HEAD COACH BILL BELICHICK
Thursday, January 5, 2023
BB: Good morning. Well let's start by – Damar Hamlin's been I think on everyone's minds and their thoughts since Monday night. Our entire team and organization on behalf of them have extended our thoughts and prayers to the Bills, their organization, Coach [Sean] McDermott, their team. Also, to Coach [Zac] Taylor and the Bengals. So, we're kind of sandwiched right around both of those teams the way the schedule has fallen. But certainly, the news from a little bit earlier this morning about Damar's progress is great news and encouraging for all of us. After the – well, I'd just say on a personal level, I usually don't watch Monday night games. Maybe randomly flip through it or whatever, but because we're playing Buffalo on a short week, I happen to have it on. When I saw the situation, it reminded me very much of one that I experienced when I was with the Jets in 1997. We played the Lions. I think it was the last game of the year and Reggie Brown was injured. It was kind of a normal play. Adrian Murrell carried the ball and got tackled. Everybody got up and went back to the huddle and Reggie laid on the field, didn't move and was unconscious for quite a while. I forget exactly how long it was, but 10 minutes or something like that. The whole process took a long time. Must've taken a half hour by the time he was finally given CPR and revived, and then put on the board, and put on the ambulance, and driven off the field at the Silverdome. It was quite a lengthy process where the teams looked very much like the game Monday night, of concern, thought and prayer, and kneeling, and so forth. It was a very chilling game, one that I'll obviously never forget and it just – I've been to a lot of games, but there are some that there's a moment that sticks out and that would be one of them. Fortunately, Reggie has done pretty well with the emergency surgery they did. With the brace that he wears he's not wheelchair bound. I know he's active in the Houston area and so forth. Youth sports and a lot of things like that. Great guy. Great player. First round draft pick. Just a very tragic scene but one that – again, not like I have all the answers because I certainly don't, but I was there and experienced that. I think I have some sense of what the players and teams, and coaches went through on Monday night. Like I said it's something that you just never forget. So, again on a personal level that's kind of where I was on that. Then I've reached out to a lot of, a number of different people just for perspectives. Different coaches in our sport, in other sports. Our team, players, talked to them on Tuesday and we addressed it. I'd just say, really all I can say, really all I'm going to say is I think everybody is doing the best they can. So, that could be on a lot of different levels and a lot of different perspectives. But I think we're all doing the best that we can. I think everybody else is probably doing the same thing from whatever perspective they have on it. Again, from talking to other people that are in this league or have experienced it – something like this, they're all different, I'm not saying anything is the same. But it's just a very – I don't think there's any easy answer to it. You just deal with it the best that you can and the resources that we have in this organization for anything that would go along with this are available to all members of the organization. I'm sure that they're being utilized to some degree. I think that's the case, again with the other people I've talked to on other teams, and their perspective on it, too. So, I just wanted to get a sense of whether anything with us is different than everybody else. I think the more I've talked to other people, the more everybody kind of is feeling it, trying to process it. I mean we're all different, but in general as a team trying to process it the same way. Football is a very great and competitive game. Unfortunately, injuries and things like this can and do happen from time to time. It's very unfortunate. It seemed like the care that was given was very prompt and good. I'm thankful for that. But life's bigger than this game. It's just one of these humbling moments for all of us that stands out. I'd say as a coach it's different and I've expressed this to the players multiple times. The amount of respect that I have for them and what they do, and how they do it is immense. I'm proud to coach the players that I've coached here and everywhere else. Respect them for what they do and how they do it. I've always tried to, to the best of my ability, prepare and coach the players. And we as an organization and a coaching staff, this isn't a personal thing, this is all of us try to do the right thing in terms of instructing players, instructing techniques, training, preparation to play in the best and safest way possible. So, I don't know what the results of that are. I don't know if that's prevented things, hopefully it has. I know there were some instances where things that a certain player, or a certain thing was happening was corrected as not being safe and the players recognized that. Obviously, there's nothing more important than the health and safety of our players. I respect how much they put into this. As a coach, that's not something that I ever think about worrying about getting hurt in the game. I've been hit a few times but that's another story. I know the players, it's different. They walk out there and put the equipment on. It's a contact sport. What they and their families deal with as participants, is different than what I do as a coach. I respect that and appreciate what they do and try to do the best I can to make the right decisions and coach them in the best way that I possibly can. So, we'll just end it there.
