Bill Belichick addressed the Aaron Hernandez situation for the first time Wednesday afternoon, reading from a prepared statement and answering some questions from the assembled media. What was your impression of how the New England Patriots' head coach handled the situation?
It was the right move by Bill Belichick to make sure the first thing he acknowledged is the fact that Odin Lloyd lost his life, and his family is now left to deal with the tragedy. Belichick took it a step further by acknowledging his accountability in the personnel decisions made by the Patriots.
For a guy who does a great job of hiding his emotions, I thought Belichick conveyed an enormous amount of hurt over what one of HIS players has been accused of doing. He has taken this personally, no doubt. The reality is, this is an impossible situation for a coach. There is no win-win scenario here. Bill handled it the way most thought he would. He addressed the tragedy and transitioned into the Patriots' need to move forward respectfully.
Games can't get here soon enough for the Patriots.
While addressing the media was long overdue, I thought Bill Belichick handled the press conference surrounding Aaron Hernandez's legal issue with care and sincerity. Very rarely do you see Belichick reference a prepared statement. That showed me that this means a lot to the Patriots organization.
If the Patriots are going to move on and focus on training camp and the upcoming season, this needed to be the first order of business. It didn't take long, though, for Belichick to get back to "strictly business" mode, deflecting most questions involving Aaron Hernandez. I believe he handled this delicate situation the correct way. Let the judicial system take it from here.
What we were all looking for wasn't so much what Bill Belichick was going to say, it was more how he was going to say it. And the tone that Belichick exhibited in the 22 minutes he was up there was that of someone who has been deeply affected by the events of the past six weeks. I think most people were looking for him to look human up there, and he certainly did. He said he was hurt by this incident, and these are the types of things that you don't normally see a coach like Belichick say.
Instead of trying to project the power and confidence that coaches often do, he got up there and acted very much like a human being affected by something tragic that involved his organization. I think a lot of people were looking for him to appear embarrassed up there, and I think he did.
The Bill Belichick on display at the podium today addressing the Aaron Hernandez situation was far different from the usual post-game Belichick.
There was evident emotion that came with handling one of the more difficult realities any coach could ask for. There was sympathy for the victim and sadness at how his own system failed in allowing Hernandez to dupe the organization into a long-term extension. He admitted the entire process needs a re-evaluation.
In short, it was everything you expected not to see. In providing that, Belichick set the example for his team. It's one thing to stonewall an injury question before a game. But this wasn't about football. It was about life. Belichick handled it properly.
Bill Belichick is known for his evasiveness in press conferences, but I thought he showed a human side today.
Belichick sounded a little stunned. There was a trace of embarrassment and contrition that anything like this could have happened on his watch. Belichick did not answer direct questions about Hernandez at length, citing legal advice not to comment on a player who is involved in an ongoing investigation. But Belichick did take responsibility for his role as the leader of the team.
This press conference, in many ways, was about trying to address the serious issue before moving forward. It's not a topic that we expect Belichick to ever address at length again.
My sense of Bill Belichick's reaction to the Aaron Hernandez situation was that the legendary head coach was quite sincere in his thoughts ... with a not-so-submerged hint of reluctance.
When Belichick mentioned that "we have so many players on this team that work hard, that do the right thing..." I could feel that he was genuinely frustrated by the public perception of players -- not just Hernandez -- as troublemakers. You could infer that he wants people to know that the organization he works for is first-rate, thanks to the efforts of Robert Kraft, the players and, of course, himself over the past 13 1/2 years. That said, this is not something Belichick wanted to address. Perhaps slipping slightly, he touched on the fact he had been "advised" to address it. You clearly -- clearly -- got the feeling that this was the ONLY time he'll talk about it.
On a side note, this is one scenario in which I can deal with the media letting it play out in the courts and refraining from asking players about it every day. You already know the response reporters will get, so let's just focus on football.
Bill Belichick said all the things I expected him to say, and then followed it up with the best defense when you don't want to answer questions about what you just talked about: The "I-Can't-Comment-On-A-Legal-Situation" defense. "Sorry fellas, but it's out of my hands." It really isn't; you're just choosing to hide behind that.
But that's The Patriot Way under Belichick: Say nothing, ever, about anything. And if you do, then you're in trouble. Belichick did the easiest thing with the least amount of lifting possible: Have a statement, and that's it. It's clear this is New England's message going forward: We're done talking about Aaron Hernandez. Even though they've barely said anything at all about him. It's incredibly embarrassing for the organization. I know we all want better answers, but they're not coming. It's the Patriot Way.