It must be Bill Belichick week around the NFL since NFL.com published an awesome look at Belichick’s philosophy with the Browns and ESPN just published this incredible oral history of Belichick’s career.
For those unaware, an “oral history” is basically a series of quotes from people that experienced an event- such as Belichick’s career- that tell a story. ESPN gets quotes from Belichick’s former scouts, coaches, mentors, players, and economics professors to get the most definitive review of the New England Patriots head coach.
The article covers everything from Belichick’s time as a child to his present, including quotes from the likes of CB Aqib Talib and DT Akiem Hicks.
You should read the whole story, but I’ve picked my favorite quotes.
University of Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz (Browns OL coach):
"One of my first experiences [with Belichick] was the interview, how extremely uncomfortable it was. You've seen him in press conferences. No matter what I said, there was a real poker face there. I mean, I was not getting any feedback. I was dying a thousand deaths, especially in our first visit, which happened the first night I got there. That was hard, and then I got sent back to Maine. Didn't think I had a chance at all. A mutual friend talked to him over the weekend. He called me back and said, "No, he liked you." I was like, "Oh my god. That's a funny way to show it." It was uncomfortable."
Wesleyan athletic director Mike Whalen (Belichick's Friend, Former Coach):
"My first year as coach at Wesleyan I'm trying to turn things around and I'm recruiting a kid out of West Hartford who was leaning toward Princeton. So I emailed Bill and asked him to call the kid. Bill calls him that same night and the kid hangs up on him. 'Hello, this is Bill Belichick from the New England Patriots,' and the kid goes, 'Yeah, right.' Bill keeps going: 'I'd like to talk to you about Wesleyan and the kind of opportunity you'll have there,' and the kid goes, 'Yeah, yeah, sure, Bill' -- click. Bill emails me and says, 'I reached out to him but, um, I don't think I really connected.'"
Rick Venturi (former Browns defensive coordinator):
"He has a very dry, cynical sense of humor. A couple of times we'd hit the parking lot at the same time in the morning, and on the way into the facility he'd comment on The Howard Stern Show. 'Was that hilarious or what?' he'd say. He's a real closet rock 'n' roll nut. He traveled with the Rolling Stones for a few weeks through Europe one summer. Bon Jovi used to come to Cleveland and catch passes in practice. He had a suite in Cleveland and we all went to Pink Floyd together as a group. I didn't see him with his lighter out, but it wouldn't surprise me if I did."
Former Patriots DL Akiem Hicks:
"My first game with Bill, I made a play and gave the crowd a little hype signal. And I got back to the sidelines, and he just chewed me out. He said a bunch of expletives to me. It's ingrained in my mind. Bill doesn't mind if it's a passionate thing you do, you make a big play and get up and be excited, but there's a range where, anything after three seconds, you cut that off. Believe me, after that one I didn't step on any other lines."
Former Patriots CB Aqib Talib:
"Once, in practice, Brady threw a seam ball that was intercepted, and Bill, man, he chewed Tom out, saying, 'You got 130 career interceptions,' or whatever it was, 'and half of them are on this route. You keep doing the same s--- over and over and this is what happens.' Right then you know two things about the Patriots and Bill Belichick: Everybody is treated the same, and you better get your s--- together."
Former Patriots QB Matt Cassel:
“My rookie year, I got crushed in the back by a corner blitz against the Giants. We're playing them the next year in the last preseason game. He asks me, 'OK, Cassel, what front do they like to bring the corner blitz from?' I had looked it up the night before, anticipating it. I said, 'Coach, it's an over.' And he goes, 'Brady?' Well, you know immediately when he goes to the next guy: 'Oh, no. Oh, no.' And Brady says, 'An under.' And he goes, 'Brady's right. I don't want to have to send your mother another note that says, 'Dear Mrs. Cassel, we regret to inform you that your son got killed being a dumbass.'"
This is just a taste. Read the story here.