SBD/September 9, 2011/NFL Season Preview

NFL Films Debut Of "Bill Belichick: A Football Life" Receives Favorable Reviews

Belichick seen relaxing in Nantucket during NFL Films special
A sneak preview of NFL Films' upcoming special on Patriots coach Bill Belichick showed that the "anticipation is rewarded," and NFL Films "in its usual way ... has gotten Belichick right," according to Chad Finn of the BOSTON GLOBE. The two-part "Bill Belichick: A Football Life" will air on NFL Network Sept. 15, and the first episode begins with the words, "If you think you know Bill Belichick, think again." Immediately following is a "prolonged scene of the Belichick we certainly don't know, relaxed and barefoot and fishing on his boat off the Nantucket coast." While a "skeptic may wonder about Belichick's motives" for allowing NFL Films to put a microphone on him throughout the '09 season, one reason "is obvious: his well-documented affinity for the sport and its history." There is enough "insight and candor to believe in the genuineness of Belichick's intentions." NFL Films not only "documents legacies, but in some instances it has created them," and there is "an element of shrewdness in Belichick allowing himself to become the first person miked by NFL Films for an NFL season." But, the motives "are pure enough, and his is a legacy worth documenting." For "football junkies, the biggest thrills and chills come when his coaching acumen is on full display, whether it's with his son Brian ... or when he's rapid-fire quizzing his team on specific game situations." There is also "repeated confirmation of his oft-rumored dry sense of humor." The moments when Belichick is "engulfed in football minutiae" with Patriots QB Tom Brady stand out. But Finn writes the episode also "reminds us of what we already knew about Bill Belichick: He's an extraordinarily prepared coach with a knack for making smart football decisions" (BOSTON GLOBE, 9/9).

UNDERNEATH THE HOODIE: In Boston, Ian Rapoport writes the "portrait painted of Belichick leaves you with a supreme understanding of simply, how he leads his football team." Rapoport: "You don't leave the viewing thinking that the point was to show you, here's why Belichick is the best ever, yada yada. ... You come away with a sincere respect not only for what he goes through and how he approaches the team, but how every coach lives" (BOSTONHERALD.com, 9/9). CABLEFAX DAILY writes, "Belichick is less phlegmatic than his rep and emerges as a decent fellow with an occasional dry wit. Besides the access, what's most impressive is hearing and watching him dissect an upcoming game" (CABLEFAX DAILY, 9/9).

EMOTIONAL ROLLER COASTER: ESPN.com's Mike Reiss wrote one of the "more powerful moments came when Belichick reflected on his days with the Giants, touring old Giants Stadium before the team's Week 2 game against the Jets that season." Reiss: "He chokes up. Some of the memories were from behind the scenes, such as racquetball games against Bill Parcells." Throughout the episode there are "plenty of other interesting nuggets," like hearing Belichick "trash-talking with then-Ravens receiver Derrick Mason during a Week 4 game, with some we're-going-to-have-to-bleep-this-out language." Viewers also discover Belichick "wanted to avoid a postgame handshake with Broncos head coach Josh McDaniels, his former offensive coordinator, so he embraced him before the game and told him they'd just wave afterward" (ESPN.com, 9/7).
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