Happy anniversary, Bill Belichick.
It’s been 16 years since the New England Patriots officially hired Belichick as their new head coach on Jan. 27, 2000. A ton has happened since that franchise-altering day — 13 AFC East crowns, six Super Bowl appearances, four titles — yet Belichick still cherishes the opportunity given to him by Patriots owner Robert Kraft.
“One of the best days of my life,” Belichick said Wednesday on WEEI’s “Dale & Holley.” “I look back on that with great pride and a lot of positive reflection. The opportunity Robert gave me to coach this team is one that I respect and treasure and take very seriously, and I’ve tried to do my best over that period of time.
“I’ve certainly made my share of mistakes, and I’m sure I’ll make more going forward, but I’ll always try to do what’s in the best interest of the team. I hope that we can continue to improve and be competitive every year.”
The Patriots’ 2015 season came to an abrupt end Sunday in Denver, where the Broncos held on for a 20-18 win in the AFC Championship Game to prevent New England from clinching its seventh Super Bowl berth of the Belichick era. It’s nearly impossible to lose sight of the bigger picture, though, especially as several teams across the NFL scramble each season to uncover the next Belichick.
“I guess that means I’ve been doing it a long time,” Belichick said when told the other NFL teams have combined to employee 130 head coaches since his hiring before the 2000 season. “It means I’m getting older. I appreciate the opportunity here, the support, the stability, the stability with ownership.”
This week marks a bittersweet time for the Patriots, who had an excellent season yet fell short of their Super Bowl aspirations. If not for Belichick’s arrival, it might simply be a bitter time in New England.
Thumbnail photo via David Butler II/USA TODAY Sports Images
Thumbnail photo via New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick