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Bill Belichick says ‘Cleveland’ six times to point out focus is on Cleveland

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Bill Belichick insists the New England Patriots’ sole focus is on its upcoming game Sunday against the Cleveland Browns. And he arguably proved just that by invoking the Browns hometown city’s name six times in one response.

The Patriots are coming off a disappointing 16-0 loss to the Buffalo Bills last Sunday but welcomed back Tom Brady after his four-game suspension. But a standoffish Belichick deflected any specific questions about anything by reiterating repeatedly the team is focused on Cleveland … by saying Cleveland six times.

“Right now, our focus is on Cleveland, trying to get ready to go on to Cleveland,” he said during a Wednesday presser, via ESPN’s Mike Reiss. “Can’t do anything about what it was, or wasn’t, the last four weeks. We’re into Cleveland week, and that’s all our focus is. We’re not worried about last week, not worried about next week, not worried about last year. We’re worried about this week against Cleveland. That’s it. We’re focused on Cleveland this week, period. Cleveland.”

Belichick’s Cleveland-heavy commentary is strikingly reminiscent of his infamous “On to Cincinnati” press conference from a few years back. It was a performance  so memorable it became an NFL press conference staple (see here and here and here).

But the best part of Belichick’s press conference? He wasn’t even done mentioning Cleveland.

Belichick was later asked about the return of defensive end  Rob Ninkovich. His response?

“I’m thinking about getting ready for Cleveland,” he said. “Thinking about playing Cleveland.”

When asked if he was relieved that Brady’s Deflategate suspension was finished?

“I feel like we need to go out to Cleveland and play well in order to win,” he said.

Not satisfied with that response, another Brady-related question was asked, this time about whether the quarterback’s return could inspire the team to play better. Belichick’s response?

“I think our team needs to prepare well this week to go out to play well against Cleveland in Cleveland,” he said.

What a masterful media shutdown. A virtuoso performance during which Belichick relied upon his “How to Obstinately Deal with the Media” playbook like no other.