Belichick looks ahead to Sunday, not legacy

Head coach Bill Belichick of the New England Patriots looks on during warm ups against the Denver Broncos during their AFC Divisional Playoff Game at Gillette Stadium on Jan. 14, 2012 in Foxboro, Mass. Getty Images/Elsa

Sunday's Super Bowl is not just a replay of that thriller in 2008, when the New York Giants upset the New England Patriots. It's a rematch of two of the NFL's best head coaches - the Giants' Tom Coughlin and the Patriots' Bill Belichick.

Belichick is the brains behind the Patriots remarkable recent success and, with his team, is hoping to win his fourth Super Bowl championship in 11 years as head coach. Only former Pittsburg Steelers coach Chuck Noll has led his team to four Super Bowl rings, but Belichick is in no mood to assess his own legacy just yet.

"I think we can talk about history some other time. That's what I'm in it for ... to win games and championships. But I think right now it's just about doing the best we can this week," Belichick said.

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He is considered one of the best coaches - if not the best - at the game's chess match. A master at eliminating an opponent's strengths and exploiting their weaknesses, Belichick is forever changing, with a jeweler's eye for detail. Like, for example, the quickness of Giants' quarterback Eli Manning.

Sitting in a stripped down office, Belichick analyzes a play from Manning this season that was reminiscent of his fourth-quarter scramble in Super Bowl XLII to set up a remarkable play to receiver David Tyree known as "the catch," which led to a last-minute touchdown and a 17-14 win over New England.

"Another, you know, outstanding play, where Eli steps up in the pocket. He spins, loses vision, obviously, turns his back to the field. Now regains his balance, turns and sees Cruz right there in stride, puts the ball up and that's what Victor Cruz does," Belichick said.

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Like so many greats, he was born to the game - the son of an exceptional coach and scout at the Naval Academy. A wall full of gridiron history created an edge, as he told CBSSports back in 2005.

"The biggest thing that I feel is that if ... you know the history of the game, you understand that it's, it's a changing game, that there is a lot of evolution to it."

(Watch Armen Keteyian's behind-the-scenes look at his interview with Bill Belichick.)

In 2012, the Patriots chances will almost certainly ride on the right arm of Tom Brady. Together, Brady and Belichick have won 140 games - more than any other coach-quarterback combination in NFL history.

"Brady sees the coverage and finds Hernandez and makes a great throw," Belichick said, back analyzing film. "Puts the ball right on the money in a critical situation."

But for all Brady's talent and toughness, Belichick explained how it's his quarterback's head that sets him apart.

"Tom works hard. But he has a great ability to comprehend a lot of different things. Our plays, our adjustments, defensive tendencies, defensive coverages, game situations, down and distance, score, wind, field position -- all those kind of things. He's just able to put that into one computer chip up in his mind somewhere and sort it all out," he said.

"You know, the ball's usually gone, you know, no more than two-and-a-half seconds. So it all happens pretty quick."

In public, Belichick dispenses little of this kind of detail. His press conferences are famous for their "Kreminlesque" air.

But in private, he's known for moments like this, poking a bit of fun at star defensive lineman Vince Wilfolk, who he likens to a "good-looking full back" watching him run up the field after making an interception.

Last summer NFL Films captured some of the "other" Bill in a revealing documentary - the guy who summers in Nantucket and loves the beach and boating and is not above nibbling on a little bit of bait.

"Coach Coughlin, he sounded a little chipper talking about his superstitutions. Said he hadn't changed his 'so and so's' in three weeks. We're going to leave that to our imagination. Are you superstitutious?" Keteyian asked.

"No, not really. I wish that was all there was to it ... but I'm around people who probably make up for that."

"We got a lot of guys like that. If we start practice at a different end from where we started the week before -- which I don't even remember which end we started at -- they're like no, no, we gotta go down there!!

Another burning question surrounding Belichick - whose hooded sweatshirts with cut-off sleeves have become part of his lore - is what he'll wear on the sidelines.

"Yeah, that's not really a big decision for me. But ... we won't wear the red-red sweatshirt by popular demand."

Asked how the sweatshirt got it's start, Belichick said: "I mean, I'd maybe just cut off the sleeves 'cause my arms are kinda short and they just dangle over the ... you know into my hands. And ... in the cold weather, I kinda like the pocket in front of me. I can keep my pencil and make some notes there.

But in the end, Belichick made clear Sunday won't be about what he wears, luck, revenge or divine intervention. But doing what his teams have repeatedly done better than anyone else for more than a decade - adapt, evolve and somehow, some way, find a way to win.

"It's a one-game season. And this is really all there is now, for all of us. Right now, everybody is focused on making this our best performance of the year because we're playing the best team we've played all year."

  • Armen Keteyian

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