New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick walks on the sidelines during his team’s victory over the Denver Broncos. Danielle Parhizkaran/The Boston Globe/Getty Images CNN —
When Bill Belichick steps out of the tunnel into Gillette Stadium on Sunday, he’ll know he’s done a good job.
It might be his final game as head coach of the New England Patriots and it might even be his final game in the NFL as a whole.
During his almost half-century in the sport, the 71-year-old has brought about the greatest dynasty in the NFL’s long history, as well as the development of some of its most iconic players; Tom Brady, Rob Gronkowski, Vince Wilfork and Logan Mankins all began their careers with him at the Patriots and became some of the greatest to ever grace the game.
With rumors circulating that his time with the Patriots might be coming to an end, it potentially marks the end of an era of unparalleled success in Massachusetts and the turning of a new page.
From a dry sense of humor and memorable draft moments with his dog to becoming arguably the greatest NFL coach of all time, whatever the future holds for Belichick, he is an era-defining legend of the game.
Pittsburgh Steelers running back Najee Harris runs the ball up the field in the second quarter of the Steelers’ 17-10 victory over the Baltimore Ravens on Saturday, January 6. Patrick Smith/Getty Images Arizona Cardinals running back James Conner makes a one-handed touchdown catch in front of Philadelphia Eagles linebacker Nicholas Morrow on Sunday, December 31, 2023. The Cardinals beat the Eagles 35-31. Chris Szagola/AP Tommy Tremble of the Carolina Panthers stiff arms Foyesade Oluokun of the Jacksonville Jaguars during the Panthers’ 26-0 loss. Mike Carlson/Getty Images Fans react to a Philadelphia Eagles touchdown against the Arizona Cardinals. Kathryn Riley/Getty Images Dallas Cowboys defensive end DeMarcus Lawrence and Chauncey Golston celebrate during the first half the Cowboys’ game against the Detroit Lions on Saturday, December 30. The Cowboys beat the Lions 20-19. Sam Hodde/AP Detroit Lions wide receiver Amon-Ra St. Brown scores a touchdown as Dallas Cowboys cornerback Stephon Gilmore tries to stop him. Sam Hodde/AP Cleveland Browns safety Juan Thornhill celebrates after beating the New York Jets on Thursday, December 28, 2023. The Browns defeated the Jets 37-20, securing a spot in the playoffs. It will be the Browns’ first postseason appearance since 2020, and third since 1999. Nick Cammett/Getty Images New York Giants wide receiver Wan’Dale Robinson, right, and teammates react to their 33-25 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles on Monday, December 25. Chris Szagola/AP Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes recovers his fumble as he is hit during the Chiefs’ disappointing 20-14 loss to the Las Vegas Raiders. The loss ensured the Chiefs cannot earn the No.1 seed in the AFC and postponed the sealing of their eighth consecutive AFC West title, as they fell to 9-6. Jay Biggerstaff/USA Today Network/Reuters Detroit Lions safety Ifeatu Melifonwu celebrates after he intercepted a pass during the Lions’ 30-24 victory over the Minnesota Vikings on Sunday, December 24. The Lions secured their fist division title since 1993 with the win. Matt Krohn/USA Today Network/Reuters Carolina Panthers wide receiver DJ Chark Jr. scores a touchdown to tie the game during the fourth quarter against the Green Bay Packers. The Packers beat the Panthers 33-30 after a successful field goal in the final moments. Grant Halverson/Getty Images Tennessee Titans wide receiver Treylon Burks runs for yardage during the Titans’ 20-17 loss to the Seattle Seahawks. Wade Payne/AP New York Jets linebacker Quincy Williams grabs the jersey of Washington Commanders wide receiver Curtis Samuel. The Jets beat the Commanders 30-28. Adam Hunger/AP Indianapolis Colts wide receiver Josh Downs can’t make the catch as Atlanta Falcons cornerback Clark Phillips III defends. The Falcons won 29-10. Danny Karnik/AP Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver George Pickens points to a Cincinnati Bengals defender as he runs by during the Steelers’ 34-11 win against the Bengals on Saturday, December 23. Mark Alberti/Icon Sportswire/Getty Images Seattle Seahawks quarterback Drew Lock looks to pass in the first quarter of the Seahawks’ Monday Night Football game against the Philadelphia Eagles on December 18. Lock, who had his second start of the season Monday, led his team to a 20-17 victory. Steph Chambers/Getty Images Chamarri Conner, Charles Omenihu and Nick Bolton of the Kansas City Chiefs tackle New England Patriots running back Ezekiel Elliott on Sunday, December 17. The Chiefs won 27-17. Sarah Stier/Getty Images Miami Dolphins running back Raheem Mostert runs the ball during a the team’s 30-0 win against the New York Jets. Lauren Sopourn/Miami Dolphins/AP Atlanta Falcons quarterback Desmond Ridder throws the ball during the first half. The Carolina Panthers beat the Falcons 9-7. Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images Chicago Bears wide receiver Darnell Mooney nearly catches a Hail Mary pass in the final play of the Bears’ game against the Cleveland Browns. Mooney failed to secure the ball and the Browns won 20-17. Scott Galvin/USA Today Network/Reuters Miami Dolphins linebacker Bradley Chubb sacks New York Jets quarterback Zach Wilson. Sam Navarro/USA Today Network/Reuters New York Giants quarterback Tommy DeVito walks off the field after losing 24-6 to the New Orleans Saints. Chris Graythen/Getty Images Detroit Lions tight end Sam LaPorta dives into the end zone for a touchdown on Saturday, December 16. The Lions beat the Denver Broncos 42-17. Rey Del Rio/Getty Images Minnesota Vikings running back Ty Chandler carries the ball. The Vikings lost to the Cincinnati Bengals 27-24 in overtime. Dylan Buell/Getty Images Indianapolis Colts safety Nick Cross intercepts a pass intended for Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver George Pickens. The Colts beat the Steelers 30-13. Andy Lyons/Getty Images Los Angeles Chargers head coach Brandon Staley walks off of the field after losing 63-21 to the Las Vegas Raiders on Thursday, December 14. Staley and general manager Tom Telesco were fired the next day. The game was a franchise record for points scored by the Raiders, and a franchise worst for points allowed by the Chargers, per NFL.com. Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images Tennessee Titans wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins catches a pass during a Monday Night Football game against Miami on December 11. The Titans trailed 27-13 with 3:08 left in the fourth quarter, but they scored two touchdowns late to win 28-27 in regulation. Rich Storry/Getty Images D.J. Moore of the Chicago Bears celebrates a touchdown during the first quarter of the Bears’ 28-13 upset win over the Detroit Lions on Sunday, November 10. Quinn Harris/Getty Images Dallas Cowboys tight end Jake Ferguson leaps over Philadelphia Eagles cornerback Kelee Ringo during the Cowboys’ 33-13 victory. With the win, the Cowboys extended their home winning-streak to 15 games. Sam Hodde/AP Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes looks to pass in the fourth quarter of a narrow 20-17 loss to the Buffalo Bills. Jamie Squire/Getty Images Atlanta Falcons quarterback Desmond Ridder celebrates with teammates after scoring a touchdown. The Falcons lost 29-25 to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images Baltimore Ravens wide receiver Tylan Wallace escapes multiple attempted tackles during a 76-yard punt return for a touchdown in overtime against the Los Angeles Rams. Wallace’s touchdown earned the Ravens a 37-31 victory. David Tulis/UPI/Shutterstock San Francisco 49ers defensive end Nick Bosa celebrates after sacking Seattle Seahawks quarterback Drew Lock. Lock started for the Seahawks on Sunday after veteran Geno Smith was ruled inactive. The 49ers won 28-16. Godofredo A. Vásquez/AP Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback Trevor Lawrence reacts after suffering an injury during the Jaguars’ 34-31 loss to the Cincinnati Bengals on Monday, December 4. David Rosenblum/Icon Sportswire/Getty Images San Francisco 49ers quarterback Brock Purdy looks to pass during the 49ers’ 42-19 victory over the Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday, December 3. Matt Slocum/AP New York Jets quarterback Tim Boyle prepares to snap the ball during the Jets’ 13-8 loss to the Atlanta Falcons. Al Bello/Getty Images Roger McCreary of the Tennessee Titans and Indianapolis Colts running back Trey Sermon attempt to catch the ball. The Colts beat the Titans 31-28 in overtime. Andy Lyons/Getty Images San Francisco 49ers wide receiver Brandon Aiyuk a catches touchdown pass in the end zone. Eric Hartline/USA Today Network/Reuters Denver Broncos wide receiver Courtland Sutton celebrates after catching a 45-yard touchdown pass. The Broncos lost to the Houston Texans 22-17. Eric Christian Smith/AP Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Brandin Cooks catches a pass for a first down as Seattle Seahawks safety Jamal Adams defends during the Cowboys’ 41-35 Thursday Night Football win