Seth Wickersham’s new book “It’s Better to Be Feared” offers a pretty incredible look into the trials and tribulations -- mostly tribulations -- during the 20 seasons that Tom Brady spent with Bill Belichick and the New England Patriots.
Given how much of a recluse Belichick has been as he's ascended into being one of the greatest coaches in the history of professional sports, the most interesting aspects of the book might be the brief glimpses into how the 69-year-old acts when cameras aren't rolling.
The short answer is that the overwhelming majority of the time, Belichick is hyper-focused on how to come up with the next winning game plan, and prevent outside distractions from standing in the way of another Lombardi Trophy. However, there are moments where even as Belichick tries to be serious, he can't help but have a sense of humor.
"Belichick dismissed anything positive an outsider might say about the team. Or for that matter, even an insider.
"In early November [of 2007], [Donté] Stallworth was making an appearance at a local event, when a reporter from The Boston Herald showed up. The reporter was working on a glowing story on Randy Moss' unprecedented year. Stallworth had been avoiding the reporter for days, worried that if he spoke publicly about anything other than the next game, Belichick would notice and would let him have it in front of the entire team. The reporter told Stallworth that every other Patriots receiver had cooperated. So Stallworth decided to give a few kind quotes about Moss.
"The day the story ran, Belichick arrived at the team meeting holding it. He was in a foul mood. 'What was one of the first things I told you f------ a------ at the first meeting? Speak for yourself. There's one group that doesn't understand what the f--- that means, the receivers.'"
Wickersham says that Belichick then proceeded to individually blast Stallworth, Wes Welker and Jabar Gaffney. Additionally, he told Chad Jackson, who would appear in just two games in 2007, that given how little production he had provided for the team, he wasn't allowed to speak to the media again that season.
But as Belichick continued on one of his most serious lectures of the season, linebacker Mike Vrabel interjected to provide comic belief.
"'I told you a------- to speak for yourself. If you want to bl-w Randy, do it on your own time, don't do it here. They are gonna start bl-wing you in the media, don't believe their crap.'
"After a few seconds, Mike Vrabel raised his hand.
"What was that you were saying about bl-wj----?'
"The entire room busted up, including Belichick."
Vrabel -- now the head coach of the Tennessee Titans -- was in the midst of a career-year in 2007, as he was named an All-Pro after posting 77 combined tackles and 12 1/2 sacks. In his age-32 season, Vrabel finished fifth in Defensive Player of the Year Award voting.
Of course, virtually everyone that played for the Patriots in 2007 had a career year. The aforementioned Moss set a new NFL record with 23 touchdown receptions. Brady set a new record -- one that's since been broken by Peyton Manning -- with 50 touchdown passes in a season.
Despite ultimately being upset by the New York Giants in the Super Bowl, there's an argument to be made that the 2007 Patriots were the most dominant team in NFL history. It's interesting to know the lengths that Belichick went to in 2007 to attempt to keep the Patriots from hearing all the praise they were receiving and getting complacent.