Rick's List - The Hidden Bill Belichick edition

For sheer dramatic scope and heart-rattling narrative arc, nothing beats reading transcripts of Bill Belichick press conferences.

Seriously. The man is an astonishing wordsmith. It comes as no surprise to me that, after the Super Bowl next week, the Patriots head coach will write a screenplay based on the complex rapport — one wouldn't properly call it a friendship — between T.S. Elliot and Groucho Marx.

"There was a lot of genuine admiration on both sides there but also a great deal of tension," Belechick said recently to media just before the New England/Jacksonville AFC division championship game. "Eliot's apocryphal anti-Semitism was in play as well as Groucho's embarrassment over his own lack of formal education. The comedian, for example, didn't understand why the dead-ground flowers in 'The Waste Land' had to be lilacs. 'I like marigolds,' Marx said petulantly."

This, by the way, was in response to an ESPN reporter's question about "Jacksonville's defensive tendencies to cover-3 or man coverage in obvious passing downs."

Of course, the public rarely gets to see this side of Belichick; the press and networks only present very mundane quotes as part of a secret arrangement between the media and the Patriots. But if you're ever actually been at a Q&A with the Old Coacher and manage to smuggle out bonafide footage rather than the carefully edited stuff for TV and press, there's amazing stuff. Here, for example, are quotes from a Belichick press conference I happened to attend Friday.

1. Question: "Bill, what's the situation with Brady's hand?"

Answer the public saw: "We're just focusing on Philly."

Bill's behind the scenes answer: "Here's something odd. A wren flew into our living room the other day. You know wrens, right? Tiny things, but they have very melodious songs. Anyway, I snatched it out of the air and fed it to my daughter."

2. Question: "Coach, there's not a big sample size on (Eagles backup quarterback Nick) Foles. Are you worried he might do some things you're not ready for?"

Answer the public saw: "With each game plan, we try to prepare for the team we're playing that week."

Bill's actual answer: "Ours is an increasingly pestilent society and I'd rather be the vector agent than the infected. I wash my hands with ticks."

3. Question: "Did you hear about the earthquake in Portugal that just killed 68,000 an hour ago?"

Public answer: "We're gonna focus on Philadelphia for the next eight days."

Bill's actual answer: "You know those Smith Brothers cough drops boxes? I can never remember which Smith has the neatly trimmed beard and which has the beard like an Abrahamic prophet."

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