Belichick, who already was a preeminent NFL historian, says he “learned a lot” about football during the process. Belichick was revealed as one of 10 head coaches on the NFL 100 All-Time Team on Friday.
“It was a great experience,” Belichick said Tuesday. “I watched a lot of film of players in the ‘30s, the ‘40s, the ‘50s and the ‘60s. I watched quite a bit of that over the summer and last spring, and it was very enlightening in studying the great players in different eras and how the game was played. You see some plays, you see some strategy, but you also see the players, and not just the guys you’re watching, obviously, but the other guys that are involved there. Two-way football, the kicking game, there were a lot more kicking plays.
“It’s all just continuous film; it’s not really broken up into offense and defense. That didn’t start until a little bit later in the ‘60s and so forth, but the earlier games it’s just sequential, so you’re watching guys go both ways and both sides of the ball and so forth. So yeah, I learned a lot about the players, a lot I learned about the history — how things, I would say, evolved to a degree.”
Belichick didn’t just learn from watching film but also from talking to former players on the NFL 100 panel. On Friday night, running backs Barry Sanders, Emmitt Smith and Jim Brown, all of whom made the All-Time Team, appeared with Belichick, ex-NFL wide receiver Cris Collinsworth and NFL Media’s Rich Eisen to discuss the game and analyze other players at their position.
“I mean, there’s so many of them,” Belichick said. “I can’t list them all, but they all have a lot of very interesting insight to the players and the game, and that sparked — for me — sparked me to go back more closely at some of the things that they brought up and enlightened me on. So, the whole process was great, and I think in a way it’s definitely made me a better coach from the things that I’ve learned.
“It’s reinforced some things, and it’s also opened my eyes to some, I would say, other areas of coaching that I don’t want to say were overlooked — that would be the wrong word — but the emphasis maybe has been more, since I started doing that, on certain fundamental things that are I think critical to the foundation of successful plays and successful teams and successful football. So yeah, it was a very great honor to be a part of it, and very educational, informative, and I would say, motivating to indulge in those in the process.”
Belichick has taken on a greater role in coaching the Patriots’ defense this season after play-caller Brian Flores left to head coach the Miami Dolphins over the offseason. The Patriots intended to hire Greg Schiano to be their defensive coordinator, but he resigned before the move even was announced. The Patriots have the best defense in the NFL, and the team is 10-1. It seems everything Belichick learned this offseason is paying off.
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