on November 30. Roger Steinman/AP Chicago Bears offensive lineman Lucas Patrick lifts placekicker Cairo Santos after Santos kicked the game winning field goal against the Minnesota Vikings on Monday, November 27. The Bears defeated the Vikings 12-10. Adam Bettcher/Getty Images Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Jalen Hurts celebrates after scoring the game winning touchdown against the Buffalo Bills in overtime on Sunday, November 26. The Eagles won 37-34. Matt Slocum/AP Cincinnati Bengals tight end Drew Sample dives into the end zone for a touchdown during the Bengals’ 16-10 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers. Ian Johnson/Icon Sportswire/Getty Images Cleveland Browns quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson scrambles in the backfield. The Browns lost 29-12 to the Denver Broncos. Isaiah J. Downing/USA Today Network/Reuters Desmond Ridder of the Atlanta Falcons hands the ball off to Tyler Allgeier during the Falcons’ 24-15 victory over the New Orleans Saints. Todd Kirkland/Getty Images Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver Olamide Zaccheaus catches a touchdown pass over Buffalo Bills safety Micah Hyde. Matt Slocum/AP Miami Dolphins safety Jevon Holland runs the ball after intercepting New York Jets quarterback Tim Boyle’s Hail Mary pass on the 1-yard line on Friday, November 24. Holland ran it to the other end of the field, weaving through the scrambled defense, for an astonishing 99-yard interception touchdown. The Dolphins beat the Jets 34-13. Chris Pedota/USA Today Network Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott eats a turkey leg after the Cowboys’ 45-10 Thanksgiving Day victory over the Washington Commanders on November 23. Jerome Miron/USA Today Network/Reuters Christian Watson of the Green Bay Packers makes a catch for a touchdown during a game against the Detroit Lions. The Packers beat the Lions 29-22. Lauren Leigh Bacho/Getty Images Kansas City Chiefs wide receiver Marquez Valdes-Scantling drops a pass late in the fourth quarter during the Chiefs’ Monday Night Football game against the Philadelphia Eagles on November 20. The Eagles beat the Chiefs 21-17 in the Super Bowl rematch. David Eulitt/Getty Images Seattle Seahawks cornerback Devon Witherspoon sacks Los Angeles Rams quarterback Matthew Stafford. The Seahawks beat the Rams 17-16. Mark J. Terrill/AP Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow holds his wrist after a throw during the Bengals’ 34-20 Thursday Night Football loss to the Baltimore Ravens on November 16. He tore a ligament in his right wrist. Aaron M. Sprecher/AP Indianapolis Colts safety Julian Blackmon celebrates with teammates after intercepting the ball during the Colts’ 10-6 victory over the New England Patriots in Frankfurt, Germany, on November 12. Nathan Ray Seebeck/USA Today Network/Reuters Green Bay Packers wide receiver Jayden Reed stiff arms Joey Porter Jr. of the Pittsburgh Steelers. The Steelers beat the Packers 23-19. Joe Sargent/Getty Images Arizona Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray runs the ball during the Cardinals’ 25-23 victory over the Atlanta Falcons. It was Murray’s first game back in action after being injured late last season. Mike Christy/Getty Images Tampa Bay Buccaneers offensive tackle Tristan Wirfs recovers a fumble. Chris O’Meara/AP Dallas Cowboys wide receiver CeeDee Lamb celebrates after scoring a touchdown. The Cowboys beat the New York Giants 49-17. Cooper Neill/Getty Images New England Patriots wide receiver Demario Douglas evades Indianapolis Colts cornerback Kenny Moore II. Steve Luciano/AP Los Angeles Chargers running back Austin Ekeler, second from bottom, is tackled by Detroit’s Aidan Hutchinson and Derrick Barnes, top, during the Chargers’ 41-38 loss to the Lions. Detroit linebacker Jack Campbell is on the bottom. Harry How/Getty Images Noah Sewell, right, and Jaquan Brisker of the Chicago Bears celebrate during the Bears’ 16-13 Thursday Night Football win over the Carolina Panthers on November 9. Quinn Harris/Getty Images Kansas City Chiefs players warm up prior to a game against the Miami Dolphins in Frankfurt, Germany, on November 5. The Chiefs beat the Dolphins 21-14. Kirill Kudryavtsev/AFP/Getty Images Minnesota Vikings backup quarterback Joshua Dobbs reaches for the pylon during the Vikings’ 31-28 victory over the Atlanta Falcons. Dobbs, who was acquired by the Vikings in a trade last week, threw for 158 yards with two touchdowns in the air and one on the ground. Kevin Sabitus/Getty Images C.J. Stroud of the Houston Texans drops back to pass during the first half