New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick rarely discusses topics outside of football during his press conferences. However, he took a different approach on Wednesday. He called for the United States to take action against countries making unprovoked attacks on Armenians.
The moment occurred when Belichick received an unprompted mention from Christoper Miller, the Acting Secretary of Defense. The government figure quoted the "incomparable" head coach in a letter to Department of Defense employees, telling them to "do your job. We are a team, and that should be our mindset," he wrote." Belichick responded to the shout-out and then addressed the attacks on Armenians.
"I’ll just say, while we’re on the subject, I read his point about combating traditional threats," Belichick said, per Yahoo! Sports. "And I couldn’t help but think and hope that we’ve seen from other countries around the world, and I hope that our country will take action against Turkey and Azerbaijan for their unprovoked and deadly attacks on Armenians. We’ve seen that when a humanitarian crisis and things like that, like ethnic cleaning, go unpunished, that they continue to happen. I hope that we can put a stop to that.
Belichick has previously shown his support for Armenians in the past. He wore an Armenian flag pin when going to the White House to meet President Barack Obama in 2015. According to Yahoo! Sports, he did so at the request of the Patriots’ director of football/head coach administration, Berj Najarian. He is of Armenian descent, and his grandfather is a survivor of the Armenian Genocide between 1914 and 1923.
"I have learned that throughout Armenian history, regardless of any adversity or tragedy, the Armenian people have continued to thrive and persevere," Belichick said in an October Instagram video. "I hope and pray for peace, justice, and the safety of the brave soldiers that are fighting for their nation’s recognition and freedom." The Hill reports that an estimated 30,000 to 50,000 Armenians are living in the Boston area.
According to the New York Times, the six-week conflict over the Nagorno-Karabakh region ended on Nov. 10 with a peace deal brokered between Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Russia. The disputed region technically sites within Azerbaijan. However, ethnic Armenians have controlled the area since 1994.
The latest outbreak of fighting began on Sept. 27. It resulted in hundreds — and possibly thousands — of deaths. Before the peace deal, Azerbaijan's President, Ilham Aliyev, said that his troops would continue fighting until Armenia withdrew from the region.