Aqib Talib says Belichick isn’t nearly as strict as people think

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Aqib Talib thrived under Bill Belichick. The five-time Pro Bowler made his first of two All-Pro teams while playing for the Patriots, and emerged as one of the elite corners in the NFL.

On the ManningCast Monday, the charismatic defensive back, who now calls NFL games for Fox, explained why he enjoyed playing for Belichick. As it turns out, Belichick isn’t nearly as austere as people think, as long as players follow three cardinal rules.

“They wanted to be strict in New England, but to be honest, Bill is not that strict,” Talib said. “He just cares about a couple of things: don’t be late. If you’re late, he’s sending you home for the whole day. Know your stuff, and don’t play around with the media. You stick to those three rules, you’re going to have a great time in New England, just like I did.”

Earlier in the ManningCast, Peyton shared how Belichick’s rule against cavorting with the media resulted in Mac Jones sending the all-time great to PR when Manning called him to chat about Monday night’s game. The Patriots denied Peyton’s request.

“I gotta tell you, I appreciate how they're handling Mac Jones,” Manning said. “They are trying trying to protect him, give him as few off-the-field distractions as possible, let him concentrate on playing football.”

Despite the media restrictions, Talib said Belichick doesn’t micromanage players’ lives. As an example, Talib said players routinely showed up the stadium wearing onesie pajamas. Belichick isn’t worried about a dress code, as evidenced by his outfits on a weekly basis.

“Bill ain’t worried about no dress code. He’s worried about what you can do in the walkthrough,” Talib said.

Overall, it seems like Belichick treats his players like adults. What a concept.

“I feel like that has a lot to do with why they win,” Talib said. “Bill doesn’t worry about the minor stuff — policing what you wear in the building. What do I care what I got on on a Wednesday morning? I just want to prepare for the game. I didn’t get dressed for work. Bill’s got it figured out. He’s worried about football, and only football.”

Talib and Belichick remain close. The corner said Belichick even tried to coax him out of retirement last year, promising him a role as the Patriots “tight end stopper.”

But Talib says he decided against it when he saw the Patriots would be playing some of the league’s best tight ends, including Travis Kelce and Darren Waller. "I had to politely decline,” Talib said. “I ain't gonna lie. I didn't want no smoke with them guys. I'm too old, too hurt, too injured.”

Considering the Patriots went 7-9 last year, Talib made the right choice. Belichick isn’t as forgiving of mistakes on the field as he is when it comes to attire.

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