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William Stephen "Bill" Belichick (born April 16, 1952) is an American football head coach for the New England Patriots of the National Football League. After spending his first 15 seasons in the league as an assistant coach, Belichick got his first head coaching job with the Cleveland Browns in 1991. Of his five seasons coaching Cleveland, only one featured a winning record, and Belichick did not serve as head coach again until 2000 with the Patriots. Since then, Belichick has coached the Patriots to four Super Bowls; three victories in Super Bowls XXXVI, XXXVIII, and XXXIX, and a loss in Super Bowl XLII. He was named the AP NFL Coach of the Year twice, for the 2003 and 2007 seasons. During the 2007 season, the Patriots became the first team ever to finish the regular season with a 16–0 record; however, that team lost in the Super Bowl.

Early life

Belichick was born in Nashville, Tennesseemarker, and raised in Annapolis, Marylandmarker, where his father Steve Belichick, a former Detroit Lions player and ethnic Croat, was an assistant football coach at the United States Naval Academymarker; the senior Belichick was a defensive coach at Vanderbilt when his son was born. After graduating from Annapolis High School he attended Phillips Academymarker in Andover, Massachusettsmarker for a postgraduate year. Belichick subsequently attended Wesleyan Universitymarker in Middletown, Connecticutmarker where he played center/tight end. In addition to being a member of the football team, he also played lacrosse and squash, serving as the captain of the lacrosse team during his senior season. He is a member of Chi Psi fraternity and graduated in 1975 with a degree in economics.

Coaching career

Early coaching positions

After graduating, he took a $25-per-week job as an assistant to Baltimore Colts head coach Ted Marchibroda in 1975. In 1976, Belichick joined the Detroit Lions as their assistant special teams coach before adding tight ends and wide receivers to his coaching duties in 1977. He spent the 1978 season with the Denver Broncos as their assistant special teams coach and defensive assistant.

New York Giants

In 1979, Belichick began his 12-year stint with the New York Giants alongside head coach Ray Perkins as a defensive assistant and special teams coach. He added linebackers coaching to his duties in 1980 and was named defensive coordinator in 1985 under head coach Bill Parcells, who had replaced Perkins in 1983. The Giants won Super Bowls following the 1986 and 1990 seasons. His defensive game plan from the New York Giants' 20-19 upset of the Buffalo Bills in Super Bowl XXV is now in the Pro Football Hall of Famemarker.

Cleveland Browns

From 1991 until 1995, Belichick was the head coach of the Cleveland Browns. During his tenure in Cleveland he compiled a 36–44 record, leading the team to its most recent playoff game win in 1994. In Belichick's last season in Cleveland the Browns finished 5–11. In November of that year Browns owner Art Modell announced he would move the team to Baltimore after the season. Belichick resigned early in February 1996.

New England Patriots (1996)

After leaving Cleveland, Belichick served under Parcells again as assistant head coach and defensive backs coach with the Patriots for the 1996 season. The Patriots finished with an 11-5 record, won the AFC championship, but lost to the Green Bay Packers at Super Bowl XXXI.

New York Jets

Soon after Super Bowl XXXI, Belichick (and most of the Patriots assistant coaches) migrated with Parcells to the New York Jets. Belichick served as assistant head coach and defensive coordinator for the Jets from 1997 to 1999. When Parcells stepped down as head coach in 1999, Belichick became the new Jets head coach. However, Belichick's introduction to the media the following day turned out to be a surprise resignation announcement. Before taking the podium, he scrawled a resignation note on a sheet of loose leaf paper that read, in its entirety, "I resign as HC of the NYJ." He then delivered a half-hour speech explaining his resignation to the assembled press corps.

Shortly afterward, he accepted an offer from the Patriots to become their new head coach, who had previously tried to hire him away from the Jets. Parcells and the Jets claimed that Belichick was still under contract, and demanded compensation from the Patriots. NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue agreed, and the Patriots gave the Jets a first-round draft pick in 2000 in exchange for the right to hire Belichick.

New England Patriots

Bill Belichick was named New England Patriots head coach in 2000, succeeding Pete Carroll. Owner Robert Kraft also gave Belichick most authority over football operations, effectively making him the team's general manager as well. Until 2009, Belichick split many of the duties normally held by a general manager on other clubs with player personnel director Scott Pioli, now the general manager of the Kansas City Chiefs. However, Belichick had the final say.

