Since the New England Patriots won their fourth Super Bowl with Bill Belichick in February, he’s been busy overhauling the team’s roster. The Patriots parted ways with defensive lineman Vince Wilfork after 11 seasons in New England, and cornerbacks Darrelle Revis and Brandon Browner signed elsewhere. These moves would seem to leave some major holes in the Patriots’ defense, but somehow, Belichick always seems to find ways to win despite whatever roster concerns there may be.
And even with all that winning, Belichick remains a mystery to those who love him and those that loathe him, but underneath that nearly impenetrable facade exists a real character whose journey has been far from dull.
While we wait for the rest of New England’s offseason to play out, we wanted to shine some light on that journey and the man who traveled it by assembling 10 facts about Bill Belichick that may surprise you. Naturally, these consist of highs and lows, with a few quirky bits thrown in for good measure. At the end of this, hopefully you’ll have a greater understanding of Bill Belichick.
Coaching is in his blood.
Belichick’s father, Steve, went from working as an equipment manager for the Detroit Lions to playing for the team in 1941. Following a stint in the U.S. Navy, the elder Belichick began his long and distinguished career as an assistant coach and scout, most notably for the Naval Academy, where he worked from 1956 to 1989.
He was Jeb Bush’s classmate in high school.
It’s unclear if Belichick and the former Governor of Florida (and potential 2016 presidential candidate) were close, but they did go to the Phillips Academy at the same time. “Friday Night Lights” author Buzz Bissinger was also a classmate.
He’s already in the Hall of Fame… sort of.
The game plan used by Belichick and the Giants’ defense to defeat the Buffalo Bills’ no-huddle “K-Gun” offense in Super Bowl XXV is on display at the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
The city of Cleveland turned against him after cutting Bernie Kosar.
Belichick’s success in New England has been helped along by Tom Brady’s run of continued greatness, but in his mostly unsuccessful term as the head coach of the Cleveland Browns in the early ’90s, Belichick wasn’t similarly blessed with All-Pro caliber personnel. Instead, the Browns had an aging local legend in the form of Bernie Kosar, who in Belichick’s third season got benched in favor of Vinny Testaverde. Inexplicably, having Testaverde out with a separated shoulder, Belichick released Kosar due to “diminishing skills” and put the hopes of the 5-3 Browns into rookie Todd Philcox’s hands. The results were not good with the Browns finishing the season at 7-9. At one point, Belichick reportedly received FBI protection due to death threats that he received for cutting Kosar.
Though the Browns would go 11-5 in 1994, Belichick was never able to win back the fans, and he was gone a season later after everything fell apart in Cleveland, and owner Art Modell announced that he was moving the team to Baltimore. Interestingly enough, Belichick’s replacement was Ted Marchibroda, the man who gave him his first job in 1975.
He was the head coach of the New York Jets… twice.
Following Belichick’s exit from Cleveland, he caught on as an assistant head coach with the Patriots and Bill Parcells, his boss with the Giants. After one season, though, the New York Jets came calling… for Parcells. Unable to work out a deal with the Patriots for their head coach and the man who had just led them to the Super Bowl, the Jets instead brought in Belichick to be their head coach… for a week until they finally reached a deal and were able to hire Parcells as their head coach.
A loyal disciple, Belichick once again became Parcells’ number two until just after the 1999 season, when he became the head coach of the Jets following Parcells’ second retirement, thanks to a clause in his contract. This time, however, Belichick rejected the Jets, resigning after just one day on the job due to the team’s unsettled ownership situation. Soon after, Belichick would join the Patriots as their head coach following another trade that sent draft pick compensation back to the Jets three years after they had, essentially, bought Parcells’ services with the same currency from the Patriots. The rest is history, or a nightmarish trip through a razor wire covered darkened tunnel for you Jets fans out there.
He’s friends with Charles Barkley and Jon Bon Jovi.
Charles Barkley — the extroverted NBA Hall of Famer and broadcaster — and Belichick don’t seem like an obvious match, but they’ve been occasional dinner companions for years, and Belichick has said that he respects Barkley “as a winner” and for his ability to win an NBA rebounding title despite his height. Belichick also said that his dinners with Barkley and former Cleveland Cavs head coach Mike Fratello rank as a highlight from his time in Cleveland.
As for Jon Bon Jovi, the rock star and the coach have been friends since the mid-80s and share a common love of football and music, though as you can see from the above video of Belichick singing backup for Bon Jovi, Belichick sometimes hurts the ones he loves.
Here’s another weird and amazing factoid: Bon Jovi’s 2002 song “Bounce” is dedicated to Belichick.
It took him four years to set the clock in his car.
— Linda Holliday (@LindaH_Official) March 13, 2013
Coach doesn’t do social media, but his girlfriend Linda Holliday does, and one day, Belichick gave Patriots fans a thrill and answered a few questions from Linda’s account. What’s coach’s favorite candy? Junior mints. What’s his favorite Bon Jovi song? “Bounce,” of course.
The highlight of the brief peek into Belichick’s human side came when he was asked about whether he had figured out how to fix the clock in his car — a reference to a moment in the 2009 NFL documentary, Bill Belichick: A Football Life — and the realization that he had finally figured it out after four years.
He inspired a character in one of George R. R. Martin’s Game of Thrones books.
Martin is no fan of Belichick’s, and he made that clear in a passage within “A Dance Within Dragons” that reads:
“The galley was also where the ship’s books were kept … the fourth and final volume of The Life of the Triarch Belicho, a famous Volantene patriot whose unbroken succession of conquests and triumphs ended rather abruptly when he was eaten by giants.”
Sick Super Bowl XLII burn, GRRM.
Bill Belichick was on Rescue Me once.
Though he’s not as talented an actor as he is a singer, Belichick did make a brief cameo on Denis Leary’s Rescue Me. Appropriately, Belichick is talking about lacrosse with Boston Bruins legend Phil Esposito in his scene.
He changes the name of his boat whenever the Patriots win another Super Bowl.
It has become custom for Belichick to change the name of his boat when the Patriots win another Super Bowl; from the “III Rings” to the “IV Rings” and then to the “V Rings.” There is an expectation that the boat is now — or will soon be — called the “VI Rings,” following the Patriots victory over the Seahawks this year.