American Football: Legendary NFL coach Bill Belichick leaves New England Patriots after 24 seasons, six Super Bowl titles

Tom Brady and Bill Belichick.
Tom Brady and Bill Belichick. Photo credit: Getty Images

Legendary head coach Bill Belichick confirmed on Friday (NZ time) that he is leaving the New England Patriots after 24 seasons, winning six Super Bowl titles.

The departure brings to an end one of the greatest head coaching runs in NFL history, during which Belichick changed the fortunes of the Patriots organization.

Paired with era-defining quarterback Tom Brady, Belichick transformed the Patriots into one of the league’s juggernauts, almost consistently making deep playoff runs and contending for the Vince Lombardi Trophy, proving the benchmark for others.

But following Brady’s departure to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2019, the team has struggled in the regular season and playoffs, with New England finishing with a 4-13 record this past season.

Belichick leaves the team with a 266-120 regular-season record and going 30-12 in the playoffs.

Belichick’s journey from learning under his father at the Naval Academy football team and his days as an assistant coach around the league is one of legend now.

Tom Brady and Bill Belichick celebrate one of six Super Bowls titles.
Tom Brady and Bill Belichick celebrate one of six Super Bowls titles. Photo credit: Getty Images

His time as defensive coordinator learning under head coach Bill Parcells during their time together with the New York Giants proved a turning point for the NFL as a whole, with Parcells acting as a mentor for a young Belichick as they won two Super Bowl titles. The pair’s relationship was later immortalized as “The Two Bills” in an ESPN “30 for 30” special released in 2018.

Belichick earned his first head coaching job as a 38-year-old with the Cleveland Browns before being let go in the franchise’s acrimonious move to Baltimore.

A reunion with Parcells followed at the New York Jets before he joined the Patriots as head coach after just one day as the Jets’ head coach following one of the most memorable press conferences in NFL history.

Belichick’s time with the Pats couldn’t have started any better as he chose Brady in his first draft with New England, choosing the unheralded prospect with the 199th pick of the 2000 NFL Draft out of the University of Michigan.

And over the next 20 years, they transformed the Patriots into a juggernaut, with Belichick and Brady’s ruthlessness keeping New England on top.

Belichick is the only head coach in NFL history to win six Super Bowl titles. He ranks second all-time with 333 total victories as a head coach. His 31 career playoff wins are the most all-time among head coaches.

Bill Belichick announcing his departure with Patriots owner Robert Kraft.
Bill Belichick announcing his departure with Patriots owner Robert Kraft. Photo credit: Getty Images

But more than that, his fingerprints are all over the league.

Current NFL head coach Brian Daboll has connections to Belichick, while other familiar faces around the sport such as Mike Vrabel, Matt Patricia, Brian Flores, Joe Judge, Josh McDaniels, Nick Saban, Romeo Crennel and Eric Mangini can all trace their lineage back to him.

The pinnacle of the Belichick-Brady combination manifested in 2007 when the Patriots made history by becoming the first team to finish the regular season with an undefeated 16-0 record.

With Brady at the helm – he would win MVP that season – and superstar wide receiver Randy Moss on the outside, the team’s offense was almost unstoppable, finishing the season with an NFL-best 36.8 points per game. And paired with a stout defense, New England was a juggernaut.

After blitzing through the playoffs, the Patriots faced the New York Giants in the Super Bowl where, in one of the biggest shocks in NFL history, New England was defeated 17-14 and David Tyree’s 'Helmet Catch' being written into folklore.

The dramatic upset wouldn’t stop the Patriots juggernaut, however. Belichick’s ability to transform undervalued pieces into stars and simultaneously dispose of players at exactly the moment they started to hit the downward slope of their careers became legendary and vital in his teams consistently being Super Bowl contenders.

He had consistently faced questions about whether he saw himself as the Patriots’ head coach going forward and had always made sure to respond in his trademark, deadpan manner.

The 71-year-old said on Monday that it was “way too early” to make any decision on his future as the team’s head coach after rumors swirled about whether his time in New England could be drawing to a close.

He also said on Monday that he’d meet with owner Robert Kraft in the coming days to discuss the team’s direction.

Belichick’s departure from the Patriots comes a day after Saban – who spent four seasons as Belichick’s defensive coordinator with the Browns – announced his retirement as Alabama football coach.

From his surly demeanor to the six titles he brought to Massachusetts, Belichick leaves the Patriots as arguably the greatest NFL head coach of all time.