A reporter asked Bill Belichick about giving the hook to Tom Brady earlier this season. Belichick didn’t answer. He glared.
“I couldn’t be prouder of this team,” Belichick explained after New England’s wild Super Bowl victory. “These guys have been counted out many times through the course of the year by a lot of people, but they always believed in themselves and just kept fighting. They did a couple weeks ago against Baltimore, and we did it today, just tried to play good solid football, tried to string some plays together even though there were times there where things weren’t looking the way we wanted it to look.”
After the Monday night walloping at the hands of the Kansas City Chiefs, down 14 in the second half during the playoff game against the Baltimore Ravens, and throughout the Deflate-gate saga, observers have proclaimed the Patriots dead. Like Jason, they surprise in showing up alive. This happened again with 20 ticks remaining in the Super Bowl.
Belichick reflected on the remarkable play by undrafted nickelback Malcolm Butler:
He was a rookie tryout guy. We had already had our draft. We had already signed our free agents after the draft. He was part of what we like to call, ‘The few, the proud, the free,’ that came in and did a great job in that rookie minicamp. We kind of created a roster spot by juggling some other guys around and then signed him and he had a good training camp. He has competed every day. He plays against a lot of good receivers and quarterbacks in practice. He’s had his moments. That’s a big jump from West Alabama to the NFL but Malcolm competes hard and he works hard. We had gone into this game expecting to play all of our corners: Logan (Ryan), Malcolm, Brandon (Browner) of course, Kyle (Arrington) and (Darelle) Revis, and we ended up doing that. We’ve done that in other games before too. That was kind of the plan, that’s the way it worked out, and certainly looked like Malcolm kind of had a hot hand in the fourth quarter—broke up a couple passes, so we stayed with him.
When asked how he knew to jump the slant route, Bulter offered an oblique tribute to the coach who sang his praises: “Preparation; we study film.” He matter-of-factly blurted out: “I just did my job.”
That’s the Patriot Way. That’s how Bill Belichick does more with less: players accepting their roles instead of trying to land the starring role. And by buying into that philosophy, anonymous players such as Butler sometimes become stars.