Indianapolis — The Bill Belichick story has been told thousands of times. Born to a father who was a football coach and subsequently taught him many of the values he still uses today with his players, Belichick has become a legendary figure and a lock for the Pro Football Hall of Fame whenever he retires.
Belichick, of course, picked up a few things during his time in Middletown playing football, squash and lacrosse for Wesleyan (Class of '75, Athletics Hall of Fame '08), captaining the latter squad. But in his illustrious career he's jumped into the upper echelong of coaching greats.
He’s not one to tout his resume — or tout anything, really, ather than an often mum's-the-word attitude about his team and its constant success — but he’d be awfully proud to tie Chuck Noll’s record of four Super Bowl victories as a head coach with a win against the Giants in Super Bowl XLVI on Sunday.
“It’s a great honor to be mentioned in the same conversation with Chuck,” said Belichick, who spent a year of his life in Andover, MA, at Phillips Academy and was inducted into their Athletics Hall of Fame in 2011. “I have a tremendous amount of respect for Chuck and the job he did with his team and the organization. So, it is very flattering to be mentioned in the same sentence with Chuck Noll.”
Never once, he said, did he imagine coaching his fifth Super Bowl team in 11 years. At a media session this week, he said that wherever he was, he was consumed with the task at hand enough to not have fictional thoughts of coaching a dynasty one day.
Whether it was breaking down game film under Ted Marchibroda with the Steelers in 1975, coaching tight ends for coach Rick Forzano and coach Tommy Hudspeth in Detroit the following two seasons, with Denver in ’78, Pittsburgh in ’79, or the Giants for all those years and later in Cleveland.
“I really just try to live in the moment, whatever that is,” he said. “Right now, it’s here, and I’m happy to be here, believe me. There’s no place I’d rather be. Other points in time, I was dealing with other challenges, other teams and other situations. I tried to do the best I could in those situations with whatever responsibilities I had.”
Much of this level-headed “in the moment” talk come from the lessons he learned from his father Steve, who was a career football coach, most notably for more than 30 years at the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, MD.
“He had a huge impact on my childhood, my love for the game and my involvement in the game as a coach, even though I played poorly,” he said. “It was still a good experience to play, but coaching, really, has always been the love.”
“He’s very consistent as a coach,” said Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, who has been with Belichick for more than a decade, creating one of the best tandems in NFL history. “I think he expects and demands that we’re always at our best, and I’d say that he coaches me the same way that he coached me the day that I got here.”
Brady said the key to Belichick’s masterful approach is in the preparation.
“Nobody works harder than he does,” Brady said. “I don’t think there’s ever been a time that I’ve shown up at the stadium and he’s not there. He sees everything. He evaluates everything. He watches every bit of film that he can get.”
For New England’s sake, and for Belichick’s legacy’s sake, you can be sure every bit of film has been viewed and all the preparation in the world went into scheming for this one.
“The team that wins Sunday will be the team that performs the best,” he said. “That’s what we are trying to strive our preparations for, is maximizing our performance on Sunday night.”
Follow @ChrisVaccaro on Twitter for constant updates from Super Bowl XLVI.