Not many things can get Bill Belichick talking, but his memories of coming to Philadelphia, both as a kid and as a coach, were the exceptions Tuesday.
On a teleconference with reporters, Belichick, who was on the New York Giants coaching staff from 1979 to 1990, got nostalgic about the football he and his dad, Steve, were a part of in the city. Belichick’s dad was an assistant coach at Navy for more than 30 years, so he’s spent dozens of holiday weekends watching Army-Navy games.
His experience coming back to the area as a coach, particularly with the Giants, was a little less pleasant.
“I always got a real nice and warm reception from the fans,” Belichick said sarcastically. "I personally have always had a real affection for the city of Philadelphia; I grew up there going to all the Army-Navy games. Every Saturday after Thanksgiving, get up there on Black Friday and see all the shoppers out there and how busy it was on Broad Street. ... A lot of great memories from my childhood growing up in those weekends in Philadelphia and then competing there in the division when I was with the Giants.”
Belichick was the Giants’ defensive coordinator from 1985 to 1990. During his time directing New York’s defense, the Giants went 7-5 against the Eagles. But the Eagles did sweep the season series in both 1988 and 1989, earning Belichick’s respect.
“They had some of those great defenses,” Belichick said. “They’re always a very competitive team, [Eagles owner] Jeffrey Lurie and his family have done a great job with that franchise. They’ve been very competitive through the years. ... They’ve always been a tough team to deal with, the fans are passionate, and it’s a great environment.”
But Belichick, getting ready for the Eagles-Patriots game at 4:25 p.m. Sunday at Lincoln Financial Field, wasn’t as chatty, or as nostalgic, about Super Bowl LII.
“I think we talked about that game at length, ad nauseam,” Belichick said. “That game was a long time ago, so we’ll get ready for this game and we’ll see how it goes.”
Patriots quarterback Tom Brady said Monday that he still hasn’t gotten over the 41-33 loss two years ago, saying there’s a lot of “mental scar tissue” from the game.
Belichick downplayed the significance of Brady’s comments.
“That’s the way any competitor feels about any game,” Belichick said. “There’s games from 1975 in my first year coaching that I’m not really over.”
Known for being effusive in his praise for coming opponents, Belichick gave the impression that he thinks very highly of Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz.
This is the first time Belichick has game-planned to stop Wentz, but he’s had an entire bye week to get familiar with Wentz’s playing style.
“He’s a very versatile player, pretty good at everything,” Belichick said. “He’s got a real good arm. Can make all the throws. Can throw on the run, throw in the pocket. Get the ball to all his receivers; he reads coverages well. He’s athletic and can extend plays. He looks like a pretty smart guy. They give him a lot of responsibility as far as checks at the line of scrimmage.
“He’s a really good football player that really looks good at everything, good at all areas of the game.”