INDIANAPOLIS -- Bill Belichick strode to the brightly lit NFL podium in a dark suit Sunday night for his first meeting with the media at Super Bowl XLVI. He smiled. He was congenial, almost charming.
When asked to speak on a personal note, about his father Steve, Belichick didn't treat the query brusquely as he's so infamous for doing. He took his time. He seemed to savor thinking about how his dad's career as assistant coach at the United States Naval Academy influenced his own path in the NFL.
"I grew up with football," he said. "It was my life as a kid, what I first remember, 4, 5, 6 years old and for, obviously, the rest of my life. He had a huge impact on my childhood, my love for the game and my involvement in the game as a coach.
"Even though I played poorly," Belichick smiled, "it was still a good experience to play. But coaching's really always been my love. I think a lot of little things he did in terms of work ethic, teamwork, and being around the Naval Academy influenced me. Of course, that's a very unique atmosphere particularly as it relates to football -- the teamwork that comes with that and the commitment and so forth that those players and those teams had that I saw at a very young age: the Joe Bellinos, the Roger Staubachs, the Pat Donnellys. I know it's really hard to measure what percentage of an impact that was, but I'd say it was significant -- it was huge."
Steve Belichick was with the U.S. Naval Academy from 1956 to 1989. Bill soon set off in the NFL -- in 1975 with the Baltimore Colts -- long before his father retired, but he didn't cut the cord and move on. The relationships Bill Belichick made growing up with those Midshipmen left an indelible mark on his life.
"I still maintain close contact with those players today. I think it's something that's stayed with me throughout my life, even though I wasn't actually ever a part of those teams -- I'd been adopted by some of them. It's a special feeling."
He also gave a nod to his coach at Annapolis High School, Al Laramore. Laramore is a Maryland legend, the only coach in state history to win a championship in three sports (football, basketball, and lacrosse, says Belichick). The man is an Anne Arundel County Sports Hall of Famer. Maybe the title isn't one that inspired awe in the Indianapolis media room, but it means the world to the Super Bowl XLVI coach who stood before all those reporters Sunday night.
"He had a lot of the same attitudes as my father towards playing and teamwork and so forth. I grew up that way and I guess that shaped me to a large degree."
Today Bill Belichick is a man with three NFL championships under his belt. In another week, the comparisons to Laramore, to his father could be even greater.