The New England Patriots were near-perfect in 2007. For Bill Belichick, near-perfect was not nearly good enough.
Heath Evans, a fullback for the Patriots during that 16-0 season, recently shared a story on the Your Mom’s House podcast about the head coach ripping Tom Brady for throwing an interception. His recollection was the second such story this month, after Martellus Bennett’s tale in which Brady responded to a Belichick barb.
This time around, Belichick is quoted referring to Brady’s wife, Gisele Bündchen. Asked whether Belichick calls out his legendary quarterback in team meetings, Evans replied, “Everybody gets it.”
“I remember it was ’07. We smoked the team by like 50 points and Bill comes in and he’s mouthing off at Brady about something,” he said.
“I’m trying to remember how it started but he was like, ‘If you weren’t so worried about you and Gisele’s next GQ magazine maybe, just maybe, you wouldn’t have thrown that interception. What is this, Christmas? It’s October, Brady. Christmas come early or something? I can go somewhere for Foxborough High and get someone to throw that ball better than you.’”
Brady threw 50 touchdowns that year and led the Patriots to the edge of an undefeated season. Evans reports that Willie McGinest, Teddy Bruschi, and Mike Vrabel were laughing during the rant, while Brady was “pissed as could be.”
The quarterback was not Belichick’s only target, but he was the most effective.
“The best thing about Bill is, there’s not a lot of people who can ‘mother-f’ Tom Brady in a team meeting room,” Evans said. “When you’re in New England, if you’re the superstar, you get coached harder than everyone else.
“And if you’re the 53rd man on the roster or maybe the 35th guy on the roster like I was, then you’re going to be on this staggered scale of your level of accountability and how hard you get come down on because he knows, ultimately, me at 35-man on the roster is going to follow Brady at No. 1 on the roster.”
Even though he was not a superstar, the fullback found himself on the receiving end of Belichick’s harsh wisdom. Evans spun past a series of defenders for an unexpected 12-yard gain during his first season with the Patriots. Belichick called him out for the play following the game and reminded Evans he was brought to Foxborough for physicality, not finesse.
Evans, who played for the Patriots from 2005-07, pointed Belichick’s ability to judge talent, his photographic memory for plays, and his willingness to coach each individual differently according to their personality and needs. Patriots players know their head coach will sacrifice sleep so they can get the glory, but they must trust and obey him.
The New England system has often been referred to as the Patriot Way. Not so, says Evans.
“It’s the Belichick Way, for one. I know people have labeled it the Patriot Way, and that’s cute and all that stuff, but it’s Bill’s Way.”