By Michael Hurley, CBS Boston
BOSTON (CBS) — Since becoming the boss for the New England Patriots 20-plus years ago, Bill Belichick has experienced arguably the most successful run of any head coach in NFL history. At the very least, it’s undoubtedly the most successful run of any head coach in Belichick’s generation.
One might assume that, given all of that winning and all of those championships and all of that rewriting of the history books, the coach would be quite content with his place in the world and not at all bitter toward any organizations or people that may have done him wrong in the past.
One, though, would be assuming wrong. Because Bill Belichick still really dislikes the New York Jets.
The 68-year-old head coach made that crystal clear on Tuesday, during his weekly interview on WEEI.
“Well, not only one of the most defining, but, you know, one of the great moments of my career,” Belichick said when asked about his infamous press conference where he resigned as “HC of the NYJ.”
Belichick explained a bit further: “It’s just, that wasn’t a good situation for me, and I didn’t want to be part of it. So I wasn’t.”
Belichick was of course referencing his situation after the 1999 season, when Bill Parcells left his own post as head coach of the Jets, thereby triggering a clause that made Belichick (then the Jets’ assistant head coach and defensive coordinator) the new head coach. Belichick, though, didn’t want that job. He said at the time that the death of owner Leon Hess and the resulting uncertainty with the ownership situation made him wary of taking that job.
At the same time, a cordial relationship with Patriots owner Robert Kraft (forged during Belichick’s one season as assistant head coach and defensive backs coach under Parcells in 1996 in Foxboro) laid out a clear path to becoming the Patriots’ head coach.
Obviously, six Super Bowls later, Belichick has zero regrets about the way that one played out.
“The other half of that was Robert giving me the opportunity to come here and trading — I mean, he gave up quite a bit to get me to come here. That was a big trade. And so I am very thankful that it worked out. I appreciate all the support from Robert, the Kraft family, the Patriots organization and all the New England fans. And I’ll keep trying to do my best for this team and this organization — give them the very best that I can. But I am very thankful for the opportunity to come here. And I just wasn’t going to stay there in that situation.”
Since spurning the Jets, Belichick has compiled a 240-88 record with the Patriots across 21 regular seasons, plus a 30-11 playoff record with six Super Bowl titles and three more conference championships. That includes a 32-11 record in head-to-head matchups with the Jets.
Meanwhile the Jets are on their sixth head coach since 2000, with Adam Gase following Todd Bowles, who followed Rex Ryan, who followed Eric Mangini, who followed Herm Edwards, who followed Al Groh. The Jets are 148-181 since 2000, making the playoffs just six times and compiling a 6-6 record in those postseason games.
Clearly, the first-round pick that the Patriots gave to the Jets in order to formally acquire Belichick paid dividends. Just as clearly, the future Hall of Famer wouldn’t change a thing about the way he handled those brief, chaotic moments when he was HC of the NYJ.