In 1970 Ed Sabol convinced Kansas City Chiefs coach Hank Stram to wear a microphone in the course of Super Bowl IV, and the result was an NFL Films documentary that gave fans an unprecedented appear inside the mind of a coach. It took 4 decades, but NFL Films may possibly have finally topped itself.
Bill Belichick: A Football Life, an NFL Films documentary that premieres on NFL Network Thursday night, is structurally various from the Super Bowl IV video but comparable in the level of insight it offers: Unless you’ve been on an NFL coaching staff, you haven’t noticed an NFL coach like this prior to. Throughout the 2009 season Belichick gave NFL Films access to almost everything — the locker room, the sideline, team meetings, discussions with Patriots owner Robert Kraft, quiet moments with Belichick’s son, everything — and the resulting documentary is really extraordinary.
Among the most intriguing moments are the ones when Belichick talks to or talks about opposing players. At one point in the course of a Patriots-Ravens game, Baltimore receiver Derrick Mason approaches the New England sideline and says some thing to Belichick, to which Belichick replies, “Why do not we speak right after the game, alright? Just shut the f-k up.” But with footage from game-planning sessions, viewers can see how a lot Belichick respects particular opposing players, notably Jets cornerback Darrelle Revis and Ravens safety Ed Reed.
When Belichick gets angry on the sideline, it is usually simply because some thing he addressed in those game-preparing sessions doesn’t get executed properly on Sunday. Footage of Belichick telling his staff in a meeting that the defense has to be ready for passes to the Jets’ Jerricho Cotchery and Dustin Keller in the seam are interspersed with the Jets successfully passing to Cotchery and Keller in the seam.
“That’s two down the seam,” Belichick barks after the Jets’ large plays. “That’s what we were talking about all week.”
But Belichick is also surprisingly funny on the sidelines, ribbing Wes Welker about Julian Edelman becoming the Wally Pipp to Welker’s Lou Gehrig (a reference Welker didn’t get), and telling officials who were wearing orange-striped AFL throwback uniforms, “You should have noticed the s-t they tried to put me in.”
In a moment from 2009 that feels particularly compelling in light of the Patriots’ surprising decision in 2010 to trade Randy Moss, Belichick can be heard complaining to his coaching staff that the team’s wide receivers do not have a strong enough work ethic. Belichick stated he wished his receivers would have taken it upon themselves to stay after practice to do additional work with Tom Brady.
“Wednesday practice is over and where do the receivers go? Straight in,” Belichick said. “‘We’ve got it all down. We don’t need to have extra work.’ That sums it up for me.”
Not every little thing about Belichick is tough-nosed, nevertheless. Belichick is shown fighting back tears when he reminisces about his years as an assistant with the Giants, saying, “It’s difficult not to get choked up about it.”
It is tough not to enjoy access like that. NFL Films delivered in a huge way with Bill Belichick: A Football Life.