The Patriots went 5-11 in the regular season and missed the playoffs. To date, this is Belichick's only losing season with the Patriots.

In 2001, the Patriots went 11–5 in the regular season, and defeated the Oakland Raiders and Pittsburgh Steelers on the way to the Super Bowl. In Super Bowl XXXVI, Belichick's defense held the St. Louis Rams' offense, which had averaged 31 points during the season, to 17 points, and the Patriots won on a last second field goal by Adam Vinatieri. The win was the first Super Bowl championship in Patriots history.

The following season (2002), the Patriots went 9–7 and missed the playoffs. New England finished with the same record as the New York Jets, but the Jets clinched the AFC East title as a result of the third tiebreaker (record among common opponents).

The Patriots' 2003 season started with a 31–0 loss to the Buffalo Bills in week 1 a few days after they released team defense captain Lawyer Milloy. The team went on to win 14 out of their remaining 15 games. In the final week of the regular season the Patriots avenged their loss to the Bills by the same 31–0 score. They defeated the Tennessee Titans in the AFC Divisional round. Playing against the Indianapolis Colts and Co-MVP Peyton Manning (Steve McNair of the Titans was also Co-MVP) the Patriots recorded 4 interceptions, and advanced to Super Bowl XXXVIII, where they defeated the Carolina Panthers 32-29 on a late Adam Vinatieri field goal. Belichick also was awarded with the NFL Coach of the Year Award.

In 2004, the Patriots once again went 14–2, and defeated the Colts in the AFC divisional round. They opened the season at 6–0, which combined with the 15 straight wins to end the previous regular season, those 21 straight wins broke the record for most wins in a row (18 regular season wins in a row), formerly held by the Miami Dolphins during and just after their perfect 1972 season with 18 straight wins (16 regular season, 1971-73). They defeated the Pittsburgh Steelers in the AFC Championship game. In Super Bowl XXXIX the Patriots beat the Philadelphia Eagles and became only the second team to win three Super Bowls in four years. Belichick is the only coach to accomplish this feat.

With a new defensive coordinator in Eric Mangini and no named offensive coordinator, the Patriots went 10–6 in 2005 and defeated the Jacksonville Jaguars in the Wild Card round before losing to the Denver Broncos in the divisional round.

The Patriots went 12-4 in 2006 and defeated the New York Jets in the Wild Card round. They then beat the San Diego Chargers the next week, before losing to the eventual Super Bowl XLI winner Indianapolis Colts in the AFC Championship game 38-34. The Patriots led 21-3 mid-way during the second quarter, and the Colts comeback was the largest in AFC playoff history since the Bills recovered from a 35-3 halftime deficit to beat the Houston Oilers.

In 2007, Bill Belichick led the Patriots to the first perfect regular season since the introduction of the 16-game regular season schedule in 1978, only the fourth team to do so in National Football League history after the 1934 and 1942 Chicago Bears and 1972 Miami Dolphins. However, the Patriots were upset in Super Bowl XLII by the New York Giants The Patriots' failure to attain a "perfect season" (undefeated and untied, including playoffs) preserved the Miami Dolphins as the sole team to do so, having finished their 1972 regular season at 14-0 and having won three games in the playoffs. The only other team in professional football with a perfect season was the 1948 Cleveland Browns (14–0) of the then All-America Football Conference. No team in the former American Football League had a perfect season.

In the Patriots' 2008 season-opener against the Kansas City Chiefs, quarterback Tom Brady suffered a season-ending injury in the first quarter, leading to the substitution by back-up quarterback Matt Cassel for the remainder of the season. However, with a win in week 2, the Patriots broke their own record for regular season wins in a row with 21 (2006-08). After losing over a dozen players to the injured reserve list, including Rodney Harrison, Adalius Thomas, and Laurence Maroney, the Patriots still managed their league-leading eighth consecutive season with a winning record, going 11–5. Nevertheless, the Patriots, who finished second in the highly competitive AFC East failed to qualify for the NFL playoffs; the 1985 Denver Broncos are the only other 11-win team to miss the playoffs in a 16-game season.

Illegal sideline videotaping

In an incident dubbed "Spygate," on September 9, 2007, NFL security caught a Patriots video assistant taping the New York Jets' defensive signals from an on-field location. Jets coach Eric Mangini, a former Patriots assistant, tipped off league officials that the Patriots might have been filming their signals. After the game, the Jets formally complained to the league.

