New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick grew up in Annapolis, Maryland and he grew up around football. If you put two and two together, you can guess that his favorite team growing up was the Baltimore Colts- the team that gave Belichick is start in the NFL in 1975.
“Where I grew up, the Colts were my team,” Belichick said on Wednesday. “In Annapolis we were fortunate because from a football standpoint, I mean at that time, there weren’t many games on TV but we got the Colts and the Redskins. But it was kind of all Colts for me. Those great Colt teams of the 50s, late 50s and 60s, I could give you a starting lineup on both sides of the ball, all of those guys. I got to meet many of them through the years, Johnny Unitas, and Alex Sandusky working my dad’s football camp and things like that, meeting the coaches up there.
“So that was really a dream for me to be able to just wear the horseshoe helmet on my shirt when I worked for the Colts. That was a great source of pride and I learned an incredible amount that year working with Coach [Ted] Marchibroda and the Colts organization. It’s always a little – when you’re from that area and you’re that connected to the team and you see the team playing somewhere else and the way it all happened and came down, it’s a little bit of that childhood nostalgia that it’s just not the same anymore.”
This just adds another level of pain for Belichick, in my opinion. When Belichick was the head coach of the Cleveland Browns, they were moving to Baltimore when Belichick was fired. That could have been a homecoming of sorts. Imagine Belichick leading the Ravens to multiple Super Bowl titles as the hometown kid, with man-crush Ed Reed leading his secondary.
“From a Baltimore standpoint, I know they love the Ravens and it’s great that they have a team there that they can love because they’re great sports fans,” Belichick said. “They’re great football fans, they’re great baseball fans and they’re great lacrosse fans. They support their teams in a phenomenal way, and I was one of them. So it’s a great area; love Baltimore, love Annapolis.”
Another layer that might hurt? Belichick loved Colts head coach Don Shula.
“You think back to the way things were in the 60s when I grew up and you had Coach [Don] Shula and the Colts and Johnny Unitas and [Raymond] Berry and all those guys,” Belichick said. “[Jimmy] Orr’s corner and the great defense, [Gino Marchetti] and [Gene] Lipscomb, [Art] Donovan, [Don] Shinnick, [Bill] Pellington, Bobby Boyd, I mean all of those guys, Lenny Moore. I mean, what great teams, great stadium, great environment. Baltimore loved the Colts. I mean, they just loved the Colts.”
Shula has more wins than any other head coach in NFL history, including the only perfect season in NFL history when he coached a 17-0 season with the Miami Dolphins in 1972. More recently, Shula is known for calling Belichick “Belicheat.”
I’m sure Belichick saw Shula’s words and there is only one way that he can react. He can go all Elon Musk, and get teary-eyed when Neil Armstrong and Eugene Cernan criticized his goals of space exploration, or he can go all Syndrome after Mr. Incredible rejected his request to be a sidekick. In both cases, Musk and Syndrome were driven to exceed their former idol.
Belichick needs 92 more career victories to pass Shula for the most in NFL history. If he averages the same number of wins that he’s earned over the past five years, Belichick will set the record within 7 seasons, or partway through his age-71 season. Don’t count it out.
But first, Belichick wants to earn win #11 in 2016 against the Ravens.
“I hope we do well against the Ravens Monday night,” Belichick said, “and then I’ll get back to loving them some more for the holidays.”
And maybe Belichick can make sure the Ravens start their holidays early this year by knocking them out of the playoffs.