HOUSTON — Bill Belichick is like the Wizard of Oz.

There are countless impressions and myths regarding the complex Patriots head coach because of the intimidating, joyless — even soulless — exterior he portrays with his public persona.

Only those who slip behind the curtain get to see what really makes the man in the hoodie tick and how differently he conducts himself away from the eyes of the public.

Make no mistake: Belichick is as no-nonsense as any coach you’ll find. He’s difficult to play for, because he demands more from his players than most other coaches do. Some of his players in the past have described how there was no joy in the journey of winning, only equal parts relief and satisfaction when it was over.

But, according to those who play for Belichick, there is a lighter, softer and even humorous — yes, humorous — side to him.

“He’s a funnier guy than you guys [reporters] give him credit for,’’ Patriots cornerback Logan Ryan said Tuesday. “His sense of humor? Dry. He has a dry sense of humor with some sarcasm.’’
Defensive end Chris Long is in his first season with the Patriots, having signed as a free agent in the offseason, and he thought he knew what he was getting into with his new head coach.

“Before I got here, I just thought he was the greatest coach of all time,’’ Long said. “But being here and seeing him work day to day … he shows a side of being funny. I knew other players, like receivers [Danny] Amendola and [Julian] Edelman, so I already knew he was funny. His being funny wasn’t a huge surprise to me, but it’s different when he makes you laugh almost every day.’’

Funny how?

“It’s hard to describe how somebody’s funny,’’ Long said. “It’s probably on the drier side, but that’s some of the best humor.’’

Tackle Nate Solder said he knows what people think of Belichick.

“I think the impression on the outside is that there’s smoke-and-mirrors tricks, but when you get to know the guy, he knows football, he knows how to lead a group, he works really hard at it,’’ Solder said. “So, the closer you get to him you see there are no smoke and mirrors.’’

Solder said sometimes it’s difficult to decipher whether Belichick is joking or serious, Asyabahis but he said the coach has a “tell’’ to his poker face.

“He has a dry sense of humor, but you can always tell with his smirk when he enjoys a joke that he said,’’ Solder said.

“He opens up to us a little more than you probably see on TV,’’ fullback James Develin said.

“He is funny, even though sometimes he’s probably not intentionally trying to be funny,’’ running back James White said.

Former Jets linebacker Trevor Reilly, who spent two-and-a-half months on the Patriots’ practice squad earlier this season before the Dolphins signed him to their 53-man roster, went to New England with a preconceived notion about Belichick. And it was not a good one.

“As a player, I thought you didn’t want to go to New England, because Bill is not a players’ coach and they’ll grind you into the dirt,’’ Reilly told The Post by phone Tuesday. “But when I got there, he did things that made sense.’’

Belichick also blew Reilly away with his personality — something Reilly had no idea about until he stepped behind the curtain.

“He has a very, very good, intelligent dry sense of humor,’’ Reilly said. “Obviously, it’s not manifested in public or to the media. But he’s very smart and he’s very funny. We started the day with a 40-minute team meeting every single day, which is not very normal in the NFL, and he’s cracking jokes.

“They’re dry jokes. Some of the stuff will go right over your head unless you know his references. A lot of the stuff he says in the meetings is probably not ‘PG,’ I don’t think you can print a lot of it. It’s just funny stuff. And it was every day.

“The biggest things I took away when I was there about [Belichick] are that he’s a funny guy and he’s a family guy, with his two sons on the staff, and he’s all about winning. The public doesn’t get to see that side of him as a coach.’’

Not from this side of the curtain.

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