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Bill Belichick’s quiet, hoodied war against conformity (and Madden ’12)

02.02.12 at 11:49 am ET

Whether he is undermining the integrity of the injury report, answering questions in any given press conference, or dressing for games, Bill Belichick has always been his own person. Yahoo Sports scribe Dan Wetzel detailed Belichick’s individuality in a story Thursday that reveals the many subtle ways Belichick avoids conformity en route to becoming the “most anti-establishment figure” in the NFL.

For one, Belichick is not a member of the NFL Coaches Association. This is evident from Belichick’s absence in Madden NFL Football ’12, which has 31 head coaches listed with their teams and then lists the Patriots’ coach as simply “NE Coach.” Joining the NFLCA would require little work on Belichick’s part. In return, he would get paid for, among other deals, having his name in a video game. But Belichick has not joined. It is unclear whether Belichick has even been asked to join, since, when asked whether he has been approached by the NFLCA, Belichick simply replied (according to Wetzel), “I don’t know.”

Belichick does not conform to many NFL policies. Instead, he protests in his own passive way. There is the injury report, in which he used to include Tom Brady on a weekly basis despite no sign of injury from the quarterback. There is the expressionless countenance that he almost never drops. There are the short, scripted replies in press conferences that hold up to even the most creative questions.

And of course, there is the hoodie. Wetzel said the hoodie started when Belichick (along with all NFL coaches) was forced by the NFL to only wear approved Reebok clothing during games, so Belichick chose the least fashionable option (the hoodie) and then cut off the sleeves to add more of a unique flair to the apparel.

The hoodie has been a constant in Belichick’s wardrobe ever since. He wears it through the heat of training camp,

Belichick with his cut-up hoodie at 2009 Patriots Training Camp. (AP)

the pressure of big games,

Belichick wearing the hoodie in a division rivalry game against the Jets. (AP)

the blustery winds of winter,

Belichick on the sidelines during the playoff win over the Broncos. The temperature at the start of the game was a balmy 24 degrees (12 with wind chill), perfect hoodie weather. (AP)

and the spotlight of the Super Bowl.

Belichick in a red hoodie during Super Bowl XLII. (AP)

Wetzel, unlike many others, does not draw ire from Belichick’s persistent non-conformity. Instead, he translates the message of Belichick’s idiosyncrasies to readers:

“Belichick is one of sports’ most fascinating figures because in an era of conformity, access and image, he refuses to play along,” Wetzel writes. “He both cares and doesn’t care what people think about him, all at the same time. If you work a little to read between the lines, then a lot of it is obvious. … It’s better to do the bare minimum, politely, and let the message come through loud and clear to anyone who is paying attention.”

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