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Willie McGinest on MFB: ‘The two right teams’ are in Super Bowl 01.30.15 at 12:35 pm ET
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NFL Network analyst and former Patriots linebacker Willie McGinest checked in with Middays with MFB on Friday to preview the Super Bowl. To hear the interview, go to the MFB audio on demand page.

Putting the controversy aside and looking forward to Sunday’s game, McGinest was not willing to predict a Super Bowl winner.

“Anything could happen, I mean, it’s tough to try to predict,” McGinest said. “Look at all the games that nobody could get right this year. What I’m saying is, this is a heavyweight matchup. I love the way these two teams match up. The two right teams are here.”

Added McGinest: “There’s no excuses [for the Patriots]. The No. 1 thing going into this year from last year is health. They’ve got a lot of guys healthy outside of Jerod Mayo. Pretty much the defense is together and they’re ready to play. Offensively, all hands on deck. When you look at the mentality and the way they’re playing right now, beating teams in a lot of different ways. Whether it’s the ground game against Indianapolis, whether it’s the pass attack, spread offense vs. Baltimore, the defense playing a lot of man — Browner, Revis — they’re taking guys away. … It’s exciting.”

When asked for his response to Deflategate and the Patriots legacy, the three-time Super Bowl champion said that nothing should take away from what the team has accomplished.

“You talk about Deflategate, you break all those scenarios down,” McGinest said. “OK, they took the footballs at halftime, they went on a 28-0 run after that. I mean, I understand that this team knows the rules probably better than any organization in the league, and do they use it to their benefit? Yeah. Do they certain things that are cutting edge or pushing the line? Maybe. But is that the reason for all the Patriots’ success as far as the players, what they put into it and coach Belichick’s success? No, it’s not.”

For more Patriots news, visit the team page at weei.com/patriots.

Read More: Bill Belichick, Deflategateichick, Patriots, Willie McGinest
Making of a coach: How Bill Belichick became leader he is today at 1:18 am ET
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There were signs Bill Belichick would become a successful coach one day during his college years at Wesleyan University. (Joe Robbins/Getty Images)

There were signs Bill Belichick would become a successful coach one day during his college years at Wesleyan University. (Joe Robbins/Getty Images)

PHOENIX — Everyone knows the Bill Belichick of today. Twenty seasons as a head coach, 15 of those with New England. Five Super Bowl appearances. Three Super Bowl titles. A very guarded and reserved man at his meetings with the media.

But, what was the coach like 40 years ago, as a 20-year-old college student at Wesleyan University, in Middletown, Connecticut?

The son of a football coach played three sports at Wesleyan — football, lacrosse and squash, and contrary to what some might believe by where he is today, lacrosse was his best sport.

“He was captain of the team. I trusted him,” said his lacrosse coach, Terry Jackson, over the phone this week. “He did a great job of leading us to the ECAC finals in his senior year.”

“The good thing was we play with a rubber ball and you can’t deflate that,” he joked.

The team fell in the ECAC final that year and Belichick had a strong game, but he wasn’t supposed to even play in the game. Earlier in the year he suffered a thumb injury and the school doctors wouldn’t clear him for the game. Belichick took matters into his own hands and went down to the Naval Academy where his dad was the coach and talked with the doctors there. He got himself cleared and played with a soft cast.

“Such a tough kid,” said Jackson.

On the football field, Belichick wasn’t a star. During Belichick’s senior season as a defensive end/outside linebacker, a star freshman came in and Belichick wasn’t going to see much time, so the coaches tried to make him a tight end so he could see at least some time on the field.

Despite his lack of playing time, it was clear he knew the game — an early sign that coaching could one day be in his future.

“He had very, very insightful questions,” John Biddiscombe, his position coach and former Wesleyan athletic director, said via phone. “His question wouldn’t be where do I line up on this defense — I know where to line up — but what happens if they all of a sudden change their defense into the boundary, what do I do then? Kids don’t ask that at that age. They pretty much do what the coaches ask them to do and line up where they are supposed to line up as the playbook says. I was impressed. He was a very respectful, hard worker, easy to get along with. Just a good guy.”

Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: 2015 NFL playoffs, Bill Belichick, Super Bowl XLIX, Wesleyan University
Dont’a Highower compares Nick Saban, Bill Belichick: ‘I literally think they are two peas in a pod’ 01.29.15 at 5:42 pm ET
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Dont'a Hightower

Dont’a Hightower

CHANDLER, Ariz — Not only are Alabama head coach Nick Saban and Bill Belichick close friends, they also have very similar coaching styles — serious, intelligent, and very successful.