against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Stroud threw for 470 yards in the Texans’ narrow 39-37 victory. Cooper Neill/Getty Images New York Giants quarterback Daniel Jones grimaces after being sacked during the Giants’ 30-6 loss to the Las Vegas Raiders. John Locher/AP Chicago Bears tight end Cole Kmet catches a touchdown pass while defended by Tyrann Mathieu of the New Orleans Saints. The Saints beat the Bears 24-17. Wesley Hitt/Getty Images Pittsburgh Steelers running back Jaylen Warren evades Tre Avery of the Tennessee Titans on November 2. The Steelers beat the Titans 20-16. Michael Owens/Getty Images Detroit Lions fans cheer on a third down play during the Lions’ 26-14 Monday Night Football victory over the Las Vegas Raiders on October 30. Joe Robbins/AP Denver Broncos cornerback Ja’Quan McMillian celebrates a second quarter interception in Denver on October 29. The Broncos beat the Kansas City Chiefs 24-9. Justin Edmonds/Getty Images Tennessee Titans quarterback Will Levis throws a pass during the Titans’ 28-23 victory over the Atlanta Falcons. Levis threw four touchdowns during the game, his NFL debut. George Walker IV/AP Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver A.J. Brown makes a one-handed catch to score a touchdown against Washington Commanders cornerback Benjamin St-Juste. The Eagles beat the Commanders 38-31. Alex Brandon/AP Indianapolis Colts running back Zack Moss reaches for a one-yard touchdown run during the Colts’ 38-27 loss to the New Orleans Saints. Michael Conroy/AP Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes walks off the field after the Chiefs’ loss to the Denver Broncos. Mahomes, who was set to make history with a win, threw two interceptions and no touchdowns. Jack Dempsey/AP Cincinnati Bengals tight end Irv Smith Jr. runs past San Francisco 49ers safety Talanoa Hufanga. The Bengals beat the 49ers 31-17. Josie Lepe/AP Dalton Kincaid of the Buffalo Bills celebrates after scoring a touchdown during the Bills’ 24-18 Thursday Night Football victory over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on October 26. Rich Barnes/Getty Images New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick, right, embraces Buffalo Bills head coach Sean McDermott after the Patriots beat the Bills 29-25 on October 22. It was Belichick’s 300th regular-season victory. Michael Dwyer/AP Las Vegas Raiders wide receiver Davante Adams drops a pass in the end zone. The Raiders lost 30-12 to the Chicago Bears. Jamie Sabau/USA Today Network/Reuters Atlanta Falcons placekicker Younghoe Koo celebrates with teammates after making a game-winning field goal on the final play of the Falcons’ 16-13 victory over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Kevin Sabitus/Getty Images Denver Broncos running back Javonte Williams evades Green Bay Packers safety Darnell Savage, bottom. The Broncos beat the Packers 19-17. Jack Dempsey/AP Indianapolis Colts running back Jonathan Taylor runs the ball during the Colts’ 39-38 loss to the Cleveland Browns. Trevor Ruszkowski/USA Today Network/Reuters Teammates run to Kansas City Chiefs wide receiver Marquez Valdes-Scantling as he celebrates his touchdown during the game against the Los Angeles Chargers. The Chiefs won 31-17. Charlie Riedel/AP San Francisco 49ers quarterback Brock Purdy scrambles away from Cleveland Browns linebacker Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah during the second half of the 49ers’ 19-17 loss on October 15. Sue Ogrocki/AP Miami Dolphins running back Raheem Mostert jumps over Carolina Panthers cornerback CJ Henderson. Mostert had two touchdowns during the Dolphins’ 42-21 victory. Lynne Sladky/AP Chicago Bears quarterback Justin Fields warms up wearing a #51 patch honoring the late Dick Butkus before the Bears’ game against the Minnesota Vikings at Soldier Field in Chicago. Butkus, a hard-hitting Pro Football Hall of Fame linebacker who played nine seasons for the Bears, died October 5. Todd Rosenberg/Getty Images Los Angeles Rams linebacker Christian Rozeboom celebrates his interception during the Rams’ 26-9 victory over the Arizona Cardinals. Tony Ding/Icon Sportswire/Getty Images Quincy Williams of the New York Jets tackles Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver DeVonta Smith. The Eagles are 5-1 for the season after their 20-14 loss to the Jets. Kathryn Riley/Getty Images Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes calls a play during the Chiefs’ 19-8 Thursday Night Football win over the Denver Broncos on October 12. Jamie Squire/Getty Images Green Bay Packers wide receiver Jayden Reed sits on