It was the turn of the millennium, and the New England Patriots were in a rough spot.
The Patriots had just gone 8-8 in 1999, missing the playoffs for the first time in three years. They fired head coach Pete Carroll shortly after, entering the 21st century with a coaching vacancy and a seemingly mediocre roster.
But exactly 17 years ago Friday, their fortunes changed with a single trade.
Patriots owner Robert Kraft had his eye on Bill Belichick, who had just controversially resigned as the New York Jets’ head coach one day after getting the job, to replace Carroll. But former Patriots coach and then-Jets general manager Bill Parcells claimed Belichick still was under contract with New York, meaning he was off the table unless Kraft and the Patriots were willing to pay a price.
Turns out they were. On Jan. 27, 2000, New England traded three draft picks, including a 2000 first-rounder, for two Jets draft picks and the right to hire Belichick as its head coach. Later that night, Belichick introduced himself for the first time to Patriots Nation.
Flash forward to Jan. 27, 2017, where Belichick is about to appear in his seventh Super Bowl since taking over in 2000. He’s led the team to 14 AFC East titles, seven AFC titles and four Super Bowl championships during his 17-year tenure with New England.
There were bumps along the way, including his woeful 5-11 debut campaign in 2000 and his 9-7 Super Bowl hangover season in 2002. But with the possible exception of April 16, 2000 — when the Patriots selected Tom Brady 199th overall in the NFL Draft — the date the Patriots landed Belichick very well might be the greatest day in franchise history.
Thumbnail photo via Greg M. Cooper/USA TODAY Sports Images
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