I have a love-hate thing going on with Bill Belichick. Well, I should say I have a love-hate thing going on with his press conferences.
Today, veteran Patriot reporter and one-time Belichick favorite Mike Reiss asked a great question. Here it is direct from the transcript supplied by the Patriots.
MR: "When you look back at the game last season, how much do you second guess the approach you took going into that game down in Miami last year?"
BB: "Right now we’re focused on playing them this week, Mike. The 2015 review, I’m sure you did that." (NOTE: Here comes the sarcasm, though the transcript didn't note it.) "l thought that was great. I’m sure you did a great job on it. We’re really past it. We’re on to 2016. We’re playing the Dolphins. "
Reiss justifiably fired back by pointing out that Bill brought up the damn game in the first place. This is what pisses me off about Belichick. HE BROUGHT UP THE MIAMI GAME, THE VERY QUESTION BEFORE! Here, read the transcript,; it's Belichick's answer to the question directly before Reiss asked his:
"All you’ve got to do is turn on our game against Miami last year. It’s sickening. Yeah, it doesn’t take long at all. I don’t know if you had a chance to see that or not. It wasn’t very good; bad coaching, bad playing, just bad period."
(NOTE: Hope you noticed a little more Belichick sarcasm, commenting that he didn't know if the questioner "had a chance to see" the game. Bill was on the quite the roll today.)
No one asked him about the 2015 game. I repeat: HE brought it up. He said the game -- a 20-10 loss in Week 17 that cost the Patriots home-field advantage in the AFC Championship and, conceivably, a berth in the Super Bowl -- was sickening. And it was. So Reiss asked a great follow-up question . . . especially since Belichick's game plan that day, focused as it was on the running game, was a source of great controversy afterward.
It wouldn't have killed you, Bill, to just give an honest answer. Here, let me help you out.
"Mike, it’s a game I've played over in my head a million times. The game plan our coaching staff put forth was terrible and, of course, that’s on me. We had hoped to run the ball to protect Tom [Brady], but it backfired on us. This year, we have a fresh chance and we're using the pain of that loss as motivation for this game."
NOW WHAT THE HELL IS WRONG WITH THAT?
Damn, I should be the guy’s speechwriter.
That's the stuff I hate. But when he shows that dry, sarcastic wit that even the questioner doesn’t mind . . . well, that's the stuff I love.
Here's his byplay with Dan Hausle from Channel 7:
DH: "Did you have anything to do with the Tom Brady banner coming down in preparation for the home opener?"
BB: "We’re talking about Miami."
DH: "But, in preparation for the Miami game did you have any discussion about it coming down?"
(Please allow me to interject. Great question by Hausle, who isn't intimidated one bit by Belichick. He's interviewed everyone from grieving widows to state troopers to politicians. Honestly, Belichick's a walk in the park for this guy.)
BB: "In preparation for Miami I’ve been talking about Miami and working on Miami. I don’t do concerts, I don’t do banners, I don’t do parking, I don’t do concessions. I just try to coach the team."
Laugh-out loud funny. Hilarious. Great stuff.
The reality is, Bill most certainly told the decorative and marketing folks to take down that damn Brady banner. But who cares if he avoided the question? He was funny.
This is a lesson Bill will never learn, one that Bill Parcells perfected in his Giant days: If you coat whatever you say with honey instead of vinegar, you can be as nasty and sarcastic as you want.
Hence my love-hate with the Belichick press conference.