On September 13, the NFL fined Belichick $500,000—the largest fine ever imposed on a coach in the league's 87-year history, and fined the Patriots $250,000. Additionally, the Patriots forfeited their first round draft pick in the 2008 NFL Draft. Goodell said that he fined the Patriots as a team because Belichick exercises so much control over the Patriots' on-field operations that "his actions and decisions are properly attributed to the club." Goodell considered suspending Belichick, but decided that taking away draft picks would be more severe in the long run.

Belichick later issued the following statement:

"I accept full responsibility for the actions that led to tonight's ruling.
Once again, I apologize to the Kraft family and every person directly or indirectly associated with the New England Patriots for the embarrassment, distraction and penalty my mistake caused.
I also apologize to Patriots fans and would like to thank them for their support during the past few days and throughout my career.

"As the Commissioner acknowledged, our use of sideline video had no impact on the outcome of last week's game. We have never used sideline video to obtain a competitive advantage while the game was in progress."

"Part of my job as head coach is to ensure that our football operations are conducted in compliance of the league rules and all accepted interpretations of them. My interpretation of a rule in the Constitution and Bylaws was incorrect."

"With tonight's resolution, I will not be offering any further comments on this matter. We are moving on with our preparations for Sunday's game."

Despite this incident, Belichick was awarded the 2007 NFL Coach of the Year Award, as voted on by the Associated Press.

Contract status

Although the Patriots are known for being secretive about the details of Belichick's contract, an report in September 2007, shortly after the Spygate incident began, indicated that the Patriots had extended Belichick's contract, before the 2007 season began, through at least the 2013 season.

Overall record in New England

Under Belichick, the Patriots have gone 102–42 in nine regular seasons. The team also sports a 14–3 record in the playoffs, and 3–1 in Super Bowls. They have won six division titles, including five consecutive titles from 2003 to 2007 (and only missed the playoffs on tiebreakers in 2002 and 2008). The Patriots have also never lost to a regular season MVP in the playoffs (Kurt Warner in Super Bowl XXXVI, Peyton Manning and Steve McNair after the 2003 season, Manning in 2004, LaDainian Tomlinson in 2006).

Head coaching record

Team Year Regular Season Post Season
Won Lost Ties Win % Finish Won Lost Win % Result
CLE 1991 6 10 0 .375 3rd in AFC Central - - - -
CLE 1992 7 9 0 .438 3rd in AFC Central - - - -
CLE 1993 7 9 0 .438 3rd in AFC Central - - - -
CLE 1994 11 5 0 .688 2nd in AFC Central 1 1 .500 Lost to Pittsburgh Steelers in AFC Divisional Playoff
CLE 1995 5 11 0 .313 4th in AFC Central - - - -
CLE Total 36 44 0 .450 1 1 .500
NE 2000 5 11 0 .313 4th in AFC East - - - -
NE 2001 11 5 0 .688 1st in AFC East 3 0 1.000 Super Bowl XXXVI Champions
NE 2002 9 7 0 .563 2nd in AFC East - - - -
NE 2003 14 2 0 .875 1st in AFC East 3 0 1.000 Super Bowl XXXVIII Champions
NE 2004 14 2 0 .875 1st in AFC East 3 0 1.000 Super Bowl XXXIX Champions
NE 2005 10 6 0 .625 1st in AFC East 1 1 .500 Lost to Denver Broncos in AFC Divisional Playoff
NE 2006 12 4 0 .750 1st in AFC East 2 1 .667 Lost to Indianapolis Colts in AFC Championship Game
NE 2007 16 0 0 1.000 1st in AFC East 2 1 .667 Lost to New York Giants in Super Bowl XLII
NE 2008 11 5 0 .688 2nd in AFC East - - - -
NE 2009 7 4 0 .636 -- in AFC East - - - -
NE Total 109 46 0 .703 14 3 .824
Total 145 90 0 .617 15 4 .789

Coaching tree

Outside of his two stints as a head coach, Bill Belichick has worked under five head coaches:

Six of Belichick's assistant coaches have become NFL head coaches:

Five more assistant coaches have become NCAA Division I head coaches:

Seven assistant coaches or executives under Belichick have become assistant head coaches, coordinators or executives in the NFL:

Belichick has been known to cultivate ties with the collegiate branches of his coaching tree: in the 2005 NFL Draft, the Patriots drafted two players from Fresno State, while in the 2006 NFL Draft, the Patriots drafted one Notre Dame player, and then signed two more as free agents after the draft.

