The Wall Street Journal’s Kevin Clark and Daniel Barbarisi write:
Quick, Bill Belichick has a few questions for you: Describe the third player from the left on the Indianapolis Colts’ kickoff coverage team. Is he fast? Is he strong enough to run you over? Where did he play in college?
Whoops, you took too long to answer. Belichick is now angry at you.
This is daily life for any member of the New England Patriots, who are heavy favorites to beat the Indianapolis Colts in the AFC Championship game on Sunday. The Patriots are widely considered the most prepared and well-coached players in the NFL, but that level of preparation comes at a cost. They must be ready, at any moment, for the NFL’s version of Alex Trebek: The quiz master Belichick.
The attention to detail in Belichick’s questions are the stuff of legend. McLeod Bethel-Thompson was a practice squad quarterback for just a few days early this season. He said he was mostly an afterthought in a room with Brady and other players who could get playing time. But he said the coach would want to know very specific things about his role on the practice squad, which is limited to imitating opposing quarterbacks. Belichick seemed interested in the psychology of the opposing quarterback and wanted the practice squad quarterback to think the same way. “He’d challenge you—why’d you make that throw? Why’d you attack [Patriots cornerback Darrelle] Revis—would the opposing quarterback challenge Revis?” Bethel-Thompson said.
“Everything he does to train the mind of the athlete is perfect,” Evans said. “When guys get there they either buy in immediately or they are so overwhelmed that they want out.”