the sideline as Las Vegas Raiders’ Robert Spillane is congratulated after his interception on October 9. The Raiders beat the Packers 17-13. David Becker/AP Haason Reddick of the Philadelphia Eagles celebrates after sacking Los Angeles Rams quarterback Matthew Stafford. The Eagles beat the Rams 23-14. Harry How/Getty Images Detroit Lions tight end Sam LaPorta tries in vain to pull in a pass reception in Detroit on October 8. The Lions beat the Carolina Panthers 42-24. Paul Sancya/AP New York Jets running back Breece Hall carries the ball during a game against the Denver Broncos. The Jets won 31-21. Dustin Bradford/Icon Sportswire/Getty Images KaVontae Turpin of the Dallas Cowboys catches a touchdown pass during the second quarter of the Cowboys’ 42-10 loss the San Francisco 49ers at Levi’s Stadium. Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images Indianapolis Colts running back Zack Moss runs the ball for a touchdown during the first quarter against the Tennessee Titans at Lucas Oil Stadium. The Colts beat the Titans 23-16. Andy Lyons/Getty Images North America/Getty Images Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver George Pickens celebrates after catching a 41-yard touchdown pass during the Steelers’ 17-10 win over the Baltimore Ravens. Matt Durisko/AP Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver Ja’Marr Chase runs past Arizona Cardinals cornerback Marco Wilson after making a catch during the Bengals’ 34-20 victory over the Cardinals. Chase scored three touchdowns during the game. Joe Camporeale/USA Today Network/Reuters Los Angeles Chargers linebacker Khalil Mack sacks Las Vegas Raiders quarterback Aidan O’Connell during the Chargers’ 24-17 victory on October 1. Mack recorded six sacks, becoming the fifth player in NFL history to do so in a single game. Ashley Landis/AP Jacksonville Jaguars fans wave flags ahead of a game against the Atlanta Falcons at Wembley Stadium in London. It was the first of five international games the NFL has scheduled this season as part of its ever-expanding International Series. The Jaguars won 23-7. Justin Setterfield/Getty Images Amon-Ra St. Brown of the Detroit Lions celebrates with fans during his team’s 34-20 victory over the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field on September 28. Cooper Neill/Getty Images Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver Deven Thompkins makes a catch for a touchdown in the second half of the Buccaneers’ win 26-9 against the New Orleans Saints. Butch Dill/AP Cincinnati Bengals’ Evan McPherson kicks a field goal during a game against the Tennesee Titans. McPherson was Cincinnati’s only player to put points on the board during their 27-3 loss. George Walker IV/AP Buffalo Bills safety Damar Hamlin shouts while warming up ahead of the Bills game against the Miami Dolphins. Hamlin participated in the opening kickoff, his first regular season appearance after surviving a cardiac arrest on the field nearly nine months ago. The Bills beat the Dolphins 48-20. Adrian Kraus/AP Brian Robinson Jr. of the Washington Commanders makes a pass reception during the second quarter of the Commanders’ 34-31 overtime loss to the Philadelphia Eagles. Mitchell Leff/Getty Images Kareem Jackson of the Denver Broncos celebrates intercepting a pass thrown by Chicago Bears quarterback Justin Fields. The Broncos won 31-28. Michael Reaves/Getty Images Miami Dolphins running back Raheem Mostert celebrates with teammates Braxton Berrios and Christian Wilkins after scoring one of his four touchdowns during the Dolphins’ landslide victory over the Broncos on September 24. Rebecca Blackwell/AP San Francisco 49ers running back Elijah Mitchell is tackled by New York Giants linebacker Micah McFadden in the second quarter at Levi’s Stadium. The 49ers remain undefeated after their 30-12 Thursday Night Football win on September 21. Cary Edmondson/USA Today Network/Reuters Grammy Award-winning singer Taylor Swift cheers on the Kansas City Chiefs from the family suite of Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce. Swift’s show of support comes after weeks of speculation — by various NFL broadcasters and the vast majority of Swifties — that she and Kelce are dating. Swift had plenty to cheer about as the Chiefs beat the Chicago Bears 41-10. David Eulitt/Getty Images Cleveland Browns wide receiver Amari Cooper pulls in a catch for a touchdown during the Browns’ 27-3 victory over the Tennessee Titans at Cleveland Browns Stadium. Andrew Nelles/USA Today Network/Reuters Buffalo Bills quarterback Josh Allen leaps into the endzone for a touchdown during his team’s 