Berj Najarian’s title with the Patriots is director of football / head coach administration, but for the duration of Bill Belichick’s tenure in New England, he could just as accurately be called the coach’s right-hand man. Najarian’s general responsibilities, according to the Patriots website, are “the point of contact for day-to-day operations of the team” and “a liaison between football and non-football departments.” In a profile in the New York Times, former Belichick assistant Bill O’Brien described Najarian as Belichick’s “consigliere” of the team. Owner Robert Kraft called it “one of our hidden weapons”.

Najarian is also an Armenian American whose grandfather was a survivor of the genocide that lost his parents when he was 10 years old. The team’s support for Armenia, which is located in West Asia east of Turkey, was previously shown discreetly, for example when Belichick worked on the lapel pin of the Armenian flag during the team’s visit to the White House in 2015. But Najarian’s efforts and thus those of the patriots are also has become more open in recent months, when the decades-long conflict between the two countries broke out into a new war with neighboring Azerbaijan.

His Instagram feed is mostly devoted to the Armenian cause. He has spoken to patriot players about it and has set up an Armenian flag in his office. “I was really impressed to see it all,” said Najarian (via the Armenian mirror viewer), adding that with the coach’s support, he started using social media as he got bolder.

When the players saw the flag, they got interested too. “To be honest, I think a lot is because our players are very socially conscious,” said Najarian. “You do a lot of work in the community, which has intensified this year. This goes back to the spring when many things related to social justice and racism were happening across the country. “

Newton brought the memory to life during the NFL’s annual My Cleats, My Cause campaign, where players personalize their cleats for charities, social justice initiatives, and issues that matter to them. The shoes will be auctioned online to support the US-based Fund for Armenia. . The highest bid on December 23 was $ 8,700.

Endorsement even impacted the publicly reluctant Belichick, who first met Najarian via the New York Jets in the 1990s. Belichick is working on the White House pin one day before the 100th anniversary of the start of the Armenian genocide. It is estimated that 1.5 million ethnic Armenians have been killed in Turkey and neighboring regions.

“It was a breeze,” said Najarian of Belichick’s gesture during an appearance earlier this year at the St. James Armenian Church Men’s Club in Watertown, Massachusetts. “He knew the pin and recognized it.” I told him about my grandfather. “

Congress had recognized the killings as genocide the previous year, and Najarian took the opportunity to inform Obama of his administration’s decision not to refer to it as genocide in its official statement. “That’s a tough question,” replied Obama. “I’m trying to prevent future genocides.” Najarian carried on. “What about the Pope?” he asked. “Well, the Pope doesn’t have a government that rules like me.”

Belichick made more public gestures this fall. On October 31, he posted a statement on Instagram in support of the Armenians in the nation’s conflict with Azerbaijan over the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh region, saying, “I hope and pray for peace, justice and the safety of the brave soldiers who are fight for the recognition and freedom of their nation ”and ask for donations to the Armenia Fund.

On November 17, days after Armenia and Azerbaijan agreed to a Russia-brokered ceasefire, Belichick seized an opportunity on November 17 at one of his weekly press conferences. He was asked a harmless question about a letter from Acting Defense Secretary Christopher C. Miller in which Miller quoted Belichick as telling staff to “do their job.”

“I would just say, while we’re talking about the subject, I’m reading [Miller’s] Point about fighting [transnational] Threats, and I had to think and hope … I hope our country will take action against Turkey and Azerbaijan for their unprovoked and deadly attacks on Armenians, ”Belichick told reporters (via the Boston Globe). “We have seen that humanitarian crises and things like ethnic cleansing go with impunity and just keep happening. I hope we can put an end to this. “

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