Alex Reimer has written a fascinating look at the mindset of reporters covering Bill Belichick in this piece on the Forbes website:

Inside Bill Belichick’s Masterful Game Of Media Manipulation

To me, the title is a bit misleading, because I see it more as a look inside the minds of those working the Patriots beat, and what their agendas and predispositions are towards the Patriots coach.

The article leads off with Dave Brown, the Concord Monitor writer, who made himself the center of attention the first days of camp with his questions about Tom Brady’s job and the insinuation that if Jimmy Garoppolo plays well, Belichick might have a tough choice to make. It was clear at the time that Brown was looking for an angle to back Belichick into a corner. Brown confirms it here, saying:

So for the last eight years, I’ve been thinking: ‘Is there a way to get [Belichick] off his game plan?

Really?  For eight years you’ve been looking for the opportunity to trip up the coach of the team you’re supposed to be covering? Sounds a little obsessive to me.

Next up is Tom E Curran, who disputes the narrative that “Belichick doesn’t answer questions and is a prick” which seems to be the national view of the Patriots coach. Yet, as Curran notes, there are always several times during the season when Belichick goes expansive on a topic, and the same people act like it is a unique episode because it is contrary to their Belichick narrative.

After a look at the first week of Deflategate and how Belichick handled that week, including his masterful Saturday press conference in which he played scientist (and in retrospect was largely correct about everything he said.), Curran acknowledged the skill with which Belichick handled that week:

“Nobody, in my opinion, is more instinctive than Belichick at reading what needs to be done,” Curran says. “You have this guy employing the Ideal Gas Law, using it, and taking attention away that day as his team was going to the Super Bowl, and then not talking about it again. It was masterful.”

Mike Giardi comes on stage next, showing himself to be the good media soldier, willing to jump on the grenade and sacrifice himself for his media colleagues. We’re talking of course about the press conference after the 2014 Kansas City game in which Giardi asked Belichick if the QB position was going to be evaluated that week. Giardi says:

That was one of those days where we felt like we had to ask the question, and the result was fairly predictable. But it had to be asked anyway.

That will be a line in the oral history of the Kansas City press conference.

I’ve never understood this mindset about the questioning having to be asked. It reminds me of the quote usually attributed to Albert Einstein about how insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.

It had to be asked. That’s usually the response of someone who asks an obvious question when they are challenged about it.

What does that mean? Why did it HAVE to be asked? You’re not grilling a Presidential candidate here on foreign policy. It feels like a misplaced sense of importance is at play here.

The Boston Globe‘s Ben Volin steps up next and has a similar sentiment to Dave Brown.

you can’t let him win, because we have a job to do, too

Ben, your job is covering football. Maybe focusing on that rather than whether you “won” a press conference with the head coach might serve you and your readers better.

I mean, look at that mindset – you can’t let him win – you’re not in a war, or a contest here. The adversarial view isn’t going to work.

Shalise Manza Young is another who has frosty feelings for Belichick. Despite acknowledging that for almost her entire time on the beat, Belichick treated her professionally, she holds a grudge over being correctly publicly by the coach.

“When you want to try to demean me and put me down –– and I hate how this sounds, but I don’t know how to say it any other way –– all of the stories I had broken over the years and none of them had ever been proven wrong, and now all of a sudden I have hundreds of people telling me I’m garbage because he came out with a statement saying I wrote something that was incorrect? It was a lot to handle. And I thought it was really shady and really underhanded,” she says.

Now read the actual statement. What is she talking about? Demeaning her? Putting her down? Shady? Underhanded?

In protest, and this says a lot more about her than him – she refused to ask a single question of Belichick for the rest of the season and then left the beat.

Oh, by the way:

So…what about all of the stories I had broken over the years and none of them had ever been proven wrong? 

Childish.

She wanted Belichick to approach her privately instead of making a public statement. But she has not problem saying stuff like this about Bryan Stork.

Very next tweet:

 

Apparently it doesn’t matter until he’s gone. Then you can dish.

