How Bill Belichick rose from 22-year-old assistant to become the greatest coach in NFL history (2022)

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Belichick's father, Steve Belichick, was considered one of the great football scouts of his time, serving as an assistant for 30 years at Vanderbilt, North Carolina, and the Naval Academy. He also wrote a book, "Football Scouting Methods." Belichick considered his father to be his one constant mentor, with his dad allowing him read through the scouting reports at age 9 — if Bill had finished his homework. Belichick played football at Annapolis High School in Maryland (No. 50) and on the Wesleyan University football team in Connecticut as a tight end and center. Looks like he had already perfected his signature scowl. After graduating from Wesleyan, Belichick sent out approximately 250 letters looking for a coaching job before landing one as an assistant for Baltimore Colts head coach Ted Marchibroda in 1975. "Billy" Belichick was 22 years old at the time and was paid $25 a week to study film and run errands. Belichick would later say about his success as a coach, "I wouldn't be here if not for Ted Marchibroda ... I learned so much from him," Belichick said. "A lot of X's and O's, but it really wasn't the X's and O's. It was a lot more about just being a football coach, being a professional coach, preparation, work ethic, dependability, what goes into having a good football team." In 1976 and 1977, Belichick moved on to the Detroit Lions, where he served as a special-teams assistant and as a receivers coach under Tommy Hudspeth. The Lions missed the playoffs both years. In 1978, Belichick picked up his first defensive-coaching gig, serving as a defensive assistant for the Denver Broncos. The defending AFC champs went 10-6 and made the playoffs. It was the following year, in 1979, when Belichick got his first big break. At age 27, he was hired as an assistant by the New York Giants and new head coach Ray Perkins. While Perkins was out after four seasons, having made the playoffs just once, Bill Parcells kept Belichick on the staff when he took over. In his third season under Parcells, Belichick was promoted to defensive coordinator. The following year, the Giants won the Super Bowl. On his time with the Giants: "I was just trying to establish my coaching career, be a good coach, win some games ... [the Giants are] a great organization. It is hard not to get choked up about it ... I loved it here. I loved it here." After winning a second Super Bowl with the Giants in 1990, Belichick got his first head-coaching job with the Cleveland Browns in 1991. He was 38 years old when he was hired, six years younger than any other head coach in the NFL at the time. Belichick spoke about being a young coach at the time: "I feel like I've been coaching for 30 years, starting at 8, around the films. I've done all the jobs in an organization: typing, going to the airport to meet guys, liming the field." Belichick went 36-44 in five years with the Browns, making the playoffs once. However, after the 1995 season, Art Modell moved the Browns to Baltimore and Belichick was fired. Belichick wasn't out of coaching long, rejoining Bill Parcells' staff in 1996 with the Patriots and then going with Parcells back to New York when he became head coach of the Jets. That's when things got weird. After Parcells resigned following the 1999 season, Belichick was promoted to head coach. But at the introductory press conference the next day, Belichick handwrote a note that simply read that he was resigning as "HC of the NYJ." He then met with the media to discuss his resignation after one day. Later that month, Belichick was introduced as the head coach of the Patriots. Over the next 19 seasons, Belichick would reach the AFC Championship game 13 times — including eight in a row — play in nine Super Bowls, and win five championships (with a shot at No. 6). Bill Belichick spends a lot of time in the summers picking the brains of other coaches. This is a big reason why the Patriots have been successful offensively and defensively even though Belichick's background is as a defensive coach. This includes coaches who seemingly might not be able to offer much to an NFL coach. Belichick never stops coaching, even when he was playing catch with his son Brian. He even put his son to work during games, a young coach-in-training. Brian is now a scouting assistant for the Patriots while older brother Steve is in his sixth season as an assistant coach on the team, his third as the safeties coach. While many coaches subscribe to a particular football system, whether it is a West Coast offense vs. a running attack or a 3-4 defense vs. a Tampa-2, Belichick has never limited himself to one set style, often adapting his team from year to year and week to week. When asked about his preference for a 3-4 defense (3 linemen, 4 linebackers): "I think honestly that's something that's a media fabrication ... look, you have 11 players. You can put them in various positions. Whether you want to put it in the pregame depth chart as one thing or another I think is a little bit overrated." Belichick is so obsessed with knowledge and detail that he even studies his opponents while working out on a treadmill. Belichick is well known for his no-nonsense approach to football, but he is also not afraid to have some fun, once dressing up as a pirate for a Halloween party hosted by Randy Moss at a roller rink. Now 66, and after more than 40 years in coaching, Belichick doesn't appear to be ready to stop anytime soon, which is bad news for the rest of the AFC. Now check out what makes Belichick's best player tick. 25 examples of Tom Brady's insane competitiveness

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2019-01-31T17:59:00Z

How Bill Belichick rose from 22-year-old assistant to become the greatest coach in NFL history (1)

Mike Lawrie/Getty Images
  • Bill Belichick and the New England Patriots are set to play in their ninth Super Bowl together and are going for their sixth win.
  • Another Lombardi Trophy would only cement Belichick's place as the greatest coach in NFL history.
  • But like most greats, Belichick's career had humble beginnings.

