It seems that New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick was a star-crossed lover with quarterback Vinny Testaverde and Belichick took some time on Tuesday morning to hype up the now-54-year-old retiree.
Belichick first acquired Testaverde as the head coach of the Cleveland Browns, where the two teamed up from 1993-95 and earned the most recent playoff victory in Browns history (a 20-13 victory over the Patriots in 1994-95). Testaverde led the Browns to a 16-15 record over those years and moved with the team to Baltimore for another couple seasons as a starter.
Testaverde then re-joined Belichick with the New York Jets under head coach Bill Parcells in 1998-99. Belichick was the defensive coordinator and was the reason Testaverde signed with the Jets (Parcells thought the quarterback was “too soft”), but Testaverde led the Jets to a 12-1 record in 1998 before falling in the AFC Championship game. Belichick left for the Patriots in 2000, but Testaverde stuck around the Jets until 2003, with a return stint in 2005.
But Belichick was able to bring Testaverde into the fold as the back-up to Tom Brady in 2006, even allowing Testaverde to throw a touchdown pass to set the NFL record with a touchdown pass in 20 consecutive seasons (he extended it to 21-straight in 2007 with the Carolina Panthers).
There’s a reason the two kept crossing paths and it’s because Belichick thinks the world of Testaverde.
On Tuesday morning, Belichick was asked about quarterbacks over the age of 40 and what characteristics allow those players to succeed at such an advanced age. Tom Brady is 40 and Belichick also coached a 43-year-old Testaverde, so the question made some sense.
Belichick took it as an opportunity to write a love letter to Testaverde.
“Vinny had, I would say, rare physical ability for that position,” Belichick said. “I mean, you're talking about a guy that rushed for 100 yards at one point in his career. Big, strong, fast. In Cleveland, he lifted with our offensive line. We had a pretty good offensive line and he lifted better than most of those guys. So, you're talking about a rare athlete in Vinny's case.
“But, look, in the end it comes down to this is a production business, so it doesn’t matter whether you're 22, 32, 42. If you're not productive, you're probably not long for the league, and if you are productive then there's a place. It's really just about production. I learned that when I came into the league as a young coach and haven't forgotten it.”
“I would just say from having coached Vinny whatever year that was in Cleveland, like maybe his sixth year in the league or something like that,” Belichick added, “and then to coach him a decade later – well, also at the Jets – but then a decade later from Cleveland to here [in New England], you're still talking about, and to this day, Vinny was just a rare athlete. Size, speed, not to mention throwing mechanics and technique, but lower body strength, upper body strength, could run.
“The guy could’ve probably played linebacker, defensive end, running back, quarterback, tight end, safety. The guy probably could’ve played half the positions on the field if that’s where he had trained. Those guys don’t just come along every day now.
“If you’re talking about a guy like that that had a long career, I would say no, that wasn’t shocking me to because of how exceptionally gifted Vinny was and he was an extremely hard worker. I don’t know the other players that well to make that kind of comparison with anybody else, but I'd say that very confidently about him.”
Find someone that loves you as much as Bill Belichick apparently loves Vinny Testaverde.