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Bella English's chat transcript

 BELLA ENGLISH: After a bruising year, Belichick opens up
Monday March 5, 2007
Bruschifan__Guest_You say in your story that the only time Belichick smiles is when talking about his kids. Do you get the feeling that Belichick truly enjoys coaching, or is he too caught up in it?
Bella_EnglishBill Belichick lives and breathes coaching. I think one of his most relaxed moments was when he answered a question from me: Would you want any of your children to become a coach? He answered in a roundabout way: "I don't feel I've worked a day in my life. Even though it's not always fun, I enjoy it. It doesn't really feel like work. I'm happy to go to work and meet the challenges. I think if my kids felt that way about the profession, I'd love for them to do it."
Boston_Citi__Guest_Hi Bella, nice article. I was hoping you could expand a little and let us know if BB had anything more to say about his relationships with Mangini and Manning, and the perception of those relationships by the media and fans?
Bella_EnglishHe said he didn't think there was a problem with Peyton Manning "that I'm aware of," and added that they had been together in Hawaii at the Pro Bowl and had dinner together. He did say: "We both want to win. He's trying to score and we're trying to keep him from scoring. That's football." He did not want to address the Mangini issue.
SkunkwoodJones__Guest_Terrific piece yesterday Bella. I wonder if you were able to reach a BB that a sportswriter couldn't?
Bella_EnglishInteresting question. I know he has had a difficult relationship with some sportswriters, and obviously, he didn't have that history with me. So yes, I think maybe he was a little more open than he might have been.
Bruschifan__Guest_How did you get access to the note Belichick sent his son?
Bella_EnglishWhen Rob Ingraham mentioned that his son and Coach Belichick had a long-running email correspondence, I thought some of the messages might show a side of Belichick that not many people see. So, I asked him if he could send me a few. He picked out one, ran it by Belichick, and then sent it to me.
DotPatsFan__Guest_After meeting with the coach, did he give you any indication what the hardest part of his job is?
Bella_EnglishYes, he said the hardest part of his job is releasing players. "Guys who have played and won for you and do everything you ask them to do--run, lift weights, train, be tough, make personal sacrifices. Then you say, you're not going to be on the team. There's nothing worse." He did add: "Some players you release they don't deserve to be here. They don't work hard enough or push themselves" (he named a few)" For reasons like that, they have just competitively been outperformed by another player. I mean, I've been fired before. That's competition. But it's hard, when the time comes." He actually slid back a dry-erase board to reveal the names (on a sort of bulletin board) of dozens of players he has released in the last 3 years.
hesh8__Guest_Hi Bella. Thanks for chatting. Did Michael Holley elaborate on his comment that he thinks Belichick is an interesting man? What are your thoughts? Does Bill come across as a football "snob"?
Bella_EnglishYes, he did. He said if you sat down with him and had a drink with him that you "certainly wouldn't be bored and you certainly wouldn't run out of topics." Michael said Belichick is into books and music and, of course, sports. Once, when they took a road trip, the coach put on several different CDs, such as the Beatles, Santana, U2. He also said something funny: that Belichick is a big fan of the Jerky Boys, those telephone pranksters.
firstchat__Guest_Does he maintain a close relationship with his ex-wife?
Bella_EnglishHe has pictures of her and the kids in his office and he says they remain on friendly terms. But he really did not (and would not) talk much about his personal life.
Elbows_Megley__Guest_Did you get any sense as to his timeline for continuing to coach the Patriots? I know there are all sorts of rumors about contract length, etc. What was your impression, if any?
Bella_EnglishHe absolutely would not discuss his contract. He said, "I just don't talk about contracts, my contracts or my players' contracts."
OBonDid you have to hammer away at him to get this interview? He's not the kind of person who seeks attention.
Bella_EnglishI was pleasantly surprised that he agreed to the interview. And I asked him right off how painful this was for him (sort of tongue in cheek). And he said, "I'm fine with it." And then off we went with the questions. I was also glad he gave me a good deal of time, though we did spend part of it talking about ACC basketball, which we both love.
DotPatsFan__Guest_You mention Ted Johnson's situation and his health, but did you ask Belichick? And if yes, what was his response.
Bella_EnglishI did ask him and he said he felt badly about it, though he has not talked to Johnson. "I wish Ted well," he said. "I hope things work out."
cap__Guest_Did Bill hint at all towards the divorce as a source of his unusual and aggressive behavior this year?
Bella_EnglishThe coach made it quite clear that such questions were off-limits. He was not happy with the questions, either.
bob__Guest_Bella: Belichick wanted to make sure that he didn't initiate the interview. But was it his agent/PR firm? How did you come to the interview? Was this your idea or did your editor ask you to do it? Truth be told, it seems completely unlikely that the Globe would initiate this type of piece involving Belichick, with a features columnist like yourself getting the assignment. Something tells me this was initiated from his end.
Bella_EnglishNo, this was definitely not his idea, and it took a while to get the interview. I think we just felt that since this season had been a little bumpy in some ways for him (mostly public relations and perception) that a profile at the end of the season would perhaps reveal a little bit of the man in the hoodie. It is probably easier for a feature writer to do a profile of him than a sportswriter who has to cover him regularly.
Bruschifan__Guest_What do you think was Belichick's most revealing comment?
Bella_EnglishI thought it was revealing that the place he's most comfortable is the practice field. I mean, there's a long off-season and I know he loves Nantucket and he's supposed to be a very involved father. But still, it's all about the practice field.
firstchat__Guest_Did he say how much time he really get to spend with his children when the season starts?
Bella_EnglishWhat he said was that he doesn't get to see them enough, period. That now that they're older, he tries to find things that everyone likes to do such as skiing, boating, and fishing. The children sometimes are on the sidelines at games. Both of his sons have worked for the Patriots, and his youngest one still does. They apparently are all lacrosse fans, and play together. (He was quite proud of the fact that his kids don't even know which is his "good hand" in lacrosse, he is ambidextrous at the sport).
DaveFromNeedham__Guest_I'm sure you're going to get a lot of questions about Deion Branch--did BB talk about him, the effect not signing Branch had on the season, and whether if he could do it over again if he would have offered Branch what was needed to get him into camp?
Bella_EnglishHe really wouldn't talk about individual players too much and when I asked him who his "dream player" would be, he said he could not comment because that could be construed as "tampering." When I asked him what might surprise people about him, he answered in what I believe is the way people perceive him: "There's a lot of stuff out there. I don't know what people believe or don't believe. I can't worry about what everyone else thinks." He did say he thought his fan support was good, and his relationship with them.
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