bill-belichick-bedard-story

Belichick on Hernandez: A Glimpse Under the Hoodie

Contrite, sympathetic and genuine, the Patriots’ coach’s words on Aaron Hernandez were just what was needed

By
Greg A. Bedard
· More from Greg·

FOXBORO, Mass.—As he strode, purposely as always, to the podium on the red level of the Gillette Stadium press box shortly before 2 p.m. on Wednesday, Patriots coach Bill Belichick had a choice to make about his first public comments since former tight end Aaron Hernandez was charged with murder.

Belichick could have stuck with his usual position—that he only talks about players who are on the team, and what’s in the past can’t be changed so it’s pointless to address it.

Instead, as he unfurled and read a two-page typed statement, Belichick took another route. We really shouldn’t be all that surprised. Because in every decision he makes about the Patriots, it comes to down to one factor: do what will put the team in the best position to be successful. By addressing the Hernandez situation head-on in a prepared statement that took almost exactly seven minutes, Belichick allowed the team and organization to begin the healing process and focus squarely on that they are paid to do, and that’s win football games.

Belichick did not shy away from the issues, and his candor lifted a burden and a tension that was palpable before the press conference. Having addressed the relevant questions—to the extent he could given the legal case—he showed that he is as wounded and shocked by the events as anyone within the organization or outside of it, if not more so. “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 of the victim. I extend my sympathy, really, to everyone that has been impacted. A young man lost his life. His family suffered a tragic loss and there’s no way to understate that.

“I and other members of the organization were shocked and disappointed in what we had learned. Having someone in your organization that’s involved in a murder investigation is a terrible thing.”

Belichick hit the right notes. He showed compassion for the family of the victim, Odin Lloyd. He portrayed embarrassment, anger and sadness that one of his players could be connected to such a heinous act. He showed resolve to do things better in the future to lessen the chances that something like this happens again.

“As the coach of the team, I’m primarily responsible for people we bring into the football operations,” Belichick said. “Our players are generally highly motivated and gifted athletes. They come from very different backgrounds. They’ve met 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.

“Most of those decisions have worked out, but some don’t. Overall I’m proud of the hundreds of players that have come through this program. I’m personally disappointed and hurt in a situation like this.”

***

Belichick wasn’t just paying lip service. For those who have been around him on a day-to-day basis, you could tell this shook Belichick to his core as a person.

For many watching or listening at home, this was a new Belichick. But there are two Belichicks, or at least two perceptions of him. There’s the man who has a seemingly joyless pursuit of football excellence, reinforced by comically bland sound bytes, a grim sideline demeanor, and cold and calculated personnel decisions. But behind that, there’s a real person, one who can be funny, disengaging and sincere. If you’ve earned his respect, he’ll help you in any way he can. That Belichick truly does exist; he just doesn’t let the public see that side very often. Because it doesn’t help him win games.

But for the Patriots to have their best chance of success in 2013, with one of their former brothers locked in a cell less than an hour away, Belichick knew he had to give a glimpse under the hoodie, a glimpse into the real person. Now that everyone knows he’s been just as affected as them by the terrible events of the past five weeks, they can start building things back up together.

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120 comments
sportsfan7
sportsfan7

seriously??  "have continued to add more criminals....fail to cut ties....couldn't care less that Odin Lloyd is dead...."   it's always amusing to read a post chock full of hyperbole and emotional dribble.

randomdeletion
randomdeletion

Wow BB goes on and on and on about character, representing the community well, and all the fluff the Pats like to send out there to suggest they do things the right way and are exemplary.  Then the media reacts typically with high praise and admiration for his speech.  All the while the Pats have continued to add more criminals to their roster of late and fail to cut ties with any of them as long as BB thinks it is best for the franchise regarding winning games to keep them.  What a farce.  The hypocrisy is so glaring and no one calls them on it.  

Of course the Pats will move on because they couldn't care less that Odin Lloyd is dead the only thing that bothers them is they lost an offensive weapon. 

Monkey
Monkey

Bill didn't have to say much.  The media's pinned this one on Urban Meyer from day one.  At some point, somebody might pin it on Aaron.

JKG
JKG

Unless he's sleepwalking, drunk or demented, his walk to the podium will always be on purpose. I think what you mean is "purposefully."

I know, I know: everyone's an editor.  Still, considering this is PK's site I'm not surprised to see evidence that there may not be one on staff.

gary41
gary41

Well written, but reading very carefully there is nothing new here.  There is no new Belichek.  I guess Bill gratifies the media, but fans don't feel a need for explanations that are obvious.  It is patently foolish to think that a man who reads a typewritten 7 minute statement, presumably his own, in front of the press, has given proof of having undergone some humanoid changes.  Bill is multifaceted and just fine as he is.      