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While Bill Belichick has become synonymous with the New England Patriots and their winning ways, he traveled a long road in coaching before landing at his current position, a journey that started as a 22-year-old mailing out letters asking for a coaching job.

Below, we take a look at Belichick's career and how he rose to become one of the greatest coaches in NFL history.

Belichick's father, Steve Belichick, was considered one of the great football scouts of his time, serving as an assistant for 30 years at Vanderbilt, North Carolina, and the Naval Academy. He also wrote a book, "Football Scouting Methods."

How Bill Belichick rose from 22-year-old assistant to become the greatest coach in NFL history (2)

Amazon

SOURCE: Grantland

Belichick considered his father to be his one constant mentor, with his dad allowing him read through the scouting reports at age 9 — if Bill had finished his homework.

How Bill Belichick rose from 22-year-old assistant to become the greatest coach in NFL history (3)

Mike Blake/Reuters

SOURCE: Grantland

Belichick played football at Annapolis High School in Maryland (No. 50) and on the Wesleyan University football team in Connecticut as a tight end and center.

How Bill Belichick rose from 22-year-old assistant to become the greatest coach in NFL history (4)

NFL Network

Looks like he had already perfected his signature scowl.

How Bill Belichick rose from 22-year-old assistant to become the greatest coach in NFL history (5)

NFL Network

After graduating from Wesleyan, Belichick sent out approximately 250 letters looking for a coaching job before landing one as an assistant for Baltimore Colts head coach Ted Marchibroda in 1975.

How Bill Belichick rose from 22-year-old assistant to become the greatest coach in NFL history (6)

AP

SOURCE: Yahoo Sports

"Billy" Belichick was 22 years old at the time and was paid $25 a week to study film and run errands. Belichick would later say about his success as a coach, "I wouldn't be here if not for Ted Marchibroda ... I learned so much from him," Belichick said. "A lot of X's and O's, but it really wasn't the X's and O's. It was a lot more about just being a football coach, being a professional coach, preparation, work ethic, dependability, what goes into having a good football team."

How Bill Belichick rose from 22-year-old assistant to become the greatest coach in NFL history (7)

Darron Cummings/AP

SOURCE: Yahoo Sports

In 1976 and 1977, Belichick moved on to the Detroit Lions, where he served as a special-teams assistant and as a receivers coach under Tommy Hudspeth. The Lions missed the playoffs both years.

How Bill Belichick rose from 22-year-old assistant to become the greatest coach in NFL history (8)

AP Photo

In 1978, Belichick picked up his first defensive-coaching gig, serving as a defensive assistant for the Denver Broncos. The defending AFC champs went 10-6 and made the playoffs.

How Bill Belichick rose from 22-year-old assistant to become the greatest coach in NFL history (9)

AP Photo

It was the following year, in 1979, when Belichick got his first big break. At age 27, he was hired as an assistant by the New York Giants and new head coach Ray Perkins.

How Bill Belichick rose from 22-year-old assistant to become the greatest coach in NFL history (10)

Ray Stubblebine/AP

While Perkins was out after four seasons, having made the playoffs just once, Bill Parcells kept Belichick on the staff when he took over.

How Bill Belichick rose from 22-year-old assistant to become the greatest coach in NFL history (11)

AP

In his third season under Parcells, Belichick was promoted to defensive coordinator. The following year, the Giants won the Super Bowl.

How Bill Belichick rose from 22-year-old assistant to become the greatest coach in NFL history (12)

AP Photo

On his time with the Giants: "I was just trying to establish my coaching career, be a good coach, win some games ... [the Giants are] a great organization. It is hard not to get choked up about it ... I loved it here. I loved it here."

