Sunday, March 25, 2007

An Inquiring Mind

There are tricks to getting information out of Bill Belichick, and Mike Reiss of the Globe uses them better than anyone. That's why his Sunday notes column today was the first of that decrepit newspaper genre I've read as opposed to scanned in months.

Belichick cultivates a image of taciturnity, but it's only half-real. The Patriots' coach regards sound-bite emotional questions as inane (I'm with him there) and answers specific questions about team personnel in such cautious generalities he could be discussing any human male on earth. But when asked to discuss the sport of football in general, be it historical, technical, or his own experience, Belichick's a regular chatterbox.

Through the basic journalistic discipline of being around his subject a good deal while keeping his eyes and ears open, Reiss has grasped how to approach his subject and come away with much valuable information-as he did today. Belichick's opinions on proposed NFL rules changes are not the stuff awards and extras are made of. They are, however, undeniably news, and of undeniable interest to dedicated football fans. What other sort of person reads an NFL off-season notes column in the first place?

Belichick is an astute observer, and I don't believe he'd be so open with Reiss if he didn't think Mike was as interested (OK, almost as interested) in football as himself. Mutual professional respect can accomplish wonders.

In the final analysis, people consume journalism in any form, from newspapers to the Internet, to find things out they couldn't learn anywhere else. Reiss fulfilled the Globe's part of that bargain today. Good for him.


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