Ernie Adams and Evan Bonds, Belichick's close friends at prep school, would be the first of a group Halberstam comes, by the end of the book, to refer to as Belichick University--the people who, either in the company of Bill Belichick or under his influence, established a kind of theoretical bloodline concerning football. Belichick University, essentially, is that school of thought accredited by the Patriots' three Super Bowl wins. Halberstam's retelling of Adams, Bonds and Belichick in their Andover days, is touching to me:
Bonds had also read Steve Belichick's book and was equally thrilled that the scion of such a distinguished football family was about to become a teammate. 'Because we were such football nerds, it was absolutely amazing that Bill had come to play at Andover, because we were probably the only two people in the entire state of Massachusetts who had read his father's book,' Bonds said years later. Bonds felt that though his own life revolved completely around football, Adams was already a good deal more advanced in his football obsessions, going off on his own to coaching clinics where everyone else was at least ten years older, collecting every book written by every coach on the game, the more technical the better, and collecting films of important games: Ernie already had an exceptional football film collection, sixteen-millimeter stuff, the great Packer-Cowboy games, Raiders-Jets, films like that, which he somehow found out about through sports magazines, and had sent away for, and for which he had enough primitive equipment so that he could show the films,' Bonds said. 'It's hard to explain just how football crazed we were, but the year before Bill arrived, when we were in the eleventh grade, and it was sprig, the two of us went down to Nickerson Field, the old Boston University field, because BU was having an intra-squad spring game. We were up there in the stands taking notes, these two seventeen-year-olds--can you believe it?--scouting an intra-squad game at BU on our own, and I still have no earthly idea what we would have done with the notes. Anyway, pretty soon a BU assistant coach came up looking for us, to find out what we were doing, and why we were doing it. So we said we were from Northeaster, as if that would give us extra legitimacy, and the coach said what we were doing was illegal, and we had to get out then and there.'
I love that story about scouting a scrimmage at BU--and getting kicked out for their troubles. That's dedication.
That Adams was football obsessed had been obvious from the time he had arrived at Andover and had sat in the back of some of his classes--more often than not science classes--and had pleased the teacher by seeming to be the most diligent and enthusiastic note taker in the lass. Sadly, it would turn out, and much to the irritation of the teacher, these were not science notes but turned out to be the sketches where eleven Xs took on eleven Os. In time the teacher notified Helen Adams, Ernie's mother. She was not surprised, because Ernie's housemaster, Hale Struges, had already written her of his own concerns about the narrowness of her son's interests: 'I wish he would expand his horizons. His interest in football has assumed such proportions that it seems to be closing doors on other areas of endeavor.' (At virtually the same time, an eerily similar scene was taking place at Annapolis High, where Bill Belichick was taking French; some thirty-five years later Jeannette Belichick happened to stumble over some of her son's old notebooks, including one from French class, and eager to see what he had been doing in a subject that she had once taught, she opened it, finding inside not very much in he way of French verbs but a lot of football plays that had been diagrammed, part of his secret world of Xs and Os.)
"His secret world of Xs and Os." I love it.
Adams remains part of Belichick's team to this day, as a film analyst and scouting expert. Adams was the most obsessed at the time they met, but Belichick was the one ultimately who allowed him to have a career lost in that "secret world of Xs and Os."