A story on the Patriots media would not be complete without Ron Borges.

According to Reimer “it’s not his annoyance with the press that Borges takes issue with, but the apparent enjoyment he receives from humiliating those who cross his path.”

I think the technical term for that is “not suffering fools gladly.” Borges then throws this gem out:

Many of the people who are so enthusiastic about how Bill Belichick operates, if they were working for him, their asses would be in the HR department in about 15 minutes. All of the things they’re cheering, they wouldn’t like it. They’d be crying about it,

The only people crying about things here are the media. Borges winds things down with a statement about the utter otioseness of sports media:

if you win, the writers can’t hurt you, and if you lose, the writers can’t help you.

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33 thoughts on “Patriots Writers Play To Type In Reimer Article

  1. “Doesn’t suffer fools gladly” is Belichick in a nutshell.

    Didn’t everyone have a college professor who would cut a lazy, unprepared student off at the knees, but ramble expansively when asked an intelligent question? That’s how I’ve always seen Belichick.

    And if he does enjoy making stupid people look stupid, well, I enjoy watching it.

  2. Team websites, the Players Tribune, Twitter (and whatever comes next)…

    The Volins, Youngs, Borges’ and Giardi’s of the world can see the writing on the wall.

    Hence the justification for their nonsense. “It had to be asked.” Bruce is exactly right, they treat their jobs as if THEY are grilling the president about foreign policy.

    And OTOH, we have the Reiss’, Curran’s and Jeff Howe’s of the world. They cover football and have fun doing it. They don’t troll the fan base. They don’t feel the need to get one over on the ol’ football coach. They don’t think they know more about football than the best GM / Coach of the modern era.

    1. except for the fact that Curran and Giardi discussed the topic before the press conference and BOTH decided it had to be asked. Both have told the story before. Change the narrative at all?

  3. Always fun to see Manza-Young make a whiny ass of herself.

    It truly is amazing how many of the media around here are utter wastes of oxygen.

  4. I read the comments,the column and realize I completely agree yet have come to accept the Boston sports media to be this way. They create controversy, want their name to be the story. The coverage is no different and is the equivalent of Boston sports talk radio and that has become unbearable and unlistenable.

  5. Wait so Shalise “punished” BB not asking him a question for the rest of season (or to put it another way, by not doing her job)? What kind of a thin-skinned moron do you have to be to get a job in sports journalism?

  6. Author says:

    “Belichick had gone out of his way to discredit her reputation”

    Jesus – no he didn’t. He never mentioned her name, he simply said that the reports were false. If “hundreds of people” were telling her that she was garbage, then that’s on them, not Belichick.

  7. Speaking of bitter, angry, agenda-driven, whiny sports mediots who try to stick a prison shank into the Patriots and their fans every season, has anyone heard or read a follow-up from Borges about his Tweet (roughly 4 or 6 weeks ago) regarding the super-duper secret wiretapping device, or whatever it was (allegedly an “extra” line that wasn’t supposed to be there), that he claimed the “league found” when they investigated headset problems in Foxboro?

    Anyone?

    Anyone?

    Bueller?

    Or, was the Notorious Ronnie B. just running some b.s. that he knew was false just to throw cold water on the Twitter scolds who had to remind him, again, that the league controls the headsets during games, and that the Pats couldn’t possibly have been “cheating” that way? And…knowing it was a Tweet and didn’t actually appear in the paper, he couldn’t be sued for it, and wouldn’t have to issue a retraction, either?

    Whaddya think?

    I think if the NFL really DID find something like that in Foxboro, Belichick would be serving a 1-year suspension and the Patriots would be sitting out the next two NFL drafts, and ESPN would be covering such a bombshell of a story 24/7.

    Borges is beneath contempt, and it’s not surprising that he comes off as one of the bigger DB’s to be interviewed for this piece in Forbes.

    1. Reminds me of the DVN, Jr. “bombshell” he promised as a follow-up to his ‘OTL’ hitjob … That first story which was nothing but 90 anonymous sources, recycled story lines–ie: nothing solid.

