FOXBORO — It is rather late in the game for Bill Belichick to change his image.
As the coach likes to say himself, “It is what it is.”
While he is one of the most successful coaches of his era, Belichick has never been a candidate for the “Most Popular” award. He does nothing to promote himself, often is curt with the media and makes it clear that the public relations aspect of his job is not a priority.
At least that’s the way it was for his first 38 years in the league. In year 39, Belichick seems to be acting differently.
He handled himself beautifully in dealing with the Aaron Hernandez situation. He has been pleasant through training camp. On Monday, as his team held its final practice before heading to Philadelphia for four days, Belichick was at his engaging and entertaining best in his meeting with reporters.
Two areas stood out. One was a question dealing with tight end play in the NFL. For that one, Belichick put on his professorial hat (an area where he always has been excellent) and provided a lesson on why it is one of the most difficult positions to play.
Then, later, he was asked about his weekend trip to Canton, Ohio, for the Hall of Fame ceremonies and he all but gushed about what a great time he had, displaying his personality much more than he usually does.
It is hard to tell whether he is doing it intentionally, but the coach does seem to be different from in the past. A question about his trip to Canton elicited a delightful response.
“It was a great experience,” he said.
“It was awesome. It was impressive.”
Belichick spoke about how he has coached in the Hall of Fame game twice, but had never been to the weekend as basically just another fan. He went this time to show his support for his former boss, Bill Parcells, who was one of the inductees.