The New England Patriots are beyond fortunate to have Bill Belichick at the helm. Sunday will mark the completion of Belichick's 40th season as a coach in the NFL, 20th as a head coach, and 15th with the Patriots.
Over Belichick's time with New England, his Patriots have been the model franchise. They've won 12 division titles, reached 9 conference championships, and are about to play in their sixth Super Bowl. He's fifth all time in coaching victories and ranks third in winning percentage, and has the most playoff victories all time. Belichick ranks as one of the top coaches of all time and is without peer over the past two decades.
No matter what happens on Sunday, Belichick's legacy will never be in question. A win bolsters his Mt. Rushmore status, but his track record is unprecendented.
No, the legacy Belichick is coaching for today isn't his own; instead, he will be coaching for his father's.
There have been a wide range of coaches to impact Belichick's view on the game of football, ranging from Bill Parcells to Ray Perkins to Ted Marchibroda, but Bill would be the first to admit that none have had the same effect as his father.
"I'd have to say my dad," Belichick explained when asked about the person with the most influence on his coaching. "I've had the opportunity to be around a lot of great coaches as an assistant coach, other assistants and, obviously, for a number of great head coaches, and interacted with many others. But, in the end, my dad had a big influence on me."
Steve Belichick is a legend in his own right, having literally written the book on scouting. He helped to collect the greatest library on football in the world, and instilled a passion and love of the game in his son.
"He wanted to be with me, and I wanted to be with him," Steve told the New York Times back in 2005, prior to the Super Bowl against the Eagles. "He was probably 5 or 6 years old when he started to get interested. The three of us drove down to William & Mary to scout a spring game because we were going to play them in the next year, and that's when I remember him showing his first interest. I'd take him to games with me when I could. He was always interested in what I was doing. He was never a bother."
The younger Belichick worked a way to pick his father's brain from a young age. He thirsted for the sport and struck a deal with his dad: if Bill finished his homework early, Steve would let him see the game plans for the upcoming week.
That was nearly 60 years ago. Steve Belichick passed away in 2005, after his son won his third Super Bowl as a head coach, but he left a mark on the league that won't fade.
"Steve had superior intelligence and intellect," former 49ers head coach Bill Walsh told author David Halberstam, "and he not only saw the game as very few scouts did, but as he was seeing it, he understood as very few scouts did."
It is this love, passion, and intelligence that will be on display this Sunday. It is a legacy that cannot be tarnished with any outcome on the field, yet it is one that will be apparent with every play call.
As for Bill's mother?
"My 94-year-old mom won't be here," Bill explained. "She's in Annapolis. I know she'll be yelling at the TV set all game. But I do miss that she won't be here."
Bill will miss them both on the field at the Super Bowl, but the traits that made his father a beloved figure in football will be on full display.