Bill Belichick: Pure Football Genius


A Fourth Super Bowl, sustained excellence in the modern era, a commitment to excellence, and Bill Belichick is now considered by many to be the best coach of all time.  And he is!  Little has changed about what I have had to say about Belichick except the fact that what he has now accomplished is incredible!


Bill Belichick and his rag tag New England Patriots will be riding into  Met Life Stadium this Sunday to face the New York Jets once again atop the AFC East. With a battered and bruised team and a no name receiving corps he continues to defy the odds and produce results.

Regarded as one of the greatest football coaches of his generation and thought of by many to be a football genius, Belichick has attained this status because —he is. 

Those that are gifted and achieve the kind of success Belichick has share many of the same traits while possessing different kinds of personas. However, they generally have a philosophy, plan and program that they adhere to and stick with.

What is interesting to observe about Belichick is the interaction between his persona and his philosophy, because at times it can be difficult to discern the difference between the two.

Like many coaches who are addicted to their jobs Belichick eats, sleeps and drinks football spending more hours than one can fathom, looking for any small edge he can gain on his opponents.  He is obsessed with the minute details of every aspect of his job, while giving one the impression that Belichick and his job are psychologically merged.

Belichck presents as a highly suspicious man who views giving any information other than his name and serial number as an act of treason.

He rightly surmises that any small piece of information will aid and abet the enemy, and his players are told in no uncertain terms that loose lips sink ships.

At times his tendency not to reveal information seems to border on paranoia, but it is more likely self-protectiveness. However, keep in mind that those who possess highly suspicious tendencies assume that others do too. His famous cut off hoody also speaks to both his suspiciousness and compulsive tendencies.

Belichick has a clear understanding that his job involves more than just being immersed in winning games and plotting strategy but he outwardly does not embrace those aspects— he tolerates them.

Tart, taciturn and not one to suffer fools lightly Belichick appears to enjoy a press conference as much as getting his leg cut off without anesthesia.

Leary of the media and for good reason, he prepares for the media as he does for a football game by studying them and anticipating what they are going to ask—which is usually easily predictable.

Gifted individuals are able to see things that others don’t. Thus, Belichick with his talents, commitment, and study habits is able to anticipate what others are going to do- both on and off the football field. That is one reason why so many worry when Belichick is given extra time to prepare.

Belichick clearly attempts to engage the media as quickly and as cleanly as possible with a strategy to disengage from them unflappably sticking to what he was prepared to say and no more. But this also serves to give him more time to do what he thinks important and that is to prepare his team.

Gifted individuals also possess a never ending quest to learn and grow and Belichick is notorious for seeking out others who he thinks can help him further grow as a football coach.

Having been involved with pro football for generations Belichick’s ability to both innovate and adjust to an ever changing game and landscape has been nothing short of remarkable.

This is a laser focused individual who revels in X’s and O’s and winning football games—which actually was what he was hired to do– and is his sole purpose. But his continuing intellectual fascination with the game has made him fresh, relevant and successful despite being the longest tenured coach in the game.

Belichick’s ability to evaluate and spot talent is not confined to the football field. He has spawned a family football tree that is the length of many fields.

Belichick in some ways is reminiscent of Vince Lombardi.  I had the pleasure of speaking in depth with Bill Maraniss Lombardi’s biographer about Lombardi’s personality traits and characteristics.

Winning for both Lombardi and Belichick was and is the only thing– with both men sharing obsessive compulsive and perfectionistic tendencies. Perfection for both men is the only goal and winning provides ways to get better and learn more.

Belichick in particular does not seem to care what others think of him which is either a sign of security or a singularity of purpose-or both. Anything that gets in the way or is considered a distraction is minimized and jettisoned.

Belichick’s record and well documented successes are already up there with the likes of the all-time greats and he is far from done, while already being a sure bet for being in the Hall of Fame.  But before that happens we will continue to be entertained and rewarded with getting to watch a true genius at work.