The media was alerted that they shouldn't leave Gillette after practice, that they would want to stick around for an emergency press conference at 2:30PM. That was it. No further details were provided. He didn't show at 2:30 PM, though. Instead, the theme for nWo blared over the speakers. nWo was a wrestling organization led by Hulk Hogan that "took over" the WWE. It was the trademark for a renegade who was about to fight the system.
The message was well received.
Belichick stepped up to the podium at 3:00 PM and delivered the press conference of a life time. This was his face when he welcomed the waiting media.
The franchise needed him to deliver like he was David Ortiz in the bottom of the eighth. Belichick knew it was over before it even started.
If you haven't had the opportunity to watch the press conference, set aside 20 minutes and click here. It'll make you feel better than any other sitcom you have set up on your DVR. If you can't, click here to read his speech (sans the Q&A, which you should totally watch).
Alec Shane described it perfectly. When the press conference was announced, I felt a pit in my stomach because I wasn't sure what this was about. Did the Patriots find something bad? What could have inspired them to hold an emergency press conference? Was Belichick or Tom Brady in any trouble?
Belichick took to the podium, flashed the smile, and just took the weight of dread off of every undeserving Patriots fan's shoulder and breathed life into the entire organization.
"I believe now 100 percent that I have personally and we as an organization have absolutely followed every rule to the letter," Belichick said towards the start of his speech. "Now it is a feeling on behalf of everyone in the organization, everyone that is involved in this organization, that we need to say something."
And Belichick said everything. The Patriots ran their own study to see how and why their footballs were losing pressure. Essentially, the way the Patriots prepare the football for grip, which every team does for their quarterback and which is entirely allowed by the rules, inflates the football by 1 PSI. New England then provides the footballs to the officials and tells them to inflate it to 12.5 PSI. Since the footballs are prepared in the same area that the officials inflate them, there shouldn't be any pressure lost in translation.
When the footballs are taken outside at their initial 12.5 PSI, they eventually reach a new pressure equilibrium with the outdoor temperatures and conditions. There's literally no way for a football's PSI to remain constant from the inflation process and moving outside, unless the game is played inside the locker room. When the Patriots recreated the AFC Championship Game scenario, they found their footballs had deflated by 1.5 PSI. When they brought the footballs back inside and retested them, the PSI rose back up by 0.5 PSI, which meant a net decline of 1.0 PSI.
Belichick pushed the situation onto the league and the referees by stating that the Patriots followed the rules to a T, and that if the refs didn't adhere to the rules and inflate the ball to 12.5 PSI upon request, then fault lies with them and them alone.
Bill was upset that he had to waste precious preparation time doing all of this. He was upset ("embarrassed was the word he used) that this was an issue in the first place. He was upset that this was detracting from the success of the team and all of their hard work over the season.
"They are a physically and mentally tough team that works hard, that trains hard, that prepares hard and have met every challenge that I've put in front of them," Belichick said to the media, his voice wavering and cracking. "And I know that because I work them every day. This team was the best team in the AFC in the regular season and we won two games in the playoffs against two good football teams, the best team in the postseason. And that’s what this team is. And I know that because I've been with them every day and I'm proud of this team."
Bill went out and was defiant because something had to be said. Hell, he even answered a question about SpyGate and knocked it out. This whole scenario is embarrassing for the league and those who perpetuated it as a storyline for the Super Bowl.
The Patriots are undeniably the best team in the AFC. They're about to show they deserve to be considered the best team in the NFL.
As for Belichick, throughout this season, whether it's defending Tom Brady or Aaron Dobson, he's shown a willingness to attack these issues head on. He's stepped up to the plate and delivered every single time the team has needed him this season. He'll just have to deliver one more time next Sunday.