It might be hard to believe to many Browns fans that Bill Belchick has changed from the way he conducted himself during a stormy five-year stay in Cleveland.
The same man who stood defiantly while fans shouted chants of: "Bill must go … Bill must go" in the final weeks of the 1995 season has apparently become a new man, if we believe what we're told. Well, let's just say that he isn't the same stubborn person who had an adversarial relationship with fans and media representatives in Cleveland from 1991-95.
New England Patriots defensive end Anthony Pleasant has seen a big difference in Belichick. Pleasant, who played with Belichick during his days with the Browns, should know the man better than most people.
"When we were losing he used to be negative all the time," Pleasant said. "This year he's more positive. He's stayed more relaxed. He doesn't get as hyped. I think he learned from the past that you just can't keep beating yourself down and being negative towards the players. You have to find ways to get them going."
Pleasant looks back on the Cleveland days as a difficult time for Belichick. He never seemed to relate well to the players, which backfired on him in the final weeks of the disastrous 1995 season.
Not that anyone is calling Belichick a great communicator these days, but he seems to dealing with players in a better way.
"Cleveland was a growing time for him," Pleasant said. "Once he went to New York (as the Jets defensive coordinator) and had a chance to dissect everything, I think he learned from the past.
"I wouldn't say that he's more lenient, but he's more willing to listen. He sees that there's more ways than one to kill a cat."
Pleasant was happy to get out of Cleveland following the 1995 season. The bad vibes that went through the Browns' practice facility weren't conducive to winning games.
"Guys had contracts, so we had to be there, but guys really weren't happy," Pleasant said. "When you first walked into the building you felt all these negative impressions. You weren't excited about going to work.
"Sometimes that's a reflection of what the coach does. But he's learning. This year with me playing for him, I didn't feel anything negative walking into the building. When we lost to Miami, he said, ‘We're going to put this game behind us.' He never did that in Cleveland."
Belichick hasn't made a complete transformation. Asked if Belichick has become fun loving, Pleasant smiled and said, "Well, he's going to be Bill."