By Bill Stewart
Bill Belichick was born April 16, 1952, in Nashville, son of Steve Belichick and Jeannette (Munn). He is of Croatian ancestry and was named after his godfather, Bill Edwards, who is a College Hall of Fame Coach. Bill grew up in Annapolis, Maryland, where his father was an assistant football coach at United States Naval Academy, and Bill graduated high school at the academy. In high school he played football and lacrosse. He then attended Phillips Academy in Andover, Massachusetts, for a postgraduate year. Forty years after graduation, Bill was inducted to Phillips Academy Athletics Hall of Fame. Belichick went to Wesleyan University in Middletown, Connecticut, where he played center and tight end in football. He was a captain of the lacrosse team and also was on the squash team. Bill earned a bachelor’s degree in Economics. Belichick was in the inaugural induction class in the university’s Athletics Hall of Fame in 2008.
Belichick started his coaching career as an assistant to the Baltimore Colts head coach, Ted Marchibroda, in 1975. The following year he became the assistant special teams coach along with coaching tight ends and wide receivers for the Detroit Lions. The whole coaching staff was released in January 1978. Bill was added to the staff of the Denver Broncos in 1978 as the assistant special teams coach and defensive assistant.
Belichick was added to the New York Giants staff in 1979 and was with the team for 12 years. He was a defensive assistant and special teams coach, and the next year he added linebackers to his duties. He designed the defensive game plan that defeated the Buffalo Bills 20-19 in Super Bowl XXV, and his role was added to the Football Hall of Fame.
Bill moved to the Cleveland Browns in 1991 and was the head coach until 1995. During this period his record was 36 wins and 44 losses. His team made the playoffs in 1994 in which he defeated the New England Patriots. He was fired in February 1996 one week after the team was scheduled to move as the Baltimore Ravens.
Belichick served as the assistant head coach and defensive back coach for the Patriots in 1996. The team went 11-5 over the season, defeating the Jacksonville Jaguars to win the American Football League Championship. They lost to the Green Bay Packers in the Super Bowl.
Belichick next went to the New York Jets in 1997 as an assistant coach under Bill Parcells and was named interim head coach while the team was negotiating compensation to release Parcells from the Patriots, which would enable Parcells to coach the Jets. When the agreement was reached, Belichick became the Jets assistant head coach and defensive coordinator.
Parcells left after the 1999 season and Belichick succeeded him for one day. He resigned to become the head coach of the New England Patriots. The Jets demanded compensation from the Patriots and Commissioner Paul Tagliabue agreed with the Jets, so the Pats had to give up their first-round draft position in 2000.
Robert Kraft gave Belichick near-complete control of the team, becoming not only the football coach, but also the de facto general manager. Scott Pioli was player personnel director and aided Belichick and assisted in team decisions, but Bill had the final say between them. Pioli went to the Kansas City Chiefs in 2008.
Drew Bledsoe was the quarterback for the Patriots until he was injured during the 2001 season, and Tom Brady became the quarterback as a replacement. The rest is history – with Belichick and Brady dominating the league until Brady left for Tampa Bay.
Belichick is the all-time leader in football with eight Super Bowl titles as coach and coordinator, six with the Patriots. At 71 years old he probably doesn’t have many years left, but we will cheer him as long as he continues on with the Pats.
(Editor’s Note: Bill Stewart, better known to Saugus Advocate readers as “The Old Sachem,” writes a weekly column about sports – and sometimes he opines on current or historical events or famous people.)