RUMFORD, Rhode Island -- Tony Romo never played for Bill Belichick, but he has had an opportunity to pick Belichick's brain several times over the course of the last couple of years.
Since he became a color commentator for CBS, Romo -- along with play-by-play man Jim Nantz and others -- has been able to sit with Belichick during production meetings ahead of CBS broadcasts of Patriots games. Those are generally relaxed settings where Belichick will provide insight on his team, its season, upcoming matchups. Whatever might help the broadcast.
Ahead of competing in the Northeast Amateur Invitational at the Wannamoisett Country Club, Romo met with reporters to take questions about his golf game. But it didn't take long before the Patriots became a topic of conversation.
Asked if in those production meetings he got a sense for Belichick's enthusiasm for his job, Romo said he doesn't see a head coach who looks anywhere close to retirement.
"I feel like there's rare guys in life that just . . . It's just kind of who they are. It's not as if he's working," Romo said.
"I relate him to something I really [liked to say]. 'Attack throwing the football,' I'd say. Every day of your life, for like 10 years. It was literally, you could not not do it, I felt like.
"With Bill, I just feel like that's what he wants to do. He wants to actually work that hard. Not because he thinks he's working hard. It's a joyful obsession for him. It brings him joy to do this, to compete."
Belichick turned 67 in April, and though he told NFL Films cameras in 2009 that people didn't have to worry about him taking after Marv Levy and coaching into his 70s, that seems like a distinct possibility at this point.
Belichick has a program set up to his liking. He has a boss who gives him the opportunity to run the football side of things. He has assistants on the coaching staff and in the front office who have come up through the ranks, who've learned from him, who understand the way he wants things done.
And in the instances when we're allowed to watch Belichick go about his work, he does so with plenty of energy. At minicamp earlier this month he bounced from one position group to the next on the fields behind Gillette Stadium, getting involved in drills at times to show players how to take an angle or how to hit a sled.
There are challenges, to be sure. Belichick just lost a sizable chunk of his coaching staff, including last year's defensive play-caller, to a division rival. His character coach left for a playoff team in the conference — a team that just tried to pluck one of his most valuable employees from the offices at One Patriot Place. Belichick's roster is one of the league's oldest. He has 19 draft picks he's taken in the last 14 months that he's trying to get up to speed.
But those obstacles may help to hold Belichick's interest in a job he's held for two decades, Romo explained. Seeing the team through to the other side of whatever roster/staffing turnover is underway may be part of what's keeping him around.
"The challenges that they face, I think that just makes it more fun for him, if anything," Romo said. "It doesn't make it harder and [and make you] want you to walk away. I think it's the opposite. I think he'd enjoy that aspect.
"To me, I think, if he wanted to, he'll do this all the way until we put him in the ground. I think he's that good. He's the rarest of rares. He's brilliant."
That would be music to the Kraft family's ears, one would think. Two years ago, coming off the team's fifth Super Bowl title, Kraft said at the NFL's Annual League Meeting that he wanted Belichick to go for another couple decades.
"I hope he coaches until his 80s," Kraft said at the time. "I see Warren Buffet and Rupert Murdoch, and they're in their mid-80s, and they're performing at a pretty high level. We gotta keep Bill healthy."
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