Bill Belichick largely kept to himself in the presence of the media last week at the NFL's Annual League Meeting.
But the New England Patriots coach apparently was a different man behind closed doors.
In a meeting with other coaches and general managers, Belichick was "especially vocal" while pushing the NFL to allow teams more time to work with their players in the offseason, ESPN's Mike Reiss reported Saturday.
According to Reiss, Belichick broached the issue while his fellow coaches and GMs were being told about the NFL's successes entering its 100th season.
Belichick then passionately chimed in, and essentially said something along the lines of: While it is nice to hear good things, the focus should be on how it can be even better. One of the ways to do that, he said, was giving coaches more time with players.
The 2011 collective bargaining agreement between the league and the NFL Players' Association shaved a full five weeks off the NFL offseason program while eliminating two-a-days and forbidding coaches to talk football with their players until mid-April.
The deal was struck in the interest of player safety, but Belichick believes there can be positive impacts of expanded offseason communication between teams and players. It sounds like several other NFL coaches agree.
"I'm in total support of his position," Seattle Seahawks coach Pete Carroll told Reiss. "There's so much down time for these guys. I think there was a time when older players were bargaining for these breaks when they thought less was better. But these guys [today] love the game and want to be part of it. And we love coaching and helping them."
Reiss (whose full article is worth a read) added one of his "biggest takeaways" from the owners' meetings was Belichick's "leadership" behind the scenes as he spoke up about important issues. Carolina Panthers coach Ron Rivera told Reiss that Belichick's opinion carries "a tremendous amount of weight" in league circles, while New Orleans Saints coach Sean Payton noted:
"When Bill grabs the mic, all of us are paying attention."
Most aren't used to seeing the six-time Super Bowl-champion head coach "grab the mic" -- in fact, he normally pushes it away -- but Belichick's gruffness with the media belies how deeply he cares about the game.
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