Sixteen years. That's how long we've been watching these Bill Belichick press conferences.
Most of them are the same. Bill grunts. Sniffs. Snorts. He occasionally teaches some football.
Ask him about special teams play or the Army-Navy game, and you might get something longer and more entertaining than JFK's inaugural address. Otherwise, Bill furnishes the minimum information required by the league. He'll give you name, rank, and serial number. His press conferences feel as if they are court-ordered.
Ask him if today is Thursday and he might give you, "Traditionally, that is the day that follows Wednesday.''
I can remember a couple of times when he went off script and appeared genuine, true . . . almost human. Once was back in July of 2013 when he came out to talk (one time only) about Aaron Hernandez's arrest on a murder change. Another beauty was last winter's Mona Lisa Vito presser when Belichick vigorously defended his team and taught us about ideal gas law.
Last but not least, who could forget late last summer when the Hoodie reached his Deflategate limit and famously lashed out at charges of "warm drinks and trash cans''?
Thursday's morning session at Foxborough was not one of the above. Capping a wacky few days of playoff-week "distraction,'' Belichick finally appeared before the local media and did what he does best: He stayed the course and behaved as if nothing unusual is going on around his football team. We're on to Kansas City.
No problem. No explanation. No questions answered. Nothing to see here. Kickoff against Kansas City is Saturday at 4:35.
Patriots fans absolutely love this. Ours must be the only football region where fans hungry for information are the same folks who applaud madly when that information is denied. Go figure. The people who comb the Internet and listen to sports radio 24/7 are the same folks who just love to see Bill deliver the middle finger to a roomful of reporters. The Patriot Way. Do Your Job. Defend The Wall.
Last Sunday, one of the Patriots' best players, Chandler Jones, walked into the Foxborough Police Station, shirtless, in a confused state after reportedly ingesting synthetic marijuana and who knows what else. We'll never know, thanks in some part to a local police department that lied to the Boston Herald, then modified the police log. This is the same local police department paid by the Patriots to police things on game days.
It's amazing. Just 2½ years after one of the Patriots goes on a murder spree — while he is a member of the team — we still have a Patriot-friendly police department ready to lie to the media and broom the docket to protect the team. What happened to all the vigilance promised after the Patriots were "duped" by Hernandez? Remember the official team flop house?
Belichick's Thursday morning performance — the only time he'll be available until after the Chiefs game — was epic. The Hoodie started by telling us that "there is nothing more important than the health and well-being of our players.'' He referenced a boilerplate statement that the team had issued Wednesday. And that was that.
When ESPN's intrepid Mike Reiss asked if Jones might perhaps be punished (Wes Welker was once benched for the start of a playoff game after making foot jokes about Rex Ryan), Belichick answered, "Well, we'll find out on Saturday. I could just Xerox you a copy of the game plan and you can send it over to Kansas City. That might be easier for all of us.''
Reporters tried, for a while, but Belichick would not have any more questions on the matter. It was as if he were auditioning for "Homeland.''
"I've already covered this.''
"I just answered a question.''
"I mean, are there any more questions about the Chiefs here? The rest of it, I'm done talking about it. We issued a statement, that's it.''
No. He did not cover it. He did not answer the questions. The statement said nothing.
Meanwhile, don't bother to ask the coach about his black eye. It's far more important that we get back to Kansas City's defensive coordinator and the alignment of the Chiefs' front seven.
Stand back now and brace yourself for the avalanche of stories about how the Patriots are able to tune out distractions.
This may or may not have been a coverup, but it is a distraction. It's at best a demonstration of something less than 100 percent commitment by every player on the Patriot roster.
If the Patriots thrash the Chiefs Saturday, no one will be talking about Chandler Jones and "no shirt, no shoes, no problem" at the Foxborough police department. If they lose, the Jones incident will be framed as evidence that the Patriots were losing their way.
Win or lose, Belichick will be the same. He never cracks. That's why you love him.
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