Gary Crowton, Not Bill Belichick, Nearly Was Patriots’ Head Coach In 2000

by abournenesn

Jan 9, 2015

Saturday night’s AFC Divisional Playoff between the Baltimore Ravens and New England Patriots features a marquee coaching matchup, as John Harbaugh and Gary Crowton square off for the eighth time.

Wait, what?

Don’t worry, you’re not crazy. Bill Belichick, not Crowton, is the Patriots’ head coach. As WEEI’s John Tomase points out, though, Crowton was a few words scribbled on a napkin away from succeeding Pete Carroll as New England’s head man in 2000.

Belichick was Patriots owner Robert Kraft’s first choice, but he had just been named head coach of the New York Jets to replace Bill Parcells. Kraft’s second choice? Crowton, of course.

“Mr. Kraft said, ‘Gary, this is what our situation is,’ ” Crowton told Tomase, via ” ‘We’re going to try to hire Belichick. He’s under contract with the Jets. If he gets out of his contract, we’re going to hire him. If he doesn’t, we’d like to hire you.’ ”

Crowton, now the offensive coordinator at Southern Utah, was a strong candidate for a number of reasons. After rising through the college football ranks, the Utah native spent the 1999 season with the Chicago Bears, coordinating the NFL’s eighth-best offense. Crowton also met Chip Kelly at a coaching clinic while at New Hampshire and spent three years as a quarterbacks coach under Tom Coughlin at Boston College.

Would Crowton have had similiar success as Belichick did in New England? We’ll never know, as Belichick famously resigned as “HC of NYJ” and went on to win three Super Bowls in his first five seasons with the Patriots.

Another fun fact: If Belichick and Crowton fell through, a certain Ravens defensive coordinator named Marvin Lewis also was on Kraft’s list. We’d say things worked out all right.

Thumbnail photo via Southern Utah Athletics

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