There is no more polarizing non-player in professional sports than Patriots head coach Bill Belichick.
In the eyes of many a New England honk, he is regarded as a gridiron genius that can do no wrong.
Everywhere else, he’s reviled as some sort of dour and humorless curmudgeon that is always one step ahead of the NFL’s rulebook. So why do we love him so much? It has to be about more than his five Super Bowl appearances (3 wins) since he took over in Foxboro before the 2000 season.
For me, what he represents is the best quality that many possess in this region: authenticity. Belichick is not a self-promoter (Rex Ryan), cheerleader (Pete Carroll) or fake tough guy (Bill Cowher). All he cares about is winning football games. Sounds simple enough, right? Yes, his wardrobe could best be described as slightly homeless but since when did we turn to NFL coaches for fashion advice? He is a coach’s coach that would rather break down game film until the wee hours and run endless practices with his team than basically anything else in life.
Of course, he’s only human (at least partially) and there are signs that he enjoys the finer things: namely buxom blonde cougars and summers on Nantucket. Oh and Bon Jovi. I cannot explain that strange obsession.
In many ways, I think the level of hate he elicits from people across the country is simply jealousy that he isn’t coaching their favorite NFL team. Otherwise, what isn’t there to like? You’ll never see him waste time on locker room drama (hi Red Sox) or what he says to the media since he invented one of the most famous phrases in the English language: “It is what it is.”
He deeply respects the history of the game and always gives his teams the best chance to win any given week. I realize that Philips Andover and Wesleyan aren’t exactly schools that everybody has the chance to attend, but Belichick has deep local roots that make him an honorary New Englander. If he never wins another NFL game, he will still receive standing ovations at every Bruins and Celtics playoff game that he drags Linda Holliday along to.
Bill Belichick is an original, the furthest thing from a fraud that you can find and that is a big reason as to why we love him. Not just because of the Super Bowl rings.