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Rob Ninkovich: Belichick is great, just don’t ask dumb questions

AFC Championship - Baltimore Ravens v New England Patriots Getty Images

From 2006 to 2008, Rob Ninkovich bounced around the league for three seasons but didn’t play much and was never a starter. Then, in 2009, Patriots coach Bill Belichick saw something in Ninkovich, signed him during training camp, put him on the regular-season roster and eventually made him a starter. Ninkovich has now started 57 consecutive games.

So it’s no surprise that Ninkovich thinks he owes a lot of his NFL success to Belichick, and that Ninkovich strongly disagrees with anyone who thinks Belichick is a jerk.

“The perception of Bill, they don’t really see Bill outside of his interviews,” Ninkovich said on SiriusXM NFL Radio, via Mike Reiss of ESPNBoston.com. “He’s a funny guy, he has a great sense of humor and he’s the best football coach ever for a reason. He knows what he’s talking about. He knows how to get the best and the most out of each individual person. So the way he speaks, you definitely listen to the things that he says. You try to write down and absorb as much as you can. He has a ton of knowledge of the game. Walking around the locker room, walking around the facility, he’ll talk to you. He’s the best football coach I’ve been around. There is a definitely difference in the perception of what he is from the media versus what he really is. He’s always available if you need to speak to him. That’s another thing he always says, ‘just come to me’ and he’ll tell you it like it is. He won’t sugarcoat anything for you. That’s what you want — honest answers. As a football player, that’s a great thing, to be able to go to your head coach and be able to ask him a question and have him give you a straight-up answer.”

So why does Belichick so often come across as surly in his public appearances? Ninkovich says that’s mostly a result of the types of questions he’s answering in interviews and at press conferences.

“A lot of people just see an interview, some media guy asking him a dumb question and he likes to give it back to those guys especially,” Ninkovich said.

Belichick may not enjoy talking to reporters, but he enjoys talking football with football players. And Ninkovich is one of many players to say that, despite the coach’s gruff public demeanor, he enjoys playing for Belichick.

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72 Responses to “Rob Ninkovich: Belichick is great, just don’t ask dumb questions”
  1. watermelon1 says: Apr 29, 2014 6:22 AM

    Couldn’t be more right.

    I could certainly do without all the media in every sport.

    Especially commentators.

    Just play the games. That’s all I ask. Put them on tv. And play. All this in between stuff is worthless.

  2. celticsforever says: Apr 29, 2014 6:28 AM

    Queue the haters. How he gets the Pats seemingly to the final 4 every year is amazing. Even the year without Brady they won 11 games. That says something.

  3. nfl4dummies says: Apr 29, 2014 6:38 AM

    53-53 without Brady. Just saying…

  4. mcrummel says: Apr 29, 2014 6:47 AM

    Don’t forget he is also a known video director.

  5. Pittsburgh Steelers says: Apr 29, 2014 6:50 AM

    Tomlin > Belicheck

  6. suhmonster90 says: Apr 29, 2014 6:53 AM

    At least someone spelled queue correctly

  7. rjg427 says: Apr 29, 2014 6:55 AM

    Belichick is awesome! He’s only following in his mentor’s footsteps..Parcells couldnt stand dumb media questions..”You ask a dumb question, you’re gonna get a dumb answer” Plain and simple

  8. nooittall says: Apr 29, 2014 7:02 AM

    There’s no such thing as a dumb question.

  9. cadlow says: Apr 29, 2014 7:04 AM

    Yes you need a Coach and QB.
    Bill Walsh was 92 – 59 with Montana.
    Bellichick is 148-43 with brady.
    So Bellichick and Brady are better than Walsh Montana.

  10. thestrategyexpert says: Apr 29, 2014 7:04 AM

    But he still hasn’t provided an answer to all of my smart questions regarding moments in games that he blew it and didn’t make the statistically advantaged decision. When is he going to hire a tactics or game theory expert to help him make the decisions that he can’t figure out on his own?