37-3 win over the Washington Commanders. Evan Vucci/AP Indianapolis Colts tight end Mo Alie-Cox and Baltimore Ravens linebacker Tavius Robinson go after a fumble in the endzone. The Colts beat the Ravens 22-19. Brent Skeen/USA Today Network/Reuters Green Bay Packers wide receiver Romeo Doubs fends off New Orleans Saints cornerback Isaac Yiadom during the first half at Lambeau Field. The Packers edged out a 18-17 win. Dan Powers/USA Today Network/Reuters Atlanta Falcons quarterback Desmond Ridder is sacked by Detroit Lions linebacker Derrick Barnes in the first half at Ford Field in Detroit. The Falcons lost 20-6. Rick Osentoski/AP Cleveland Browns running back Nick Chubb grimaces after suffering a knee injury in a Monday Night Football game against the Pittsburgh Steelers on September 18. He was carted off the field in the second quarter. Before leaving the game, the star running back had 10 carries for 64 yards. Matt Durisko/AP Dallas Cowboys tight end Jake Ferguson scores in the first half of a 30-10 win over the New York Jets at AT&T Stadium on September 17. It was the Jets’ first game without quarterback Aaron Rodgers, who suffered an ankle injury during his debut with the team in Week 1. Michael Ainsworth/AP Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback Trevor Lawrence throws a pass during the first quarter against the Kansas City Chiefs at TIAA Bank Field. Lawrence threw for 216 yards during Jacksonville’s 17-9 loss to Kansas City. Sam Greenwood/Getty Images Chicago Bears running back Khalil Herbert looks for space to run the ball as he evades Tampa Bay Buccaneers linebacker Lavonte David at Raymond James Stadium. The Bears would lose 27-17. Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images Atlanta Falcons quarterback Desmond Ridder is tackled by linebacker Preston Smith during the second half of a 25-24 win over the Green Bay Packers at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images Arizona Cardinals wide receiver Michael Wilson makes a catch over New York Giants safety Jason Pinnock at State Farm Stadium. The Cardinals narrowly lost 31-28. Matt York/AP Kansas City Chiefs tight end Noah Gray receives a pass. The Chiefs beat the Jacksonville Jaguars 17-9. Nathan Ray Seebeck/USA Today Network/Reuters Las Vegas Raiders wide receiver Davante Adams celebrates after scoring the team’s only touchdown during their 38-10 loss to the Buffalo Bills at Highmark Stadium. Adrian Kraus/AP Quarterback Aaron Rodgers, making his debut with the New York Jets, is sacked by Buffalo Bills defensive end Leonard Floyd. Rodgers suffered an ankle injury and was carted off the field after the play, which occurred during the team’s first drive in the first quarter. Before being traded in the offseason, Rodgers had spent the first 18 seasons of his NFL career with the Green Bay Packers. Elsa/Getty Images San Francisco 49ers running back Christian McCaffrey looks for space to run the ball in the second half of a 30-7 win over the Pittsburgh Steelers at Acrisure Stadium on September 10 in Pennsylvania. Justin K. Aller/Getty Images Carolina Panthers tight end Hayden Hurst tries to stiff arm Atlanta Falcons safety Richie Grant in the first half at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. It was all for naught as the Falcons won the game 24-10. Dale Zanine/USA Today Network/Reuters Las Vegas Raiders WR Jakobi Meyers pulls in a touchdown past Denver Broncos CB Damarri Mathis in the first quarter at Empower Field at Mile High. The score would be important as the Raiders edged the home side, 17-16. Ron Chenoy/USA Today Network/Reuters It was a rough day for Joe Burrow and the Cincinnati Bengals as they got trounced by the Cleveland Browns 24-3. The highest paid quarterback in the league had a tough start to the season, throwing 14-for-31 for 82 yards and being crushed here by Browns safety Grant Delpit. Sue Ogrocki/AP Tampa Bay Buccaneers WR Deven Thompkins runs with the ball during the fourth quarter of a 20-17 win against the Minnesota Vikings at US Bank Stadium in Minneapolis. Nick Wosika/Icon Sportswire/Getty Images Los Angeles Chargers kicker JK Scott punts the ball against the Miami Dolphins in the second half at SoFi Stadium. The Chargers would lose 36-34 to the Dolphins. Kirby Lee/USA Today Network/Reuters Baltimore Ravens wide receiver/punt returner Zay Flowers catches a deep pass in the first quarter during the Houston Texans. Baltimore fans had plenty of action to cheer as their team thoroughly handled the Texans 25-9. Randy Litzinger/Icon Sportswire/Getty Images Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker TJ Watt sacks San Francisco 49ers quarterback Brock Purdy. It was to be one of the only highlights for the home fans as the Niners won 30-7. Matt Freed/AP It was a rough start to the year for the Kansas City Chiefs and superstar quarterback Patrick Mahomes as they were shocked by the Detroit Lions 21-20 in Missouri. Still, many are predicting the Chiefs will repeat this year. Jay Biggerstaff/USA Today Network/Reuters