      1. Oh yes, I’m still waiting for the “Pulitzer Prize-winning” Van Natta to publish his “other shoe to drop” follow-up to that brilliant, anonymously sourced hit piece from last year. Remember, he’s a Pulitzer Prize winner, which, we were told last year by his media defenders, pretty much makes him immune from being called a complete effing hack who was just pushing an agenda on behalf of one of the NFL’s biggest media partners.

      2. Speaking of Van Natta, check out Bruce’s Twitter exchanges with him after the “Pulitzer Prize winner” announced that his completely unsourced hit job for BSPN last year was included in a forthcoming book featuring the “best sportswriting” of 2015. Bruce got in a few poignant zingers, Van Natta made one arrogant retort, and then BLOCKED him.

        Is there anyone on this planet more thin-skinned than a “journalist”? These unjustifiably arrogant, self-important jesters simply cannot accept or handle any criticism of their “work.”

        What a joke……..almost as big a joke as Van Natta’s fictional hit piece receiving a “best of” award. Then again, journalism — in all walks of life, not just sports — is one of the biggest echo-chamber environments you’ll ever encounter. In the end, they all look out for each other, and most of them think alike…..it’s a very “Borg”-like world that we, the benighted masses, are not allowed to critique, apparently.

    2. Ah yes, the “extra wire” going to the wireless headsets. You almost have to admire the creativity employed by Borges when making negative claims about the Patriots. Almost.

      1. I have to admit, when he contacted that ex-Raiders coach back in the summer of ’07 — the guy who was running a Bed & Breakfast at the time — to get him to talk smack about what a bad acquisition Randy Moss was going to turn out to be for the Patriots, I was overcome with a grudging admiration that a guy could be THAT obsessed with, and dedicated to, trying to make his “enemy” (Belichick) look bad. I mean, he couldn’t find anyone employed in the NFL at that time willing to rip the Moss trade, so he really thought outside the box on that one!

        1. Not only that, it also embraces and PROMOTES “reporters” who publish fictional, bombshell articles on the morning of the biggest game in the local NFL team’s history, an article that continues to set the tone for the “Cheatriots” narrative in the national media. Said “reporter” also remains completely unrepentant, for the most part.

  8. A lot of commentator’s who, and I’m paraphrasing, “….don’t read/pay attention to Boston sports media, don’t listen to Boston sports talk radio…..”‘, sure know a lot about and share opinions/views of platforms that pay no attention to?

    As Alanis said, ‘Isn’t it ironic?’

    1. Isn’t that the major tenet of sports talk in general… I didn’t watch or listen but I still have an opinion?

      1. If you don’t watch or listen to a topic, a person, etc. then would it be true that expressing an ‘opinion’ on something that you concede you don’t watch or listen to is essentially of no value to the conversation or board? Why do people continue to listen and read the very media that they come on here and bash? Doesn’t seem like a very worthwhile, ‘hobby’.

  9. It’s been a long time since I covered Belichick, but I learned a great deal from him (from Parcels, too) and it was reasonably easy to ask him a general football question and deduce from his answers what he was thinking about a specific situation such as personnel decisions and the like. I covered sis Pats’ coaches, and he’s far from the least informative of them. That would be Pete Carroll, who I liked as a person but whose gush told me nothing.

          1. Dave, c’mon! How could you confuse the guy who gave us the moniker “Curly Haired Boyfriend” to use against Shank for all eternity, with Carl Crawford????

            Looking back on it, naming the CHB was Everett’s biggest contribution while he was in Boston 🙂

  10. I’ve observed over the years that Manza-Young is pretty thin-skinned and quite defensive whenever approached in a way that in the least bit challenges her opinion. Kind of reminds me of someone benefited by nepotism who continually tries to prove to everyone that they’re worthy of the job. Very unlikable trait.

