Bill Belichick says playing for him is tough

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- One of the unforgettable media-related moments covering Bill Belichick's Patriots teams during his 15-year tenure came during the 2011 regular season.

The Patriots had just gone on the road Nov. 27 and defeated the Eagles 38-20, when Belichick sat down for his postgame news conference. He usually stands in those situations, but this was a case where he wasn't feeling particularly well, and decided that he'd pull up a chair and engage reporters.

Belichick kept talking and talking, clearly proud of how the team had overcome a 10-0 deficit when he admitted, "I know we demand a lot and this isn't an easy place to play, and I'm not an easy guy to play for, but they have tried to respond. I give them a lot of credit for that."

That was the topic we wrote about after the game, as the Patriots ultimately advanced to the Super Bowl that year.

Fast-forward to Monday and Belichick's weekly appearance on sports radio WEEI and this is what he said: “It’s a tough place to play. We demand a lot out of ourselves -- our coaches, our players. We don’t accept just an average performance, or not doing our best. We don’t always do things well, we don’t always do them right, but we always try to do them hard and try to do them with great effort. It takes a lot of toughness to do that day after day, mentally and physically when you don’t feel good, or when you’re banged up, or it’s late in the season or things are going against you sometimes it’s hard to rally and compete at a high level. It takes toughness to do that. I think our team has shown we have it. We’re going to get a huge test coming up. We might have to take it up a notch higher, but I like the toughness of this team."

For those who have been around the team a few years, it was easy to draw this connection to Nov. 27, 2011, and Jan. 19, 2015. In many ways, it highlights the traits and characteristics that Belichick values most with his teams, starting with physical and mental toughness.

It's no coincidence that Belichick's remarks along these lines came in Super Bowl seasons.

At the same time, let's also not overlook the soft spot that he still shows at times, such as setting up a moment on Sunday night for Tom Brady to be pulled from the game after one snap so he could receive an ovation.

Why did Belichick do that?

"Tom deserved it. Nobody has meant more to this football team than Tom has over the last 15 years," Belichick said on WEEI. "To have a 38-point win in the AFC Championship Game against a great team like the Colts, Tom's our leader, the offense has pretty much run through him for well over a decade now. This is our last chance this year to get him that type of recognition at home and I just thought he deserved it."