Former St. Louis Cardinals manager Tony La Russa was a guest on ESPN Boston Radio on Friday, and one of the topics he was asked about by host Adam Jones was his friendship with Patriots coach Bill Belichick.
A few soundbites:
The other side of Belichick. "I get a big kick out of the perception publicly -- all the media, and mostly the fans, because they don't see [and] he doesn't give you much. He's not there to draw attention to himself. But if you get in a social situation around Bill, he's got so much personality. He's interesting. He's funny. He's a great friend. I can't respect our relationship more than I do. He's about as good a friend as you can expect to have. ... If you go to dinner, you're going to talk about a lot of subjects. It's real apparent that Bill has no ego. He's not there to impress you on his championships. He's just sharing and asking. He shares with guys he knows are interested. It's like going to graduate school times 100."
If he ever gets the sense Belichick is nearing the end of his coaching career. "Never. That's one of the great things about Bill. He's into the moment. I spent that day with him [in June at Patriots minicamp], and I spent a little time in spring training with him, and it's all about the offseason, the roster, preparing the drills for the camp; he's all in to the 2012-13 season. There isn't anything that even begins to hint that he's thinking beyond."
On common links between a baseball manager and football head coach. "Your players get paid to play. Secondly, your players have an opportunity to sign for quite a bit of money and there are some guarantees, as far as security. All that messes with your values. The best value is to just go into survival. You're working today, and if you do a bad job and they fire you tomorrow, you're going to be paying attention to the best of your ability. So survival is natural. Professional athletics now is not natural that way. You have guaranteed money, guaranteed security, so what you have to fight through is guys thinking about themselves, to remember they're playing on a team, and you have to keep their hunger up no matter what their contract's saying. I know nobody has done it better than Bill, year in and year out -- the team concept they have when they compete so fiercely, and to compete together. I'm here [at ESPN] and talking to Tedy Bruschi, and we're telling Bill stories. He's got it. I'm sure people in the Boston area, as closely as they watch, they know how fortunate they are. Just don't get fooled by him just coaching and not giving a lot of information in press conferences. He gives a lot of information to his team."
To listen to the podcast, in which La Russa talks about Belichick at the 7:45 mark, CLICK HERE.