Anyone who has followed the New England Patriots in the Bill Belichick era knows how much he hates talking to the media. From the look on his face during most press conferences you would think he was having a colonoscopy or something worse.
But today, when he made his first comments to the media after former tight end Aaron Hernandez was arrested for murder, Belichick showed that he isn’t the lord of all evil that he’s made out to be.
Somber and apologetic, he was everything that you could have wanted and more.
But the thing is, anyone who buys the story that Belichick is nothing but an old ogre who looks down on the media doesn’t truly understand why he treats press conferences the way he does.
Belichick has been in the public eye for the better part of three decades. He’s seen what the media will do to a coach when it serves their purposes, despite how open and cordial he’s been with them in the past.
This realization started for him when he was with the Cleveland Browns. He saw first hand that when teams don’t live up to their potential, like the Browns didn’t under his leadership, the media is your worst enemy.
And that point was driven home when the Spygate fiasco was fodder for a ready media in the 2007 season. He had started to be icy towards them before that, but Spygate solidified the media and Belichick as adversaries.
A downward spiral that he was as much responsible for as they were, it has to be said that the media played its part. Due to the Patriots’ success and the way the media as a whole felt about Belichick, when they had a chance to pounce on him they did so with a fervor that they may not have had for a coach that had given them better soundbites in the past.
But today he showed that when it comes to things bigger than football his human side came out. He showed that the way he walls himself off to the media the rest of the time isn’t the way he started out or wanted to be but rather a product of years and years of broken trust on both sides.