Q: How much has it helped to have captains with so much experience in the event of something like this, with a week like this? Like Devin [McCourty] and Matthew Slater working and talking with the young guys, being a part of the team?
BB: Yeah, I think it's great. It's great. We have great leadership on this team. I would say two people in particular that – as I said, I have a ton of respect for all the players I've coached and what they do. Two players in particular that carry a lot of weight with me are two staff members, Troy [Brown] and Jerod [Mayo]. They've played the game at this level, I haven't. They've lived a life of a professional football player at a very, very, very high level. Both from a training, maturity, performance, longevity, all of the above. Their input and guidance has been especially valuable. Again, along with many other people that I've talked to. But in particular, they're here and I think in terms of our staff, our team, they have a great perspective on. It's been very valuable to me, let's put it that way. But along with the captains, Devin, Matt, Bent [Ja'Whaun Bentley], [Deatrich] Wise [Jr.], Mac [Jones], D. A. [David Andrews]. I mean all of them but many other leaders on our team as well.
Q: After what happened on Monday, how tough is it for a team to then start preparing for Sunday's game? Do you kind of take a moment? What is that moment like for you Tuesday into Wednesday? `
BB: Yeah, I don't want to keep repeating myself but I'm going to keep repeating myself. I think everyone's doing the best they can. I don't know any other way to put it. That covers a lot of ground. That's a lot of different scenarios. That question could be asked a thousand different ways, but I think the answer is really the same. Whatever it is, I think everyone's doing the best they can.
Q: How did what took place shape you personally? It seems like it has had significant gravity with you. What's your assessment of how the players are, in fact as they are processing this, as they prepare to play to go again?
BB: Again, I don't want to repeat myself. But I would say the players, and the coaches, and the people in the organization, I think everyone's doing the best they can. Our medical staff, our support staff, everyone. I commend all of them. It's not easy for any of us. Again, I've expressed the gravity of the situation because I've personally experienced something similar to this. They're all different, but something similar to this in a game, I was there. I wasn't watching it on TV. Whatever it's [Mike] Utley, Dennis Byrd, or you go right down the line. Reggie, they're all … Darryl Stingley. They've been other – I was there, it was chilling.
Q: The NFL has said that they're keeping in touch with the Bills and there's a possibility that they might not be up to playing this game. Do you expect it will be played and if they do, what do you expect their motivation level will be on the field?
BB: All those questions are out of our control. So, I'm not going to worry about any of those. We're trying to control what we can control. Which is what we're doing here and how we're doing it. We're doing the best we can.
Q: From that personal experience you had from being there, what stood out to you that helped you and that team move forward after experiencing that?
BB: Well, again that was a little bit of a different situation because it was the last game of the year. So that was, I'm pretty sure it was the last game of the year. Maybe not, my memory's not great but I'm pretty sure it was the last game of the year.
Q: You mentioned the team has resources that people can lean on in situations like this. Can you explain to us maybe what some of those resources or some of those people who might be helping in a situation like this might be?
BB: Yeah, everybody. Coaches, medical staff, team chaplain, team psychologist, veteran players, coaches, each other, teammates. I don't think there's any boundaries. Whoever people are comfortable talking to. Whether it's spiritual, whether it's medical, whether it's family, I mean it could be any and all of the above. We're all different. We all have different ways of healing and handling something like this. I'm sure everybody in this room is doing it a little bit differently. I don't know.
Q: You mentioned you spoke with Coach McDermott. How is he doing personally and did you at all speak about Sunday's game or was it a conversation more about what had happened on Monday night?
BB: Well, I texted Coach McDermott and expressed some feelings based on our organization and team to him and their team. So, let's leave it at that.
Q: Did you have at any point any contact with Damar Hamlin in the draft process or anything of that nature?
BB: Minimal. Minimal. Didn't really know very him well. Ok, alright. Thank you.