  11. Coming to this late, but Dave Brown deserves some negative attention.

    He asked a BAD question BADLY. I understood what he was going for, and he had a valid point he COULD have raised – but he waited eight years to “throw BB off his game” and he choked – he flat out choked.

    He’s the worst kind of hack – he WANTS to be a hack, but he’s not even talented enough to get to that level.

    Anyway – had to throw some fire on him.

  12. Journalists as a whole are fairly thin-skinned. The ones that aren’t _ like Michael Gee _ generally have a better handle on how they should do their jobs. There’s really no need to play “gotcha” with BB. At this point in his career, he’s really really good at his job. Second-guessing him is probably provocative to a point, but some of the pieces I see on him and NE are just embarrassing. I automatically go to Curran or Reiss, because I know I’ll read something interesting. I avoid the other people because my time is better used elsewhere.

  13. Is it just me or does no one remember Bill Parcels absolutely humiliating reporters? (If I remember correctly, wasn’t Ed Harding a victim?) Do they like him because, most of the time, he gave good quotes and rarely insulted them directly? I just don’t get it – ask Bill a football question, he could talk about it for hours, ask Bill a “feelings” question and it’s “we’re onto Cincinnati” – I don’t blame him at all

    1. Yes, but….and it’s a big but…..Parcells was “entertaining” in doing so, and he gave the media great sound bites and quotes to use, even while he was berating them (usually for effect).

      BB “disrespects” the media in a dour, humorless way, and gives them nothing exciting to put on the air or to quote in their articles.

      That’s his biggest sin, quite frankly, because other coaches beside Parcells have publicly ripped reporters in the past (Jimmy Johnson, Jim Mora, others….), and none of them has been viewed as an “enemy” and a guy they have to “get,” like BB is.

      Hell, the ENTIRE reason the idiotic Spygate thing got blown out of proportion — aside from Goodell’s ridiculous overpunishment of a misdemeanor, and then his incompetent bungling of the aftermath — is that many in the local and national media couldn’t wait to extract their pound(s) of flesh from BB.

      One of them was even quoted (anonymously, h/t Don Van Natta) as saying that he knew Spygate wasn’t a big deal, but, “Who cares? Belichick is a jerk and he deserves this kind of treatment….”

      That pretty much sums it up, right there.

      1. 100 percent correct – if Parcells ripped you it was funny and sort of “neat.” I mean, it wasn’t funny at the time maybe, but he was SO over-the-top, that I can’t imagine they took it seriously.

        Then again, the NFL takes itself sooooo seriously compared to then that everything’s much worse.

        With BB, it’s only contemptuous without the humor. You can’t even get a good column out of it (unless you’re Dave Brown and a clown)

  14. So I guess, now that Tom Brady’s gone, the truth can be told… his presence at practices was as humorless and imposing as Joe Stalin’s at a politburo meeting. And god damn him for stealing reps from JG10 in that 4th preseason game!
    Good god – even Giardi doesn’t get it. If you’re Bill Belichick, do you play Garoppolo in the 4th preseason game? Of course not, because if he gets hurt, you’re stuck with Jacoby Brissett for 4 weeks. To me, it’s the same as sitting Brady and most of the other starters in the 4th game of a ‘normal’ preseason.
    So, with Garoppolo on the shelf, you can start either Brady or Brissett. The 4th preseason game is usually all about doing final evaluations of marginal players – so, is it fair to those guys to do those evaluations with someone under center who might know about 20% of the offense? Remember, Garoppolo is off the table, so what do you do? I think BB just killed 2 birds with one stone – he gave Brady some reps and he gave the team some reps with a guy who actually knows what he’s doing. If you’re BB, when you start evaluating these guys, you’re not really wondering if this receiver or that O-lineman made a mistake because Brissett didn’t make the right read or the right call.
    This idea that Tom Brady forced BB to put him in at the expense of Jimmy’s development is wrong and it seriously misses the point, imho. Guys like Tanguay are trying their very best to make Tom Brady the bad guy in this whole thing when the real bad guy continues to be the NFL. I can’t stand it.

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