When thinking about the New England Patriots’ dynasty, the first two names that inevitably come to mind are Tom Brady and Bill Belichick. The two future Hall of Famers both feed off each other, and are the key pieces in the organization’s unprecedented run of success. However, a lot had to happen until they and the club got to this point. From Brady falling to the sixth round in the draft, to Belichick famously resigning as “HC of the NYJ.”
One other lesser-known chapter needs to be added to this list, though: Belichick shooting down the Kansas City Chiefs when they targeted him for their vacant head coaching spot in January 1999. At that time, Belichick was coming off his second season as assistant head coach and defensive coordinator with the New York Jets and despite a relatively unsuccessful tenure as head coach of the Cleveland Browns was a hot name on the market.
One of the teams that thought so were the Chiefs, who needed a new head coach following Marty Schottenheimer’s resignation after a 7-9 1998 season. Schottenheimer led Kansas City for 10 seasons and the franchise looked to the Jets for a potential replacement — and they were not the only club vying for Belichick’s services: the Chicago Bears, who were looking for a replacement for Dave Wannstedt.
Both teams asked the Jets for permission to interview Belichick for their respective openings and New York allowed it coordinator to speak to the clubs. However, Belichick himself had different plans and declined the opportunities, visiting neither the Bears nor the Chiefs. The rest is history: in January 2000 , he resigned as the Jets’ head coach on his first day after taking over for Bill Parcells. Shortly afterwards, he joined the Patriots.
The Chiefs, meanwhile, turned to Gunther Cunningham to become their next head coach. However, his success was limited and after just two years and a 16-16 record he was let go again and replaced by Dick Vermeil. Whether or not Belichick would have had more success in Kansas City is all speculation, but it is still an interesting chapter worth revisiting with his current team — the Patriots — and the Chiefs meeting in the AFC title game today.