The best photos from the 2023 NFL season
Learning the ropes
Born in 1952, Belichick was the son of Jeannette and Steve Belichick – a former member of the US military who served in World War II. Steve was a fullback for the Detroit Lions prior to serving, and he later coached at the college level and acted as a scout for over 40 years, mostly with the Naval Academy football team.
Speaking to the Washington Post in 2005, his father remembers how a young Belichick showed an interest in the sport from an early age.
“He wanted to be with me, and I wanted to be with him,” the older Belichick said at the time. “He was probably five or six years old when he started to get interested.
“The three of us drove down to William & Mary to scout a spring game because we were going to play them in the next year, and that’s when I remember him showing his first interest. I’d take him to games with me when I could. He was always interested in what I was doing. He was never a bother.”
Former Navy running back and 1960 Heisman Trophy winner Joe Bellino remembers the young boy during team meetings surrounded by future football legends.
“He’d sit in the back of the room listening to his father give the scouting report,” Bellino told Sports Illustrated in 2004. “He’s a six-, seven-, eight-year-old youngster hanging out at the Naval Academy.
“Midshipmen in uniform, parades, the brass, the visiting presidents, the football team with two Heisman winners [Bellino and quarterback Roger Staubach]. And he saw his father’s work ethic. He saw everyone in the room soak up what his dad was telling us, believing if we did what he said, we could beat anybody.”
After being a standout athlete at both the high school and college levels, Bill Belichick began his long and winding coaching journey with the Baltimore Colts in the NFL as a 23-year-old in 1975.
He quickly rose through the ranks, being named special assistant to head coach Ted Marchibroda before moving on to the Lions as an assistant special teams coach the following year. A mere 12 months later, he was given his first positional coaching assignment as Detroit’s tight ends and receivers coach before being hired by the Denver Broncos in 1978 as the assistant special teams coach and assistant to defensive coordinator Joe Collier.
But it was at his next stop where he really made a name for himself.
In 1979, Belichick was hired as a defensive assistant and special teams coach for the New York Giants before being promoted to defensive coordinator – tasked with organizing the defense as a whole – by head coach Bill Parcells in 1985.
The relationship between the two – later coined ‘The Two Bills’ in an ESPN ’30 for 30’ special released in 2018 – became a seminal moment in the history of the NFL, with Belichick’s defense being a key building block in two Super Bowl victories in 1986 and 1990.
The second title earned him his first NFL head coaching role, where he took over the Cleveland Browns in February 1991 at the mere age of 38 – the NFL’s youngest head coach at the time.
Belichick was walking into a sticky situation as is the case for many new head coaches – Cleveland’s previous season record of 3-13 was the worst in franchise history at the time – but within a few years, he had successfully righted the ship and transformed the team into one of the strongest in the league, tied for the second-best record in the American Football Conference (AFC) at 11-5.
He beat Parcells and the Patriots in his only playoff victory that year as the future looked bright for the organization under the revolutionary head coach.
Belichick directs play during a Browns game against the Dallas Cowboys on September 1, 1991. Al Messerschmidt Archive/AP
But midway through the 1995 season, it all changed.
On a November day outside of the Browns’ home stadium in Cleveland, team owner Art Modell announced the club would be uprooting and moving to Baltimore, citing financial difficulties, in a move which shocked the NFL fraternity.
The decision was met with furious protests from the Browns fanbase and the disruption caused by the announcement – with protests organized and lawsuits filed – affected the on-field success of Belichick’s team as its season petered out.
