Bill Belichick (five Super Bowl victories, including three as a head coach) and Mike Shanahan (three Super Bowl victories, including two as a head coach) have built a professional relationship over the last few decades, and it has since turned into a strong friendship. They've gotten beers together, and Belichick even hosted Shanahan during the Patriots' training camp in 2009 when Shanahan spent the year out of football.
The friendship is particularly noteworthy because of their success, which at times has come at the other's expense. But consider Belichick and Shanahan were on the sideline for the Super Bowl champion eight times over a 19-year stretch (1986-2004).
"I think how you develop relationships in this league is, you go against each other in some big games as assistants, as coordinators, as head coaches," Shanahan said. "We've been going at it for … 25, 30 years of going against each other as assistant coaches [and] coordinators, and there are a lot of games, a lot of meaningful games, and a lot of respect through the years. Then, it just has carried over to dinners and maybe getting together for a beer here and there, and I've got a lot of respect for him."
Belichick has been in the NFL since 1975, and Shanahan made his debut in the league in 1984. They're 8-8 against one another, and Shanahan has a 5-3 edge in games when both were the head coach (all of which involved Shanahan's Broncos and Belichick's Patriots).
Their biggest duel came in Super Bowl XXI, when Belichick was the defensive coordinator for the Giants in their 39-20 victory against the Broncos, who employed Shanahan as the offensive coordinator. Shanahan, though, has won his other two playoff meetings with Belichick, including their only matchup as head coaches in the 2005 divisional round.
Belichick was a little self-deprecating this week when discussing their friendship, which will temporarily be on hold Sunday in Washington.
"I think Mike liked me because he used to like to beat up on us all the time," Belichick said. "I've gotten to know Mike a little bit off the field, league meetings and stuff like that. He's a great competitor, I have great respect for what he's done, all the championships and all the outstanding teams he has had and coached."
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