comes from a state that produces few basketball prospects. Brian Hamilton went to Maine to explore Flagg’s roots and found a tiny, basketball-crazed state that Flagg won’t ever leave too far behind. I think I’m rooting for this kid now. 

Nothing better than Jason Quick writing about Damian Lillard’s return to Portland, which was perfect for Blazers fans. They screamed and stood for the best player in franchise history. Then they got a win.  

Do you notice anything different about the Pebble Beach Pro-Am? Brody Miller wrote a great feature on how the “Clambake” made radical changes this year in order for the tournament to survive

I enjoyed Antonio Morales’ look at how Nick Saban’s retirement ended up affecting multiple major programs on the West Coast. The tail on these sorts of events is wild. 

The predominant view of the Orioles’ sale this week? The $1.725 billion price was too low

I’m already tired of everyone yelling about Taylor Swift at the Super Bowl. Not tired: TV execs. One longtime producer told Richard Deitsch her presence would be “a gift from the gods.” 

A final follow for yesterday’s Seahawks news: Mike Sando applauds Seattle for pivoting away from the franchise’s history by hiring Mike Macdonald

Is Jeff Hafley’s leap from Boston College to the NFL an inflection point for college football? Maybe so, writes Seth Emerson. I thought this was really smart. 

The Canucks are all in after trading for Elias Lindholm, as Thomas Drance writes. For the Flames, it signals a move in the opposite direction.

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(Photo: Scott Taetsch/Getty Images)

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