Will Patriots' Super Bowl fortunes turn on coach Bill Belichick's hoodie?
HOUSTON – Bill Belichick’s hoodie is an everlasting part of his legendary coaching career. The iconic garb sported so often by the New England Patriots head coach has its own Twitter handle. You can buy real versions and knockoffs online. One of his hoodies is in the Hall of Fame. And everyone wanted to ask hoodie-themed questions on Super Bowl media night Monday.
“If only it was that easy,” Belichick said, when asked about whether his choice of clothing was borne from superstition. “You wear a certain thing and that means you win the game.”
Of course there is more to it than that, and the Patriots’ hopes of success in Super Bowl LI on Sunday will have plenty to do with how they combat Matt Ryan and the Atlanta Falcons’ prolific offense, among other things.
Yet football fans are just like those in any other sport, in that so many believe in forces of mysticism when it comes to athletic competition.
“If I see him wearing that red hoodie, I’m going to turn off the television and go hide under the bed,” Patriots fan Mike Morris told USA TODAY Sports. “That thing is a disaster.”
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He’s not wrong, and we know this because, in a remarkable feat of obsessive lunacy mixed with admirable diligence, there is a database chronicling all of Belichick’s fashion (or unfashionable) choices since 2000.
Boston-bred, Los Angeles-based television production professional Mike Dussault is the architect of the Belichick Hoodie Database on his blog PatsPropaganda.com, where he breaks down the stats of everything Belichick has worn during games.
“The iconic one that everyone associates him with is the original gray Reebok hoodie with the sleeves cut off,” Dussault said. “That really took off after the 2005 Super Bowl and became entwined with the Belichick legend.”
Indeed, Belichick went 31-9 during his time with the Reebok sleeveless option, which ended when Nike took over apparel rights in 2012.
Morris and other fans are right to be concerned about the ugly red number. That was on display during Super Bowl XLII, when David Tyree’s infamous catch spurred the New York Giants to a remarkable win that snapped the prospect of a perfect season. Belichick, Dussault said, has never worn red since.
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Nervous Patriots loyalists will hope for a cuff or two to be on show Sunday, as both times Belichick has hacked the sleeves off his top in the biggest game of all, the team has been defeated.
The best bet, according to Dussault’s stats, could be the Patriots’ official 2016 blue Nike hoodie (with sleeves intact). Belichick is 3-0 while wearing it, including a victory at Denver and both playoff games so far.
“People love the idea because it is so ridiculous,” added Dussault, who initially trawled through photo databases to figure out what the coach wore in old games. Since 2011, he has been updating his chart weekly. “It is just me being silly and having fun with it but the fans get into it and we get a big response.”
But here is a chilling thought: What if Belichick doesn’t wear a hoodie? Though it is part of his image, the figures show that he has shunned the hoodie in recent years. Furthermore, he has cut a more sartorially elegant figure away from the gridiron too, regularly appearing for media conferences with a sharp suit and tie, like he did on media night.
“Very nice,” receiver Julian Edelman said. “Coach knows how to dress well. Maybe he gets some good advice. I don’t know.”
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If so, that advice likely comes from his girlfriend Linda Holliday, who has sometimes light-heartedly shared information with Twitter followers as to what Belichick will be wearing on game days.
Belichick seems a bit less gruff and grumpy this year, sometimes sidestepping questions about Donald Trump but offering amusing anecdotes about his love of comedian Larry David’s work and regaling memories of his job in a pub kitchen as a teen.
Yet he didn’t want to talk much about the hoodie, though that didn’t stop the questions from flying all week.
“That’d be great,” he said, when asked if a hoodie could have magical powers.
However, for more than half of the Patriots’ games this season, Belichick has sported what is known as a blue “hot jacket,” a new look that has matched – coincidentally or not – with a sparkling run of form.
How can it be that the Pats have enjoyed such success despite such a drastic change? And how was Belichick able to ditch his best-known look and no one appeared to notice? We’ve all been fooled. Hoodwinked, if you like.
Follow Rogers on Twitter @mrogersUSAT