PHOENIX – It's no secret that Bill Belichick isn't very fond of the mandatory media breakfast at the NFL Annual Meeting. He routinely shows up late and has little to say once he arrives.
Tuesday in Arizona was no exception.
However, after appearing in the traditional coaches photo – something he's elected to forego in previous years – winning the Super Bowl, and attending a Cactus League spring training game, you might've thought he'd be in a little bit brighter mood. Well, turns out, he's not very fond of the Annual Meeting in general. Asked directly if he gets much out of the most important gathering of NFL decision makers, he responded flatly, "No," adding grudgingly, "I mean there's some discussion about the rules proposals…"
So let's begin there in our assessment of Belichick's latest appearance in front of cameras and microphones. Belichick and the Patriots have re-submitted their three proposed rule changes from a year ago that were not instituted. One that Belichick is particularly passionate about is the fixed camera technology in the end zone areas, to aid in instant replays. Some of the league's power brokers have cited costs as an obstacle to approving that idea.
"You know, it's disappointing that we can't afford that, as a league," he remarked. "They brought that up as a concern. Kind of surprising to hear that."
With respect to his other suggested changes – allowing all plays to be challenged by coaches and moving the line of scrimmage for extra points to the 15-yard line – as well as the NFL's proposal to eliminate ineligible receivers lining up in spread formations (something Belichick employed during the playoffs), his response was customarily phlegmatic.
"Whatever the rules are, they are. Whatever the membership goes with, that's what we'll play by… I'm not going to lose any sleep over it."
On other Patriots-related matters, the Patriots head coach wouldn't bite.
Losing high-profile players to other teams this month?
"That's NFL free agency," he stated matter-of-factly.
What about the new veteran players he's signed… what drew his attention to them and how will they be utilized?
"We'll see how it goes," he said almost every time.
Belichick was also asked about the ongoing NFL investigation into supposed underinflated footballs used by his team during the most recent AFC Championship Game.
"Talk to the league about that," was all he would say.
A couple of topics actually got Belichick to smile. One was baseball. Belichick, as noted, attended a game here in Arizona this week, and a reporter wanted to know if Belichick could coach first base, as former 49ers coach (now Michigan boss) Jim Harbaugh did earlier this month as a stunt during a pre-season game.
"First base? I could probably handle that. What do you do, take the guy's gloves after he gets a hit?" said Belichick, almost chuckling. "Knee pad, whatever it is. I don't think you wade into second [base], do you? What's a first-base coach do?"
The other light moment came when a reporter asked about the renaming of Belichick's boat, the "V Rings," a tribute to the combined number of Super Bowl rings he's won as an NFL assistant and head coach. He now has six, so, someone wondered if he's going to make the vessel the "VI Rings."
"Working on that," he grinned.
In all likelihood, the next time we hear publicly from Belichick will be during draft weekend, beginning April 30.