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Interesting Belichick article

Postby steelerfan513 » Sat Jan 12, 2008 3:39 pm

It's a long article, but it is really informative. It focuses more on Belichick's life outside of football, which is stark in contrast to his coaching methods. At one point, the author draws a parallel to Andrew Carnegie which I thought was very accurate. Anyway, hope you find it interesting like I did.

On an unrelated note, ESPN magazine has been putting out some great articles lately. The one about Favre and Jennings was easily one of the best sports articles I've ever read, and this is very good as well. ... id=3191859

Belichick's brand of coaching is nothing new

By Tom Farrey
ESPN The Magazine
Updated: January 11, 2008

Why is Bill Belichick such a complete jerk?

Unless you live in New England, you may have pondered this question in 2007.

Is the monotone man of mystery actually human? Back in November,'s Elizabeth Merrill went in search of Bill Belichick's inner teddy bear. Story

It's not just the piling up of wins before ever-larger audiences that engenders so much loathing. It's the way he wins. It's Spygate. It's those surly postgame handshakes. The running up of scores. The jones for retribution against all perceived enemies. And that face, that stone face, the one that greets the cameras before and after every game, no matter the margin of victory. But step back for a minute. Give the man his due. A perfect regular season has earned the Patriots coach that courtesy, right?

Right. So we should ask the fair question, the one we'd want asked if so many people we'd never met hated us like some sports fans seem to hate the Patriots coach.

Is Bill Belichick really a jerk, or does he just play one on TV?

Let's start peeling the onion's layers by talking to Michael Holley.

Belichick granted the former Boston Globe columnist, now a local talk-show host, rare access to the Patriots' organization during the 2002 and 2003 seasons. The result was the revealing, if largely flattering, "Patriot Reign."

Of course, Belichick wasn't totally pleased with the book, annoyed that Holley didn't clean up his incessant cursing. Turns out that, in private, Belichick likes to call people a--holes -- sometimes even as a compliment, as in "Look at this a--hole." (It's almost touching.) At press conferences, Lord William isn't profane, but he can be downright dismissive of reporters. Take Spygate, the (possibly overblown) scandal that cost the Patriots $250,000 and Belichick $500,000 in fines for taping the Jets' defensive signals on opening day.

Belichick offered up a vague apology -- none specifically directed to the Jets -- and never addressed a host of obvious questions, like How long have you been doing this? And Why?

"The sad part is, this guy can be as charming as anyone," Holley says. "He can talk about sports, music, politics. But when it's football, it's different. I guarantee you none of his friends recognize the Bill Belichick they see in press conferences."

Not that many of those friends are eager to talk. Ernie Adams, Belichick's former high school buddy who remains an adviser, rarely gives interviews about the man. Jon Bon Jovi, his rocker friend, hasn't given any either.

Before one game earlier this season, Belichick brought in his pal Lenny Clarke, a Boston comedian, to talk to the team and lighten the mood post-Spygate; he roasted Belichick. But call the funnyman at his home and his wife, Jennifer, answers. "Has Bill signed off on the project?" she asks.

One friend who will talk is the equally irascible Bob Knight. The Texas Tech coach is not surprised that Belichick, who turned down The Magazine's request for an interview, makes so little effort to share himself with the public.

"Well, why should he?" says Knight, who has known Belichick since Bill's father was a football scout at Navy and Knight was basketball coach at West Point. "He's not getting paid to work for the media."

There are stories of Belichick's singing among friends while on vacation; of his taking time out of his hectic NFL week to write long, supportive e-mails to a friend's kid; of his showing up at Ivy League games to cheer on a former Patriots ball boy playing college football. But Belichick refuses to flesh out these anecdotes for public consumption. Which is fine, because his reluctance to shape his image says something significant about the man:

There's only one game he thinks he must win to get respect.

