Why Is Bill Belichick Now An Open Book?

Belichick, the notoriously private coach, allowed himself to be filmed for a year

For years and years, Bill Belichick's tight-lipped nature has been a running theme among sportswriters. So pervasive is the complaining about Belichick's unwillingness to say anything interesting that it's practically an accepted fact of anything written about the man, much in the way you can expect anything written about the Super Bowl to include a brief moment for the sportswriter to complain about his accommodations.

So it's a bit jarring to see that Belichick decided to allow NFL Films to capture him on camera for an entire year for "Bill Belichick: A Football Life." People who have seen the documentary in advance say that Belichick is candid, funny, and even wistful at times, a mirror image of what the Boston media (COUGHronborgesCOUGH) would have you believe is the Patriots coach's standard operating procedure.

In fact, Belichick has been forthright with media people before, most notably in the late David Halberstam's book "The Education of a Coach," a book in which Belichick expresses profane wonderment at winning the Super Bowl with his 2001 Patriots team. When he feels the person covering him is worthy of doing so, Belichick becomes a far more human subject. He's not the stone-faced mute that he traditionally is in press conferences. He's animated. He's INTERESTING.

The key word here is "worthy". Belichick opened himself up to Halberstam and the Sabol family probably because he sensed - not incorrectly - that they would do the job right, as opposed to the everyday media that Belichick has to face, which he probably regards as facile and incompetent. It's not that Belichick wants to control the message - indeed, neither the movie nor the book paint him in a flattering light at all times - it's that he doesn't want his story or his legacy left in the hands of people he finds unworthy.

And that is how you end up with the likes of Ron Borges saying he'd rather have Tony Dungy as his team's coach than Bill Belichick. The people that Belichick shuns end up resenting him for it, and enraged that others were deemed more worthy of his time and candor. Thus, you have this ongoing public construct of the man that seems at odds with his true demeanor. It's an incredible example of how an image and an actual person can so wildly differ.

So the next time you hear some broadcaster or sportswriter muttering that Bill Belichick never tells them anything, take that as a sign. If Belichick didn't feel like wasting his time with them, you probably shouldn't either.

Contact Us