If Patriots coach Bill Belichick didn’t have four pelts on the wall, he probably wouldn’t still be an NFL head coach.
He’d be a defensive coordinator, most likely. But not a head coach. He simply doesn’t have the temperament to survive as a head coach if he were anything another than one of the best head coaches in NFL history.
With those accomplishments comes the ability to consistently choose not to cooperate with the media, and also to periodically bristle at questions he regards as foolish or otherwise beneath him. Two years ago, his annoyed reaction to questions about Tom Brady from Albert Breer, then working for NFL Media, after the notorious “on to Cincinnati” loss to the Chiefs apparently have resulted in Breer being yanked from the Patriots beat — even though he lives in Boston.
On Friday, Belichick became annoyed (again) when asked (again) about Brady. Specifically, Belichick was asked if he can think of an occasion where he ever has clarified the starting quarterback position so early into camp.
“I don’t know,” Belichick said.
He then was asked, “What happens if Jimmy Garoppolo plays better?”
“Look, I told you what’s going to happen,” Belichick said, referring to Brady returning as the starter when his suspension ends.
The reporter followed with, “So there’s no . . . .”
And then a more-disgusted-than-usual Belichick shook his head and said, “Jesus Christ.”
Patriots fans and media haters alike loved the moment. The Patriots apparently weren’t proud of it; otherwise, it wouldn’t have been scrubbed from the official transcript.
Was it a dumb question? Sure. Is there a way to be a little more respectful (or a little less disrespectful) to someone who asks a stupid question? Absolutely.
Belichick isn’t the first, and hardly will be the last, coach to act that way. But plenty of coaches treat the media — even those who ask stupid questions — with respect, recognizing that coaches get paid what they get paid because people care about the sport, and because the media is one of the main conduits of the relationship between teams and fans.
As I argued (ranted) on Friday’s PFT Live regarding the unreasonably restrictive media policy adopted by the Bears, everything the media does in covering the NFL and its teams amounts to free advertising. The media promotes the sport at no cost to the sport, and those involved in the sport benefit from that.
So why not show at least a minor degree of respect to those employed to promote the sport for free? Yes, it’s fun at times to see a coach behave in a way that few of us ever would in public. At a time when that passionate rooting interest can’t be satiated by games that count, a great sound bite or other compelling moment from the coach may be the next best thing.
It’s not all that much fun for the folks doing the job of promoting the sport for free to be on the wrong end of that treatment, and it surely makes everyone in the team’s press room afraid of saying anything that would make him or her become the next reporter who provokes an eye roll, a head shake, a verbal rebuke, and then a zealous round of digital applause from fans of the team and/or those jockeying for access to a coach who wants to keep all of them tiptoeing on eggshells.
I’m probably alone or close to it in thinking that Belichick was out of line on Friday. Then again, someone with the Patriots apparently agrees with me. Otherwise, the key question and answer would have appeared in the official transcript distributed by the franchise.