BOCA RATON, Fla. — Bill Belichick normally keeps the media at arm’s length. On Tuesday morning he did so literally.
After showing up late for the AFC coaches breakfast at the NFL’s annual meetings, Belichick sat in his reserved seat, observed the mass of reporters around him and then began to clear away the space in front of him. He pushed several standing microphones and about a dozen or so digital recorders toward the middle of the round banquet table, creating a literal moat between his mumbles and the devices in place to preserve them for posterity.
“It’s part of the exciting week of the owners meetings,” Belichick said when asked about his love for the annual chow-and-chat session, which was the first time he has answered questions from reporters since the day after the AFC title game.
“Answered,” of course, is a loose term for the NFL’s Sultan of Surly.
Asked if he was pleased with Tom Brady’s extension this offseason, he simply said: “Of course.”
Asked if he will speak to free-spirited tight end Martellus Bennett, a one-time Giant recently acquired from the Bears in a trade, about the Patriots’ less-than-free-spirited locker room vibe, Belichick said: “I’ll coach the team the way I’ve always coached the team.”
The most enlightening response may have come when he was asked about hanging with musician Kid Rock last week. Belichick simply noted: “Bobby is a great guy.” Who knew Kid Rock’s friends call him Bobby?
After MicrophoneGate, Belichick opened with unsolicited remarks on Jerod Mayo, the linebacker who recently retired. “Very few players in my career that I’ve had the opportunity to coach have had more of an impact on a team than Jerod has,” he said. That Mayo got a multi-sentence sendoff from Belichick undoubtedly speaks to the depths of their relationship.
Most other topics received grunts or stares. Belichick was asked how much longer he intends to coach and shrugged. At one point a reporter asked if he had anything he wanted to get off his chest. He did not respond.
Even one of his favorite topics — lacrosse — seemed to elicit little. He did wear a Johns Hopkins Lacrosse hoodie (sleeves intact) to the event and gave a “shoutout” to Hopkins coach and Long Island native Dave Pietramala. But when asked about newly signed wide receiver Chris Hogan’s history in lacrosse — he was a four-year player in the sport at Penn State before playing one year of college football and landing in the NFL — and how it might translate to his role with the Pats, he Belichicked the question.
“I don’t know,” he said.
Belichick’s session ended with a search for his opinion on the best long-snapper in NFL history.
“As I’ve said many times,” he stated, “[Steve] DeOssie changed the game.”
With that, Belichick left. And he did not return the microphones to where he found them.