Bill Belichick is the second-oldest active coach in the NFL. At 66, he’s literally twice as old as Sean McVay, his counterpart in Super Bowl LIII.
It’s the largest age gap ever between opposing coaches in a Super Bowl — a surefire Hall of Famer squaring off against a 33-year-old wunderkind who’s taken the league by storm since becoming head coach of the Los Angeles Rams last season.
The former has coached in 41 playoff games as a head coach, including eight Super Bowls. The latter? Three and zero.
But despite being more than three decades his senior, Belichick can relate to McVay, who, at 30, was the youngest coach in NFL history at the time of his hire.
In 1980, during the early days of his own coaching career, Belichick faced considerable skepticism from his players when Bill Parcells assigned him to coach the New York Giants’ linebackers — a group that already featured one future Hall of Famer in Harry Carson and would add another in Lawrence Taylor the following season.
Belichick was 28 at the time.
“I mean, I remember the day when I was the youngest coach in the National Football League,” the New England Patriots coach said Monday on WEEI’s “Ordway, Merloni & Fauria. “That was obviously a long, long time ago, but I remember that and everyone saying, ‘How do you relate to the players? They’re older than you are, they know more than you do, you didn’t play,’ etc., etc. But that’s just part of the course of your career.
“Look, there’s a lot of great young coaches in the National Football League, and I think a lot of them are probably in the same general area that we all were when we were in our late 20s, 30s and so forth. You’re just trying to help your team. You’re trying to improve your career and establish yourself for your own confidence and credibility and to help the team that you’re with. I think most coaches fall into that category.”
One notable difference between the two was that McVay took a much shorter path to a head-coaching job. While Belichick spent 16 seasons as an assistant or coordinator before taking over the Cleveland Browns in 1991, McVay made the leap to the top job just nine years after landing his first NFL coaching gig.
McVay has engineered a remarkable turnaround in LA, bringing the Rams from 4-12 to 11-5 in his first season at the helm. After losing at home in the 2017 divisional round, McVay’s squad rebounded to go 13-3 this season before dispatching the Dallas Cowboys and New Orleans Saints to reach the franchise’s first Super Bowl since 2001.
“Sean’s done a great job,” said Belichick, who added that he had a “good relationship” with McVay’s grandfather, John McVay, a former San Francisco 49ers executive. “He’s gotten a great opportunity at a young age. He’s deserved it, and he’s done extremely well with it. I commend him for all that he’s accomplished. They have a great football team, and they’re very, very well-coached. I think Sean’s done a great job — he and his staff — so we’re looking forward to the matchup.”
Belichick has been a source of support for McVay this season, with the Rams coach telling Peter King of NBC Sports he received texts from the Patriots boss after almost every game.
Thumbnail photo via Jay Biggerstaff/USA TODAY Sports Images