When Bill Belichick arrived in New England, the Patriots were a laughingstock, an organization with a losing record, spiraling morale, salary cap problems, and a bloated payroll filled with a who ' s who of underperforming players. Belichick was supposed to change all that. But there were many questions: Could he turn it around Could he win without Bill Parcells He is smart, certainly, some would say a genius, but could he inspire and motivate a team to win it all After his mediocre run as head coach of the Cleveland Browns, and the strange end to his relationship with Parcells and the New York Jets, what kind of head coach could he be
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October 11, 2005
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Excerpt from Patriot Reign by Michael Holley
The Art of the Game
Bill Belichick has moments that few people see or imagine, moments when he is no longer the premier strategist of his profession. These are the times when he could be the guy in the next cubicle, any other father, husband, or son. These breaks from brilliance make him a stronger coach. They remind him that briefly stepping away from his football vision can actually allow him to see more of it.
There are times when the diagrammed plays on the erasable board in his office are for an audience of two ' his sons, Stephen and Brian. There are times when the brainteasers he attempts to solve are provided by members of his family, not by other coaches. "Do you know what 'discrete' means " he said one day after a conversation with Brian. His younger son ' who attends Brookline's Dexter School, John F. Kennedy's alma mater ' was studying vocabulary words. "Discrete" was one of them. "It's not the same as 'discreet,' " Belichick said. "Brian's class is going over words that have similar sounds with different meanings. That's a good one."
There was the time he tried to put on one of his favorite sweaters and could barely get it over his shoulders. Laundry mistake. He called his wife, Debby, to talk about it. He heard a lot of laughter coming from the phone. "It's not funny," he said with a smirk, even though he knew it was.
What most surprises people who don't know him is how much he enjoys a good laugh, usually when he's away from work and sometimes when he's at it. He earned a reputation for giving bland descriptions during his press conferences, where his personality is the sacrifice to protecting the goods. Press conferences are part of his game plans ' he prepares for them at least fifteen to twenty minutes per day ' so he is especially conscious of saying or implying anything that will give an opponent an edge. By the time he walks into his morning briefings with the New England media, he has already broken them down. He has predicted the incendiary topics of the day, sketched an outline of how he will respond to those topics, and offered suggestions to his players on how they should respond too. He has mastered an indifferent look during these conferences, yet when they are over he can easily recall details about latearriving reporters, opinion-makers he hasn't seen in a while, and questioners he didn't recognize. When his conversation is no longer on the record, it's as if some hidden masseuse has suddenly relieved him of tension points.