  11. beerndrums says: Apr 29, 2014 7:14 AM

    No SB wins since spy gate
    The proofs in the pudding kids

  12. tim3711 says: Apr 29, 2014 7:18 AM

    Nink is a key player on defense. Bill puts him in a position to play at a high level that I believe no other coach could do. Bill has done that his entire career. Pats haters are going to continue to rip him for spygate but at this point the people that still hold on to that should re evaluate where they stand in life and let it go. Even after all the BS he still has proven he is the best. Other teams AND THERE FANS only wish they were Superbowl contenders every. single. year.

  13. purpleforroyaltygreenandgoldforbugars says: Apr 29, 2014 7:22 AM

    “Oh he has a policy… The delicate genius has a policy”

  14. patriotsarespygaters says: Apr 29, 2014 7:24 AM

    he is still a jerk tho and without brady he has a .500 record

  15. uptjeff says: Apr 29, 2014 7:26 AM

    A lot of those wins have come against the Dolphins, Jets, and Bills. He’s a good coach, but let’s not get ahead of ourselves here.

  16. gpete1962 says: Apr 29, 2014 7:30 AM

    He’s the kind of you love to hate, unless he’s coaching your team.

    nuff said!!

  17. marima07 says: Apr 29, 2014 7:36 AM

    Now that’s good defense.

  18. Andrew says: Apr 29, 2014 7:47 AM

    I’m a Jets fan so naturally I hate the guy, but I love how he deals with the ridiculous media.

  19. pwebster919 says: Apr 29, 2014 8:04 AM

    He’s a good guy, sure. He just made a deal with the Devil.

  20. igotgamenj says: Apr 29, 2014 8:21 AM

    18-1

  21. spammerscrammer says: Apr 29, 2014 8:31 AM

    I don’t think Ninkovich is right. Belichick default mode with tbe press is to tell them as little as.possible.
    He understands that it is part of the job to do interviews and press conferences, so he will stand there and endure them.
    He also understands that the only thing that matters for an NFL coach is winning. And sometimes providing thoughtful informative answers to questions is in direct conflict witb winning.
    Why provide intelligence to the adversary. Injuries? Game strategy? Let them figure it out.
    And when some reporter asks a stupid question, it just makes it easier for Belichick to say nothing.
    The media might not like it, but he is the longest tenured coach in the NFL because his teams win and win and win some more. I think he is ok with Rex Ryan being more entertaining.

  22. idoubtiwillbother says: Apr 29, 2014 8:34 AM

    Makes sense. There are a lot of dumb questions and fill-in-the-blank-do-my-job-for-me requests.

  23. jimthebuilder27 says: Apr 29, 2014 8:36 AM

    Best coach of the modern era, first ballot Hall of Famer, hands down.

  24. jagsandliquor says: Apr 29, 2014 8:47 AM

    The media wouldn’t ask if the fans didn’t want to know…everyone loves to make a big deal out of someone saying the wrong thing…

  25. ez4u2sa says: Apr 29, 2014 8:54 AM

    Ninkovich is right on the money with his comments. Serious football fans have to groan along with Belichick at all the inane, stupid comments the media ask at his press conferences. Good for Bill for not putting up with it. The NFL ought to take a clue from this and not require their head coaches to waste so much time with the media.

  26. phillyguyindc says: Apr 29, 2014 9:12 AM

    Post game press conferences are worthless. I really don’t even get why they still have them. The team and league don’t gain anything from them. It’s not 1960 anymore where they only way for people to get information was newspapers.

    It’s not even like they get answers and do good reporting, the media for the most part is pessimistic and just try to twist words around to cause controversy.

    I don’t blame anyone for giving stock answers.

  27. themiamidolphins says: Apr 29, 2014 9:14 AM

    Greatest coach of all time.