It¹s been four years since Richard Seymour lost his grandfather to cancer, and the wound still hurts. Not just the passing of someone dear, but the penalty levied against him for taking a couple days to attend the funeral back home in South Carolina. When Seymour didn't return in time for a Friday practice, Belichick benched the Pro Bowl defensive lineman for the start of the next Sunday's game.

Seymour was deeply offended at the time, but he fell in line with the Belichick ethos. Pats players almost always do.

"I respect his decisions," Seymour says deliberately, resting on a stool in front of his locker. "We understand it's his way and that's what we're all going to adapt to." Sounds cold, but in Belichick's eyes no player is bigger than the system.

And none -- with the possible exception of Tom Brady -- is indispensable. That's how Lawyer Milloy, Ty Law, Drew Bledsoe and Adam Vinatieri, among others, ended up in other uniforms. It's also why many economists admire Belichick, who majored in the subject at Wesleyan.

"Economics teaches you to care about efficiency and to reason rigorously," says Andrew Zimbalist, an econ prof at Smith College who writes often about sports business. "It's all about trying to create models and logical systems, and to do that you have to have a sharp, analytical mind. All of that certainly is the epitome of what Belichick does."

Belichick has always gone about his business with a minimum of sentiment, as might be expected of someone whose first NFL job, with the Colts in 1975, included acting as The Turk -- the guy who summoned players to the coach's office when they were cut. Only this year, more successfully than ever, it's the Pats' opponents who've been targeted for elimination with ruthless efficiency. New England clinched home-field advantage throughout the playoffs by mid-December, but there was no sitting of starters, no easing up.

"Bill is never satisfied, never content," says Patriots safety Rodney Harrison. "Because once you become content, that's when the enemy strikes."

And, boy, does Belichick have enemies -- or at least adversaries who would love to see him fall: coaches who feel he violated an unwritten code of conduct by videotaping signals, players who felt lied to during their time in Foxborough, agents who suspect Belichick of steering players to friendly reps who will cut below-market deals with the Pats.
"In his mind," says one prominent agent, "winning is morality."

Ted Johnson can tell you the price of that philosophy. He's a former linebacker for the Patriots. A year ago, he went public with the news that, since he retired in 2005, he has suffered from clinical depression, the result of post-concussion syndrome. Johnson says his condition might have been averted if Belichick hadn't submitted the linebacker to regular on-field contact, against the team trainer's advice, after one damaging head blow. Johnson allows that NFL coaches in general have made little effort to protect players' brains, and he's filed no lawsuit. He says he just wants to bring awareness to an important issue.

Still, the former team captain has never gotten a call from Belichick or anyone with the team. "We can all agree Belichick is headed to the Hall of Fame, right?" Johnson says. "Well, I always wonder how many of his ex-players are going to be there at the induction." And yet, a more humane portrait comes from Jim Brown, the Hall of Fame running back whose Amer-I-Can Foundation provides social services for underserved populations. "Bill's one of the people in America who has saved lives," Brown says. "He's donated money. He's helped us get contracts. He's been to prisons and schools with me."

Belichick has contributed to other causes as well, from homeless shelters to sports for the disabled. "I don't know a more honorable person," Brown says.

The two profiles of Belichick seem to be in conflict -- until you examine the roots of organized sports in America, dating back to the early 20th century.

"The equivalent figure is Andrew Carnegie," says Allen Guttmann, an Amherst College professor and one of the leading researchers on the origins of the games Americans play. "He was a fairly ruthless entrepreneur in the steel industry. And there were bloody strikes at the Carnegie mills. He didn't lose a lot of sleep about that. At the same time, the guy was endowing libraries all over the country and setting up foundations. So he was on both sides of the fence."

Like many corporate titans of the Gilded Age, Carnegie was a big fan of Charles Darwin, whose biological writings on survival of the fittest were used by some to rationalize a naked, sometimes unethical pursuit of great fortunes. Social Darwinists were the most extreme of the lot. Their brutal worldview held that the weak needed to perish in order for society to advance. At the other end of the political spectrum stood Utopian Socialists. Among them was the man whose name adorns the Patriots' stadium, King C. Gillette. The razor-blade magnate thought all industry should be taken over by a single corporation owned by the public and that everyone in the U.S. ought to live in a giant city called Metropolis powered by Niagara Falls.