How Bill Belichick rose from 22-year-old assistant to become the greatest coach in NFL history (13)

NFL Network

SOURCE: NFL Network

After winning a second Super Bowl with the Giants in 1990, Belichick got his first head-coaching job with the Cleveland Browns in 1991. He was 38 years old when he was hired, six years younger than any other head coach in the NFL at the time.

How Bill Belichick rose from 22-year-old assistant to become the greatest coach in NFL history (14)

AP Photo

Belichick spoke about being a young coach at the time: "I feel like I've been coaching for 30 years, starting at 8, around the films. I've done all the jobs in an organization: typing, going to the airport to meet guys, liming the field."

How Bill Belichick rose from 22-year-old assistant to become the greatest coach in NFL history (15)

Piet Van Lier/AP

SOURCE: The New York Times

Belichick went 36-44 in five years with the Browns, making the playoffs once. However, after the 1995 season, Art Modell moved the Browns to Baltimore and Belichick was fired.

How Bill Belichick rose from 22-year-old assistant to become the greatest coach in NFL history (16)

Mark Duncan/AP

Belichick wasn't out of coaching long, rejoining Bill Parcells' staff in 1996 with the Patriots and then going with Parcells back to New York when he became head coach of the Jets.

How Bill Belichick rose from 22-year-old assistant to become the greatest coach in NFL history (17)

John T. Greilick/AP

That's when things got weird. After Parcells resigned following the 1999 season, Belichick was promoted to head coach. But at the introductory press conference the next day, Belichick handwrote a note that simply read that he was resigning as "HC of the NYJ." He then met with the media to discuss his resignation after one day.

How Bill Belichick rose from 22-year-old assistant to become the greatest coach in NFL history (18)

Reuters

SOURCE: SI.com

Later that month, Belichick was introduced as the head coach of the Patriots.

How Bill Belichick rose from 22-year-old assistant to become the greatest coach in NFL history (19)

Steven Senne/AP

Over the next 19 seasons, Belichick would reach the AFC Championship game 13 times — including eight in a row — play in nine Super Bowls, and win five championships (with a shot at No. 6).

How Bill Belichick rose from 22-year-old assistant to become the greatest coach in NFL history (20)

Tom Pennington/Getty Images

Bill Belichick spends a lot of time in the summers picking the brains of other coaches. This is a big reason why the Patriots have been successful offensively and defensively even though Belichick's background is as a defensive coach.

How Bill Belichick rose from 22-year-old assistant to become the greatest coach in NFL history (21)

Mike Stone/Getty Images

SOURCE: Grantland

Belichick never stops coaching, even when he was playing catch with his son Brian.

He even put his son to work during games, a young coach-in-training.

Brian is now a scouting assistant for the Patriots while older brother Steve is in his sixth season as an assistant coach on the team, his third as the safeties coach.

How Bill Belichick rose from 22-year-old assistant to become the greatest coach in NFL history (23)

Jim Davis/The Boston Globe via Getty Images

While many coaches subscribe to a particular football system, whether it is a West Coast offense vs. a running attack or a 3-4 defense vs. a Tampa-2, Belichick has never limited himself to one set style, often adapting his team from year to year and week to week.

How Bill Belichick rose from 22-year-old assistant to become the greatest coach in NFL history (24)

NFL Network

When asked about his preference for a 3-4 defense (3 linemen, 4 linebackers): "I think honestly that's something that's a media fabrication ... look, you have 11 players. You can put them in various positions. Whether you want to put it in the pregame depth chart as one thing or another I think is a little bit overrated."

How Bill Belichick rose from 22-year-old assistant to become the greatest coach in NFL history (25)

Mike Segar/Reuters

SOURCE: Patriots.com

Belichick is so obsessed with knowledge and detail that he even studies his opponents while working out on a treadmill.

How Bill Belichick rose from 22-year-old assistant to become the greatest coach in NFL history (26)

NFL Network

Belichick is well known for his no-nonsense approach to football, but he is also not afraid to have some fun, once dressing up as a pirate for a Halloween party hosted by Randy Moss at a roller rink.

How Bill Belichick rose from 22-year-old assistant to become the greatest coach in NFL history (27)

NFL Network

Now 66, and after more than 40 years in coaching, Belichick doesn't appear to be ready to stop anytime soon, which is bad news for the rest of the AFC.

How Bill Belichick rose from 22-year-old assistant to become the greatest coach in NFL history (28)

AP

Now check out what makes Belichick's best player tick.

How Bill Belichick rose from 22-year-old assistant to become the greatest coach in NFL history (29)

Jim Rogash/Getty Images

25 examples of Tom Brady's insane competitiveness

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