EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

Sports

July 24, 2008

Picking up the pieces: As camp opens, Belichick busy rebuilding Patriots' mystique, reputation

FOXBORO — It is the day before the new year — the football new year, that is — and Bill Belichick looks nothing like the mad scientist he is often made out to be.

Heck, the New England Patriots head coach doesn't even look mad considering what happened last February and the ensuing months.

First, there was the catastrophic Super Bowl loss to the Giants, which was later mixed in with the agony that was the Matt Walsh fiasco. The latter kept Belichick No. 1 on sports' Most Hated List for much of the late winter and early spring.

You would expect Belichick's Gillette Stadium office to be as lavish as that of a powerful oil company's CEO. It's not. In fact, it is as dull as his famed grey sweatshirt.

Elbow room is at a premium. The window behind his desk barely shows any light with the blind pulled down most of the way. And the nearby love seat has a few pictures, an article of clothing and a small box taking up most of sitting area.

The commotion on this day is understandable. Yesterday was a moving day of sorts. Most of the rookies and veterans who weren't here already for training camp were arriving in droves.

Belichick's office door was like a turnstile of super minds. Offensive coordinator Josh McDaniel walked out of his office after about 10 minutes and linebackers coach Matt Patricia replaced him, coming in to speak to the head coach for about five minutes.

Belichick put the exclusive interview with The Eagle-Tribune on hold, though, when Patriots general manager Scott Pioli entered, needing a few private words with the coach.

"Nine years? It's been nine years already," said Belichick when the questioning resumed, appearing to just then realize he is the third longest-tenured coach in the NFL (Denver's Mike Shanahan and Tennessee's Jeff Fisher enter their 13th seasons with their teams).

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