Belichick and the Patriots Take on Critics – and Fans

John Pinkham

As a New England Patriots fan, you’ve probably heard, and as a football fan, it has surely caught your eye. Patriot tight end Rob Gronkowski broke his arm, and did so while still in the game on an extra point of a blowout win this past Sunday.

The Patriots and Coach Bill Belichick have caught a lot of heat and negative press for the injury. Fans have been calling in to local sports radio shows asking why they would ever leave their star player in during garbage time. It’s as if everyone has already forgotten about the win Sunday, and can only think about the next few games without their beloved Gronk. Fans are angry, and they want answers.

In a surprising move, the usually quiet and not media friendly Belichick handled the situation correctly. Known for giving short, unhelpful answers during his press conferences, Belichick went on WEEI Radio’s “Big Show” and actually addressed all of the criticism.

“I think you’ve got to be careful when you’re trying to run a team, to go up to one guy and say, ‘Michael, we’re going to leave you in the game because we care about you, but Glenn, we’re going to take you out because you’re really important. You other guys go in there because if something happens to you, we don’t really care.’”

Perfect. Belichick answered the critics by saying how important the concept of a team is. No player is more special than another – everyone is treated equal. It is Gronkowski’s job to help the team and play on extra points and that was what he did.

This is an excellent example of how some news or reactions should come from the top. While Belichick is usually quiet when answering media questions, the players themselves can act as spokespeople for the media. It is the same with any company – there are spokespeople who generally handle the media. But when something big happens that catches everyone’s attention, it is best to hear the response from the top. A concise response can settle the firestorm and help everyone move on.

Belichick’s response did just that, and now the media has shifted its focus to the next game. The power of open communication really shined through here, and Belichick avoided future problems and criticism. If he had stayed quiet and not explained the situation, the media would have continued to write negatively about his leadership and the Patriots organization. For now, Belichick handled this situation with flying colors and the only thing left to wonder is how soon we’ll see another Gronk spike.

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