Sports Uncovered

Sports Uncovered: Martellus Bennett on Bill Belichick's 'Larry David-like' humor

Sports Uncovered: Martellus Bennett on Bill Belichick's 'Larry David-like' humor

When you think about Bill Belichick, humor probably isn't the first thing that comes to mind.

The New England Patriots head coach is known for his terse interactions with the media and for being the man calling the shots in what some outsiders perceive as a "no fun" environment. If you ask some of Belichick's current and former players, though, they'll tell you he's actually a riot behind the scenes.

The latest episode of NBC Sports' "Sports Uncovered" podcast reveals a side of Belichick most haven't seen. Several of his former players shared testimonials and stories about Belichick's unique sense of humor, including ex-Patriots tight end Martellus Bennett, who spent two stints (2016 and 2017) in New England.

Download the MyTeams app for the latest Patriots news and analysis

So how exactly would Bennett characterize Belichick's humor?

"Larry David. Like, 'Curb Your Enthusiasm.' That's how Bill is," said Bennett. "Like, you can't really explain the humor, you have to be in the room with him when it happens, which I feel like is Larry David.

"You watch 'Curb Your Enthusiasm,' it's funny because it happened in live time which you can't really repeat why Larry David is funny. Like you get in those scenarios where it's funny because it's Larry David in those scenarios, and that's how Bill is."

Sports Uncovered Podcast: The Bill Belichick You Don't Know | Listen and subscribe | Watch on YouTube

Belichick has shown us glimpses of his sarcastic humor before, but his players see plenty of it every day in the locker room and during practice. The 68-year-old's humor and straightforwardness positively affected his relationships with a number of his players, including Bennett.

"Me and Bill are very cool. It was different because we had a very talkative relationship," Bennett said. "Like, I talked to him a lot about different things. So there was moments when I was going through something and I needed some advice, and Bill's a guy I'd turn and ask him what he thinks and what he thought.

"When I first wrote my other books when I was with the Patriots, I was like, 'Yo, Bill, how can I get my book in the Pro Shop?' [Belichick answered] 'Hell if I know, Martellus. Go talk to him over there.'

"And earlier this year I was making some ice cream, and I was like 'Yo, Bill, I'm about to drop this ice cream, can we do something at the training camp? He's like, '[expletive], I'm trying to get ready for a game, you're asking me about some ice cream?'

Now that sounds like the Belichick we know.

To hear more about the "other" side of Belichick, check out "Sports Uncovered: The Belichick You Don't Know" and subscribe to "Sports Uncovered" for free wherever you listen to podcasts. You can also watch on YouTube.

Ex-Patriots give unique insight into Bill Belichick's relationship with players

Ex-Patriots give unique insight into Bill Belichick's relationship with players

Bill Belichick isn't afraid to make the tough decisions he feels are in the best interest of the New England Patriots.

One of the reasons why the Patriots have been able to extend their NFL dynasty over two decades is Belichick often moves on from players before it's too late and their performance suffers. We've seen so many examples in sports where a team wins a championship, falls in love with those players and overpays to keep them, and then those contracts prevent the franchise from building a championship-caliber roster long term.

Teams have to be responsible to extend their championship window in a salary cap world, and the Patriots, for the most part, have accomplished that goal in Belichick's 20 years running the show.

Download the MyTeams app for the latest Patriots news and analysis

On the latest episode of NBC Sports' "Sports Uncovered" podcast, some of Belichick's former players explain what allows him to make these difficult decisions that other coaches and teams might not.

"There’s a clear distinct line that Bill draws between player and coach," former Patriots quarterback Matt Cassel said. "The respect you have for him as a coach is because he doesn’t blur those lines. There’s not that off-the-field relationship that some coaches have. That also allows him to make those tough decisions when he feels that guys like Lawyer Milloy, Willie McGinest, Mike Vrabel, Larry Izzo, and the list goes on and on down the line... When he feels it’s time to move on from a player, he’s able to do that because he doesn’t have personal relationships.

"Where some of these other organizations, you see that because some guy is so tenured with the team, they keep him around although his play is not what it used to be. And they could upgrade that position, but they don’t out of respect for that player. With Bill, due to the way he's able to divide church and state, he’s able to make those tough decisions and move forward when he needs to from an individual player. It allows the team to continue to progress in the right direction."