It was an era of big, clashing ideals, and free enterprise won out. Just after the turn of the century, industrialists bankrolled the first public-school athletic leagues, hoping to promote competition as a social virtue and introduce immigrant children to that vision of the American way of life. (This school-based model of sports would stand in contrast to the club-based model that emerged in Europe.) Carnegie, in fact, was among the benefactors of New York City's influential Public Schools Athletic League. Less than a month after the PSAL was formed, in 1903, the first basketball tournament was held at Madison Square Garden, with the champ claiming a $300 trophy -- $7,090 in today's dollars -- donated by a copper-fortune heir.

So it should come as no surprise that the next few decades saw the creation of institutions and awards that glorified individual accomplishment. The Heisman Trophy was named after legendary Georgia Tech coach John Heisman, whose team once beat Cumberland College 222-0 because -- it could. (And because Heisman was bent on revenge after the Cumberland baseball team had run up the score on Tech's squad.)

The rise of pro leagues only served to encourage unrestrained, aggressive, even vindictive behavior. In 1940, the Bears beat the Redskins 73-0 to win the NFL title after being called quitters and crybabies by Washington's owner following a regular-season loss to the Redskins. So many footballs were kicked into the stands that refs asked Chicago coach George Halas to run or pass for the PAT on the last two touchdowns. Later, Vince Lombardi may or may not have said "Winning isn't everything, it's the only thing," but that widely repeated quote captured the sentiment of many Americans who, in the decades after World War II, understood that to the triumphant go the spoils.

Belichick descends from this rich vein of sports history. He's the grandson of Croatian immigrants who came to the U.S. without any familiarity with -- or interest in -- sports. The Bilicics arrived here looking for work, and found it in the oppressive steel mills of Youngstown, Ohio. Growing up in such a football-mad region, Bill's father, Steve, became a high school and college star, and ultimately a respected scout.

Steve's only child would come of age during a decade, the 1960s, when football was exploding in popularity, driven by TV and personified by Lombardi.

Belichick's foil, Colts coach Tony Dungy, takes his cues from another key pillar upon which sports was built, Muscular Christianity. In the late 19th century, its advocates saw sports as a way to recruit young men into the church and counter what they saw as the "feminization" of religion, dominated as it was by bookish ministers. Jesus was recast as a conquering, righteous hero ready to do battle in sports or war. Muscular Christians created such institutions as the YMCA and the Olympics, and games like basketball and volleyball. They also believed in winning as a virtue -- but with limits. When too many college students were dying on football fields in 1905, President Teddy Roosevelt, a Muscular Christian, encouraged the formation of what would become the NCAA to regulate competition. Muscular Christians also promoted such concepts as fair play and the postgame handshake, a gesture that some coaches would come to embrace and others ignore.

Which begins to explain why, when the Colts and Patriots meet at midfield after a game, Dungy will extend a palm to his adversary, while Belichick will barely look Dungy in the eye. "I'm sure Belichick sees it as hypocrisy," Guttmann says.

The job of an NFL coach is to create wins, so that large, rich men can smoke cigars, or praise Jesus, amid confetti. Belichick appreciates this more than most. He's not hostile to gestures of faith -- a few Patriots join the other team in the postgame on-field prayer circle -- but there's a clear separation of church and state, of the personal and professional. Belichick wants his players focused on what they control, which is the execution of the fundamentals and schemes they have been taught.

"There's no hidden agenda here," says Scott Pioli, the Pats VP of player personnel. "You're supposed to know what your job is and do your job. It's an easy set of circumstances to work with. Randy and all of our players know that."

