BOSTON—New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick was lauded Friday for his volunteer work at the Boston City Morgue, receiving praise from its staff for his dedication, enthusiasm, and affable attitude while working at the storage facility for human remains.
Boston chief medical examiner Dr. Thomas Coleman estimated that Belichick has averaged 40 to 50 volunteer hours a week at the morgue over the past five years. In addition, Coleman said the three-time Super Bowl champion coach is a popular figure in the autopsy room and well known for his cheerful personality and ever-present beaming smile.
"Back in 2007, Bill just came off the street right after a horrific 12-car pileup on Interstate 93 had claimed the lives of eight people and asked if we needed any help," Coleman said. "He insisted on doing it for free. How could we refuse? Turns out the man's a natural at working with dead bodies."
"Not only does Bill have a delightful disposition, but he's never shied away from tackling the most unpleasant and repulsive tasks," Coleman added. "He's actually eager, like a kid in a candy store. His eyes just light up and he gets that big sunny grin of his whenever he's asked to mop up bodily fluids or sort through heavily damaged internal organs."
According to Coleman, Belichick's kind and thoughtful nature—always on display while performing his day-to-day morgue duties—is most obvious when he volunteers to meet with families who arrive to identify deceased loved ones.
"Bill is just the best," Coleman said. "He just gives and gives. Recently he pulled me aside, looked into my eyes, and said, 'Thank you. Being here really makes my day.'"
Belichick told reporters he loves the atmosphere of the morgue, from its subdued silence to the dull gleam of its cool stainless steel surfaces to its distinctive smell. The three-time AP NFL coach of the year also said he relishes the feel of the cold dissection table on his skin, as well as the soft but persistent hum of the refrigerated body-storage lockers, the gentle plops of viscera slowly dripping through the drainage grates, and the invigorating buzz of an electric bone saw as it cuts into a skull.
"I feel happiest when I'm working long hours at the morgue," Belichick said. "It lets my subconscious mind work on other things. It's inspiring. Last week, we were given the bloated, waterlogged corpse of a drowning victim, and I instantly came up with a great defensive-tackle stunt that will collapse the pocket and pressure the QB."
"I get to spend a lot of time alone with my thoughts here," Belichick continued. "It helps me tremendously in conceptualizing various schemes and plans."
Morgue attendants acknowledged they were impressed by Belichick's inquisitive nature, remarking that the 60-year-old coach has a deep fondness for observing autopsies and furiously writes notes and diagrams in a leather-bound pocket journal, often using a digital camera to photograph the cadavers from dozens of angles.
Belichick is also said to be intensely curious about matters ranging from the techniques required to prevent the decomposition of a human corpse to the frequency with which the facility receives fresh dead bodies.
"Bill's always asking about contingencies and hypotheticals, such as what we would do in the event of an overturned school bus killing everyone on board, or if a section of bleachers caught fire at a Red Sox game and cooked the fans alive, or if the Big Dig caved in and we couldn't get to the bodies for a couple weeks," said morgue attendant Cecil Walker, adding that Belichick has posted his personal contact information and asked that he be called immediately if something like that should happen. "He really wants to learn every aspect of this business. Field work, dissection, the transportation and disposal of human remains—you name it."
Autopsy technicians said Belichick has contributed a great deal to the morgue, including a meticulously detailed list of suggested improvements.
"He's come up with a bunch of procedures for removing dried, hardened bowels from various pieces of equipment, and also a highly efficient system for organizing the dead bodies," technician Richard Jackson said. "It's hard to believe such a total mastermind of this stuff can still be really laid back, wearing that blood-splattered old Patriots hoodie as he dives into his work."
"You know what still gets me? No matter how cold it gets, the guy never wears shoes," Jackson added. "Or gloves. He says he likes the feel between his toes and fingers, but we know better. Every now and then, we'll walk in while he's caressing the chest of a dead body and whispering about how beautiful it is. Guy just loves the work."