  28. wwwmattcom says: Apr 29, 2014 9:18 AM

    Queue the undying lovers who are confused about the importance of football
    Then cue the circus

  29. whatjusthapped says: Apr 29, 2014 9:22 AM

    All this nonsense about him being the greatest coach, all I can say is that Lombardi didn’t feel the need to cheat. His honor and reputation were held above his desire to win. With Bill, not so much.

  30. davebarnes21 says: Apr 29, 2014 9:26 AM

    best coach ever! hands down

  31. 2me13 says: Apr 29, 2014 9:30 AM

    As a Jets fan I hate him. But as a football fan you gotta respect the future HOF!!

  32. rc33 says: Apr 29, 2014 9:31 AM

    Sure, so the guy that coined the phrase “winning isn’t the everything, it’s the only thing” could never have possibly skirted the rules? That’s what you’re saying?
    And how exactly would you be so certain of that?
    One thing’s for certain; secrecy, the media, technology, everything is a heckuva lot more challenging for today’s coaches than it was for Lombardi in the 60′s.

  33. johnnycash19 says: Apr 29, 2014 9:32 AM

    I’d love to sit down with Bill and talk about football over a beer or something.

    Hell I wish Bill was the coach of my team. I know we would be competing for Super Bowls every year.

    Being a hockey fan as well as football. I relate the Patriots to the Red Wings. Even in their down years, they still make the playoffs and win a game (or series). Are they going to win every year? No, but you know they will be tough to beat year in and year out.

    And for the people that say he has a 500 record without Brady. Who isn’t good without one of the BEST QB’s in the history of the game.

    John Fox is 81-78 without Peyton Manning, 26-6 with him.

  34. xxsweepthelegxx says: Apr 29, 2014 9:36 AM

    Great coaches have great QBs, and vice versa. That’s how it goes.
    And let’s not forget all those great Montana/Young SF teams played in a very bad division for a long time too. The Saints fans wore bags over their heads for a reason.
    Not to mention, there was managing the cap.

    SF and SEA in the same division now doesn’t happen often. It wasn’t long ago though that the NFC West was a complete joke with SEA winning the division at 7-9. Football, like many team sports are cyclical….and that’s what has made what Brady/BB have done even more impressive, especally during the salary cap era.

  35. Patskrieg dot com says: Apr 29, 2014 9:41 AM

    Nink nailed it. Consider why Jon Tomase was so eager to run with the fake Super Bowl walk through tape scandal despite not having any evidence. Belichick stopped taking Tomase’s questions because he only wanted to talk about Belichick’s divorce and his kids like he was auditioning for TMZ.

  36. ncphinsfan says: Apr 29, 2014 9:41 AM

    As a Dolphins fan for over 44 years, I harbor some natural hate for this guy, but it stems from pure jealousy. He is a great Coach and future HOFer. Yes, Spygate clouds things, without Brady question, beating up on weak AFCE opponents for a decade, but this is all part of it. Shula feasted on the Pats, Bills, Jets and Colts for decades. A good Coach takes advantage of everything to win. He did just that.

  37. afcdomination says: Apr 29, 2014 9:51 AM

    he is of the old school mindset. he was growing up while his father was coaching that same way at Navy.

    I wish there were more coaches like him left. well, there are. they just aren’t for the most part in the head coaching position anymore. in today’s NFL, he doesn’t get that second chance after the browns failure. he would be viewed as Todd Haley was. too tough on his players and too tough on the media.

  38. pastabelly says: Apr 29, 2014 9:52 AM

    How many players ever really say that they hate playing for Belichick? The ones who leave Foxboro all go for money and not because “they hate their coach”. Belichick as a GM could be hated, however.

  39. scalfor3 says: Apr 29, 2014 9:54 AM

    Ask Belichick a question that’s actually about football and he’ll talk for days. Florio’s boy Tom E. Curran asked him about special teams once this past year and BB spent what felt like 10 minutes talking about the evolution of the extra point and how the play has changed from it’s original intent, with specific historical examples. Ask him about the 80s Giants and LT and he’ll sing.

