By Michael Hurley, CBS Boston
BOSTON (CBS) — After a drawn-out war with the New York Jets, after a shockingly uncomfortable resignation press conference, and after the agreement of a fair compensation, the Patriots announced 17 years ago on this date that they had hired Bill Belichick as the 15th head coach in franchise history.
As the world would come to find out, the timing — late January — was fitting, as Belichick would go on to spend the final week of January preparing for a Super Bowl (seven seasons) nearly just as often as he would spend it in a state of disappointment (10 seasons).
As Belichick has made very clear since that date, he was worth the hassle.
As he and the Patriots prepare for Super Bowl LI, Belichick has 201 regular-season victories under his belt in his 17 seasons. In the 39 years of Patriots football prior to Belichick’s arrival, the team had compiled a total of 275 victories.
In the playoffs, Belichick has led the team to 24 victories (most all time of any coach) and four Super Bowl wins (tied for the most all time). Prior to his arrival, the Patriots had just seven playoff victories and zero Super Bowl wins.
Suffice it to say, the three draft picks (a mid-first-rounder in 2000 and a fourth and a seventh in 2001) the Patriots shipped to the Jets in exchange for Belichick proved to be well worth it.
Here’s a look at Belichick and Robert Kraft, along with what they had to say on that franchise-altering day:
And the person who brokered that deal to make sure it was smoothed over? None other than Bill Parcells, who left the Patriots on bad terms but nonetheless was able to help end the “border war” that was flaming between the Patriots and Jets.
Of course, at the time of the hiring, not everyone held the belief that it would work out for the Patriots.
And after a 5-11 season in 2000, the critics appeared to have been on to something. But Robert Kraft stuck with his hire.
Last week, in an interview with the Boston Herald, Kraft spoke about the decision to hire Belichick and also the decision to stick with him after that disappointing 2000 season.
“We had people from the league office, high-level people telling us not to hire him. We had media people sending us press conferences of him from Cleveland … and then it didn’t go well [in the 2000 season]. But I felt a certain sympatico with him, and it developed,” Kraft told the Herald. “People were on my case. They wanted me to fire him. Part of it is, when you have good people, you hang with them in the tough times, and we’ve had some tough times. I think we’ve built a great partnership. Our mutual priority is putting the New England Patriots in the best position we can to win football games.”
Since that date, winning football games is just about all Belichick has done. And if he can win one more next week in Houston, he will further his case as the greatest head coach in NFL history.