KapvsFlac5.0
KapvsFlac5.0

It's not the same it's just not the same

KapvsFlac5.0
KapvsFlac5.0

Is there anybody out there it feels like I'm talking to myself

KapvsFlac5.0
KapvsFlac5.0

I was on vacation and now I'm back espn is fucked and Si.com is the place to be

KapvsFlac5.0
KapvsFlac5.0

Ok one problem is the white space character thing that's annoying

RescuedfromESPN
RescuedfromESPN

"This guy really needs to straighten out his life."

-Titus Young

WHO*IS*ESPN
WHO*IS*ESPN

Kinda over blown on this since many players have driven drunk and KILLED but no big deal.  Seems killing while driving is different than shooting and not taken as the same the the nfl

LesterBolen
LesterBolen

"Almost exactly seven minutes." One or the other please.

TBFan
TBFan

Great article.I can't seem to get enough of the new site. It's bad news with my OCD as it relates to my time management skills. Thanks for nothing guys (& Jenny)...kidding. Keep it up!

normsw
normsw

Every major sports team in every league has its "bad boy(s)"-with rare exceptions. It's pointless to judge or favor one team over another, at least in this respect.

normsw
normsw

One sign of a great coach is that he's not shooting his mouth off to the media at every opportunity just to gratify his ego. B. is one of the greatest football strategists of all time, and his record confirms it. The fact that he's shocked by the Hernandez events demonstrates how deeply he feels for his team, and its reputation in the league. He deserves the respect of all footall fans.

David50
David50

Football Season starts in 6 weeks 

Mike26
Mike26

What's he going to do about Dennard the drunken driver/brawler?

Nothing - he's a starter that's actually healthy enough to play.

ltwong.us
ltwong.us

@randomdeletion yeah whatever...Say what you will, most of us could care less what you think. Your obvious venom towards a person and organization seems not only petty but misinformed.

JKG
JKG

Ditto "disengaging."

Spedman24
Spedman24

At least some ppl read what I read

ltwong.us
ltwong.us

@Mike26 There is reason to believe that Dennard should not have been arrested. So the team is correct in waiting for this to play out before making a decision. 

Spedman24
Spedman24

Exactly. These Pats fans are very funny. "In Bill We Conspire"

randomdeletion
randomdeletion

@ltwong.us You know how many players are on the Texans that have been arrested?  ZERO.  Did you know that in the years the Texans have been a franchise they have had the fewest players arrested of any team in those years BY FAR?  Did you know none of those players that have been arrested at some point are on the team at this time?  Do you know why all of this is?  Because the owner said that they will win with high character individuals that do the right thing on and off the field that the city and franchise can be proud of or they won't win.  He wasn't joking.  It wasn't hyperbole.  It is what the front office and coaches are guided by in making all their personnel decisions.  

They don't just talk the talk, they walk the walk.  They are not hypocrites about this.  They won't sacrifice their integrity or what they stand for as a franchise to win games.  Seems others will and under BB's guidance the Pats have become one of those teams.  Oh and the Texans don't try and depend on some superficial nonsense like the "Texans way", they just ensure they only add players of character to begin with  that don't need nonsense like that to do the right thing.  

Notice they never ever are talked about regarding having any interest in any free agents that are ever available that have character issues?  Yeah, probably not, too busy only seeing what you want to see with your blinders on. 

randomdeletion
randomdeletion

@ltwong.us @randomdeletion Haha  The typical pat fan with blinders on response.  So comical.  Why so many criminals on the team then if you are such a model franchise?  Hmmm? 

Spedman24
Spedman24

The guy is scum should be thrown out of the nfl

Mike26
Mike26

@ltwong.us @Mike26 How about his college assaults/arrests?  Were those not his fault either?  Stop making excuses.

Spedman24
Spedman24

Itwong.us just learned the word drivel --- has used it on all his Protect The Patsies Posts, real winner this guy must be.

Spedman24
Spedman24

Wong.us just learned the word drivel this week...used it on all of his Protect The Paties Posts.....what a joke

randomdeletion
randomdeletion

@ltwong.us @randomdeletion I see what you are saying.  I just think he should keep the work he is doing with at risk youth off the field and out of the locker room and team facilities.  His desire is noble and a good thing, but he should not put the franchise at risk trying to help these troubled and bad character individuals.  Especially considering it is in direct conflict with his message in this press conference.  That is where the hypocrisy lies.  Don't talk so much about the type of people you want to be involved with the organization and then proceed to bring in the types that are the complete opposite of this in the hopes you can save them.  That is not the job of the football team. 

ltwong.us
ltwong.us

@randomdeletion @ltwong.us Thing to keep in mind, Belichick has spent the better part of two decades working with Jim Brown to get young gang members out of that life. I think that was part of why Belichick is willing to work with such at risk people. In some cases it works out, in others it does not. But this one was so out of the norm, as you stated Hernandez has some very serious issues and no one was going to be able to reach him.

randomdeletion
randomdeletion

@ltwong.us Listen I know what I say can bring out all the defensive nature within a true fan of the Pats but I think it is true that BB is being a hypocrite and think fans of the team and Bob Kraft should demand more of him in regard to not taking so many chances with criminals.  The team can win without them.  They may not win a super bowl, but do you really want to win one with criminals on the team?  I sure don't.  

