One of the less-advertised duties that comes with playing for the New England Patriots: You'd better know your military history.
And if you don't, you'd better get cozy with Wikipedia.
That's because head coach Bill Belichick is a military history buff. The bookshelves of his office are packed with information on the subject. And the coach constantly weaves historical references into his speeches and game-planning to the teams.
But this isn't the cliched, hyperbolic football-as-war speech many people might think of. Belichick's approach is much more detailed and nuanced. And he's not trying to stir up emotions, either -- he's trying to get his players to think.
"Anytime you are quoting Dwight Eisenhower, or anyone from Bill’s military history background -- warriors and statesmen, that’s not normal in the NFL," said defensive end Jake Bequette, in a story published by The Wall Street Journal. "You don’t hear a lot about Sun Tzu or anyone like that in most locker rooms."
The WSJ also reports that one Belichick speech made so many references to accords and armistices that his players were visibly confused. With a tense tone, the coach explained, "It’s a peace treaty, guys."
Even linebackers coach Patrick Graham, a Yale graduate, has found himself boning up on history lessons and watching more of the History Channel to try and get on the same page with Belichick. Other players have also become history nerds thanks to Belichick's emphasis on the subject.
Belichick has probably converted more history buffs than Paul Westhead gave birth to Shakespeare fanatics. The former Los Angeles Lakers coach, who led the team to the 1980 NBA championship, was a big fan of the Bard and regularly quoted the writer to his team.
When he left the NBA to become the coach at Loyola Marymount, Westhead even served as an English professor, according to the Los Angeles Times. Which begs the question: How terrifying would Belichick be as a teacher?