He's of course referring to Randy Moss, who has been transformed under Belichick. Not only is he a more effective receiver than at any time during his 10-year career, but he's shed his bad-boy, me-first rep. He runs his routes. He stays out of trouble. He mouths Belichick's mantra -- more an edict than a cliché in the Pats' locker room -- about taking the game one week at a time. He is happily humbled by a clinical enterprise that he trusts will bear dividends, as long as he abides by its amoral laws, which do not include the Golden Rule.

Belichick is not a man without values. Chief among them, according to Pioli, is devotion to longtime allies. He recalls attending the 2002 New Year's Eve funeral of NFL draftnik Joel Buschbaum who, over the decades, made many friends across the league. Or so it would seem. When it came to burying the man, only one coach showed up to pay his respects: Belichick.

"This guy was loyal to Bill, and Bill reciprocated that loyalty up until the very end," Pioli says.

Former New England assistant Eric Mangini violated Belichick's code three years later by accepting the Jets' job. Returning to the Patriots' facility to pick up his belongings, Mangini found that his security card had been disabled.

"Let me tell you something," Ted Johnson says. "Don't cross him. He's got the personality of a stray dog. You can't tell if he cares or not until you upset him."

Bob Knight says the tension between Belichick and Mangini is natural among coaches who once worked together. He has no qualms about Spygate, which he suspects is "nothing that every coach in the history of the NFL hasn't done in one way or another." He sees no fault in the wide margins of victory, because it's unnatural not to score if you can. And Knight is certain none of these controversies will matter much in the end, when obituaries are written.

"Over the past seven years they've been the best team in football," says the winningest men's coach in college hoops, who no doubt hopes his own faults will matter less with time. "If anybody has any intelligence whatsoever, that's how they'll remember the team and the coach."

Still, to gain not only the respect but the admiration of most Americans it's not enough just to dominate. You have to move the game forward. Even the Social Darwinists believed in progress as the desired outcome of sorting winners and losers.

The thing is, Belichick has every chance of delivering on that promise. To watch his latest incarnation is to watch the game being mastered, perhaps for the first time in history. When Larry Csonka put his head down and the Miami Dolphins went 17-0, that was impressive. But the 2007 Patriots are a revelation. Their record-setting offense is based on a passing attack so smart, so flexible and so disciplined that Brady rarely even got tackled until the regular- season finale against the Giants. Belichick is showing that bigger-stronger-faster isn't the key to victory, a fine lesson in an era when head and other injuries have become the No. 1 issue in the game, from the pros down to the youth levels. In the morality-free zone that he (and

Dungy) inhabits, Belichick ball counts as an advance. It's just not clear whether he recognizes that human capital is still, well, human.

Does that make him a complete jerk? Or just a patently American one, the kind we'd eventually come to like if only he'd let us?
Last edited by steelerfan513 on Sun Jan 13, 2008 4:40 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Interesting Belichick article

Postby JasonSeahorn » Sun Jan 13, 2008 12:00 am

great read...all the mention of carnegie and the gilded age refreshed my memory of high school history classes :-D

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Re: Interesting Belichick article

Postby Canucks_Fantasy » Sun Jan 13, 2008 1:13 am

Interesting read. Shows you that he isn't a complete jerk off the field.
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Re: Interesting Belichick article

Postby The Lung » Sun Jan 13, 2008 2:35 pm



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Re: Interesting Belichick article

Postby stomperrob » Tue Jan 29, 2008 1:16 pm

Belichick, former Bronco...

Belichick's roots in Denver
By Woody Paige
The Denver Post
Article Last Updated: 01/29/2008 01:37:41 AM MST

PHOENIX — In 1978, Denver Broncos head coach Red Miller hired (Bill) Belichick as the assistant special teams coach and assistant to defensive coordinator Joe Collier.
— New England Patriots media guide

Not exactly.

Bill Belichick is the coach of the year and the NFL coach of this millennium, and he may be the coach of the only 19-0 football team in history, and he might end up as the supreme NFL coach of all time.