In addition, Belichick is a devoted student of the game; during the offseason, he has spent significant amounts of time visiting with other programs to learn from their experiences. For example, he has studied the Navy run offense, sought Bill Walsh (in past years) to understand more about the San Francisco 49ers as an organization and the West Coast offense as a system, and spent time with Jimmy Johnson to learn about drafting and contract negotiations.

Similarly, in recent years, he has paid several visits to University of Floridamarker head coach Urban Meyer. Meyer considers himself a protégé of Belichick and has tried to emulate Belichick's success at New England. Rutgers Universitymarker head coach Greg Schiano has been an annual visitor to New England Patriots' minicamps the last few seasons. Schiano has consulted with Belichick on a variety of topics, most notably defense.

Personal life

Belichick was married to Debby Clarke, but they divorced in the summer of 2006. They allegedly separated before the 2004 season, which was disclosed by the Patriots in July 2005. Belichick was also accused of maintaining a relationship with former Giants receptionist Sharon Shenocca which helped precipitate her divorce. Belichick was seen with Linda Holliday of Jupiter, Floridamarker several times in Arizona during the week leading up to Super Bowl XLII. Belichick also had Sharon Shenocca flown in for the game. He has three children with Debby Clarke Belichick: Amanda, Stephen and Brian. Amanda is a 2007 graduate of Wesleyan Universitymarker, where both she and her father played lacrosse. After college, she worked at Connecticutmarker preparatory school Choate Rosemary Hall as a lacrosse coach and member of the admissions department. In 2009, she became an assistant coach for the University of Massachusetts Amherst women's lacrosse team. Stephen is a lacrosse player who currently attends Rutgers Universitymarker on scholarship. Stephen was placed on probation for six months following a marijuana possession conviction in 2006. Brian attends Suffield Academy. He was arrested during the 2009 NCAA Men's Lacrosse Championship at Gillette Stadium for underage drinking.

Belichick is a Croatian American. His father, Steve Belichick (born Stephen Biličić), played for the Detroit Lions and was an assistant coach and scout with the United States Naval Academymarker football team for 33 years. Bill reportedly learned to break down game films at a young age by watching his father and the Navy staff do their jobs. His paternal grandparents Ivan Biličić and Marija (Mary) Barković emigrated from Karlovacmarker, Croatiamarker (from the village of Draganićmarker) in 1897 and left for the USA, where they settled in Monessenmarker near Pittsburghmarker .

Steve Belichick was an advisor on the sidelines of the Patriots through the 2004 season, and was famous for taking a hit accidentally from Patriots wide receiver Troy Brown in a game in 2000; he was not hurt in the incident.

Steve Belichick maintained strong ties with the Croatian community in Pennsylvaniamarker. When he married, at the suggestion of Immigration Center, he changed his surname from Biličić into Belichick.

Media and entertainment

  • Belichick had a cameo appearance in an episode of the Denis Leary drama Rescue Me as a mourner at a funeral, alongside former Boston Bruin Phil Esposito.
  • In the Madden NFL video game series his name is not used and is known as "NE Coach" because he is not a member of the NFL Head Coaches Association, which licenses the game. Belichick is the only NFL head coach who has chosen not to join the association. This also applied to Bill Parcells when he was Dallas Cowboys head coach because his contract with ESPN prohibited it.
  • Belichick is well known as a fan of the rock band Bon Jovi, who visited Patriots training camp on August 14, 2006. Their 2002 song "Bounce" is dedicated to Belichick.
  • Belichick and Spygate were heavily referenced in the 2008 South Park episode "Eek, A Penis!."

Notes and references

  1. Bell, Jarrett. Piecing the Patriots together. USA Today, 2005-04-21.
  2. Highlights from the 1930s - Chicago Bears
  3. Highlights from the 1940s - Chicago Bears
  4. ESPN - Belichick draws $500,000 fine, but avoids suspension - NFL
  5. Big fines for Belichick, Patriots - The Boston Globe
  6. Belichick voted coach of year for second time in four years. ESPN, Accessed 2008-01-02.
  7. Report: Belichick earns new deal
  8. ESPN - Son of Belichick gets probation for marijuana arrest - NFL
  9. Halberstam, David. The Education of a Coach. Hyperion, 2005. (ISBN 1-4013-0879-1)
  10. Jutarnji list Bill Belichick Djed iz Draganića uvijek mi je pričao o Hrvatskoj, February 2, 2007

Further reading

External links

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