Bill Belichick Modeled Patriots Activities After 1930s, '40s Football at OTAs

Tim Daniels@TimDanielsBRFeatured ColumnistJune 14, 2018

New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick faces reporters during an NFL football minicamp practice, Tuesday, June 5, 2018, in Foxborough, Mass. (AP Photo/Steven Senne)
Steven Senne/Associated Press

New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick provided his team with a football history lesson before canceling the final two practices of the scheduled organized team activities this week.

Mike Reiss of ESPN.com reported the Patriots' facility turned back the clock nearly a century Tuesday for a look at the sport during the Great Depression era. One player told Reiss:

"It was cool for him to get a chance to teach us about the sport that we're in, the National Football League and kind of how it started. We got to watch some old clips from football back then—the '30s and '40s—that I had never seen before. I didn't know what type of offenses were run, so it was really neat to see. We even looked at high school football back then, all the way up to NFL."

Along with the archived footage, New England sported leather helmets for the offseason practice and eliminated digital clocks for a day to achieve the old-school feel.

Belichick said coming into the week he was happy with the team's overall progress despite working with a shorter offseason schedule since the team advanced to Super Bowl LII before losing a thriller against the Philadelphia Eagles.

He told reporters: 

"I think we're making progress. We obviously have a long way to go. We'll start getting into some situational football and keep moving things ahead, but I feel like we've got a decent couple weeks.

"Hopefully we can just keep stringing some good days together this week and get ready by the end of the process, put ourselves in the best position we can to get to training camp. That's really what this is about. Just try to keep stringing them together."

His decision to inject a little fun into the proceedings comes after the Patriots' no-nonsense approach to chasing titles came under fire from players outside the organization.

"They don't have fun there. There's nothing fun about it," San Francisco 49ers defensive end Cassius Marsh, who spent part of last season with the Pats, told Eric Branch of the San Francisco Chronicle in May. "There's nothing happy about it. I didn't enjoy any of my time there, you know what I'm saying? It made me for the first time in my life think about not playing football because I hated it that much."

Eagles offensive tackle Lane Johnson referenced New England's success last month when saying: "All these guys talking about 'I'll take the rings.' OK. You can have your rings. You can also have f--king 15 miserable years."

On Tuesday, Belichick showed his players it's possible to keep their eye on the ultimate prize while still having a little fun along the way.

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