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Bill Belichick acts like he’s really going to enjoy this Super Bowl

01.29.12 at 11:12 pm ET
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Bill Belichick was relaxed and entertaining in answering reporters' questions Sunday in Indianapolis. (AP)

INDIANAPOLIS — Bill Belichick has been to the Super Bowl twice as an assistant with the New York Giants, once as an assistant to Bill Parcells on the 1996 Patriots and now, five times with the Patriots as the head coach.

Never in the previous seven trips before Sunday’s arrival on the scene here in Indianapolis has he ever looked so calm or at ease.

“We wonder about that all of the time,” Wes Welker told reporters just after Belichick’s insightful, chatty and downright happy-go-lucky 15-minute session with reporters. “I don’t know if it’s a lady in his life or what the deal is, but he definitely smiles a little more than he used to. But trust me, he is just as hard on us as what he’s been since day one, at least with me. He is on all of the time. He works very hard and tries to put us in the best position to win.”

There were no reported sightings of Belichick’s girl friend, Linda Holliday, on Sunday and she was not with him as he took the stage but he certainly spoke as if he had a spring in his step.

“It’s nice to be in Indianapolis,” Belichick opened his address at the IUPUI Conference center inside the team hotel. “It’s about the nicest I’ve seen it here in February. It’s an honor to represent the AFC and New England in this game. A tremendous challenge here with the Giants. The Giants are a great football team. They’ve done an outstanding job all year, particularly here at the end of the season. (Giants president and CEO) John Mara and his family – I have a close relationship with them – a lot of respect for their organization. (Giants head coach) Tom (Tom Coughlin) and I are good friends, and we go back quite a ways. He and his staff have done a great job with his football team.”

Belichick was only just beginning.

“They have a lot of good football players, they are well-coached, disciplined and tough,” Belichick continued. “They have played very well over the last five weeks and during the course of the season as well, which we saw plenty of that during the regular season. Looking forward to a good week of work here, a good opportunity to play against another great football team. Hopefully, we will be ready to go on Sunday night. We have a lot of work in front of us. I think our players are obviously excited to be here, looking forward to the challenge and we get to work tomorrow out on the field.”

Asked about the hospitality provided by the City of Indianapolis, Belichick had the line of the day.

“I never had too much hospitality here until I went for it on fourth-and-2, and since then, I’ve been greeted in a lot more friendly manner than I have in the past,” Belichick quipped, causing stunned reporters to laugh out loud, their form of applause at a truly witty line and evidence that Belichick is entirely capable of self-depricating humor, even on the sport’s biggest stage.

Belichick, of course, was referring to his second-worst memory of Indianapolis – the 35-34 loss to the Colts in 2009 as Peyton Manning scripted one of his classic fourth-quarter comebacks. The worst moment for Belichick in this city, of course, came in the 2006 AFC championship, when the Patriots blew a 21-6 halftime lead, losing 38-34.

But none of that on this Sunday. Asked what it would mean to tie Chuck Noll as the only coach to win four Super Bowls with a win next Sunday, Belichick was sincere.

“It would make me feel pretty good,” Belichick said. “It’s a great honor to be mentioned in the same conversation with Chuck. Chuck was the coach of the Steelers the first year I was coach of the Browns. I got to know him my first few years in the league. I coached with several coaches who coached under him at Pittsburgh. I have a tremendous amount of respect for Chuck and the job he did with his team and the organization. So, it is very flattering to be mentioned in the same sentence with Chuck Noll.”

Brian Waters came to New England to block on the offensive line for Tom Brady and to play for Belichick.

“I think everybody has a great amount of respect for Coach Belichick outside of this building,” Waters said Sunday. “I think you respect the fact that he gets the job done, and in the form and fashion that he doesn’t waiver in that… and I think that’s something through the course of my career, and I think many guys as other Patriot players go to other teams they say, ‘He’s going to be the same guy. Whether you like him or not he’s going to be the same guy day-in and day-out,’ and I think that consistency is something every player appreciates.”

It was Welker who brought it all back into focus, reminding everyone that while Belichick may appear relaxed on Day 1 of Super Bowl week, there’s no doubt about the task at hand.

“Yeah, just trying to keep them focused and understand that we are here on a business trip,” Welker said. “That’s all this is. This isn’t for pleasure or going out or doing any of those things. This is a business trip, and understanding that all that matters is the outcome of the game on Sunday. Every little thing you do needs to be predicated on Sunday and what the game brings.”

Read More: Bill Belichick, Brian Waters, Chuck Noll, John Mara
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