After the Patriots defeated the Browns, head coach Bill Belichick took the team on a detour when heading back to the hotel. The team stopped by the statue of one of the greatest players in the history of football, Browns RB Jim Brown.
Belichick explained his decision on Monday.
“Well, I think honestly any person, football player or otherwise, can learn a lot from Jim Brown and what he represents and what he stands for,” Belichick said. “But particularly as it relates to our football team, Jim Brown's in my opinion the greatest player that ever played.
“I've had an opportunity to have known him Jim for over 20 years now. I met him when I was the coach at the Browns and just had so much more respect and appreciation for him knowing him well as a person and as a friend, even just as an observer from a distance, but I think he's meant so much to this game. He's paved the way for all of us; players and coaches. [He's] part of many people who have made professional football, the game of football, the great game that it is.
“I just felt like it was an opportunity for us as a team after the game to recognize and pay a tribute to Jim and all that he stands for, both in and out of football. But in particular, what he has meant to the game of football and how much he has done for us, for the game, which means for all of us.
“That statue was recently put there. It's kind of remarkable that it hadn't happened sooner, but regardless, I'm not sure how many of our players really understand or appreciate what he meant to the game and what he has meant to the game through his continued involvement not only with football, but with young football players, be they Browns players or just other youth that he interacts with primarily on the West coast but as we know he's been involved in projects through his Amer-I-Can program throughout the country, which I've been very fortunate to witness and be a small part of.
“That's why we did it and I'm glad they appreciated it and hopefully that's something that's part of their football career [and] will be one small memory [as] just the recognition of a great player and a great person and somebody who has really made the game better for all of us.”
Belichick is a history nut and he loves putting the past on a pedestal for his players to strive to attain. Even if the team is 4-1 or leading the division or in great standing in the conference, the team should never be comfortable and that’s how Belichick wants his players: always seeking the greater.
“Honestly, I wish Paul Brown's statue would've been right there with it because then we could have knocked out two birds with one stone,” Belichick added about the coach he considers to be the “father of football”. “Paul Brown's name is up there. Obviously, that's who the franchise is named for and his name is up there on the stadium as part of the players that are recognized on that ring of honor there in the stadium.
“It's a little special quirk for me when you think of Paul Brown, and you think of Jim Brown, and the Cleveland Browns who were named for Paul Brown and being in that stadium, not because I was the coach there, but because of what Paul Brown and Jim Brown did for professional football in that city. It's a special place in my heart.”
This second stop was for Belichick, himself. Belichick wore Brown’s trademark fedora when Belichick tied Brown for all time wins. Brown is the Mark Bavaro of coaches, to put it in Belichick’s mental framework. If he’s making the players strive for greatness, well, respecting Paul Brown is Belichick’s way of recharging and focusing on being the greatest coach in the history of football.