A tradition unlike any other: Bill Belichick shuns another NFL off-season media session

Shalise Manza Young
·Yahoo Sports Columnist

Earlier this month, as general managers and head coaches from nearly every other NFL team met with reporters at the league scouting combine, the coach of the reigning Super Bowl champions, as is generally his M.O. at the combine, opted not to chat.

On Tuesday, as the coaches of the 16 AFC clubs gather for the annual breakfast with reporters as part of the league’s spring meetings, Bill Belichick will once again be absent.

Bill Belichick. (Jeff Howe/Twitter)
Bill Belichick. (Jeff Howe/Twitter)

On Sunday night, Jeff Howe, the New England Patriots beat reporter for the Boston Herald, tweeted that Belichick has a “scouting conflict” on Tuesday morning and wouldn’t be meeting with media.

Among large programs, Florida and Florida State have scheduled their pro days for Tuesday.

This isn’t really new from Belichick, though it is new that media know ahead of time of the coach’s plans. In 2011, at the league meetings held in New Orleans during the lockout, Belichick gathered the New England-based reporters in town for the event after the vote to move up the spot of the kickoffs to the 35-yard line from the 30, and voiced his displeasure at the change, calling kickoff returns one of the most exciting plays in the game.

The next morning, as reporters from across the country gathered in one of the Roosevelt Hotel’s banquet rooms for breakfast with the AFC coaches, Belichick’s table remained empty. At one point he was spotted strolling past the room’s open doors, peering in and continuing on his way.

In other years, he’s been 10-15 minutes late to the breakfast, which lasts about an hour.

And there was this last year, when Belichick sat down at his assigned table, saw the recording devices and microphones carefully set up by reporters to capture his every word, and promptly pushed them all back toward the center of the table:

There are some who will argue that the breakfast is frivolous, and it doesn’t matter if Belichick attends, and there is some merit to that argument. But the other 31 coaches make sure they are at the breakfast and dutifully take part, discussing the draft, free agency, and any other topics germane to their respective teams, and we’d bet not all of them want to take part. It’s insulting to his peers, the men he’s usually so careful to speak of respectfully, to behave as though he’s above it all.

The league doesn’t require that coaches attend, so Belichick can’t be fined.