Patriots linebacker Dont’a Hightower has played for both coaches, as he played for Saban at Alabama from 2008-2011 and won two BCS National Championships and then now has played three seasons for Belichick in New England.

“I literally think that they’€™re exactly the same,” Hightower said. “From the way that they run their meetings to the way that we run practice, just the way they address the team. You can definitely tell that Nick learned something from Bill whenever they were at Cleveland and I mean they’€™re still pretty close friends. So, I can only imagine how much more they’€™re alike than what I think. I literally think they are two peas in a pod.”

Hightower said Saban didn’t offer him much advice about playing for Belichick, but the lessons he learned at Alabama paid off.

“I mean just good luck and just do everything that I did when I was at ‘€˜Bama,’€™ (University of Alabama) which was just be a sponge, find an older guy and just to tailpipe him,” said Hightower. “I followed [linebacker Jerod] Mayo. I did whatever Mayo did and I feel like I went about it the right way.”

Playing in two National Championship games at Alabama, Hightower is used to playing in big games and he expects the same from his teammates come Sunday night.

“I hope so, it’€™s the damn Super Bowl,” he said.

Read More: 2015 NFL playoffs, Bill Belichick, Dont'a Hightower, Nick Saban
Bill Belichick on HOF election for Junior Seau on Saturday: ‘It’s obviously got to happen’ at 2:22 pm ET
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Junior Seau pictured here in his final NFL game of a 20-year career, a playoff loss to the Ravens at Gillette Stadium. (Al Bello/Getty Images)

Junior Seau is pictured here in his final NFL game of a 20-year career, a playoff loss to the Ravens at Gillette Stadium. (Al Bello/Getty Images)

CHANDLER, Ariz. — Junior Seau will be elected to the Hall of Fame this Saturday by pro football writers.

At least that’s the assumption Bill Belichick is going on. The Patriots coach couldn’t have made his support for the player and the man more evident Thursday morning, two days before the election takes place.

“Well, it would mean a lot. It’€™s obviously got to happen. I can’€™t imagine having a Professional Football Hall of Fame without Junior Seau in it,” Belichick began. “The one word that comes to me when I think of Junior in life and football [is] passion. He’€™s a very passionate guy, lot of energy, lot of enthusiasm. First guy in the building in the morning, watching film, lifting weights, ready for practice, always loved to practice, flying around on the practice field, energy before the game on the sideline [and] during the game, emotional player, but a smart player.”

Seau was a 10-time All-Pro, 12-time Pro Bowl selection, and named to the NFL 1990s All-Decade Team. The San Diego native played college football at Southern Cal before being chosen by the Chargers as the fifth overall pick of the 1990 NFL draft. Seau started for 13 seasons for the Chargers before being traded to the Miami Dolphins, where he spent three years. Then, before the 2006 season, Belichick finally got a chance to coach one of his favorite players. He did so for the final four seasons of his career.

“[He] was a player that played with a purpose; played with good physical skill; but also good concentration, good awareness. Great team player, very supportive of his teammates, I mean, everybody in the locker room loved Junior,” Belichick said. “They loved what he did and they loved the way that he interacted with the team. He was a great player. I was very fortunate to have the opportunity to coach him. We had a lot of great experiences together.”

Seau retired after the 2009 season Obviously it was the end of his career; things were a little different than when he was in San Diego and so forth. But he brought a lot of energy and passion to our team, and I personally had a very good relationship with Junior. I loved coaching him and he always expressed how much he enjoyed playing on the New England Patriots and that meant a lot to me.” Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Bill Belichick, HOF, Junior Seau, nfl
Bill Belichick: ‘It’s great’ having son Steven on coaching staff at 1:29 pm ET
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Steven Belichick

Steven Belichick

CHANDLER, Ariz. — There is another Belichick on the Patriots coaching staff that some people may be unaware of — Steven Belichick, Bill’s son. Steven is in his third year as a coaching assistant with the team.

Bill says it is great to be able to be around his son after being away from him for so long between him coaching and Steven being in school.

“It’€™s great. It’€™s great,” said Bill. “Steven was pretty much away for six years with prep school and college lacrosse and then a year of football with Rutgers. So it’€™s great to have him back, see him on a daily basis and be able to work with him, but also have our father-son relationship kind of not as part of the working environment, but the fact that we work together gives us a little more opportunity to do kind of things like that. So it’€™s great. It’€™s great.”

Steven played lacrosse at Rutgers, before walking on the football team for his senior year playing long snapper for coach Greg Schiano.

The two always stand at midfield talking while the team is warming up for the game, often looking at the opposing team’s warmups.

