By Michael Hurley, CBS Boston
BOSTON (CBS) — Now in year 19 as head coach of the New England Patriots, Bill Belichick has earned a reputation for having a bit of a dour, blunt, and gruff demeanor in his press conferences. It’s well-earned.
That’s not a criticism of the coach, of course, as his style of handling the media has worked rather well for him. And as we’ve seen from other coaches who have tried to emulate him or borrow some of his tactics, the strategy can go awry in a hurry if it’s not properly employed. Bill, though, is a master of his craft.
After most of the Patriots’ losses, after plenty of Patriots wins, and at plenty of mid-week press conferences sandwiched in between, Belichick’s answers to questions can often be extremely brief. They are often delivered in a flat tone with no emotion. And if a question is asked about anything other than the football game that was just played, things can get tense. It can make for some uncomfortable moments, for the reporters on the scene and for the television viewers at home.
But early Tuesday morning in Buffalo, after the Patriots had completed a 25-6 win over the Bills on Monday Night Football, Belichick broke character. And in the most unlikely of places (a postgame podium), Belichick seemed to be enjoying himself … while talking about his outfit.
It came at an unexpected moment, too. Belichick was asked to address a report that said the Patriots had planned to discipline receiver Josh Gordon for tardiness during the previous week. Typically, Belichick will flatly dismiss such speculation about his team and then continue the press conference in a terse manner.
This time, though, Belichick was perhaps caught off guard when Ben Volin of The Boston Globe followed up the Gordon question with a question about Belichick’s choice of necktie. The exchange provided a rare moment in the history of Belichick press conferences.
Volin: Is there a message behind the tie tonight?
Belichick: No. (Smiling) But red, white and blue, it’s kind of patriotic.
Volin: It is, but last week you wore a Croation–
Belichick: Yeah, that was a Croatian tie, yeah.
Volin: But that’s not like a …
Belichick: Yeah, it’s not. No. (Smiling)
Reporter: Do you like this one better?
Belichick: I like whatever Linda [Holliday] puts around my [neck], OK?
From there, after a first-of-its-kind moment, the press conference resumed as it normally does.
A situation like that, with Belichick discussing his wardrobe after coaching an NFL game, might not ever happen again.