What might 33 pages of text messages from Bill Belichick read like?
Is he short-spoken? Does he find humor in autocorrect's inaccuracies? What’s his alert sound when he receives a message from Jon Bon Jovi, eager to share a new riff he just came up with, or from Linda Holliday, asking the man to pick up bread?
Now that we know the Patriots coach texts, it’s fascinating to think of the possible conversations he’s conducted via SMS, wondering if his thumbs might indeed have more personality when it comes to interacting with others.
We learned all this because earlier this week, Bristol County prosecutors turned over 33 pages of text messages between Belichick and his former tight end Aaron Hernandez, accused in the murder of Odin Lloyd. (Edit: On Friday night the Patriots released the following statement from Andrew Phelan, a partner at Bingham McCutcheon, regarding reports of 33 pages of texts to clarify the number of text messages actually exchanged:
"Earlier this week, a report indicated that an exchange of text messages between the team's head coach and Mr. Hernandez totaled 33 pages. While it is unknown how the texts were printed or displayed, I thought it was important to clarify that during an early investigation conducted by state prosecutors, the team produced a total of 34 text messages (not pages of texts) spanning a period of five months (December 2012 – April 2013) between the head coach and Mr. Hernandez.")
If you’re one of those thirsting for some sort of behind-the-scenes revelation from the texts as to what makes Belichick and the Patriots tick, well, it depends what you're looking for. If you’re coming at it from an X’s and O’s standpoint, perhaps the text messages are likely to reveal minor draft strategies that Belichick was willing to share with a player. At their most incriminating, they could lead to proof that Belichick knew about the shooting of Alexander Bradley, who filed a civil lawsuit saying that Hernandez shot and wounded him in Florida that year.
Or maybe he was just keeping tabs on a player with a storied past who had just received a five-year, $40 million deal the previous August.
In fact, the biggest stories regarding Hernandez - that we know about - over the period of the text messages in question concerned the following:
- A pair of autograph shows with teammate Rob Gronkowski.
- Becoming the official face of PUMA training.
- His offseason workouts with quarterback Tom Brady in California.
- His relationship with fellow Florida tight end Jordan Reed.
- A letter from the Law Office of Jaroslawicz and Jaros concerning one Mr. Bradley.
Since Belichick doesn’t seem the one to care so much about autograph shows or ask how Hernandez was going to flaunt his PUMA brand, it’s easy to assume that some of the texts had to do with how Hernandez was progressing from surgery and what Gisele and the kid were doing with their time. But 33 pages? Not likely.
The Patriots were also listed as a possible landing spot for Reed, a Connecticut native, like Hernandez, who modeled his on-field approach after his fellow alumnus.
"I know him pretty good," Reed told the Herald during the weeks leading to the NFL Draft. "Me and him are good friends, and I learned a lot from him when I was at Florida. I use his moves out there sometimes. I watch him when he's with the Patriots. Me and him have a good relationship."
The Washington Redskins ended up taking Reed in the third round (85th overall). He had 45 catches in his rookie season, following endless comparisons to Hernandez. Even so, the redundancy at the position would have still made sense to Belichick, who hasn’t shied away from stockpiling tight ends, and Hernandez probably provided some decent intel on Reed. But if the Patriots had concerns about Hernandez's background in the first place, how much would they really trust what he had to say about a fellow player’s character in the first place?
Indeed, that brings up the most obvious possibility for what all the back-and-forth was about. It was in February that year when Bradley (who we’ve learned is no stranger to trouble) alleged that Hernandez shot him in the face in Florida. News of that incident started leaking in early April, not long after Jaroslawicz and Jaros sent Hernandez a follow-up letter that requested him to respond if he wished to avoid legal proceedings. A lawsuit was eventually filed in June, almost three months after terezowens.com, of all things, posted the lawyer document on an anonymous tip.
Bradley was shot in February, the letter came in March, and word of its existence was leaked in April. Hmm, still wonder what Belichick and Hernandez might have been discussing? For 33 pages over four months?
Belichick could have some explaining to do if the texts are disclosed in court but in the meantime, the correspondence could lead him to trouble with the league. Again.
According to Pro Football Talk:
The labor deal signed in August 2011 placed new limits on the extent to which coaches can coach players in the offseason. Prior to the start of the offseason workout program in April of each year, meetings between coaches and player are prohibited, and “players’ activities may not be directed or supervised by any coaches.”…It’s unclear what that quote, taken from Article 21, Section 2(a)(iv) of the CBA, actually means. If interpreted as broadly as it seems to be written, any texts from Belichick that could be construed as any direction or supervision of Hernandez’s football-related activities could ultimately be a problem.
Logic would hint that the NFL isn’t going to pursue something where Belichick was trying to aid a problem child, if that was indeed the case. Still, the revelation of what Belichick knew about Hernandez during that time period, after his tight end had already, allegedly, murdered two men in the South End of Boston - for spilling a drink at a nightclub - and weeks before he supposedly ended another life would be fascinating. The Patriots are already fighting to keep scouting reports and a psychological evaluation of Hernandez under lock and key. Why?
What, if anything, are they hiding?
Texting doesn’t exactly seem like it’d be Belichick’s favorite thing. You’d have to assume whatever it was that he was discussing with Hernandez was a little more important than how he was going to line up Week 1, alas an NFL Week 1 that never came for Hernandez.
More from this blog on: Patriots