FOXBORO, Mass. — NFL Network viewers will get a chance this fall to see what New England Patriots players witness every day: Bill Belichick’s unbridled love for the game of football.
Belichick, who is entering his 20th season as Patriots head coach, served as an analyst and selection committee member for “The NFL’s All-Time Team,” a six-part special ranking the top 100 players and 10 best coaches in NFL history that will air during the league’s 100th season.
On Wednesday, Patriots veterans Devin McCourty, James White and Matthew Slater all raved about Belichick’s football intellect and passion for the game. Here are their replies in full:
McCourty: “It’s an honor to play for him. To be in the game four or five decades, that’s so much knowledge, that’s so much experience that you’ve been able to see. I think we’re very fortunate we get to sit in there in the morning when he comes in, and sometimes he just goes on tangents where he’s talking about training camp 20 years ago or he’s talking about how things were done in his second or third season. You get to hear those things, and I think it puts things in perspective and gives you just an X-and-O of football but a better understanding of the game, and you have a better understanding of how he sees the game. …
“Obviously, I like it. This is my 10th year of going in and having an opportunity to play for him, so to me it’s just a great honor for each man who gets in there. Even if you only get to sit in there for one training camp, the amount of football you learn sometimes is more in that one training camp than you might learn your whole life just because of his knowledge and how open he is about sharing the history of the game, what you should do — not just defensively, but offense, defense, special teams.
“He just pours into us each day that knowledge, and once you sit here for 10 years, I’ve gotten a lot of knowledge on so many things that don’t even come up for me in the game but allow me to understand the game of football at a higher level.”
White: “He’s a genius. He’s going to challenge you every way — mentally, physically. He’s the best coach out there. He demands the best out of you. You have no choice but to get better. He’s going to make you work. I wouldn’t rather play for any other coach, man. He’s going to get it out of you.”
Slater: “To me, I don’t know what other things in life Coach has that motivate him or excite him more than preparing for football. To be in my 12th training camp and to see his level of preparation, his focus, his attention to detail having not wavered one bit over that time period has been remarkable.
“For a man who’s accomplished everything that he’s accomplished as a coach, for him to remain focused and driven and carry himself with a great deal of humility through it all is remarkable, and I think it really speaks to his love of the game. You can’t fake that. You can’t fake your love for the game of football when you’re grinding through it, when you’re missing sleep, you’re away from your family. I think it would be really hard to keep doing this if he didn’t love it.”