We as fans through the league enrich these players.  It should matter to us who we are enriching.  Who and what type of people deserve our money.  You know?

I see far too many Pat fans that just let everything BB does go by the wayside and he gets a pass on pretty much everything.  That is the kind of coddling that leads to inflated egos, arrogance and entitlement.  So he even did something he never used to do before and that was give a rookie with 2 years left on his contract a huge extension.  That was out of character for him and the franchise and it bit them in the ass.

randomdeletion
randomdeletion

@ltwong.us @randomdeletion True.  It was more despicable to violate the trust of his own friend by killing him and the trust of his fiancee (and child) to become a murderer.  Those are way more important violations, but yes it was pathetic of him to do this in the face of the opportunity given to him.  By the way the word you meant was sociopath.  Just so you know.  He definitely has signs he is one and with that kind of character no one was going to change him.  He is a sick scary member of society that would present a very real danger to anyone he came into contact with. 

ltwong.us
ltwong.us

@randomdeletion @ltwong.us The man was a social path, to kill someone like that and violate the trust of the coach and owner who gave him a chance to get his life on track was despicable. I think we can agree on that. :)

randomdeletion
randomdeletion

@ltwong.us @randomdeletion Hahahaha  Yeah they got their ass whooped alright.  No doubt.  Yeah I agree it really wasn't even that close.  They really embarrassed themselves.  Eh, not really sad, it's football.  It happens.  Why would I be bitter?  They don't totally and completely suck like they did for the first 8 years of their existence.  Now that was sad, losing in the playoffs, not so much. 

randomdeletion
randomdeletion

@ltwong.us @randomdeletion How is your reading comprehension?  I said they have had the fewest arrests of any team in the years they have been in the league by far.  I did not say no one had ever been arrested.  I also said that NONE of those players are currently on the team.  Do you understand English?

ltwong.us
ltwong.us

@randomdeletion @ltwong.us All that "talent" and the Texans got outscored 83-42 and it really was not that close. Embarassing, it really was....so sad...must make people like you really bitter.

ltwong.us
ltwong.us

@randomdeletion @ltwong.us Just to clarify things Jameel Cook, Jerome Mathis, Fred Weary, Kenny Wright, there are more Texans past and present who have been arrested. So much for your self righteous drivel.

randomdeletion
randomdeletion

@ltwong.us @randomdeletion Hahaha  Can't address any pertinent points so deflect right?  Oh and deflect with the very reaction that is indicative of not really caring about the character of the players on the team only that they won.  Yeah your team won.  They did it with criminals and a serial murderer but they won alright.  I guess that is all that matters in Boston no matter how much they profess to care about integrity and character.  

It was an embarrassing performance, no doubt.  They have much work to do and they will quietly go about trying to get better.  Out of the national spotlight and with no one getting in trouble off the field.  

Odd that you suggest they tried to sell themselves as elite, when that is not even remotely true.  That was media not anyone associated with the team.  

Mediocre collection of talent?  Andre Johnson, Arian Foster, JJ Watt, Duane Brown, Wade Smith, Chris Myers, Brian Cushing, Matt Schaub and Johnathan Joseph all have been All-Pro, Pro Bowlers, and/or considered in the top 5 in the league at their position.  


ltwong.us
ltwong.us

@randomdeletion @ltwong.us Texans? Are they even a football team? Wait...yeah I remember them! They were getting the tar knocked out of them by the Patriots! Shameful performance by a team that was trying to sell people on being elite. Owners and fans should be disgusted with being sold a bill of goods on a mediocre collection of talent.

ltwong.us
ltwong.us

@Mike26 Dennard was only arrested once for the assault charge when he was at Nebraska. What other arrests are you privy to?

Spedman24
Spedman24

Mikes point was about the other dirtbag on the pats, no not him, no not him, no not him - yeah him....Bill & Bobby are real class acts. The Patriot Way really kills!

Mike26
Mike26

@ltwong.us @Mike26 I was talking about Dennard in this post - if you can be bothered to actually read and comprehend what was written.  Dennard WAS arrested on multiple occasions in college and then directly before the draft.  He's a dim bulb off the field but a pretty decent player on it - which is exactly why he's still on the roster.

ltwong.us
ltwong.us

@Mike26 @ltwong.us You are factually challenged. Hernandez was never arrested in College. The New York times wrote on this as well as several other publications : 

"While at Florida, Hernandez had run-ins with the police in Gainesville, who questioned him and three teammates after a 2007 shooting and recommended a felony battery charge against him after a fight at a restaurant (the case was not pursued)." 

So he was questioned in a shooting incident not charged and not arrested. The bar assault was not pursued. So what are the Patriots to consider?

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