Although many of the Browns players and staff were retained during the move, Belichick was fired and his first stint as a head coach was over in acrimonious fashion.
‘One of the great moments of my career’
Belichick was soon reunited with Parcells as assistant head coach and defensive backs coach with the Patriots before eventually following him to the New York Jets to continue to coach under the future Hall of Famer.
Upon Parcells’ departure as head coach in 1999, it was arranged that Belichick would succeed his longtime mentor in the role.
However, in one of the most memorable press conferences in NFL history, Belichick resigned from the position just one day after assuming it, instead choosing to become the head coach of the Patriots.
In what has become a seismic moment for the league, Belichick wrote on a small slip of paper before the press conference: “I resign as HC of the NYJ.”
Although the two teams were forced to agree upon settlement to trade Belichick to the Patriots after a legal dispute, Belichick himself in hindsight believes he made the correct decision.
“Well, not only one of the most defining, but you know, one of the great moments of my career,” Belichick said on WEEI in 2020. “That combined with Robert [Kraft] giving me the opportunity to come here, I couldn’t have asked for anything more.
“That wasn’t a good situation for me and I didn’t want to be part of it, so I wasn’t. The other half of that was Robert giving me the opportunity to come here and trading, he gave up quite a bit to get me to come here, and that was a big trade.”
From there, the rest is history.
It’s rare for a coach and an organization to pair so symbiotically, but for Belichick and the Patriots, everything just clicked.
Even from his very first draft, it literally couldn’t have gone better.
With the 199th pick of the 2000 NFL Draft, the Patriots selected quarterback Tom Brady out of the University of Michigan; an unheralded prospect who was described in a scouting report as possibly making “it in the right system but will not be for everyone.”
However, over a span of almost 20 years, the pair formed the deadliest coach-quarterback combination in league history to transform a ‘down on its luck’ franchise into the winningest organization in the NFL.
Belichick talks with Brady during a game against the Cincinnati Bengals in 2010. Damian Strohmeyer/Sports Illustrated/Getty Images
Six Super Bowl titles, countless wins and unrivaled success followed as Belichick and Brady’s ruthlessness kept New England on top.
The pinnacle of the pair’s magic together manifested in 2007 when the Patriots created history by becoming the first team to finish the regular season with an undefeated 16-0 record.
With Brady at the helm – he would win MVP that season – and superstar wide receiver Randy Moss on the outside, the team’s offense was almost unstoppable, finishing the season with an NFL-best 36.8 points per game. And paired with a stout defense, New England was a juggernaut.
“I’m not entirely sure they had any weakness. Most teams have one or two strengths,” former Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo would later say.
After blitzing through the playoffs, the Patriots faced the New York Giants in the Super Bowl where in one of the biggest shocks in NFL history, New England was defeated 17-14, with David Tyree’s “Helmet Catch” being written into folklore.
The dramatic upset wouldn’t stop the Patriots juggernaut, however. Belichick’s ability to transform undervalued pieces into stars and simultaneously dispose of players at exactly the moment they started to hit the downward slope of their career became legendary and vital in consistently being Super Bowl contenders.
Belichick is the only head coach in NFL history to win six Super Bowl titles. He ranks second all-time with 333 total victories as a head coach. His 31 career playoff wins are the most all-time among head coaches.
But more than that, his fingerprints are all over the league.
Current NFL head coaches Brian Daboll and Mike Vrabel both have connections to Belichick, while other familiar faces around the sport such as Matt Patricia, Brian Flores, Joe Judge, Josh McDaniels, Nick Saban, Romeo Crennel and Eric Mangini can all trace their lineage back to him.
The team has understandably tailed off since Brady’s departure in 2019 and this season’s issues have increased scrutiny on Belichick’s future as the head coach of the team.
Belichick holds the Vince Lombardi Trophy after defeating the Seattle Seahawks 28-24 during Super Bowl XLIX. Tom Pennington/Getty Images
He has consistently faced questions about whether he sees himself as the head coach going forward and has always made sure to respond in his trademark, deadpan manner.
“If I was going to do anything, I’d put it out there on Twitter and MyFace so everybody can see it,” Belichick said in gest when asked on WEEI’s “The Greg Hill Show” before New England’s Week 18 game against the Jets.
Whether or not Belichick’s time as the head coach of the Patriots or in the NFL in general has come to an end, his shadow will forever loom large as one of the titans of the game.