Apparently, Bill Belichick should have stood at the podium in Foxborough today with a pocket pack of tissues and bawled his eyes out as if Jon Bon Jovi announced his retirement from music.
It says here that the Patriots coach did a tremendous job in tackling the Aaron Hernandez saga head on. Belichick showed humility, regret, and sorrow over the worst situation to ever mar his tenure in New England. He was certainly more forthcoming than Bob Kraft in his invite-only, private session a fortnight ago.
And yet …
Nothing is ever enough for some people, and that certainly rings true when it comes to the New England Patriots, a team that is going to elicit its fair share of ambiguity within the media ranks. I didn’t hear anybody whining about Tom Brady’s phony baloney answer to Peter King about Hernandez Tuesday. Now we feel the need to dissect Belichick after watching him in his most honest and forthright moment since … well, ever?
Having an agenda is one thing. Feeling the need to carry it out after what Belichick delivered on Wednesday is embarrassing.
"I and other members of our organization were shocked and disappointed in what we'd learned, having someone in the organization that is involved in a murder investigation," Belichick said in his opening, prepared statement. "And after consultation with ownership we acted swiftly and decisively.
"As the coach of the team, I'm primarily responsible for people we bring into the football operations. Our players are generally highly motivated and gifted athletes. They come from very different backgrounds [with] many challenges along the way. And they've done things to get here. Sometimes they've made bad and immature decisions. But we try to look at every single situation on a case-by-case basis and we try to do what's best for the football team and what's best for the franchise.”
Sure, if you just read the words, it sounds no different than the Bill-speak we’ve all grown accustomed to. But Belichick delivered his remarks Wednesday with meaning and a purpose that, frankly, few of us expected. He deftly worked his way around questions from the gathered media and – really – looked truly apologetic that he couldn’t answer certain inquiries.
That’s a long way from when we last saw Stone Cold Bill at Tebow Time in June.
"It's a sad day. It's really a sad day on so many levels," Belichick said. "Our thoughts and prayers are with the family with the victim. I express my sympathy with everyone that's been impacted.”
He meant it too. When you’ve studied the delivery of a man like Belichick for over a decade, you can tell when the man is being genuine. This was a rare, honest moment from a man who people would be fascinated to know better, yet never will until the day he hangs up his whistle and trots off to Madaket. We get glimpses here and the there - the NFL Network profile, the day his dad passed away – but we’ll never really “meet” Belichick until he resigns as “HC of the NEP.”
Was it rehearsed, as some have chastised him for? Um, yeah. Was it delivered with more sincerity than any other message he’s ever delivered. Yup. In a situation like this, Belichick deserves credit, not criticism, for facing the demon, taking it on as well as he can do for the time being. Kraft, Rob Gronkowski, and Brady all embarrassed themselves to certain degrees when facing the issue. Belichick aced it.
"I've been advised to address the subject once. And it's time for the New England Patriots to move forward," Belichick said. "We'll learn from this terrible experience and be a better team from what we learn.”
Belichick isn’t just the greatest coach in NFL history because of what he’s accomplished on the field, but because of his appreciation of history in the game. He knows Hernandez, just like Spygate, is on his record for better or worse. Brady can ignore the issue all he wants by spitting out PR 101, but Belichick deserves all the credit for tackling it when he very well could have delivered a terse “We only talk about players on the team” message.
If we’re scoring the reactions, Gronkowski got on base by an error, Kraft hit into a fielder’s choice, Brady struck out on three pitches, and Belichick hit a grand slam.
Not sure what else there is to whine about. Or what people expected.