Belichick strikes just the right tone
July 24, 2013, 4:15 pm
FOXBORO -- “It’s a sad day. It’s really a sad day. On so many levels.”
The first words of Bill Belichick’s statement about the Aaron Hernandez situation were a relief.
Honest. Unguarded. Open. Sincere. If the New England Patriots were to move forward with its fan base both as a football team and as a source of pride, Belichick needed to say something about how he personally felt about it.
He did much more. Belichick’s remarks showed the personal pain he’s been feeling since Hernandez's name was linked to the murder of Odin Lloyd. In doing that, Belichick made it impossible for discussion of whether or not he satisfied some imaginary level of atonement to dominate discussion. It put the focus where it belonged -- on the death of Odin Lloyd and the pain the organization felt at having an employee arrested for murder.
By being open, Belichick closed the door on anyone who wants to cast Belichick as arrogant, unfeeling and above it all. And there were many ready to do that as speculation about whether or not Belichick would fully address the situation were accompanied by “He damn well better . . .” implications.
Did Belichick have to speak openly? Going into the press conference, I believed he should but wondered what the real fallout would be if he chose not to. Media types would eviscerate him? Happens regularly anyway.
Only after he began speaking did I realize how much people needed to hear exactly what he was saying. The Patriots are very much part of the spiritual fabric of this region. They have their success and the way they conducted themselves as they became an NFL dynasty to thank for that. New England is proud of the Patriots.
And it can be again because Belichick spoke so eloquently.
Was it the “right” thing to do? Seemed to be. Yet I don’t think it was calculated. Yes, a decision was made in how to address it. But the candor and lack of reservation Belichick showed leads me to believe that there was no question in his mind of how to do it. Had he vacillated or become prickly, even when answering questions he’d already answered or saying he wouldn’t comment further, the sense that he wished he’d approached it another way may have crept in.
That never happened.
Bill Belichick sounded the right tone. He did a good job. But applying a grade to a press conference in which the subject is young lives have been taken and thrown away is a little crass.
Suffice to say it was cleansing on the level of showing how personally hurt the Patriots are. And that it’s a sad day. A sad month. A sad, sad story.