Unless you work inside the walls of Gillette Stadium – be that his superiors in the Kraft family of ownership or his subordinates throughout football operations and locker room – Bill Belichick doesn’t own you a damn explanation about anything.
Over the course of the last four-plus decades, Belichick has become arguably the greatest professional football coach the world has ever seen. He’s done so with remarkably consistent winning on the field and a remarkably consistent approach to his life and extensive community work off the field.
Through the last two decades of the most dynastic run in NFL history in Foxborough, Belichick has been a relative rock of leadership regardless of what’s gone on around him with either his team or the world.
On the field he’s led through questionable decisions that have succeeded (no timeout prior to Malcolm Butler’s legend-altering Super Bowl XLIX interception!) and failed (no Malcolm Butler in Super Bowl LII!).
Off the field he’s led through a terrorist attack on the country in 9/11, a star player being charged with murder and multiple “cheating” scandals.
Through it all he’s maintained a level of leadership consistency that plenty of politicians and “experts” could have learned from and utilized during this spring’s ongoing coronavirus pandemic that’s engulfed the planet.
Now, though, in the social unrest, racial injustice/police brutality protests and reinvigorated Black Lives Matter movement that’s resulted from the murder of George Floyd by a Minneapolis police officer, Belichick’s often tight-lipped leadership style has come under attack.
Right here on WEEI.com less than a week ago there was an assertion that, “It’s time for Bill Belichick to make it about politics.” That the powerful white coach must tell the world what he thinks about President Donald Trump’s leadership and the Black Lives Matter movement that’s newly focused with NFL players in the middle of it all.
NBC Sports Boston declared that Belichick’s feelings on his longtime friend Trump are very much a factor both in the world we live in and the locker room in which he coaches – “Where the Patriots head coach now stands is relevant.”
Pro Football Talk was even more aggressive, saying that “Belichick’s silence becomes conspicuous.”
“Again, there is no middle ground. There should be nothing political about this. Either you support equality, liberty, and justice for all, or you don’t,” Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio wrote.
The one unifying factor in all three critiques of Belichick’s lack of response to recent events is the fact that four years ago in early November of 2016, when Trump was running for President, the coach wrote him a letter that his grandstanding friend chose to make public at a New Hampshire rally.
In the middle of the football season and his almost daily duties meeting with the media, Belichick addressed the letter and the issue at the time. He said it was one of “hundreds of notes and letters” he writes every month,” one rooted in “friendship and loyalty to Donald” and “not politically motivated.”
Now, though, mums the word from Belichick. Not only is that his right, it’s probably his duty as the coach of the team he guided to success through two decades while navigating some pretty rough waters.
Unlike supremely successful NBA bench bosses Gregg Popovich and Steve Kerr, or even his own former defensive assistant-turned-Dolphins head coach Brian Flores, Belichick never has been and probably never will be about making political statements and using his platform to push social agendas.
Belichick has always emphasized the fact that his sole focus is on winning football games. Doing what’s in the best interest of the football team. It’s an approach and message that his players have generally supported and embraced.
He’s also made it infinitely clear endless times over the years that he keeps his personal opinions and personal conversations to himself.
Whether you like it or not, that’s who Belichick is, for better and worse.
That doesn’t make him right. Doesn’t make him wrong.
But it’s certainly his right.
Oh, and just so we’re clear, it’s not like Belichick has buried his head in the racial injustice sand or ignored the historic and history-altering events that are in some ways engulfing the world and his team.
Based on comments from Patriots team captains Devin McCourty and Matthew Slater, as well as depictions from other unnamed players, Belichick has used recent virtual team meetings not for football but to address the concerns of everyone involved.
“I think coach has a good, healthy understanding of the gravity of the situation and the times that we're living in. I think he's done a good job of trying to listen, trying to learn and hear from his players and try to navigate this as best as he can,” Slater told NBC Sports Boston.
Could Belichick make a statement addressing current events?
Sure, but it would be out of character and counter to pretty much everything he’s done in both his career and his life.
Would a public statement from Belichick impact the ongoing conversation regarding racial injustice?
No question, it would immediately be one of the biggest stories in the world.
But just because you can do something, doesn’t mean you have to or even that you should.
Belichick doesn’t owe me, you or anyone else in the public sphere anything.
If you don’t like that, that’s too bad.
If you can’t accept that, then that’s on you.
If Belichick’s players and bosses are content with the way the GOAT coach has handled things, then the rest of us outsiders sure as hell should be too.
Whether we like it or not.