By Larry Fine
HOUSTON (Reuters) - The usually tight-lipped Bill Belichick has loosened up this week as the New England Patriots coach and quarterback Tom Brady prepare for a record seventh Super Bowl appearance together on Sunday against the Atlanta Falcons.
As the extraordinary Brady-Belichick partnership set their sights on setting more Super Bowl records, the coach and quarterback have both talked about their special relationship.
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"I have been very fortunate to coach Tom," Belichick told reporters at Monday's Super Bowl Opening Night.
"Tom is a tremendous player. He is a tremendous competitor. He prepares extremely hard. He comes to work every day and gives his very best effort."
One mobbed podium away, Brady was asked what it has been like playing for Belichick the last 17 seasons.
"To me, he's the greatest coach of all time and there's no other coach I'd ever want to play for," said Brady. "He puts us in a great position to succeed.
"He's a great motivator. He doesn't take any days off, and he sets a great example for us about dependability, consistency. He brings it every day. He's just a great coach."
Belichick and Brady already have the most postseason wins of any coach/quarterback tandem. Their total of 24 is 10 more than the next best - Chuck Noll and Terry Bradshaw of the 1970s powerhouse Pittsburgh Steelers.
By Sunday, Brady and Belichick will have appeared in three more Super Bowls than any other coach-quarterback combination.
The New England duo are each going for a record fifth Super Bowl win that would break the coach's tie with Noll, while Brady would move past Joe Montana (49ers) and Bradshaw for most titles by a quarterback.
Belichick lavished more praise on Brady on Tuesday.
"He’s very diligent in his preparation. It’s consistent every week in terms of learning the defense, learning their schemes and their players. He's very smart and has a lot of experience," said Belichick.
"He’s able to put it all together better than any player that I’ve ever coached.
"He’s a great role model for all of us. Any player and any coach. All of us.”
The no-nonsense Belichick praised his staff and players for the Super Bowl run.
“I don’t really see it as work. It’s actually beach working," he said. "You get to do what you love to do dealing with a lot of great people.
"Really doesn’t feel like work."
(Editing by Frank Pingue)