Patriots: Brandon Copeland talks about his first year with Bill Belichick
By Adam Weinrib
Patriots LB Brandon Copeland talked to Musket Fire about a season unlike any other in New England.
Imagine having to adjust to the culture of the New England Patriots on a one-year deal, and that one year is 2020, a 365-day stretch dominated by elbow bumps and instructional Zooms?
For linebacker Brandon Copeland, who made the transition from the New York Jets to the Pats this past year, that chaotic mixture was his reality, and navigating it was necessary for his NFL survival.
Luckily, in a “season unlike any other,” Copeland was blessed with one stoic representation of normalcy: Bill Belichick.
Still there, still orchestrating a top defense.
“I learned to never leave a stone unturned. It was an awesome experience just seeing how his mind works and how detail oriented he is,” Copeland told us about Belichick’s day-to-day leadership. “From understanding how the wind is blowing, to understanding the grass and field type, understanding the other team and their schemes and who they are, it was just a total MBA in football. I got my master’s degree in football.”
How will Brandon Copeland remember his strange first year with the Patriots?
Unfortunately for Copeland and the rest of the 2020 Patriots newcomers, that time spent up close with his teammates and coaching staff was at a premium this year, with in-person learning occasionally halted by the pandemic.
Therefore, it was sometimes hard to feel the full breadth of what it meant to be a New England Patriot — and there was rarely time to even consider the missing man under center.
“Nothing really felt the same or normal,” Copeland relayed. “You had a whole spring where you didn’t even get a chance to meet your new teammates in person, your coaches in person. Even when you met them, it was all elbow bumps and from six feet away.”
“Coming into a new place as a veteran player, you know you have to focus on the things you can control. You have to focus on yourself, quite frankly. … To be quite honest, you don’t end up having time to think about who’s here, who used to be here. You’re thinking about, ‘How do I stay here myself?’ you know?”
Copeland is one of the more affable, forward-thinking linebackers you’ll ever meet. After all, not only does he have a theoretical MBA from Belichick U, but he’s got a genuine one, too, offered by the Wharton Business School.
So, how business-like are the Pats, really?
We hear all the time about how there’s a sneaky sense of humor hiding in every corner of this ruthless machine. How does the whole roster snap into place so efficiently when it comes time for kickoff? When it came time to assess the Patriots’ locker room after a year embedded in the system, Copeland had an interesting comparison for Belichick’s coaching style and the way he trains his team.
“Everyone is a businessman. You think about Floyd Mayweather. He’s a lot of “rah rah,” a lot of talk, a lot of hype. But if you ever notice — I study people, I study athletes, I study competitors. When he comes out for a fight, he is stone-faced. On a mission. And that’s what the Patriots organization is.”
As for the recent (slight) controversy ignited by Danny Amendola regarding who represents the “Patriot Way” more fervently, Copeland says he hasn’t spoken with his teammates about it, but comes down rationally on the ongoing debate.
“It takes two to tango, to a certain extent,” Copeland told us, with a chuckle. “I think they both benefitted from being with each other. These things are partnerships. And let’s not take away from the rest of the guys in the locker room who’ve also helped work to help build and grow and create these people.”
Brandon Copeland spoke with Musket Fire on behalf of his partnership with Zebra Technologies, the official on-field player-tracking provider for the NFL. Zebra recently teamed up with Beyond the Basics – a charity Brandon co-founded – whose mission is to empower youth to maximize their potential by exposing them to enriching experiences, opportunities and people.