Belichick Recalls First-Game Jitters From Rookie Season


September 12, 2009

Belichick Recalls First-Game Jitters From Rookie Season Though 99.9 percent of his attention was focused on the Bills on Monday night, Patriots head coach Bill Belichick took a brief moment in his Saturday news conference to take a look at the past.

Belichick was asked if he had any memories of his first NFL game as a head coach for the Cleveland Browns, and of course the coach hasn't forgotten a thing.

"Yeah, I?d say nervous," Belichick said. "We were playing Dallas, so that was a problem. It?s funny. I talked to [then Cowboys coach] Jimmy [Johnson] about that a couple years ago. We were down on his boat fishing ? Well, we weren?t catching any fish, but we were fishing and we talked about that."

Belichick probably remembers the rest of the story more for the negative aspects than the positive.

"I knew we were in trouble because Dallas was good. They were real good and [Johnson] said, ?Yeah, I don?t even think we did a scouting report on you guys. We were pretty concerned with that second game, not the first one.? He was right. Maybe it was 19-12; the score was competitive, but it really wasn?t. They were a lot better than we were and he knew it, too."

The final score was a bit muddled in Belichick's mind (it was actually 26-14), but the coach with a 138-86 career record said he still gets butterflies before Week 1.

"Opening day, I think that?s the toughest day of the year," Belichick said. "It really is because there are so many unknowns. We have new players. You?re going up against a new team. … As important as the opponent is, it?s probably more important that your team just can do what they need to do, that they can operate efficiently and communicate and execute the plays that we?ve got to execute. Yeah, we?re concerned about what they?re doing, but if you don?t do what you?re doing right then it won?t make any difference.

"I think everybody?s got the butterflies on opening day; certainly, the coaches do. You get stress put on your team in [many] areas and you see how you can handle them."

So coach, got any superstitions?

"No, sorry."

In other words: story time is over. Time for some football.

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