Bill Belichick avoids protest talk with variation on familiar refrain
New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick on Tuesday sidestepped inquiries from the media about the team’s national anthem protest last Sunday by incorporating a familiar refrain he often uses to move on from a particular issue.
Sixteen Patriots players knelt during the anthem prior to the team’s 36-33 victory over the Houston Texans at Gillette Stadium. Belichick was asked during a Tuesday conference call with reporters whether he had any knowledge of the protest before it occurred.
Naturally, Belichick was not inclined to discuss such matters and utilized a variation on his patented “On to Cincinnati” line from a few years back, saying the team is solely focused on Sunday’s showdown with the Carolina Panthers.
“I don’t have any other comment on that,” Belichick said, via the Boston Herald. “We’re really focused on getting ready for Carolina. Last week is last week. This week is what’s ahead of us, and that’s where our attention and focus will be.”
Belichick did issue a statement on Monday, however, in which he articulated his thoughts on the matter by pointing out he engages his players in discussions on such issues on an “ongoing basis.”
Statement from #Patriots Head Coach Bill Belichick: pic.twitter.com/WguC8xakkz
— New England Patriots (@Patriots) September 25, 2017
The controversial issue of course took on new life after President Donald Trump strongly criticized players who participate in such protests beginning with a speech last week. Trump has since perpetuated the controversy through a series of tweets and public comments continuing into this week.
The controversy prompted unprecedented acts demonstrating organizational unity from several NFL teams before and during the playing of the anthem ahead of games in Week 3. Not surprisingly, Trump’s comments and the subsequent fallout have been the A-topic in the NFL and beyond in the ensuing days, and there appears no end in sight to those discussions.