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In chummy CNBC interview, Bill Belichick shows his fondness for celebrity

04.13.17 at 2:28 pm ET
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Bill Belichick, pictured here with Bon Jovi, appears to enjoy his celebrity.  (Robert Deutsch/USA Today Sports)

Bill Belichick, pictured here with Bon Jovi, appears to enjoy his celebrity. (Robert Deutsch/USA Today Sports)

Bill Belichick may put on a dour demeanor during press conferences. But the truth is, he seems to relish his celebrity –– as long as the pesky Patriots media isn’t asking him questions about his football team.

In a lengthy sit-down interview with CNBC’s Suzy Welch, the wife of retired business executive Jack Welch, Belichick didn’t exhibit any of his gruff tendencies. He smiled, spoke in complete sentences and even laughed a couple of times. It was quite different from how he acts when a reporter asks him about the injury report. That’s for sure.

Take a look at the transcript of Belichick’s game of word association with Welch, for example. If a beat writer were to ask him about Deflategate or Aaron Hernandez, his answers would probably be a bit more curt:

Football: More sport than business. But it is a business. That I respect the game for the game and the sport.

The Media: It is how a team connects to its fans.

Winning: The goal. There’s no medals for trying. This isn’t like eighth grade where everybody gets a trophy. We are in a professional sport, and it is competitive to win. That’s what we do.

Deflategate: Ridiculous.

Aaron HernandezTragedy.

Perfect day: Nantucket.

Now, compare that to Belichick answering a question in a postgame press conference.

Few people use the media better than Belichick. More times than not, it doesn’t benefit him to answer questions about roster construction or coaching strategy, so he abstains. But on occasions in which he wants to get a message out there, such as Deflategate, he’s informative and transparent. Following a rocky press conference from Tom Brady shortly after the scandal broke –– he rambled on about how he prepares his “balls” –– Belichick shifted the narrative. He explained the Ideal Gas Law at a surprise presser two days later, absolving Brady from blame in the process.

Belichick, a known history buff, understands the importance of his legacy. It benefits his reputation to answer softball questions on CNBC or hobnob with Jimmy Fallon on “The Tonight Show.” He shows a different side of himself to a national audience, softening his image in the process.

But there’s likely another reason why Belichick opened up to Welch for an NBC feature in the middle of an Annapolis-based BBQ restaurant: it’s fun. Previewing an upcoming opponent in the bowels of Gillette Stadium to an assortment of grubby beat writers isn’t nearly as glamorous.

Belichick may have no use for the annual AFC coaches photo, but he’s willing to pose for pictures with Kid Rock at Tiger Woods’ restaurant in Florida. The typically brusque head coach also enjoys a longstanding bromance with Jon Bon Jovi. During the AFC championship game, Belichick even took some time to sing along to Bon Jovi’s “Livin’ on a Prayer,” while the rocker led a singalong from a luxury box.

“We’ve shared a lot of great moments together, including the 1990 Super Bowl [with the Giants] in Tampa, where he was in the locker room after the game still taking crazy pictures and stuff like that; great memories from there,” Belichick told ESPN afterwards. “It was great to have Jon here, and I always appreciate his great support. Yeah, it was quite a moment, one that you usually don’t see at a professional football game. It was special.”

The only person who Belichick speaks more glowingly about is President Donald Trump. On the night before the election, Trump read aloud a flowery endorsement letter from Belichick.

“You have dealt with an unbelievable slanted and negative media and have come out beautifully. You’ve proved to be the ultimate competitor and fighter,” it read. “Your leadership is amazing. I have always had tremendous respect for you, but the toughness and perseverance you have displayed over the past year is remarkable. Hopefully tomorrow’s election results will give the opportunity to Make America Great Again.”

Belichick, who’s a paying member at Trump’s luxury resort, Mar-a-Lago, appears to be the polar opposite of the president. He’s involved in every facet of the Patriots’ organization, even showing up at pro days across the country . Trump, meanwhile, once said he skips intelligence briefings because he’s, “like, a smart person.”

Then again, it’s apparent there are multiple layers to Belichick. Inside of Gillette Stadium, he’s a football cyborg. But once he leaves Foxborough, and heads to his $4.6 million estate in Nantucket, he morphs into a star-chaser.

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