Belichick follows a familiar script

Published 8:57 am Friday, February 3, 2017

HOUSTON  — He values the team’s overall culture ahead of its individual parts.

He rules his team with an iron fist, and yet, instills that team with a sense of family.

He can appear heartless — quick to say “goodbye” to those who no longer fit in — and yet, he is deeply loyal.

Email newsletter signup

He has hard-and-fast ideas about how to run his own team, but is never against learning and adding bits of others’ expertise to his own repertoire.

Yes, this is a description of New England coach Bill Belichick, who can set himself apart Sunday by winning a record fifth Super Bowl title as a head coach.

It’s also a description of former coaches Chuck Noll of the Steelers and Tom Landry of the Cowboys and Alabama’s Nick Saban.

As well as Gregg Popovich of the Spurs and former UCLA coach John Wooden and pretty much every other person who has cemented him or herself on the Mount Rushmore of the profession.

“Xs and Os are the price of admission,” says John O’Sullivan, founder of the Changing the Game project , who speaks often about the importance of coaching in society. “But great coaches, the first thing they do is connect. When you connect with people, they’ll run through a wall for you.”

Belichick, a people person? The same might have been said, or asked, about Noll, Landry, Saban or any of these coaches, whose time facing the public usually involves 5- and 10-minute segments with the media during which their main goal is to not reveal anything important about their game plan — or much about themselves.

The effort — and sometimes, accolades — they get from their players says more.

Terry Bradshaw couldn’t stand Noll on their way to winning four Super Bowls with Pittsburgh. Only years later did the Hall of Fame quarterback concede that he benefited from Noll’s coaching.