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What does Belichick think of the Favre deal?

August 24, 2008|Bob Glauber | Newsday

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- Seeing as how the Jets made a somewhat significant trade recently -- for a quarterback who eventually will go into the Hall of Fame -- I figured Patriots coach Bill Belichick might have a thought or two about how said transaction might affect his team this year.

So recently I spoke with him off in a corner of the press box at Gillette Stadium. For some reason, I could tell this was not going to be an easy interview. I guess the stare was the first tipoff. The shrug was another.

So, any thoughts on Brett Favre? "He's a great player," Belichick said.

Long pause. Then this: "We're just trying to get our team ready for the season. That's what everybody's trying to do."

OK, let me go at this a different way. I ask Belichick about his experiences bringing in veterans from other teams, and the challenge it poses trying to get them ready for the season.

"Well, it's different with different guys, depending on their backgrounds," he said. "Some guys take longer to learn your system. I don't think there's any set way to go about it at all."

OK, now we're getting somewhere . . . or so I think.

After a few seconds of more awkward silence -- this from a coach I've interviewed regularly since 1985, when he was the Giants' wunderkind defensive coordinator -- Belichick quipped: "If you want to do a Jets story, I can't help you with the Jets. Go to the Jets if you want to do a Jets story."

After a few more perfunctory questions, end of interview. A whole lot of nothin'.

But upon further reflection, this might have been just as revealing a discussion as I've ever had with Belichick. Over the years, we've discussed anything from his watching film alongside his father while growing up, to the finer points of zone defenses, to his use of a documentary film about the explorer Sir Ernest Shackleton's perseverance after being stranded for more than a year off the coast of Antarctica.

But coming off a 2007 season that began with the Jets turning in the Patriots for illegally taping defensive signals, then turned into the first 16-0 regular season in NFL history but ended with a crushing upset by the Giants in the Super Bowl, Belichick has his game face on early.

So does his team. Still loaded with more talent than almost anyone else, yet still smarting from the swirl of events that didn't go away until May, when former team videographer Matt Walsh conceded he had no new evidence to further implicate the Pats in the Spygate scandal, it is all business for Belichick & Co.

"We'll prepare our team the way we have to do and get ready for Kansas City in the opener," Belichick said earlier in our interview. "Our focus isn't on what everyone else is doing. It's about what we're doing. We'll have to be good enough in a different area to meet the challenge, both personnel-wise and scheme-wise."

No need to ask about what comes in Week 2. You know. I know. He knows. It's Patriots-Jets at the Meadowlands. The intensity will be palpable. That much is certain; Belichick's demeanor was only the latest reminder. His players' intensity in practice is another. How intense? Unlike most teams, who have cut back dramatically on the use of pads in practice in hopes of keeping fresher heading into the regular season, the Patriots have had the pads on all summer. For every . . . single . . . practice.

I asked why he didn't feel the need to back off like most teams. "We don't worry about what everybody else does," he said. "We just worry about what's best for us."

OK, how about this: With all of last year's controversy no longer a factor, does it at least seem quieter around here now that it's just about football again?

"I don't know," he said. "You could ask [media relations director] Stacey ."

Well, is Belichick at least glad to be beyond the turmoil?

"That's been over for quite a while," he said.

And so it went for a coach whose laser-like focus is squarely on his own team. With more than two weeks left before the regular season, it is all business for Belichick. Any more questions about the Jets and their new quarterback, don't ask Belichick. Go see the Jets.

Good luck in Week 2, Mr. Favre.

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