ATLANTA — On Wednesday, Bill Belichick fielded yet another question about his future once he decides to retire as the head coach of the New England Patriots. He usually, as respectfully as Belichick can, declines to answer and says he’s focused on the immediate future, which in this case happens to be the big game on Sunday against the Rams.
This time the question was about whether he’d write a book once he retires.
“I don’t know. Right now I’m just trying to get ready for the Rams,” Belichic said. “That’s a full-time job. We’ll worry about that other stuff some other time.”
He paused, with just the right amount of comedic timing that fits his dry sense of humor.
“…Would you buy one?” he asked.
A book written by Belichick to memorialize his coaching career would be so highly anticipated that it would secure an advance into the seven figures. This book will be demanded by the football gods whether he wants to write it or not, providing insights into his coaching philosophies, his take on Spygate and Deflategate, his reasoning behind trading away Jimmy Garoppolo and more.
But other than the book, what else will Belchick do in his post-coaching life? There’d be golf in Jupiter, Fla. He’d get on his boat in Nantucket and spend plenty of quality time with his grandkids.
How about a TV career for the greatest football coach of all-time?
It seemed a bit far-fetched; Bill Belichick—the surly, monotone coach who offers nothing to reporters in his press conferences—voluntarily going in front of the cameras live to excitedly talk about the game to millions of viewers?
It’s unclear whether Belichick would ever have any interest in this career path, but people I spoke with all seemed to believe he would be great as a talking head—after they stifled their laughter, of course.
“I have no idea. He would really have to want to do it. And if he put as much effort into a broadcasting career as he did his coaching career, I think he could offer some remarkable insights,” Sean McManus, the president of CBS Sports, says. “I’ve spent time with him away from the cameras and he’s a very engaging, articulate and can be an enthusiastic person to talk to about football. I think everyone looks at press conferences and says there’s no way that guy can be on television. But if you’ve spent time with him in a one-on-one, he’s an engaging guy. And if he wanted to do it, I think he’d be good at it.”
McManus struck gold when he brought Tony Romo to CBS, and Romo may be the second-biggest storyline this week behind officiating. Ian O’Connor, who last year authored a Belichick biography, told me Belichick would “be Romo times five.”
Combine Belichick’s extensive knowledge of all three phases of football with his ability to process and analyze information in real-time, and it would seem that his best fit could be as a color analyst like Romo.
“There are friends and associates that I talked to who are frustrated by the fact that he doesn’t show his humanity in the public arena,” O’Connor says. “And I think if he stopped coaching and he went into the booth, he would open up that window to his soul and show a little more humanity than he does now.
“I think concerns fans around the country, particularly outside of New England, would have about his personality, they would see he’s a complete human being and that would come out and make him even better.”
After spending nine years as the Ravens coach and winning Super Bowl XXXV, Brian Billick has been with FOX, ABC and NFL Network in various roles since 2008, and he does not foresee Belichick going to the booth. He can’t imagine Belichick having a millennial producer in his ear telling him to talk more about a screen pass, and he remembers the toll it took on Bill Walsh when he left the 49ers in 1989 and joined NBC’s top crew for three years before returning to coaching.
“It wore Bill Walsh out, and I worked with Bill [Walsh] on a number of different levels,” Billick says. “And Bill was a natural for it. He was intelligent and articulate. But he said, ‘Brian I can’t do it anymore. The lack of football…’”
Billick says he’s been cautioned before about talking too much football in the booth, that getting too technical will go over people’s heads. But I quickly reminded him that people are loving it with Romo on CBS.
“Yeah, even though he’s right about a third of the time,” Billick says. “Romo reminds me that middle linebacker who comes up to the line of scrimmage who says, ‘Watch out for the screen! Watch out for the draw! And watch out for the deep pass!’ Ooook. And I’m going to be right about one of them. I love it and it’s great energy and great fun.
“If Bill [Belichick] does that, God bless him.”
What’s far more likely for Belichick post-coaching is an analyst gig that gets the Patriots’ coach in and out quickly, says Scott Zolak, who has been co-hosting Belichick Breakdowns on Patriots All-Access with The Hoodie for the past seven years. Zolak sees Belichick in a role similar to Tony Dungy’s film breakdowns with Rodney Harrison on NBC’s Football Night in America.
“You put him in a five-minute segment, I think you’re getting everything you can out of him,” Zolak says. “It’s like cooking a steak. You put the butter and onions in and you get your wine reduction. You let that thing reduce down. You want to concentrate it. If you get Belichick concentrated for a three-to-five minute segment, that’s money.”
At 66 years old, there’s no telling how much longer Belichick will keep coaching, but sticking with Brady through his age-45 season would put Belichick at 70 years old. And when he finally does hang up the headset, he should have plenty of interested parties on the network side.
“If he wanted to do TV, I think every single network would be foolish not to audition him and see what it sounds like,” CBS play-by-play announcer Jim Nantz says. “It would be fun one time to give him a headset to say, ‘Let’s go do a game.’”
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