    However, ask him when a guy who had ACL surgery two months ago is expected back and you’ll get the response you deserve. Ben Volin, you should have known better.

  40. pillowporkers says: Apr 29, 2014 9:59 AM

    Bill is the greatest coach of all time. However I have questioned his drafting before. Im not sold he’s a great drafter. Which I’m personally thankful for that he traded his pick that turned into Cordarrelle Patterson, and then even still took Dobson before Keenan Allen. With their WR core last year, I feel either one of those guys wouldve made a huge difference down the stretch last year on an offense desperate for playmakers.

  41. fifthinterception says: Apr 29, 2014 10:02 AM

    For such a great coach, he hasn’t won any titles since his camera man was caught.

  42. Waxxx4321 says: Apr 29, 2014 10:16 AM

    Great coaches dont need to Cheat. So what because hes choosy with his words. Actions speak louder and with this guy I see 3 dirty volumes.

  43. mitchitized says: Apr 29, 2014 10:20 AM

    I think it is fair to say he’s somewhere in between good and great. I don’t think it is logical to crown him as greatest of all time though. Certainly not yet at least!

    His CURRENT setup with his CURRENT quarterback and CURRENT division opponents is giving him an awesome record. How well did he do with Drew Bledsoe again? How well did he do in Cleveland, then Baltimore?

    I know Patriots fans hate it when other folks bring up Spygate, but until the Patriots manage to win again, that will always be a major talking point.

    Again, not downing on the guy, just saying that although he’s always in the playoff hunt doesn’t make him the greatest of all time. I know another head coach who took his team to the big game four times, but never managed a win. Bet you can’t guess his name, maybe even if you are a Bills fan… And I consider him just as good of a coach as Belichick. Getting your team to the big game is impossibly hard, and requires some luck too.

    You gotta wait until Belichick is done, and then consider his entire body of work for the HoF, you can’t just crown him after a good run of ten years.

    Maybe they pull off one more win before Brady rides off into the sunset, and at that point, the argument in his favor will be very strong…

  44. tinbender2000 says: Apr 29, 2014 10:20 AM

    “There are no stupid questions. Only stupid people asking questions.” Bill Murray, Stripes.

  45. weepingjebus says: Apr 29, 2014 10:20 AM

    The “bad w/o Brady” argument is silly. Belichick was smart enough to draft Brady in the first place, and better still was smart enough to stick with him even when Bledsoe (a No. 1 draft pick under Parcells just a few years earlier) got healthy again. Bledsoe was a great QB in his own right, this was not a simple decision to make. There are tons of coaches out of the league now who stuck with the safe high draft pick players and paid the price.

  46. travishenrykid says: Apr 29, 2014 10:22 AM

    So multiple posters hate the media, yet they’re reading…the media? I don’t get it.

  47. baltimoresnativeson says: Apr 29, 2014 10:29 AM

    By far the best Football life was the the Belichick one. And I’m not a patriot fan.

    Dude is unintentionally hilarious. Especially when he dropped several F-Bombs on Derek Mason.

  48. politicallyincorrect says: Apr 29, 2014 10:29 AM

    IMO, BB is the single most overrated HC in NFL history. I find it offensive when some put him on same plane, let alone above, the JGibbs, BWalsh, BParcells crew… this is just wrong.

    BB was a loser at Cleveland… and, if you strip, or at least diminish, the NE championships influenced by “cheating” (and this is not in dispute), what has he really done? His Pats, are IMO, the shadiest of NFL orgs, despite tremendous marketing and promo, and these Pats have played in the very weak AFC…. and, the man has not won a thing since being caught cheating… and, the man has not won a thing w/o the great, perhaps the greatest QB ever, Tom Brady!

