FOXBORO — Thursday morning, August 2. Temperature already pushing 90 levels. The hottest day of coaching camp thus far. The beating solar is dangerous sufficient however the hanging humidity is what makes the day actually really feel heavy.
A whistle dangles from an extended black string connected to Bill Belichick’s proper hand. He sometimes spins it whereas he reads from a chunk of paper he holds in his left.
Sometimes, the whistle spins till its lengthy string is wound up tight in opposition to his knuckles and Belichick’s hand rises up and searches for the No. 2 pencil he wedged between his ear and his navy blue visor.
He’s carrying white Nikes, John Stockton-length blue shorts, a three-quarter sleeve navy-colored pullover. He stands behind the offense as backup quarterback Brian Hoyer leads an 11-on-11 drill in opposition to the Patriots’ beginning protection. All the opposite coaches and gamers are both on the sidelines watching or a couple of yards behind Belichick, in a line, watching as effectively. Ernie Adams, Tom Brady, Josh McDaniels and Jerry Schuplinski are in a row.
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Belichick bends the paper simply so, bends ahead to make use of his thigh as a desk and writes no matter it’s a 66-year-old coach who’s been at it in the identical place for 19 seasons writes.
A reminder? A training level? A demerit? A checkmark subsequent to one thing achieved?
He folds the paper, snugs the pencil again in place and resumes working the enterprise of follow.
Belichick’s on the market within the warmth after an offseason through which he took — and continues to take — the slings and arrows that flowed from his determination to bench Malcolm Butler.
He’s on the market within the warmth and not using a possible backup to Brady after his determination to commerce Jimmy Garoppollo to the 49ers for a music final October.
He’s on the market within the warmth simply steps away from Brady, the 2 seemingly returned to the uneasy truce they’ve been in for years as they hold writing NFL historical past that can by no means be matched.
He’s on the market within the warmth, six months since teaching in his 11th Super Bowl, 18 months since profitable his fifth as a head coach, 42 months for the reason that starting of the league-sponsored idiocy that was Deflategate, 60 months since he stood up at the start of coaching camp and spoke concerning the arrest of tight finish Aaron Hernandez on a homicide cost.
Bill Belichick was teaching within the NFL for 10 seasons earlier than Rams head coach Sean McVay was born.
Comparing NFL ’75 to NFL ’18, solely the ball is in the identical form in 2018 because it was then. This NFL is run by homeowners who dwell in mortal concern of the president’s Twitter account. Gerald Ford didn’t have Twitter.
And Belichick wasn’t pals with Ford. He’s pals now with this president, and regardless that Donald Trump frequently derides the social justice consciousness exhibited by NFL gamers that Belichick reveres (like Devin McCourty), Belichick has deftly threaded the needle on that matter in order that it’s by no means actually talked about.
Meanwhile, the league retains altering the sport he’s made a life in, making an attempt to make an inherently violent sport “safe,” palatable and insulated from litigation. His sons, Steven and Brian, are coaches on the Patriots workers they usually could also be round lengthy sufficient themselves to educate in a league the place their father’s beloved kicking sport turns into extinct.
And but, Belichick stays improbably present. Even although the Patriots reeled Josh McDaniels again from a dedication to the Colts to presumably (doubtless) be Belichick’s successor, there’s nothing on this coaching camp that signifies Belichick is planning on going anyplace anytime quickly.
Belichick advised NFL Films again in 2009 that “I won’t be like Marv Levy and coaching in my 70s, I know that”, however he’s closing in on it.
He’s the ninth-oldest coach in NFL historical past behind George Halas and Levy (each 72 after they retired), Dick Vermeil and Tom Coughlin (69), Joe Gibbs, Weeb Ewbank and Belichick’s idol Paul Brown (67) and simply seven months behind Pete Carroll (additionally 66).
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On Friday, I discussed to Belichick that the typical retirement age within the United States is 63.
“My dad told me age is just a number, so I’ll just look at it that way,” he answered. “I’m not really worried about it.”
Over the course of this offseason, the potential of Belichick retiring was mentioned typically. And there actually wasn’t anybody near him who indicated he’s virtually finished.
“Sometimes it feels like he’s a machine,” stated particular groups ace Matt Slater. “The motivation hasn’t changed since I’ve gotten here (in 2009), the hunger. The bar has been set high long ago and it continues to remain high, and I think that’s a testament to who he is, how he’s wired, his love for the game of football, the passion that he has for it. It’s really remarkable, and hopefully as sports fans, we can appreciate what he’s in the midst of doing and just enjoy this whole thing.”
It is tough to understand when you’re “in it.” There’s an excessive amount of occurring with this crew within the current take goal inventory of all that’s occurred since 2000.
Because of what he’s constructed — and continues to construct — no one actually cares about profession profitable share or the truth that he’ll go Chuck Noll and Dan Reeves this 12 months together with his 24th season as a head coach and transfer right into a tie with Paul Brown.
Screw Paul Brown, folks wish to learn about Malcolm Butler.
Ask Belichick and he would doubtless say, “Screw both of them. They don’t matter right now.”
His penchant for endlessly plowing ahead whereas we figuratively stand and level at some mess or success left in his wake leaves us speaking to his again as he walks away.
What progress might be gained in fixating on one thing that’s occurred or would possibly sometime occur? That’s been a maddening mantra of his since he obtained right here and it’s most likely why he’s completely inconceivable to crack on this matter.
Who cares how outdated he’s or when he could be finished?
“Each year is a new year,” he stated Friday. “Each year has its own challenges. Again, each year we all have to regain our — to the best we can — our ability to perform our jobs. That’s what I’m trying to do. I think that’s what all of the players, all of the coaches ––we’re all trying to do that. None of us have coached a game or played in a game in a long time. That’ll be coming up soon, but we’ve got a long way to go.”