By Matt Dolloff, CBS Boston
BOSTON (CBS) — Of all the methods that Bill Belichick uses to coach his players on the Patriots, the way he coaches them up on how to deal with the media is among the most fascinating. It’s pretty clear that he expects his players to be an extension of his football mind when they’re in front of a microphone as much as when they’re on the field.
Belichick is the undisputed champion of stonewalling reporters during his media obligations, sometimes to seemingly gratuitous levels. But the Patriots are undoubtedly the best team in the league at avoiding or minimizing media-fueled distractions and controversies, whether or not you believe it actually helps them win games. You certainly never see the kind of public drama you’re seeing with Richard Sherman and the Seahawks.
Former NFL defensive tackle Terrance Knighton, who announced his retirement in April, spent most of the 2016 preseason with the Patriots before being cut. But it didn’t take long for Belichick to leave an impression on Knighton, especially in how he deals with the media. He gave a glimpse into how Belichick coaches the players on speaking to reporters in a new interview with Pro Football Talk Live.
Knighton described an interaction with Belichick that apparently stemmed from him offering reporters a mini-scouting report on one of his former teammates. Innocuous, right? His comments did not sit well with Belichick.
“You get coached up every day on how to talk to the media,” said Knighton. “One time, I did an interview and I gave a guy credit. I thought I was doing the right thing by digging up my teammate and saying he was going to have a great year. We got in a team meeting and [Belichick] called me out, basically said to me, ‘You’re not an expert, you’re not a D-line expert, we don’t need you evaluating guys.'”
Some people will always be miffed by Belichick’s curt answers and crotchety demeanor with the media, but clearly, you cannot argue with the on-field results.
“There’s a certain way they do things and it works. It’s obvious by their success,” added Knighton. “Most of the guys that stick around there are all on the same page and they just have one way of doing things. They’ve been doing that since he’s been there.”
Whether the team loves to talk or keep their mouths shut with reporters, it’s imperative that they are all pushing in the same direction if they want to win consistently. Belichick may be the best of all time at making that happen.
Matt Dolloff is a writer/producer for CBSBostonSports.com. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect that of CBS or 98.5 The Sports Hub. Have a news tip or comment for Matt? Follow him on Twitter @mattdolloff and email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.