[wysifield-embeddedaudio|eid="357951"|type="embeddedaudio"|view_mode="full"]Integrity has been a big buzz word in the NFL all offseason.
Throughout this opening week Bill Belichick has had to read and listen as the integrity of his four-time Super Bowl-winning organization has been called into question in stories written by ESPN and Sport Illustrated and, Thursday night, by comments from Steelers coach Mike Tomlin in regards to headset communication issues during the season opener at Gillette Stadium.
And apparently Belichick had done enough reading and listening. Friday morning in his traditional next-day conference call with the local media he was ready to respond and defend the foundation of what he, owner Robert Kraft and endless players over the years have built in New England.
[O]ur program here is built on competition and trying to improve every day and trying to work hard. And it's not built on excuses.
Asked if he'd gotten any more information or answers in regards to the communication problems that both teams had in the rainy opener, Belichick began by talking specifically about that issue before using it as a jumping off point to defend his team in general.
"No. I'll just say, it's pretty common for …I mean there is a lot of stuff down there (on the sideline). There is the coach-to-quarterback stuff, offense and defense. There's the headsets to the press box. There's the tablets. There's a lot of stuff going on there. And you know we had some problems…just as an example we had some problems in the first half. Then it seemed to be OK and we got to the end of the game and the most problems we had were on our last possessions, our last two possessions on offense and defense. So sometimes it goes along and it's fine and then for some reason something happens and you know you go to the guys on the sideline, the blue hats or the purple hats, whatever they are called. Then you tell them about it and they fix it. I don't really know, I don't know enough about technology to know how any of that works. But that's how it goes. And, you know, we ended up hard-wiring a couple of our headsets to kind of eliminate the wireless part of it. You know, we…it's not an uncommon problem. We ended up having to signal some of our plays offensively and we couldn't get them in. But that's … we look at it as something you have to be ready for every week. And we practice it. So…home, away, I don't really think there is any common denominator on that."
That's when Belichick transitioned into responding to the rest of the criticisms of his team that came up seemingly as an addendum to this offseason's Deflategate saga.
Writing about warm drinks and trash cans and stuff like that. I mean it's just, I think it's a sad commentary and it's really a very, it's gone to a pretty low level. It's sunk pretty deep.
"But I'd just say on, kind of tying this in with a couple things from last week, or earlier in the week, I just think overall it's kind sad, really, to see some stories written that obviously have an agenda to them with misinformation and anonymous type comments. Writing about warm drinks and trash cans and stuff like that. I mean it's just, I think it's a sad commentary and it's really a very, it's gone to a pretty low level. It's sunk pretty deep. First of all I would say that our program here is built on competition and trying to improve every day and trying to work hard. And it's not built on excuses. And we just try to go to work and improve and find a way to get better.
"This organization has won a lot of games, but particularly in reference to the great teams from '01, '03, '04, back in there and all the great players that played that played on those teams: Ty Law, [Lawyer] Milloy, Otis Smith, Rodney Harrison, [Tedy] Bruschi, [Larry] Izzo, [Willie] McGinest, [Mike] Vrabel. [Anthony] Pleasant, [Richard] Seymour, Matt Light, [Joe] Andruzzi, Steve Neal, [Deion] Branch, Troy Brown, [Tom] Brady, Antowain Smith, Kevin Faulk, Corey Dillon, Lonie Paxton, [Adam] Vinatieri. To take away from what those guys accomplished, what those teams accomplished. How good they were. How many great players we had. How well they played in big games. How they consistently showed up and made big plays and game winning plays. It's not right. Those guys were great players, and many more. Those are a few of them. And great teams.
"I'm not going to get into a back and forth on it, but that's the way I feel about it."
The coach stuck to that sentiment when a couple follow-up questions tried to get him to expand on his comments or relay why he chose Friday as the time to verbalize his frustrations with the recent characterizations of his team and the program he runs in Foxborough.
"I'm not going to keep talking about it. I've said all I have to say," Belichick concluded.
But the future Hall of Fame coach said more than enough, and certainly more than he usually says.