If you were expecting Bill Belichick to break his media mold at the start of training camp, you were sorely mistaken.
The New England Patriots head coach met with reporters for the first time last week at the start of training camp and unsurprisingly stonewalled any and all Deflategate-related inquiries. It was a vintage Belichick performance, as every question was met with some variance of “it’s already been addressed.”
Nothing new for the man who seemingly enters every news conference with the excitement of someone heading to the dentist for a root canal or four.
But this is Belichick’s way, and it’s probably never going to change. Furthermore, Belichick is insulated by the system. The Washington Post spoke with former White House pres secretary Ari Fleischer who said Belichick’s consistent handling of the media is a reason he continues to get away without ever really saying anything of substance.
“This is a great time to be Belichick, because he has a lengthy history of speaking in an infinite loop to nowhere,” Fleischer told The Washington Post. “This is a perfect time to speak in an infinite loop to nowhere. There’s nothing he should say, and nothing he can say, to mollify people.
“Belichick is shutting down the conversation, and he can get away with it. He has a history of shutting down the conversation, so he’s not doing anything out of the ordinary. So from his point of view, I totally understand what he’s doing and why.”
As Fleischer points out, Belichick doesn’t need to answer to voters like politicians do, and as long as the Patriots are winning, that’s all fans of the team are going to care about.
“Look, unlike politics, where there’s a certain sense of civic responsibility in answering questions because people won’t vote for you otherwise, this is sports,” Fleischer told the Post. “In the New England region, the Patriots can get away with standing by their man. In the rest of the country, people don’t need any reasons to not like the Patriots. They don’t like the Patriots, anyway.”
However, it’s not all good for the Patriots when it comes to their PR handling of Deflategate, according to Fleischer. He says the Patriots have been “a mess” when it comes to crisis management, but they’ve been able to get away with it because of the aforementioned reasons. However, that doesn’t extend to quarterback Tom Brady, who might be forever tarnished by the controversy.
“It’s too late,” Fleischer told the newspaper. “It can’t be fixed now. Human nature says if somebody accuses you of something you did not do, you speak out immediately and you speak out vociferously. Tom Brady has done neither of those things.”
Thumbnail photo via Winslow Townson/USA TODAY Sports Images