    It is, IMO, absurd to put BB in same sentence as the great NFL HCs…

  49. majormalphunktion says: Apr 29, 2014 10:31 AM

    Anyone who lives in NE and watched any Patriots Weekly stuff knows this already. Ask Bill a football question and he will go off. Ask him what he thinks of special teams and he will talk for 15 minutes. Ask him about defensive formations, schemes exc. He loves to talk football.
    Ask him about Brady’s car or something and he will respond. Ask him a softball ‘what do you think of this guy’ he will just get grumpy.

    So is it Bill who is in the wrong…or is the 24 hour beast that needs to be fed that is wrong?

  50. politicallyincorrect says: Apr 29, 2014 10:38 AM

    and to the BB posters trying to diminish the Brady effect….. Joe Gibbs, a hugely better HC than BB, won 3 SBs w/o cheating and w/o a great QB (won with 3 different QBs in fact).

    So just stop this BB crap… the dude has not won a thing w/o cheating.. and his team plays in a very weak division and conf which makes it very easy to rack up a nice record… his great teams have lost to 2 NFC wildcards….

    Pats are much more about weak competition, Brady, and low stds where they will take players others wont…. and cheating….

  51. tedmurph says: Apr 29, 2014 10:50 AM

    The Pats got Jamie Collins, Logan Ryan, Josh Boyce and the pick they traded for LBlount in that CPatterson trade. I’m sure the Vikes are happy with Patterson, but let’s see what that trade looks like in a couple of yrs. I wouldn’t trade JCollins straight up for Patterson right now.

    As for Belichick failing in Cleveland, you guys got it all wrong. He took over an awful team, improved every yr, went 11-5 his 4th yr and were considered a SB contender the 5th yr before the Modell thing hit the fan and everything went in the tank. The fact the media hated his style contributed to this myth.

  52. crush22 says: Apr 29, 2014 10:57 AM

    Patsies

  53. dalcow4 says: Apr 29, 2014 11:22 AM

    If I was in the NFL, I’d love to play for Belichick. The hardest part would be how to deal with taking part in all the cheating.

  54. patriotsarespygaters says: Apr 29, 2014 11:30 AM

    remember his cleveland years ppl?…yh i thought so….. was a great DC for the giants superbowl wins with parcells

  55. scaredhitless says: Apr 29, 2014 11:47 AM

    And he ran a half-marathon in a time my grandmother would be proud of!

    GO BILLY!

  56. robertocfg says: Apr 29, 2014 11:57 AM

    I’ve said this all along. The guy loves to talk X and O’s and history of the game. Heck, he can make a 15-minute lecture on the evolution of special teams interesting. But alas, most reporters will rather ask him for the bazillionth time when is Gronk going to be ready to catch balls.

  57. weepingjebus says: Apr 29, 2014 12:15 PM

    Re Browns, there’s also a more-than-decent argument that the Ravens won their first super bowl with what was basically Belichick’s team.

  58. patriotinvasion says: Apr 29, 2014 12:15 PM

    Patriots have won 10 games or more every year since “spygate.” They’ve been in 4 AFC Championship Games and 1 catch away from winning 2 more Super Bowls.

    The only thing that has kept them from another Lombardi is not being able to replicate the defense that was the biggest part of winning their first 3. Remember Ty Law, Rodney Harrison, Tedy Bruschi, Richard Seymour, Mike Vrabel, and Willie McGinest? Seattle just showed why this matters so much.

    Brady, Gronk, and Revis stay healthy it’s over for the rest of the league.

  59. hoffmt28 says: Apr 29, 2014 12:31 PM

    Good coach, I agree, disgraceful in the way he dresses. Guy looks like a hobo.

  60. jimjets says: Apr 29, 2014 12:38 PM

    he’s a jerk

  61. gregmorris78 says: Apr 29, 2014 12:49 PM

    Year after spy gate he went 18-1, demolishing records along the way, arguably the greatest season ever. End of the year came down to the Tyree helmet catch and a deperate come from behind.

