On Thursday night, the Patriots played the Lions. Defensive tackle Vince Wilfork dressed for the game, but he didn’t play. Joe Vellano, an undrafted free agent from Maryland, got the start in place of Wilfork.
And so when members of the New England media had a chance to question coach Bill Belichick on Friday regarding Wilfork’s absence from the game, they did. And when Belichick answered, he provided perhaps the most extreme example yet on how to answer a question without answering a question.
Here’s the excerpt, from the transcript distributed by the team.
Q: For those of us who weren’t there last night, can you update us on why Vince Wifork didn’t play?
BB: We just didn’t put him in. That’s why.
BB: Because there were other players who played.
Technically, the answers are accurate. Wilfork didn’t play because the Patriots didn’t put him in the game, and they didn’t put him in the game because they used other players.
The overriding message is this: “None of your damn business.” So why not just say, “None of your damn business”?
The reality is that, if Wilfork is injured, Belichick has no obligation in the preseason to say so. And he never has any obligation to explain why an otherwise healthy guy doesn’t play.
Still, if he doesn’t want to answer a question, why not just say, “I prefer not to get into that”? It’s basically what he said, but in a way that will do nothing to make those already inclined to think he’s a jerk think he’s anything but a jerk. And it also could prompt any who may be on the fence about Belichick to conclude, “Wow, this guy is a jerk.”
Ultimately, Belichick doesn’t care what anyone thinks. At a certain level, that’s admirable. But it’s also pointless, especially when there’s a way to answer questions that lets him say nothing without coming off as a jerk.
We’ve heard from many league insiders over the years that Belichick actually isn’t a jerk. It would be harder to convince anyone of that based on his answers to Friday’s questions about Wilfork.