MINNEAPOLIS -- Bill Belichick is stealing the show at the Super Bowl.
Those are 10 words I never thought I'd write in my life, but here I am, typing them out and still not believing it. If you would have asked me on Media Day who the most entertaining person would be during Super Bowl week, I would have listed the Patriots equipment manager, the bartender at my hotel or a referee from the Puppy Bowl before I would have even thought about mentioning Belichick.
I'm not sure what's up with him this week, but something feels slightly different as he heads into his eighth Super Bowl as the head coach of the Patriots. Maybe I should've put two and two together that a new Belichick was going to show up in Minnesota when he walked off the team plane on Monday wearing a fedora.
That guy wears a hoodie 364 days a year, but there he was, wearing a fedora that once belonged to his dad. He had to know that wearing the fedora would send the internet into a frenzy, and he had to know it would be a hot topic at Super Bowl Opening Night on Monday, but this version of Belichick didn't care. It's almost like this version of Belichick wanted to be asked about the hat, because this version of Belichick has been happily answering every question thrown at him this week, and let me give you a quick reminder of how rare that is.
If you've seen one Belichick press conference, you've seen them all. Someone will ask a question, he'll give a seven-word answer, and then move on. Sometimes, someone will hit the jackpot and get a 683-word answer on a question about punt protectors, but for the most part, Belichick keeps things short and not so sweet.
Not this Belichick, though. Not Super Bowl LII Belichick. Instead of ducking every question at Media Night, Belichick was actually answering them. Things got so out of hand that the Belichick smile counter hit nine on Monday.
Belichick smiled more on Monday than he has at his past four Super Bowl Media Days combined. (Note, that is not an actual fact, but it is believable).
Belichick's friendliness even carried over to his press conference on Wednesday, which was crazy, because Belichick always has his game face on by the time his midweek press conferences roll around.
Although he has smiled at a Media Night before, those smiles are almost always gone by midweek, but not with this Belichick, the guy who was at the podium on Wednesday did some things that you would never see Belichick do at a press conference: He joked around!
I thought for sure I would have a conversation with a talking cat before I would see Bill Belichick joking around at a press conference FOUR DAYS BEFORE THE SUPER BOWL, but nope, there he was on Wednesday, joking away.
Before we get to what happened on Wednesday, let me point out that the first rule of asking Belichick questions at a press conference is that you can't ask anything pertaining to the Patriots' game plan. Well, a German reporter, who probably didn't get the memo on that important rule, decided to ask Belichick a question about what the Patriots might do on defense to stop Eagles tight end Zach Ertz.
During the regular season, this is probably a question that Belichick blows off, but the new laid back Belichick took it in stride. After politely blowing it off -- which wasn't surprising -- he fired back with an actual surprise: A joke.
"That's the first time I've been asked a question by a German reporter that wasn't about Sebastian Vollmer," Belichick said, referring to the Patriots offensive lineman who was born in Germany.
I mean, look at the smile at the 33-second mark. That's the smile of a guy who said something so out of character that he even made himself laugh.
Later in the press conference, Belichick was asked his thoughts on the Bengals -- it's the Super Bowl, you get asked about everything -- and what it was like to make four trades with Bengals owner Mike Brown over the past 18 years.
"Some of those have worked out maybe a little better for one side than the other," Belichick said. "Certainly, Mike got the best of the Chad Johnson trade, still waiting for the payback on that. I don't think that's coming."
HE BURNED CHAD JOHNSON AND NO ONE SAW IT COMING.
So random! That Chad Johnson comment is probably the wildest quote Belichick has given in years.— Kevin Duffy (@KevinRDuffy) January 31, 2018
There was another point in the press conference where someone asked Belichick for Super Bowl tickets, and I have to say, if this was five years ago, Belichick probably ignores the question, gives the guy a death stare and moves on, but not this Belichick. This Belichick played along.
I'm not sure what all of this means, but I do know that Belichick has been the MVP of Super Bowl week through the first three days. It's possible that at 65, Belichick is aware that there won't be many more Super Bowls in his future, not because he can't get there, but because he probably won't coach more than five more years.
It's also possible that Belichick knows this will be his last Super Bowl with the Patriots. Between the ESPN report and Robert Kraft, it wouldn't be completely crazy if Belichick decided to hang it up after a potential Super Bowl win. That's pure speculation, but it would help explain why our normally grumpy genius has turned into the brightest spot of Super Bowl week. It would also explain why Kraft if Belichick would return next season.
I have no idea what's going to happen with Bill Belichick's future, but I do know that he finally seems to be enjoying himself on the Super Bowl stage and so far, that's been my favorite part of Super Bowl week.