When the New England Patriots step on to the field for their record ninth trip to the Super Bowl this Sunday, broadcasters will likely inundate you with facts and trivia about the players. But that doesn’t mean the people on the sidelines are any less interesting. Check out some information about notoriously tight-lipped Patriots coach Bill Belichick that you can share between nacho plates.
1. HIS COLLEGE EXPERIENCE WAS RIGHT OUT OF ANIMAL HOUSE.
Before graduating from Wesleyan University in 1975, Belichick was reportedly the polar opposite of his current reserved persona. Classmates recall that as president of the Chi Psi fraternity, the son of Navy’s football scout and future NFL Hall of Famer could usually be found in the vicinity of frat guys peeing on rival houses and blasting soda machines with a shotgun.
2. HE’S BEEN UNDER FBI PROTECTION.
Before moving to the Patriots, Belichick spent four years as head coach of the Cleveland Browns. When he cut popular quarterback Bernie Kosar from the roster, Belichick was so reviled by Cleveland fans that he began to receive death threats. So did Casey Coleman, an area broadcaster who defended Belichick’s decision. Both men got FBI protection until the furor died down.
3. HE’S PALS WITH BON JOVI.
While not the personification of a rock fan, Belichick counts New Jersey musician Jon Bon Jovi among his closest friends. The two met when Belichick was working for the New York Giants in the early 1980s. The singer even brought a reticent Belichick and Patriots defensive coordinator Charlie Weis on stage for a song. "That happened one time and it was forgettable," the deadpan coach once said of the performance (which you can see above).
4. HE’S HAD A LOT OF NICKNAMES.
Since beginning his NFL coaching career in 1975 with the Baltimore Colts, Belichick has assumed several identities in the league. Stints in Detroit and Denver led to the nicknames “Boy Genius” and “Punk”; in New York, Bill Parcells called him “Doom and Gloom” for his aloof demeanor.
5. HE GOT HANDED THE LARGEST FINE FOR A COACH IN NFL HISTORY.
After a Patriots employee was caught videotaping defensive hand signals from the New York Jets in 2007, the NFL slapped Belichick with a $500,000 fine, the largest in league history and roughly 12 percent of the $4.2 million salary he reportedly earned that year.
6. HE WAS HEAD COACH OF THE JETS—FOR ONE DAY.
MALCOLM CLARKE/AFP/Getty Images
After leaving the Browns, Belichick was brought on as an assistant coach with the New York Jets with the contractual promise that he’d be promoted to head coach if head coach Bill Parcells left or was let go. When Parcells retired in 1999, the Jets named Belichick their new coach. The problem? He apparently wasn’t into the idea since the Jets appeared to be nominating him reluctantly. After just one day, Belichick resigned from the position and moved to the Patriots the following year.
7. HE WON'T ACCEPT YOUR FREE CARS.
As a high-profile sports figure, Belichick is often approached by car dealers with offers of free vehicles in the hopes his celebrity will provide them with greater visibility. While it’s hard to turn down free wheels, Belichick does: He buys his family’s cars only from Farrell Volvo in Southborough, Massachusetts, a dealership owned by his college friend, Jim Farrell.
8. YOU CAN SOMETIMES FIND HIM IN PRISON.
Belichick uses his off-season time to do humanitarian work, and he’s particularly interested in rehabilitation of our incarcerated population. Belichick has worked with former NFL great Jim Brown on the Amer-I-Can program, lending aid and support to prisoners as well as paying visits to gang members for talks on how to avoid violence.
9. HE REFUSES TO BE DEPICTED IN
Ethan Miller/Getty Images for Microsoft
Fans of the long-running Madden NFL video game series might be perplexed whenever they call up the Patriots head coach. It’s never Belichick, but an anonymous character named Josh Moore. (Sometimes, the more generic “NE Coach” is used.) For a game officially licensed, it’s a strange decision. While Belichick typically avoids queries as to why, one possible answer might be the fact that he hasn’t joined the NFL Coaches Association, which works with Electronic Arts to license coach likenesses.
10. HE HAS HIS OWN YODA.
The voice most frequently in Belichick’s headphones during games is longtime friend Ernie Adams, who met Belichick in 1970 and has been one of his closest confidantes ever since. Officially the Patriots “director of football research,” Adams suggests plays and adjustments to Belichick while making sports math calculations in the press box. Intensely private, very few pictures of Adams are known to exist.
11. HE ONCE SPIKED A TABLET.
Having been involved in football since watching his dad in the 1950s, Belichick isn’t one to abandon what works. After trying some tablets to arrange his plays and other data on the sidelines, Belichick was seen smashing one to the ground in October 2016. “As you probably noticed, I’m done with the tablets," he told media. "They're just too undependable for me. I'm going to stick with pictures, which several of our other coaches do, as well, because there just isn't enough consistency in the performance of the tablets. I just can't take it anymore."