Coaching runs in the family as Bill’s dad, also Steve, got Bill into coaching. The older Belichick coached at Hiram College, Vanderbilt, North Carolina and Navy before his coaching career ended in 1989.

For more Patriots news, check out weei.com/patriots.
Read More: 2015 NFL playoffs, Bill Belichick, Steve Belichick, Super Bowl XLIX
Vince Wilfork says Bill Belichick has gotten ‘a little softer’ over the years 01.28.15 at 3:31 pm ET
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Bill Belichick speaks Wednesday at Patriots Super Bowl headquarters. (Mike Petraglia/WEEI.com)

Bill Belichick speaks Wednesday at Patriots Super Bowl headquarters. (Mike Petraglia/WEEI.com)

CHANDLER, Ariz. — If you think Bill Belichick is cold as ice, Vince Wilfork would like to change your mind.

Wilfork has known Belichick for 12 years. The Patriots coach he knows now is a little different from the taskmaster that drafted him in 2004 out of Miami.

“Yeah, I’€™ve seen the difference in Bill in the 11 years that I have been here and I tell him he is getting soft,” Wilfork said Wednesday. “But this is a different era of football now with how the team is shaped up and how a lot of guys are younger guys. You don’€™t really have that veteran team that he used to have. When I first came in the league, he had a veteran team that didn’€™t take much to get those guys going.”

Those veterans included defensive players like Rodney Harrison, Tedy Bruschi, Mike Vrabel and Ty Law. What’s impressed Wilfork has been the ability of Belichick to roll with the flow and adapt to a very different NFL from the league Wilfork entered in 2004. Wilfork says Belichick realized he needed to rely more on younger players due to the economics of the league.

“But if I have to say anything, I think over the years he got a soft heart,” Wilfork said. “But he’€™s more understanding now. I think when you get so used to having a certain quality of players and it changes, it’€™s hard for you to adapt to change. And I think Bill had to do a good job of that ever since I’€™ve been in the league because we’€™ve changed so much. We were a veteran team, it was a younger team, at one point we were the youngest team in the league.

“So I think he had to try to find the identity in what works for that team. And I think he’€™s done a great job over the years of doing that. But at the end of the day, he is still Bill. He coaches the same way. He demands everything the same way. But I think he’€™s got a little soft heart now. Over time, he got a little softer though.”

Read More: Bill Belichick, New England Patriots, Super Bowl XLIX, Vince Wilfork
Bill Belichick says there’s ‘a little extra level there’ with Rob Gronkowski at 3:22 pm ET
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CHANDLER, Ariz. — Bill Belichick may have to motivate some players but that’s never been an issue with Rob Gronkowski.

The Patriots coach Wednesday gave the tight end props for the way he’s battled back from numerous injuries that slowed him between 2011 and 2013. The sprained ankle hindered his 2011 Super Bowl against the Giants. His broken forearm kept him out of the 2012 AFC championship and a torn ACL forced him to miss the 2013 AFC title game.

Belichick hinted Wednesday that Gronk’s enthusiasm and love of the game has been one of the factors in helping him get back on the field to such a high level.

“Rob always has a great energy and enthusiasm for the game, is always ready to go, loves to practice, loves to work, works hard in the weight room, competes well all the time,” Belichick said. “You never really have to get on Rob and go, ‘€œYou know, that wasn’€™t your best,’€ or that kind of thing. He’€™s always out there working hard. But I do think that being said, there’€™s maybe just a little extra level there, just like what you referred to. Coming back multiple times, he’€™s come back from various setbacks, and I think the fact that it’€™s gone well, that he continues to feel better and better each week.”

As Gronkowski pointed out Wednesday, there are those who underestimate his intensity for the game because he’s portrayed as a partier. But Belichick knows better. The coach said there’s not a harder worker on the team than No. 87.

“I think that certainly any time you either lose something or go without something for a little while, you have that appreciation when you’€™re able to regain it or even possibly move up to a little bit higher level, which I would say probably is the case with him. His hard work and diligence in all areas from training to technique to just a lot of little things.

“And I think that he and (tight ends) Coach (Brian) Daboll have a great relationship and Brian’€™s done a great job with all of our tight ends, but obviously Rob in particular. But there are a lot of little coaching points that ‘€“ things that Rob does better now than he did a year ago or two years ago. Part of that’€™s experience, part of that’€™s just a little bit better understanding and harder work on those little things ‘€“ they become big things. But, you know, in the end, the credit goes to Rob. He works hard, he competes well, he listens, we tell him to do something and he really tries hard to do it. I have tremendous respect for Rob and the way he goes about his job.”

Read More: Bill Belichick, Rob Gronkowski, Super Bowl XLIX,

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