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Bill Belichick Press Conference

Bryant College, Smithfield, RINew England Patriots Head Coach Bill Belichick speaks to the press.

B: Just to bring you up to where we are today, we met this morning on San Francisco. We're going to practice this afternoon and practice all of our situations, moving the field, goal line, all of our situations, all of those kinds of things. Tomorrow we're going to review a lot of the more unusual situations that could come up. Taking a safety, onside kick, those kinds of things. We're just going to try to pull it all together in the next 24 hours and then we'll head out tomorrow. When we get out to Canton, we're gonna workout in the stadium. We're going to take the players to the Hall of Fame tomorrow night. I think it is important, I know a lot of our players haven't been to the Hall of Fame before, and I think it is important for them to see what has gone before them. What has made this game so special, who some of the people are who have gone before them, maybe a little further back then some of them remember. I think visually, having been to the Hall of Fame many times myself, it makes a little bit more of an impression on you then reading or hearing about it. You get to really see some pretty special things. They've done a really great job with the Hall of Fame. It is a pretty special place to all of us involved in the game.

Q: How do you prepare for the strange scheduling of the upcoming week?

B: Next week will be a short week. We have three of those this year. The Hall of Fame game, the Detroit game, and the Tampa and Carolina games. Then in the regular season we play Detroit on Thanksgiving Day so that will be another short one. So actually we have two short weeks going to Detroit. So the opportunity here in the preseason will be to get used to that, for the short weeks in the regular season. We also have two short weeks following Monday night games, not as short, but shorter. It is less time than normal. We'll have to accelerate our preparation and again it will be a good preparation for when we really deal with that situation later on in the preseason and again in the regular season. We'll already have a routine and know how to deal with it after we go through it this week. Maybe the next time it comes up we'll do one or two things a little bit differently to smooth it out.

Q: How do you feel about the number of preseason games this season?

B: I remember my first year in the league, in Baltimore, we went to training camp July fifth and our first regular season game was September 28. I hear the players talk about training camp now, but they don't know what training camp was. We had three and a half weeks of training camp before we even played a preseason game. We didn't play a preseason game until August fourth. So we were in camp for a month and then had six preseason games after that. We all know the game has changed. You can do it a lot of different ways just as long as it is a level field. Whether it is four or five games, that is pretty level, but if we have four and everybody else has six, then that it is a little bit of a disadvantage. If everybody has about the same number of games then everyone is playing on the same table. Nobody would be where they were after six preseason games, but then you'd have to cut out some other things. It doesn't really matter to me. I've dealt with both of them. I would say that the six preseason games was a little bit long, and going to camp three and a half weeks before that really tacked on to it. That was in the day when the teams brought in a hundred free agents and that was a free agent camp. Teams like Dallas would bring in 70 to 100 guys into training camp. Then when the preseason games started they would cut it down 20 or 30, kind of where everybody is now. On the one hand it gave people more opportunities. You have those 25th round draft choices like (Roosevelt) "Rosie" Brown, it gave people like him an opportunity too. I think what we have now is not a bad set up right now. If it goes to two games, it goes to two.

Q: In many cases, the teaching that used to take place in training camp takes place in off-season camps.

B: As you get into the shorter camps, that really is a necessity. As a player you don't have the length of time to play yourself into shape. You have to come to camp in shape, because the treadmill is running a little bit faster when you get on it. That definitely is true. There is a high emphasis, and I did it, on players being ready to go when they come to camp. When you get down to it, there really are only 10 days of training camp. Once you get past those 10 days then you're getting ready to play your first preseason game. Whether you have five or four, you only have a couple days to get ready for it. You might find a couple training camp days sprinkled into a long week somewhere later on in the preseason, but in terms of getting your system in and getting it up and rolling and getting ready to play a preseason game, everybody only has about 15 days. You have to devote three or four of those to the game and that is what is left.

Q: How are you going to balance using the 3-4 defense with using the 4-3 defense? And what will Willie McGinest's role in that be?

B: The 3-4, 4-3 situation won't play itself out until later on down the road. Ultimately it is trying to teach defensive technique and fundamentals and we haven't gotten into any game planning or how we defend one team or another. To tell you the truth, I don't know who our best players are. We have a number of young players on the defensive line and some guys here that I haven't worked with and even some that are still here that I have worked with, it has still been three years. Where are they, what can they do, and how do they fit in with everybody else? What can Andy (Katzenmoyer) do? Where is Chad (Cascadden) now (in his rehabilitation)? Brandon Mitchell, guys like that, that I don't really have much background with, we have to see them play and see how it all fits together. Whether that is in the 4-3 or the 3-4, I've done both in the last three years, I think we can do either one, depending on what is best for us. The principles will be pretty much the same regardless and if we did have to change, or use both, I'd say 80 or 90 percent of it would carry over.

Q: Which will you go into the first game with?

B: We'll have some elements of both.

Q: How has Willie McGinest performed so far?

