It was no surprise that Belichick turned to Fredland when he began building his first home there. It was also no surprise that Belichick pitched in, even though he had earned enough money—as a defensive coordinator on some of the best teams the New York Giants ever had—to order the job done and forget about it.
“It took five years altogether,” Belichick recalls. “I hammered a few nails, painted. A friend and I designed it, and I did some framing, but it wouldn’t be fair to say I built it. But I did get into it.”
So much so, says David Whiting, a financial planner who played on the same midfield line with Belichick at Wesleyan, that Belichick had one floor built on a diagonal even after Fredland advised against it. “Bill thought it would look cool, so he told Fred that’s how he wanted it,” Whiting says. “He was right. It’s cool. Bill figured that out.
“That place is where he goes to fish, play tennis and golf, go to the beach, be with his family and friends,” says Whiting. “It’s not a place for football.” There, the supposedly one-dimensional, obsessive football mind doesn’t concern itself with Colts quarterback Peyton Manning’s arm. There, Belichick doesn’t draw defenses in the sand. On Nantucket, where he went for several weeks last summer before his first training camp as Patriots head coach, the coach as scientist rested. Sort of.
“Everything we do there centers around some sort of sports,” Belichick says. “It’s kind of a haven, and I think my wife and kids [Amanda, who will follow her father to Andover this fall, and her younger brothers, Stephen and Brian] appreciate it. The things we do may be sports-related, but it’s a place about family, not football.”
So guarded is he about that space that when a writer for ESPN Magazine asked to interview him for an upcoming feature story, Belichick agreed to meet him on Nantucket because there was no other time available by the magazine’s deadline. He met him, all right—at the island airport, and there they stayed. With the interview done, Belichick drove back to the place where if there is a VCR, it is used to watch real films, not game films.
No media members allowed. No chance for anyone outside his circle to see who he is in the hours he’s not on the football sidelines. No chance to see how, or whether, the Belichicks mingle with the rich and the famous of the island resort.
Just how private and reticent a man is he? “I used to write Bill’s TV show for him,” recalls Byrne of working with Belichick in Cleveland. “One time, I had a question for him where the host was to ask what he listened to on his car radio. So I wrote, `Bill answers.’
“We’re going over the script before the taping, and he turns to me when we get to that question and says, `What do you want me to say?’ So I said, `Why not what you listen to on your car radio?’ Bill just snaps back, `Because it’s none of their [expletive] business!’ I told him it was supposed to be a light part of the show, something to let the fans know a little more about him. He looks right through me and says, `What do you want me to say, all right?’
“I remembered he and his wife once toured Europe with Jon Bon Jovi when he was opening for the Rolling Stones, because they were all friends from New Jersey when Bill was coaching with the Giants, so I said, `How about: “Bon Jovi. We’re friends from back in New Jersey. I toured Europe with him.” ‘
“He doesn’t say another word. The taping starts. We get to the question. He says, `Bon Jovi.’ He wouldn’t add the extra sentence that would show some personality. He just doesn’t feel he has to share his personality with anyone. That’s not important to him.”
So what is important to Bill Belichick?
Football? Family? Friends? How about rock ‘n’ roll and race relations? Or a women’s homeless shelter in Cleveland for which he helped raise more than $125,000, or his vast collection of tomes on the sport of football?
How about riding with cops on a drug bust in New Jersey to learn about the neighborhoods where so many desperate lives are lived out, or visiting prisoners who write him? How about working with Jim Brown’s Amer-I-Can anti-gang program that included attending a recent graduation ceremony for former gang members at a Rhode Island training school? Or maybe putting on surgical scrubs at an Annapolis hospital to watch arthroscopic surgery so he can better understand what so many of his players will likely face one day?
So what is important to him?
Not what you think of him, but certainly a lot more things than football.Continued...