But, 30 years ago, Belichick was 25 and unemployed, and Miller had never heard of him.

In late January of 1978, Miller was basking in the afterglow of the Broncos' first Super Bowl. Even though they had lost to the Dallas Cowboys in XII (the current Super Bowl is XLII), the Broncos finished with a 14-3 record and lost only once in their first 13 games.

Miller had signed in 1977 to coach the Broncos for $50,000. The late Fred Gehrke, then the club's general manager, gave Miller a $10,000 bonus after the club's remarkable season, then asked for a favor.

"Fred said he had a friend at Navy who called about his son, who wanted to learn more about football, and he wanted me to give the guy kind of a job," Miller said Monday.

The friend's name was Steve Belichick. He was an assistant at the U.S. Naval Academy. His son's name was Bill.

"Hey, it was room and board and a few bucks, and he was a go-fer, totally," Miller says. Belichick now makes $4 million a year.

Defensive coordinator Joe Collier wanted Belichick as his own personal assistant for the 1978 season, "but we didn't have that luxury. The guy was supposed to write (scouting) reports for the offense, defense, special teams.

"He was tardy with a few reports, and I told him that wasn't going to happen again, or he'd be out. It didn't."

Miller has a few vivid memories of Belichick.

"I didn't think he was good, bad or indifferent. He had his ups and downs, in general. But he was a sponge. Whatever we said and did, he took it all in."

Belichick "wasn't the best-dressed kid." Figures.

And, although Miller emphasizes "that I don't like to say anything negative about somebody," Belichick "was the most dour young man I've ever been around."

(So, if you wondering if Belichick recently developed that personality trait . . .)

The New England Patriots coach is Mr. Dark and Gloomy in public, the Crème de la Grim to the media, The Spymaster With the Fish Handshake to opposing coaches.

Belichick's game-day outfit seems more suited for standing on a downtown side street than a stadium sideline. He needs a cardboard sign, not a game-plan card. To most, he seems to have The Terminator's heart and an exterminator's attitude.

He arrived at Monday afternoon's news conference disguised as a banker — in a coat and tie. But Belichick didn't mask his antipathy.

Did quarterback Tom Brady practice Monday?

"He was out there like everybody else."

How was Brady's ankle?

"He was out there like everybody else."

It doesn't matter to me. If I want humor, I go to The Comedy Works. If I want charm and personality, I watch "Miss America." If I want fashion, I hang out with Giorgio Armani. Anyway, a coach who loves to attend Jon Bon Jovi concerts isn't always on the dark side of the force, and Belichick did sing "Love Potion No. 9" at a large party he threw (although he did demand that all videos of the performance be destroyed).

And this is about coaching, not congeniality.

Belichick has won 105 games in eight seasons with the Patriots and could win his fourth Super Bowl in seven seasons. He used to be jealous of Mike Shanahan. Guess who's what this week.

The grandson of a Croatian emigrant — the family name actually is "Belicic" — Belichick studied at the feet, literally, of his father, who played for the Detroit Lions one season (after serving as the team's equipment manager) and coached as a college assistant for 33. The young Belichick would chart players' game grades when he was 9 and analyze Navy's opponents when he was 10.

After he played football — and squash — at Wesleyan (Conn.) University, Belichick got his first opportunity in 1975 as a special assistant with the Baltimore Colts — he mostly drove coach Ted Marchibroda to and from work — then went to the Lions as an assistant's assistant. When the coach was fired during the season, Belichick's career in the NFL appeared to be in jeopardy.

Belichick was given another chance in Denver 30 years ago — and got to the playoffs. A season later, he was hired by Ray Perkins to become the special-teams coach of the Giants.

"He's become a great football coach," says Miller, who was a great football coach. The old redhead will be viewing the game from his sofa Sunday and occasionally thinking of a Super Bowl XXX years past.

Belichick should send Miller a ticket. Exactly.

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