B: Willie (McGinest) is in good shape. Willie was one of our hardest workers in the off-season. I thought he made a lot of off-season gains physically from where he was in March. He has had a real good camp. He's been out there everyday. He's been consistent. He's performed well. We've asked him to do a lot of different things. He's learned a number of different spots, and hopefully that will give us the flexibility to utilize him in different spots in the 3-4 or the 4-3, whatever it happens to be where we can utilize him and get our best players out on the field.

Q: What are your favorite parts of the Hall of Fame?

B: That's a tough one. One interesting thing about the Hall of Fame, that isn't really open to the public, is the book collection. The number of football books, of course a number of those are pretty rare, old football books and they are behind closed doors in a special room with the temperature set for preservation and all that. I thought I had a decent football book collection, until I saw theirs. There are quite a few I don't have. That is something that I think a lot of people don't really know about. It is really impressive, gosh they have a lot of books. There's a lot more books written about football. I'm talking about old books too, twenties, thirties, forties, a lot more than you realize. I think some of the displays are interesting, especially the older displays like Red Grange, Jim Thorpe and players like that. I didn't see them play, but I've heard and read about them. They're legendary, but to actually see the uniform and cleats they wore. The equipment is really amazing. To see what the game has graduated from in terms of jerseys and pads, and helmets, it is amazing. When you look out and see today what players are wearing, it is amazing. Of course it affects a lot of techniques that people use. With the helmet the way it is now, it is a lot more of a part of the technique in blocking and tackling than it was forty or fifty years ago when they played without a facemask. It was a lot more of a shoulder game. I have a couple of my Dad's old jerseys from when he played in college and with the Lions, wool jerseys. One jersey that is it. They wore the same jersey in August that they did in November. Long sleeves, with the elbow pads sewn in, wool, and about five sizes too small. Can you imagine those in August? If we tried to put those on our players, we wouldn't get anyone out to practice, we'd have a revolt. We all know it was a different game. I was talking to Bill Lenkaitis last night at dinner and Tom Yewcic about 32, 33, 34 man rosters. That's all it was. You didn't get hurt. You couldn't get hurt. If you were hurt that was it, you'd never play again. So you had 33 guys. You had one who would back up the running back, a receiver, the tight end, a punter, another guy to back up on the line, you'd have five backups on each side of the ball. There were no kickers and punters, you played a position, then you kicked or you punted or you snapped. There were no specialists or substitutions. It wasn't too long ago that players went both ways. It was in my lifetime, let's put it that way. Then when you watch old films of them, they have those old films running, it is really amazing how the game has grown and evolved and the strategies change with it.

Q: What kind of football books do you have?

B: Football books, strategy and technique books. All of the coaches' books. Bob Zuppke, Knute Rockne, all of those guys, a lot of guys you've never heard of. (Amos Alonzo) Stagg of course, Walter Camp, those are some of the more famous ones that there are books by. Dana Bible. There are books by Chuck Mather about high school coaching in 1955. All the way back, it is pretty interesting. There is a book in 1932 or 1933 by Leroy Mills about punting.

Q: How did you acquire all of these books? Is that the kind of thing you collected, or do you have to go out and look for them?

B: You can't be that picky about those books, you can't say, "I'm looking for a book in 1930 about the passing game." You have to take whatever they wrote about. It's interesting. The box, the single-wing, the training rules they had – don't take a shower after games, it will zap all of your energy – some of them are comical really, some of the things that were talked about in the teens and 20s.

Q: Were people talking about those things back then?

B: Yes they were, it's amazing. I'm talking about technical football books, not the fictional football books about Johnny's fourth quarter touchdown pass or whatever it is, but (Knute) Rockne, (Amos Alonzo) Stagg, (Walter) Camp, and (Bob) Zuppke. All of those guys wrote about what they did and how they did it, how they coached it, it is pretty interesting. Obviously it is a totally different game, back then it was all power football. Seven, eight, and nine man fronts, very minimal passing game. Leverage, blocking and schemes, it is all pretty interesting.

Q: Is this open to the public?

B: No, they have it in their old library, especially some of the old and rarer ones. It is pretty extensive, I'm talking three or four of these rooms full of books. It is not just a stack of books. You could be there for a couple weeks. Then they archive all of the newspaper articles, so you can pretty much research anything.

Q: How many books do you have?

B: A couple hundred.

Q: Do you collect them?

B: Yes, I do. My Dad collected them. He threw me some of his leftovers and that kind of got me started. I added a few to it.

Q: Is there one in particular that you draw upon?

B: No there aren't. There is no bible if that is what you're looking for.

Q: How many of (Bill) Parcells' books do you have?

B: I try to keep up with some of the more recent ones too. The two (Bill) Walsh books are pretty good ones to read for today's game. Of all of the books written about pro football, contemporary books, Bill's two books are really written for pro coaches. If you're a pro coach, you have to read Bill's books. If there is a bible, it would be the two Bill Walsh books.

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