Inside Track; Hard-Driving Belichick, Wife of 28 Years Separate

New England Patriots poohbah Bill Belichick has brought his team to three Super Bowl victories in four years with his now- famously obsessive and maniacal work ethic. But at some point, even the die- hards knew, something had to give.

Word from our pigskin spies is the Pats coach and Debby, his long- suffering wife of 28 years, have separated. Belichick isn’t living in Weston anymore and has recently bought a condo in Hingham, we’re told.

“They are living apart, but do spend time together,” said a source, adding that the coach’s missus, his high school sweetheart, was with him at the Super Bowl ring ceremony at Casa Kraft last month.

Rumors of a marital rift surfaced in February when Belichick took his third victory spin around Boston on the duck boats accompanied only by his daughter, Amanda, a collegejunior. The explanation was that Belichick’s young sons had already missed enough school during the football frenzy and Mom thought enough was enough. Hey, somebody’s got to keep the home team focused!

Mrs. B also took a pass on the black-tie gala in the Big Apple April 19 where her hubby, along with the likes of Martha Stewart, Donald Trump and Eliot Spitzer, was feted as one of Time maggie’s “100 Most Influential People.”

However, a month later, Debby showed up at Wesleyan University with the kids to watch Dad, a ’75 alum, collect an honorary doctorate.

“Here’s a guy who is wrapped up in two things – football and his kids,” said a spy. “He’s a machine at work – he’s there literally around the clock – but he’s also a great father. The only time he skips out (of work) is to get to one of the kids’ games. But would you want to be his wife?”

That would be no.

Sources have told us that during the season, the coach is usually in his Gillette Stadium office/war room by 5 a.m. and may leave by 10 p.m. – if he’s not in the midst of working out a deal. In that case, he may stay until the wee hours or catch some shut-eye in his office.

Of course, the Pats skipper isn’t the first Foxboro football coach to sacrifice his home life for the team. Bill’s one-time mentor and a predecessor on the sidelines Bill Parcells split with his long-suffering wife, Judy, in 2002 after leaving the Jets. The official party line was the usual: “NFL stands for No Family Life.”

During the off-season, Belichick repairs to Nantucket to decompress and enjoy the downtime with Team Belichick at their compound in `Sconset before training camp starts.

This year, Coach cut his time on the island short to fly to the Left Coast with the kids for last night’s taping of the ESPY Awards where he was up for “Coach of the Year.”

Hence, his unavailability to comment on this report.

File Under: It Is What It Is.


** That Queen Latifah had words with one of Boston’s intrepid meter maids yesterday when the orange-ticket titan tried to cite Her Highness’ tour bus as well as her $150,000 Harley Davidson in front of the Boston Harbor Hotel! Apparently the ever-vigilant maid of the meter didn’t understand why ‘Tifah’s ride was on the sidewalk. “Because we’re packing it on the bus,” railed the royal one, who was checking out of the haute hotel before her gig at the Bank of America Pavilion. Boston is world class, all right.

** That “The Departed” cast and crew were supposed to film in the Langham Hotel’s chi-chi Julien restaurant Tuesday, but the shoot was scrapped at the last minute – much to the disappointment of the hotel staff! Word is, director Martin Scorsese needed to take advantage of the bright sunny day for yet another rooftop scene in the Fort Point Channel.

** That Cambridge homey-gone-Hollywood Matt Damon didn’t stick around Boston during his month-long “Departed” shoot. Our North Shore spies say the “Legend of Bagger Vance” star was a fixture on the fairway – usually in a family and friends foursome – at the Andover Country Club every Sunday.

** That Marty Scorsese’s flick is shattering useage records at Executive Auto Glass in Stoneham, the official glass supplier to “The Departed.” Executive’s mobile units have installed or dropped off more than 25 windshields, doors and back window glass for the technical crew to blow up. Again and again and again-.-.-.

** And that a ferry full of “Hollywood types” were out on Boston Harbor the other morning scoping out the Harbor Islands for a reality TV series due out in 2008. As in “Survivor: Bumpkin Island?”

TRACKED DOWN: Red Sox hurler Bronson Arroyo belting out a tune from his new CD on KISS 108’s “Matty in the Morning”-.-.-. “The Departed” top cop Martin Sheen checking out the Cyber Boutique on Winter Street-.-.-. New England Patriots snapper stud Lonie Paxton hanging out in the Red Bull hospitality tent with Brad Pitt and Michael Jordan at the US Grand Prix in Monterey, Calif.-.-.-. Hockey great Ray Bourque, former Red Sox hurler Dennis Eckersley, a handful of Patriots Cheerleaders and the WEEI crew teeing off at The International Golf Club in Bolton for the WEEI Cystic Fibrosis Golf Classic.

Drop dimes to [email protected] or 617-619-6488.

Please! Not the face! A (fake) bloodied Matt Damon, shown here yesterday after shooting a roof top fight scene with Leonardo DiCaprio, climbed into a waiting SUV on the “The Departed” set in Fort Point Channel. The mob-cop thriller wraps up its first tour of duty in the Hub tomorrow and heads back to the Apple. But, fear not, they’ll be back (sans Matt) in August.

Mrs. Denis Leary: Our home has never been so InStyle

Ann Leary wants to warn readers of InStyle maggie’s August issue that the 19th century Connecticut farmhouse she shares with “Rescue Me” hubby Denis Leary and their two teens doesn’t always look so picture-perfect.

“Our house was never so clean and it won’t be ever again,” laughed Leary, whose sprawling spread with horses, a tennis court and Dad’s hockey rink is profiled in the upcoming issue.

“People really should know that I’m not a tidy person, I cleaned for two weeks for that shoot,” she said. “What they don’t tell you is that there were rooms where we stashed all the clutter. Those were off limits.”

Did they compare to Tommy Gavin’s illegal sub-let on “Rescue Me?”

“Agh,” said Mrs. Leary. “You mean that squalor? I hope people realize that Denis is NOT like his character on the show. I don’t think I would have married that guy.”

Worcester homey Denis Leary, the smart-ass, ribald, acerbic actor and comic, does all his best work in a chi-chi converted barn on the 50-acre property that Ann says she rarely enters.

“It’s totally his – it’s got a pool table, his office, big TV, and lots of sports memorabilia,” said Ann, who is in the throes of writing a novel about a married celebrity couple.

“He smokes in there, works, watches sports. I would never try to influence the decor. It’s his space. He’d be happy if we had pictures of Yaz and Bobby Orr all over the house.”

But one of Denis’ prized possessions that does reside in the main house is his bedraggled childhood doll, Tim, who sits on a bookshelf like a pricey antique.

“When people ask, `Where does Denis’ anger come from?’ I feel like saying, `Let me present Tim,’-” Ann told Instyle. “This is who he cuddled every night.”

New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick cut short his Nantucket vacation to make the scene at last night’s ESPY Awards in Los Angeles with his kids. Here he displays his three Super Bowl rings as he arrives at the awards fest, at which he was honored as `Coach of the Year.’