  62. factman1000 says: Apr 29, 2014 12:54 PM

    Nikovich is a mistake on BB’s part. He’s a decent backup and nothing more. He’s a real weakness on the defense.

  63. PriorKnowledge says: Apr 29, 2014 12:55 PM

    Like many geniuses, he does not tolerate stupidity well.

  64. TheWizard says: Apr 29, 2014 12:59 PM

    he doesn’t get that second chance after the browns failure

    That failure produced the best season the Browns have had in the last 28 years.

  65. bstngrdn says: Apr 29, 2014 1:25 PM

    What’ s behind all the Belichick hating and continuous illogic of the cheating theories is pure jealousy. The fact of the matter is that the Patriots compile a winning record year after year no matter who they are playing, regardless of injuries, regardless of the difficulties of retaining your players in a salary cap era and other misfortunes. That’s because of the coach, the quarterback and the owner. In other words it’s because the Patriots are one of the best if not the best TEAM in the league,
    Patriot’s fans know Belichick isn’t the same guy you see on the post game shows, because we see him in a very different light via some of the local shows working with local media who know him. Lots of Patriots fans have come to enjoy the after game press conferences almost as much as the game as we watch some of the media make fools of themselves by asking inane questions and then are annoyed when Belichick won’t play along by answering them in a way they think he should. To all of this we say “Keep up the good work, Bill.”

  66. pongonfl says: Apr 29, 2014 1:49 PM

    He was fired for not answering questions in interviews. We can accept he is not going to change, and there is no reason he should change.

  67. FoozieGrooler says: Apr 29, 2014 2:42 PM

    Questions like: “..what really happened to the rest of those tapes? Surely there were more than the three you gave the NFL…?”

  68. dkgrumpy says: Apr 29, 2014 2:52 PM

    I love how some point out that Belichick is only .500 without Brady. So? Lombardi was only 7-5 without Starr. Should we question his bona fides too?

  69. whelz420 says: Apr 29, 2014 4:46 PM

    And by the way if the pats division is so weak then why does their division have the most wins since 2002? Look it up afc east 406-362 afc north 392-374-2 afc south 393-375 afc west 376-392 nfc east 396-371-1 nfc north 368-398-2 nfc south 395-370-2 nfc west 346-420-2. So again how is new england in the weakest division? A team can only get 6 wins from their division and 1 more possibly through playoffs and thats it rest come from outside the division. So if the pats sweep all division teams then where does miami the jets and the bills get their wins. Ill tell you from all these teams people think are better than them. And spygate was proved for that lone season so dont asume it happened pryor to that. If you dont think all teams at every level doesnt cheat somehow someway your an idiot. If theres a rule to exploit a team will do so guaranteed. The only reason you know of it was because of a snitch. Nobodies told on the other teams is all.

  70. renaldorae says: Apr 29, 2014 9:18 PM

    All great coaches in the nfl have groomed great quarterbacks. halas/Luckman, brown,graham lombardi/starr, shula/greasie, untias and marino, knoll/bradshaw, landry/stauback, walsh/ montana , young, parcels/ simms , belichick/brady and yes I love a coach who gives you a striaght answer and gives the reporters the dickens for asking dumb questions. dumb questions would include: questions already asked and answered , trade secrets like extent or severity of injuries ,did you want to win the game, contract issues, talks between the owner and coach and job security issues are all in the area of dumb questions when the media asks the coach, feel free to add anymore i could have forgotten. Belichick embodies what i love about football he finds your weakness and exploits it with brutal efficiency and the NFL stands for not for long if you dont do that as a coach. one final note on the spygate naysayers where is Belichick and where is mangini?

  71. gdeli says: Apr 29, 2014 11:35 PM

    But I never had a half-million dollar fine!

  72. lolatpatshaters says: May 3, 2014 10:32 AM

    “The New England Patriots are the gold standard franchise in the NFL
    - Shannon Sharpe

    #crypatshaters
    #cry

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