BOSTON (CBS) — Bill Belichick is known as many things. He’s an all-time great coach, a builder of championships, a lover of history and one of the great minds to ever dedicate his professional life to football. He is not, however, known as someone who necessarily loves getting in front of a camera and talking for long periods of time.
When the topic calls for it, though, Belichick is more than happy to lend his thoughts and his voice, and that’s precisely what the Patriots head coach did for a new project undertaken by NFL Films.
Belichick, alongside host Rich Eisen and fellow analyst Cris Carter, will serve as an analyst for a forthcoming project called The NFL’s All-Time Team. The project involved a 26-member blue ribbon panel “tasked with crowning the NFL’s All-Time Team — the roster of 100 players and 10 coaches named ‘The Greatest’ in their respective positions.”
At his press conference to kick off training camp on Wednesday morning, Belichick — unprompted — spoke about the honor he felt to be asked to take part in the process.
“It was a great honor for me to be a part of the selection process and to be a part of the show,” Belichick said. “There are obviously thousands of great NFL players and coaches, legends involved in the game, many of whom I’ve watched, observed or studied my entire life. So it was a tremendous process, very difficult in terms of the selection, but it was a great honor to be a part of it.”
Eisen, on his radio show, explained Belichick’s overwhelming qualifications to play an important role in such a project.
“Belichick is so into it — the ‘it’ being celebrating the sport, celebrating the game, celebrating the men, celebrating the achievement — and he is so into the history of this game,” Eisen said. “He, growing up in the Mid-Atlantic, obviously his father being a Navy man, he could talk about the old Baltimore Colts with reverence, because he grew up idolizing them. He also worked for Ted Marchibroda, so that’s how he got his start in the sport. He could talk about college football, watching these guys in the ’50s and ’60s, come into the ’70s. Then in the ’80s he starts coaching himself, then he’s coordinating against some of the all-time greats with [Bill] Parcells. And then he’s coaching against them on the Cleveland Browns, and then also coordinating against them again with the Jets, and then coaching against them with the Patriots, all to the present day. The number of guys that he could talk to just personally about emotional feelings about it, I can’t tell you how amazing it was.”
— Rich Eisen (@richeisen) July 23, 2019
And, despite Belichick’s penchant for being as short as possible when speaking to the media, Eisen said Belichick was all in on this production.
“Bill Belichick as a sports television analyst is fantastic. He is fantastic — and this is not hype for the show. I am not going to just hype it up just to hype it up, because the hype is all in itself,” Eisen said. “The number of players that would look across the table and not believe that Bill Belichick was sitting there as an analyst, as somebody who was praising their careers, and as somebody who wasn’t the person that you see behind the podium being ‘on to Cincinnati’ and being all business, being that guy … they’re blown away. I was blown away sometimes as a host.”
Eisen laughed as he recalled one particular moment during the recording of the show when he found it difficult to end one specific interview because, of all things, Belichick was talking too much with the guest.
“I was thinking to myself, I can’t believe that I’m fortunate to be a host of this show, but I can’t believe I’m in a position in my career where I need to wrap up a segment but can’t because Bill Belichick won’t stop talking,” Eisen said. “This happened. This happened!”
Belichick, who at age 67 is entering his 20th season as Patriots head coach and his 45th season as an NFL coach, shared his appreciation for being part of the process.
“To go down and be at NFL Films and see that operation was extremely impressive. They do a great job of preserving the game. It’s extremely well-run, professional. They have great resources and I think have done a tremendous job in their presentation of the game. Kenny Rodgers, the Saboll family, the entire NFL Films group. Being on the set with Cris and Rich was a great honor, a great thrill, and many of the legends that were there with us. So that was something that I’ve never been a part of, and it was very insightful and certainly gave me a greater appreciation for this great game and what the National Football League has accomplished, and the individuals who have written the stories over the last 100 years. It was a great experience for me.”