FOXBORO, Mass. — Arguably the two most important figures in New England Patriots history joined the franchise within months of one another.
The Patriots hired head coach Bill Belichick on Jan. 27, 2000 — exactly 17 years ago Friday. On April 16 of that year, they used a sixth-round draft pick to select quarterback Tom Brady.
And, as they say, the rest is history.
Brady and Belichick went on to turn the long-suffering Patriots into the NFL’s preeminent dynasty and cement their respective statuses as surefire Hall of Famers. On the anniversary of Belichick’s hiring, Brady took a few moments to reflect on what the coach has meant to both him and Patriot Nation as a whole.
“We came in at the same time,” Brady said Friday afternoon. “It was our first year together. I wasn’t drafted at the time, obviously, of that announcement (that Belichick had been hired), but when they picked me, I had to look on a map to see where the New England Patriots played because I had never been this far east. But it was a magical day in my life, and I know for Patriot fans, having Coach Belichick come to this team was the best thing for this franchise.
“He has been a great coach, a great leader for our team along with (Patriots owner Robert) Kraft and (team president Jonathan Kraft). It always starts at the top.”
Brady also expressed his gratitude to Belichick in an Instagram post. The photo in the post was taken after the two led New England to the franchise’s first Super Bowl win in 2002.
The Patriots are preparing to play in their seventh Super Bowl of the Brady/Belichick era. They’ll take on the high-scoring Atlanta Falcons next Sunday night in Super Bowl LI.
“We’ve had a good run,” said Brady, who is seeking his fifth Super Bowl ring. “We’ve got to keep it going. This is an important week for us. It’s a lot of practice the next couple days, and then obviously with the start of Super Bowl week, there’s a lot of hoopla that goes into that.
“This is the biggest game of the year, and it’s our opportunity to be at our best and not let anything get in the way of what our goal is, because I’ve been a part of a few of these that we’ve lost, and it has been pretty crappy to think about those memories. So hopefully, we can make it a great outcome.”
Thumbnail photo via Geoff Burke/USA TODAY Sports Images
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