By Michael Hurley, CBS Boston
BOSTON (CBS) — When Bill Belichick stands at the podium — or, in the era of COVID-19, sits in front of a computer screen for a video conference — there are certain lines of questioning that almost always lead to a short answer. One such avenue is a question about a player or person from the past, someone who no longer has any impact on what’s best for the football team, and someone who has nothing to do with the current state of the New England Patriots.
So, when a reporter on Friday morning posed a question to Belichick asking if it’s strange to not see Tom Brady in the building on a daily basis, a very brief non-answer seemed like it was in the cards.
Belichick, though, gave a surprisingly lengthy answer.
“Well we’ve had a lot of great, great players over the course of that time. You could have the same conversation about all of them – Tedy Bruchi, Rodney Harrison, Ty Law, Logan Mankins, Rob [Gronkowski]. You could go right down the line,” Belichick said. “So, it’s professional football. It’s the National Football League. Every team has changes every year. We have ’em, so does everybody else. I think right now, everybody’s focused on this year.”
Obviously, despite the varied level of greatness of some of those players Belichick mentioned and others he did not, none have the stature or impact or general football aura of Tom Brady. Winning six Super Bowls tends to have that effect.
Still, a hallmark of Belichick’s dynastic tenure in Foxboro has been to try to keep everything consistent, no matter the circumstances and no matter the inevitability of change. So even after saying farewell to the greatest player at the most important position in team sports after a two-decade-long journey, the coach’s outlook remains the same.
“We’re looking ahead. We’re not looking backwards at anything,” Belichick said. “We’re trying to look ahead and look at what are our opportunities, challenges that we have coming forward this season in the 2020 season. So that’s really where our focus is.”
It obviously wasn’t an earth-shattering answer by any means, but his consideration of the question shows that Belichick understands that the departure of Brady is unlike any other that came before it or will come after it.