By Michael Hurley, CBS Boston
BOSTON (CBS) — Bill Belichick’s relationship with the media over the years has been … complicated.
Those who know the Patriots head coach well enough understand how and when to ask him certain questions, and they know which questions won’t bring about productive answers. On the flip side, whenever an inexperienced national reporter waltzes into Gillette Stadium to pepper the coach with questions, the result is usually that stone-faced look with the same short answer repeated over and over again — with some long pauses and unhappy grunts mixed in as well.
But what a lot of people might not realize is that for one fateful day in February of 2006, Bill Belichick was a media member.
Yes, the at-times surly head coach donned his most average suit, practiced his smile in the mirror, and prepped himself to shoot a pre-recorded segment and then a live back-and-forth with Mike Tirico for the pregame show of Super Bowl XL in Detroit.
Despite watching their team win back-to-back Super Bowls in the two prior seasons, many Patriots fans might have not been overly excited to tune in to watch this particular Super Bowl — not after a crushing loss to Jake Plummer and the Broncos in the divisional round, a game which featured an inexplicable pass interference call on Asante Samuel for his coverage on Ashley Lelie and a a lack of understanding of the laws of physics on a Champ Bailey fumble which traveled through the end zone and OK I’m rambling now. Anyway.
For years, I had heard about this video, but it remained impossible to find proof of its existence on this vast internet. Yet somehow, some way, a tweet surfaced on Tuesday night showing a snippet of that pregame show. And that tweet led to a link to the full appearance being on YouTube. And the clip is pretty good!
It begins with Belichick breaking down some of the greatest defenses and the greatest Super Bowl defensive game plans in NFL history. (He just so happened to draw up two of those.) He broke down the greatness of the Steel Curtain of the ’70s and the ’85 Bears, and he explained what his 1990 Giants and 2001 Patriots focused on in their Super Bowl victories.
“In Super Bowl XXXVI, our game plan was defined by two words: Marshall Faulk,” Belichick explained.
Belichick described how he simplified things for his defense: If Faulk lined up behind the quarterback, they prepared for a run. If Faulk was offset to the right or left of the quarterback, they prepared for pass.
“OK, where is he? He’s not behind the quarterback; we’re thinking jam the receivers. That triggered the defensive ends — [Willie] McGinest — trying to hit Faulk and take him out of the game so the quarterback doesn’t have an outlet to throw.”
Though Faulk to this day remains convinced that the Patriots stole signals and play calls to win that game, Belichick explained that his team merely focused on Faulk. That included sending the house when he was tasked with protecting the quarterback.
“When we blitzed in this game, we tried to blitz over Faulk,” the coach said. “Our thinking was we’d be able to keep him in and force him to block, then our blitzers would get to the quarterback and we could force the ball out in a hurry.”
At the time this video was made, Belichick referred to the win as “my most gratifying moment” as a head coach.
Belichick did so well in his role as an analyst that Mike Tirico offered him a job right there on the spot.
“I don’t think I could come over to the dark side, Mike,” Belichick replied (while demonstrating a perfect fake media laugh).
Belichick then broke down the keys to the game at hand. It was more of the surface-level type of analysis that proliferates pregame shows, but he did suggest that the Seahawks would need to attack Pittsburgh’s corners if they wanted to win the game, which was somewhat of a shot at Ike Taylor and Deshea Townsend. Providing that type of commentary on network television is probably as big a reason as any that we’ve yet to see Belichick reprise his role as an analyst on the 11 Super Bowl broadcasts that have come since. (Of course, he’s also been busy coaching for four of those 11 games.)
In any event, the video apparently was uploaded to YouTube in May of 2017. Watch it now, before it’s gone.