September 16, 2011
For those who didn't see Part 1 of the transcendent NFL Films documentary, "Bill Belichick: A Football Life," we have compiled a few highlights below. The show, which premiered Thursday evening on the NFL Network, is the result of a crew following the New England Patriots head coach all the way through the 2009 season — the 50th anniversary of the franchise, and the return of Tom Brady(notes) after the franchise quarterback missed most of the 2008 season with a knee injury. It's a must-watch, and here's why…
Feet up on his fishing boat
Part 1 starts with Belichick heading out on his fishing boat, grabbing a bit of relaxation before the new season begins. "This is serenity," he says while staring out at a lighthouse. "You're not worried about third-and-long out here." But then, it's time to pull the boat in and head back to Foxboro. "Players come in tomorrow, training camp starts, and I'll be ready for them."
Here's also Belichick playing golf in jeans ... somebody really needs to help him out with this. The Hoodie is one thing, but this is just wrong.
Training camp soundbites
Always a personal favorite in training camp, especially when coaches start verbally abusing the players. The show has Belichick talking to Jon Bon Jovi about then-new Jets head coach Rex Ryan, getting tough with his players about situational football "whether you're involved or not!," and putting the pressure on tackle Sebastian Vollmer(notes) — if he can catch a punt, no curfew for the team that night. "Seabass" nails it, and the team goes wild. Belichick didn't expect the kid to catch it, and fares far worse with his own return abilities.
Father to son
The moments with son Brian are nice as well — the younger Belichick gets a primer on the situational aspects of the game, serves as an assistant to his dad on the sidelines, and receives tips on how to throw the ball with fewer hitches in his delivery (maybe the Broncos should trade Tim Tebow(notes) to the Patriots…).
The definition of a coach
Though he has offensive and defensive coordinators in name most seasons, it could be argued that there isn't an NFL head coach more in tune with every aspect of his team than Belichick. In that regard, he's a throwback to the old-school guys like Don Shula, who didn't partition everything into enormous positional subgroups. The way Belichick leads quarterbacks coach Bill O'Brien through the need to make opposing defenses respect the Patriots' quick counts is but one example of the all-seeing eye.
"We can't spend all day on shifting and motion on every play — we're not doing that," he tells O'Brien and Tom Brady. "I don't want to be talking about that during the game — saying my piece on that now — but don't worry if we have to make an adjustment on it. These guys need to be able to do that."
The meeting rooms
As team owner Robert Kraft is honoring the 50th anniversary team, Belichick has his guys in the room, getting ready for the opener against the Buffalo Bills. "There's nothing wrong with being excited when you make a play. Look at all the work you put into it. All the time and practice you've spent and put into it. And then go out there in a game and execute it well and competitively and make a play … you should be excited about that!"
Then again, he also talks about how the team [bleep]ed around for the first quarter of the 2008 season opener against the Kansas City Chiefs, so it isn't all sweetness and light. And there were no insistences that the team head out for a "g-damn snack," much to my disappointment.
The inner sanctum
As an X's-and-O's junkie, the best part of Part 1 was watching Belichick and Brady talk about the upcoming game with the Baltimore Ravens in Belichick's office. They go over the full offensive game plan and then drill down to one of the main issues faced by any team opposing the Ravens — how to deal with Ed Reed(notes).
"I think we know about Ed," Belichick says.
"Ed Reed is Ed Reed," Brady responds. "He covers up a lot of stuff."
Belichick concurs. "Everything he does, he does at an exceptional level. He looks like he's guessing more than he ever has. But boy, does he have a burst — he's crouching down low back there, and playing really low. But he changes it up — you can't …I mean, it's just so obvious when he's reading the quarterback. Those receivers will run right past him, and he never flinches. He doesn't even acknowledge them. He's just reading the quarterback."
"He's always moving," Brady responds. "Playing against Ed, you're always so aware of where he is. It's not like he sneaks up on you — We played him in the rain here five years ago, and every time they break the huddle, he's what you're looking at. You're not saying, 'OK, let's just snap the ball and go,' it's more like, 'Where's he at?'"
By the way, the show also displays that Brady isn't exempt from criticism from his head coach — In that season opener against the Bills, he calms an understandably excited Brady down and gets him back in the game.
During that game, Ravens receiver Derrick Mason decided to start jawing at Belichick on the sideline after catching a quick out and being tackled right by the coach.
"Oh, [BLEEP] you, Mason. Why don't we talk after the game, all right? Just shut the [BLEEP] up. Can you look at the scoreboard?"
Yep. That's a good one (You can see the moment at 5:20 into the video above). And the Pats won the game, 27-21. Scoreboard, baby.
The unexpected joker
Whether he's telling Wes Welker(notes) that he's Wally Pipp to Julian Edelman's(notes) Lou Gehrig, or saying to then-Bengals receiver Chad Ochocinco(notes) that "We're double-covering you, so you can take the night off," Belichick does have a goofy side … well, maybe more sardonic than goofy, but he does use the needle at times.
The pupil bests the teacher
Given my general distaste for Josh McDaniels, I'll just let the video speak for itself:
Getting choked up at the old Meadowlands
When Belichick went through the inner sanctum of Giants Stadium for the last time before it was demolished, you got to see a more emotional side of the supposedly robotic coach. Talking about the old days coaching under Bill Parcells, and measuring how far he'd come, you can see Belichick getting choked up at all the memories.
Walking through old meeting rooms, the coach's locker room, and reminiscing about his relationship with Parcells — "There was a good mutual respect there, and he was the boss. I would tell him, 'Bill, this is what I think you should do,' and sometimes, he would be OK with it. Sometimes, he would be like, 'Well…' I would say, 'We don't have to do that — what do you want to do? What's the alternative?' Usually his response was something like, 'Well, what you're doing is screwed up.'"
"How do you want to change it?"
"I don't know, but it's just screwed up, and you need to get it fixed."
All right then! The emotional moment came a minute later, when Belichick was asked about how his career has turned. "I probably wouldn't have thought that it would have turned out like this," he said, voice cracking. "I was just trying to establish my coaching career … be a good coach … win some games … and, um … we won a lot of them here. This is a great organization, and it's hard not to get choked up about it."
Probably the coolest moment of the first show. If you can possibly, make sure to watch it. You can see Part 2 next Thursday at 10 p.m. ET.
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