He may not always show it, but there is a smile, a sense of humor, and a light-hearted personality behind Bill Belichick’s ever-so-present serious exterior.
At times he can be tough. Before a game against the Seahawks in 2016, he dodged questions from reporters during a press conference about a note he wrote to Donald Trump by repeatedly answering with “Seattle, Seattle, Seattle.” There have been think-pieces written about his personality, a feature by ESPN that aimed to “crack the greatest enigma in sports”, and most recently, a documentary on HBO about him and Alabama’s Nick Saban.
A new podcast episode by NBC Sports Boston, “The Bill Belichick You Don’t Know,” reveals the comedic side of Belichick. Posted Thursday, it features stories and personal moments many of his players, colleagues and media members, including podcast host Tom Curran, have had with him. Martellus Bennet even compared him to Larry David from “Curb Your Enthusiasm.”
I think you guys will really like this. https://t.co/V3OHx6UKzY
— Tom E. Curran (@tomecurran) July 16, 2020
Here’s what former Patriots players and colleagues said about Belichick during the podcast:
Rodney Harrison on his light-hearted personality: “Coach is absolutely fantastic – every year during the holidays, he sends us gifts and baskets and really nice chocolates. He’s an easy-going guy; conversations are always light; he doesn’t really take himself too serious, as much as other people think that he’s this really serious guy; he’s caring; he’s just an open relaxed guy. I got a great relationship with him.”
Charlie Weis on his sense of humor: “He’s actually very very funny, that would shock the people of New England. He’s got a good sense of humor. It’s just that that’s not him the football coach. That’s him the person, and he’s always been able to divide church and state. I mean this is the same guy that’s close friends with Bon Jovi, he’s the same guy that me and him were at a charity event for my charity and we’re singing background to ‘Wanted Dead Or Alive.’ So, I mean it’s the same guy — there’s him the football coach and there’s him when he’s not the football coach.
“I think that in the world we live in unfortunately, with cell phones and everyone videoing everything you do, you really got to be on your guard to live a more quiet, anonymous type of lifestyle when you’re away from football.”
Rob Ninkovich on when Belichick threw snowballs after a win: “I think it was 2009, it was my first year there and you have a general idea of Bill as a young guy coming onto the team. There’s a little bit of fear of, ‘You don’t want to get him angry or do you anything [because] you could get cut easily,’ he’s got the power to do all.
The year we played Tennessee … I’m walking out after the game, walking to my truck and all of a sudden, a snowball comes flying in, and I’m like, ‘Who the heck is throwing snowballs?’ And it was Bill throwing snowballs at guys. It was just kind of funny, Bill Belichick throwing snowballs at people. I’m sure he was super pumped because we had won by a lot and it was snowing.
It was just kind of a fun moment where you were like, ‘He’s not so bad…he’s not so bad.’ I threw a snowball back — but it was one of those moments where it was like, make sure you don’t hit him.”
Ninkovich on how Belichick balances being fun, yet serious:
“Bill is probably the master of understanding balance. 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. He can easily flip the switch and go into the ‘winning at all costs’ Bill Belichick.”
Martellus Bennett compares Belichick to Larry David:
“For me, Bill [and I] are very cool. It was different, we had a very talkative relationship, I talked to him about a lot of things. There were moments when I was going through something and I needed some advice, and Bill is a guy that I would turn [to] and ask what he thought.
“Bill is a really great, straightforward guy, and that’s what I like about him the most. And he’s really funny. [He’s like] Larry David, like “Curb Your Enthusiasm”…that’s how Bill is. You can’t really explain the humor, you have to be in the room when it happens.”
Curran on the time that Belichick pointed out his golf shoes during a press conference:
“On this particular day I thought that I had grabbed my shoes and I hadn’t because I left in a rush. I got to the car and I didn’t have my shoes …and all I had was my golf shoes, and Belichick is a details guy. He could not resist pointing out this detail.
“[Belichick said]: ‘Who comes into the press [conference] with golf shoes? We’re talking about your style, not mine.'”
Matt Cassel on how Belichick teases players:
“I remember one time we’re sitting in the meeting room, and he was critiquing Asante Samuel and he said, ‘Okay!’ That’s it Asante, hit him with a pillow. Let’s throw marshmallows at him sometime.’ There’s that sarcastic, funny humor that a lot of people are scared to death to even smile during those meetings because you’re like, ‘I could be the next one up on that film study.’
“Sometimes you’ll even see him crack a grin after he says something like that.”
Shane Vereen on how Belichick warns his players not to get into trouble before vacations: “He has such a dry sense of humor and it’s hilarious, he’ll compare plays to funny situations that have nothing to do with football.
“Before we go on long breaks, before we go for summer vacation or after season, he likes to pull up news reports of other NFL players who made poor decisions in the offseason, just a little reminder [and] bug in our ear of what we should not be doing.
“He would go over the reports and he’d have us guess as to what time of the day these things happened, what do [we] think these guys are in the news for, and then he’ll always leave us with, ‘Stay off the [blank], bottom line. Stay off the ticker, the ESPN ticker, that bottom line that goes across your screen.'”