Bill Belichick now is in his eighth decade on Planet Earth, but you wouldn’t know it by watching and being around the 70-year-old Patriots head coach.
Belichick was his usual self during New England’s spring practices. From lining up at center to coaching up rookies on special teams to dodging questions from reporters, it was typical Belichick. And it sounds like he hasn’t changed much behind the scenes, either.
Belichick’s remarkable, ageless consistency was a popular topic during minicamp, and it popped up again Tuesday during Matthew Slater’s first training camp media availability.
“I’ve had the great fortune of being around Coach for a long time now,” the Patriots special teams captain said during a virtual news conference. “And what I see in him is just a passion to pursue excellence in an area that he loves — without question, he loves this game. He loves the history of this game. He loves everything that goes into this game, and he has a great deal of respect for it. And, I think, when you love something, you stay motivated to pursue it, to pour into it, to continue to evolve, to continue to approach with a great sense of gratitude and urgency. I think it’s his love for the game that compels him. Obviously, he’s a competitor at heart. He wants to continue to go out and coach good football teams — smart, tough, physical football teams.
“And what a blessing for him, at age 70 to be able to be healthy enough to do it, both physically, mentally and emotionally. And then, just to have the opportunity. I’m sure if you ask him, he’d tell you he’s grateful for that because there are not many people that are able to do it for the amount of time that he’s done it. I definitely have learned a lot from just watching you. You talk about commitment to a craft and avoiding complacency, I think he embodies that better than anyone I’ve been around as a professional. His tireless pursuit of excellence is really inspiring in a lot of ways.”
To this point, Belichick has offered no indication of when he plans to retire from coaching. He previously expressed reluctance to coach into his 70s, but he already has crossed that threshold.
So, for the foreseeable future, Patriots players, assistants and fans likely can expect the same old Belichick. And that still is a great thing, despite mounting criticism of the future Hall of Famer.
NESN.com’s coverage of New England Patriots preseason is presented by Cross Insurance, protecting your team since 1954.