CBS Sports Chairman Sean McManus interjected at one point. “Jim, I thought he normally gives you the first 15 plays.”
Good line. Everyone laughed because you’re supposed to laugh when the boss makes a joke.
However, while Belichick doesn’t share the script, Nantz maintains he sees a much different side to the coach than the dour one he usually displays in public. Nantz should know.
The AFC title game will be Nantz’s 62nd on the call for the Patriots. That’s nearly four full regular-seasons worth of games, a staggering number given that this is Nantz’s ninth year as the lead NFL voice for CBS.
The Patriots have been that good. NFL broadcast teams typically have information meetings with both coaches a day or two before the game. This week will mark Nantz’s 62nd session with Belichick.
“We usually meet with him on Friday at Gillette Stadium,” Nantz said. “I think he builds in a little extra time for us. There’s a lot more to him than people would ever think as far as his personality. He does a lot of storytelling. There are 15-20 minute stretches where he gets away from football. He wants to talk about a variety of subjects. It’s a time to hang out for him with one of his former players (analyst Phil Simms) and our small core (from CBS).
“If people saw a snapshot of those meetings compared to what he is like on the sidelines, you would never think it’s the same guy. I’m pleasantly surprised how much he shows of his personality.”
I ask, does he ever reveal his strategy? That prompted McManus’ line. If given the choice, Belichick wouldn’t disclose more than name, rank and serial number to the press.
“The answer to that question is yes,” Nantz said. “He is forthright about what is going to happen, especially about some of the comments he makes about the other team. As far as how he expects the game to go, he gives our lead analyst a lot of information.”
That lead analyst would be Simms. He and the coach have a long relationship, dating back to when Belichick was an assistant under Bill Parcells with the New York Giants.
“I find it interesting that we never even talk about the game sometimes,” Simms said. “Sometimes, I don’t ask questions because I already know a lot about the team. I do read between the lines with anybody I talk to.
“This is the thing I find fascinating about Bill: I’ll say, ‘Hey I read this football book,’ whether it’s on the wishbone or an autobiography, and he’ll say, ‘Oh yeah, I read that.’ I’ll tell him, ‘You know the zone read they’re using today? I know the team that used that in 1935.’ He’ll go, ‘Oh yeah, that was the Chicago Cardinals.’
“I’m never able to tell him anything he doesn’t already know. His history knowledge is the greatest I’ve ever seen in the NFL. A lot of interesting things come out of those meetings.”
Too bad McManus and CBS can’t air those meetings. Sounds like it would make good TV.