A couple of days ago I brought you the latest in a long line of our political and military leaders invoking Bill Belichick's name when it came to addressing the biggest challenges facing our country. To review, Acting Defense Secretary Christopher Miller sent a memo to his entire department that read in part:
"As we embark on this clear path forward, I often reflect on the simple, yet powerful, leadership mantra of the incomparable football coach, Bill Belichick, ‘Do your job.’ We are a team, and that should be the mindset. Focus on your assignment. Complete the task at hand. And if each one of us does so to the best of our abilities, nothing can stop us from achieving our objectives and successfully accomplishing the mission. That is what I am committed to doing every single day as your secretary."
And I mentioned how the next day, when asked about it, Belichick responded:
"Well, I appreciate the kind words from Secretary Miller. When you consider the type of leadership that he’s shown throughout his career and serving our country, it really means a lot. I’m flattered by the reference that he made. I’d just say, while we’re on the subject, I read his point about combatting [transnational] threats and I couldn’t help but think and hope that we’ve seen from other countries around the world and I hope that our country will take action against Turkey and Azerbaijan for their unprovoked and deadly attacks on Armenians. We’ve seen when humanitarian crisis and things like that, like ethnic cleaning, go unpunished, they just continue to happen. I hope that we can put a stop to that. But, I appreciate the question, Jim . It’s really a flattering comment from Secretary Miller. What a tremendous career he’s had in protecting our freedom and help give us the opportunity to do what we do, and that’s coach and play football."
Which struck me as pretty reasonable. "The Secretary of Defense said something nice about me and I appreciate the mention. And while it's just us talking, he also talked about international threats and I just want to work in a plug for this situation I'm really passionate about and I hope he addresses it. But again, I'm grateful he brought my name up." That's less politics than you'd expect from someone winning a Golden Globe.
Today in his presser, he was asked about it. And Pro Football Talk for one, was not happy with his answer:
[H]e was asked the natural followup question during a press conference: “What are the determinants in your view in how you go about using your platform in order to speak out on various issues?”
It’s a fair question, especially given the “stick to sports” message that so many will send when athletes or coaches address political issues (or, more specifically, political issues that disagree with their own political views). So what’s the answer, Bill? What are the factors that cause you to use your platform to bring attention to a cause other than football?
“I really try to focus most of my attention on coaching football,” Belichick said. “But there was a very nice comment made there and so it really is kind of along the lines of the comment that . . . Secretary [of Defense Christopher Miller] made.”
That answer, frankly, is either evasive or nonsensical. Basically, he’s saying he took a hard right turn into political activism in response to a compliment from a politician. There’s simply no logical connection between the two. Making the connection even more unusual is the fact that Belichick met the compliment with a challenge, given the current administration’s policy regarding the conflict in question.
His answer might have been evasive - that is, after all, his default setting and it's served him alright for the last 45 years or so - but it's not nonsensical. After all, he was being asked about the head of the United States Armed Forces, not accepting the award for Best Supporting Actress: Series, Miniseries or Motion Picture Made for Television. Nor is it that hard a turn. At most is a slight turn. A digression. More like stemming off your route when the middle of the field is open. It's not like he was asked about Romeo Crennel and pivoted to, "He's a great defensive mind. And you know who needs all the defenses they can get right now? The Armenians. …" And not any more political than when he opened his postgame presser mentioning the helmet stickers his players wore to honor fallen military heroes before beginning to discuss the game.
More to the point, is what he said controversial? Are his words going to divide the country? Or harm the league by alienating the key pro-humanitarian crisis demo that advertisers covet so much? I say this as someone who wants absolutely nothing to do with us sending any more troops into harm's way to fight someone else's battles. And want the ones who are serving in the 20th big year in some other places brought home and I want it five minutes ago. But honest to God, I wasn't offended by the guy dropping in a message of a cause that means so much to him when he knows his words will go straight into the ears of the guy who started this conversation. And whose job it is to come up with a strategy to solve these issues. I can't imagine anyone is.
Frankly, PFT would have a point if Belichick was someone ordering his players and staff not to talk about current events. He's the furthest thing from it. If anything, his players spent the better part of the summer praising him for conducting Zoom calls to do that very thing. To hold conversations about matters that were diving the country then and still are. There's no one in the organization he runs who'd say, "Why does he get to talk about non-football stuff but told me I can't?" Because that person doesn't exist. And I hardly think his comments are going to screw up the game plan for Houston because the people in his locker room who are all about those deadly attacks from Turkey and Azerbaijan are going to take offense.
But thanks for yet another non-troversy