One of the most obvious examples of Belichick not shying away from unpopular roster decisions — and Cassel alluded to it above — was releasing veteran safety Lawyer Milloy before the 2003 season after he refused to take a paycut. Milloy was a very good player in New England for a long time and played a key role in the Patriots winning Super Bowl XXXVI during the 2001 season.

The move drew further scrutiny after Milloy signed with the Bills and Buffalo crushed the Patriots 31-0 in the season opener. New England got the last laugh, though, and went 14-2 en route to winning the first of back-to-back Super Bowl titles.

Sports Uncovered Podcast: The Bill Belichick You Don't Know | Listen and subscribe | Watch on YouTube

 

It's important to show a human element, too, and even though fans and the media don't see much of the humorous side of Belichick, his players are adamant it exists. So, while Belichick isn't afraid to laugh and be friendly with his team, when it's time to make business decisions, he seamlessly transtions to that mode.

"Bill is probably the master of understanding balance," former Patriots linebacker Rob Ninkovich said. "You can’t be too friendly with your players; it just doesn’t work that way as far as the respect thing. I think that he just makes it very clear that, yeah, he can laugh and have a good time, but at the end of the day he’s going to do what he feels is best for the team. And if that’s cutting somebody that has been with him a long time or not bringing them back, that’s his business side that he can easily flip the switch and go into the ‘winning at all costs’ Bill Belichick."

Some of Belichick's decisions haven't worked out, and that's to be expected when you coach one team for two decades. But it's hard to argue with Belichick's methods given the unprecedented success the Patriots have enjoyed since he came to New England. Winning six Super Bowl titles speaks for itself.

To hear more about the "other" side of Belichick, check out "Sports Uncovered: The Belichick You Don't Know" and subscribe to "Sports Uncovered" for free wherever you listen to podcasts.

Sports Uncovered: The Bill Belichick you don't know has snowball fights with players

Sports Uncovered: The Bill Belichick you don't know has snowball fights with players

Bill Belichick is the NFL's Scrooge. Having fun is overrated — he's just here to win football games.

That's the perception, anyway. But the latest episode of NBC Sports' "Sports Uncovered" podcast reveals a whole different side of the New England Patriots head coach.

How different, you ask? Well, what if we told you Belichick started a celebratory snowball fight with one of his players after a blowout victory?

Download the MyTeams app for the latest Patriots news and analysis

Rob Ninkovich certainly wasn't expecting it. New England had just walloped the Tennessee Titans 59-0 in a 2009 game that ended with inches of snow on the field, and the Patriots edge rusher — then in his first year with the team — was walking to his truck in the Gillette Stadium parking lot.

"All of a sudden a snowball comes in," Ninkovich recalled to our Phil Perry in Episode 2 of the "Sports Uncovered" podcast. "I'm like, 'Who the heck is throwing snowballs?' And it was Bill."

" ... I’m sure he was pumped because we had won by a lot. It was just kind of like a fun moment where you were like, 'He’s not so bad.' "

Sports Uncovered Podcast: The Bill Belichick You Don't Know | Listen and subscribe | Watch on YouTube

 

As Ninkovich and other ex-Patriots related in the podcast, Belichick can be light-hearted and even playful around his players behind the scenes. But the Patriots coach can also be scathingly critical — which is why Ninkovich had to make an important calculation before returning fire.

"I threw a snowball back, but it was one of those, 'Make sure you don’t hit him,' like way overthrow," Ninkovich said. "But you've gotta act like you’re going to throw a snowball.

"Because if you throw a 90 mph heater and it hits him square in the eye, then you could possibly be cut. Or he respects the fact that you come after him."

Ninkovich apparently made the right call: He went on to enjoy an eight-year career in New England as one of Belichick's most reliable defensive players and helped the Patriots win two Super Bowls.

To hear more about the "other" side of Belichick, check out "Sports Uncovered: The Belichick You Don't Know" and subscribe to "Sports Uncovered" for free wherever you listen to podcasts. You can also watch on YouTube.