August 20, 2018

NFL Story
By Art Spander, The Sports Xchange
Publish Date: January 30, 2018 06:41:56 PM


SB old hat for Belichick -- just don't ask

MINNEAPOLIS -- The new Bill Belichick seems very much like the old Bill Belichick, with the addition of an old fedora and a smile, both of those quite impermanent. But then he's a pro football coach of great permanence.
It was another of his profession, the late Bill Walsh, who said that in this modern era of attention and tension, 10 years is as much as a man can spend with one team as the head coach.
"By then you're fired because you didn't win," said Walsh, "or if you did win your players stop listening to you and you quit."
The New England Patriots listen well to Belichick, who is in his 18th season as coach in Foxborough. For nearly two decades on the Patriots, it's been the players who have departed, not the man in charge.
And he very much is in charge, making decisions on personnel as well as strategy.
When the Patriots arrived here Monday for the week of Super Bowl LII, which will culminate with the game Sunday against the Philadelphia Eagles, Belichick stepped from the charter jet wearing a decades-old hat of his late father, Steve, a longtime coach at the Naval Academy. Then Monday, at Opening Night, Belichick, normally grim, was caught smiling -- rare indeed.
But Tuesday, both teams sat for media conferences, facing the repetitive questions that they know are coming but still will not answer. Belichick, back to being Belichick, gave responses that were short and disdainful.
Of course, when you're a head coach in the Super Bowl for an eighth time, having won five of the previous seven, maybe it doesn't matter what you say or how you say it. Unless you're one of the frustrated souls in the media.
Belichick is 65 (and will be 66 in April) and with the recent dismissal of Tom Brady's personal trainer and rumors Belichick might move to the New York Giants (he didn't), someone wondered about the man's future -- a most unwise idea.
"I'm only thinking about Sunday," said Belichick, unsmiling and hatless -- but certainly not clueless.
Maybe providing more insight into Belichick's no-nonsense approach to life was his appearance at last year's AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am, the week after the Patriots had their comeback win over Atlanta in Super Bowl LI.
Belichick had played before, invited at the request of Pebble Beach CEO Bill Perocchi, a Patriots fan who grew up in Massachusetts and knows the drill
The celeb amateurs (athletes, singers, coaches, actors) are supposed to have fun and help support the tournament, which raises funds for charity. But when longtime sports columnist Carl Stewart tried to interview Belichick after a round, the coach refused, acting as if the writer was intent on stealing game plans.
Probably at the moment, Belichick doesn't know whether tight end Rob Gronkowski will be cleared from concussion protocol to play in the Super Bowl. But if he did, he wouldn't tell us anyway.
You ask him something controversial and if he doesn't sneer -- Beth Teitel of the Boston Globe called it a "death stare" -- he will brush it aside. "Next question," he will say abruptly.
When you win, and in the NFL nobody wins more than Belichick and the Patriots, you virtually can make your own rules. He's done that, and shows no signs of backing down or his team falling back


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