The defensive game plan of his final contest with the New York Giants nowadays has its own display at the Pro Football Hall of Fame — the way Bill Belichick’s defense attacked and ultimately defeated the Buffalo Bills in Super Bowl 25 was ground-breaking. A lot has happened since January 1991, though, as Belichick grew from a talented young coordinator to become the most successful head coach the league has ever seen.
One thing did not change, however: Belichick is still looking back fondly at his time in New York even though he left the organization more than 28 years ago to become the mildly successful head coach of the Cleveland Browns (he did lead them to their last playoff victory, though). But with the Giants coming to Foxborough later today to take on his New England Patriots, we are once again reminded of Belichick’s thoughts on his former club.
“I was very, very fortunate to be a part of that great organization for 12 years and I learned a lot there from so many people, some who are still there, most of whom aren’t,” said Belichick during a conference call earlier this week when speaking about the Giants. “They put together a tremendous group there in the ’80s starting with Coach [Ray] Perkins, so I was very, very fortunate to be a part of that.”
Belichick joined the Giants in 1979 from the Denver Broncos to take over as special teams coach and defensive assistant. Over the next 12 seasons, he went on to climb the organizational ladder to ultimately become head coach Bill Parcells’ right-hand man and defensive coordinator — helping the team win its first two Super Bowls along the way. The experiences collected in New York are still part of Belichick’s coaching DNA.
“You learn something everywhere. You learn something every day; you learn something every year,” he said. So, Baltimore, Detroit, Denver... but the Giants, that’s really where I learned so much about really everything — special teams coach, defensive coach, defensive coordinator, got more involved in scouting. Just responsibilities that Coach [Bill] Parcells provided me with and the leadership that he provided.”
“The players that I learned from there, so many great players on both sides of the ball. Of course, it was [Lawrence] Taylor and [Carl] Banks. Go right on down the line on defense, but it was also [Mark] Bavaro and [Phil] Simms and [Phil] McConkey and guys like that on offense, and [Dave] Jennings and [Sean] Landeta in the kicking game and so forth,” Belichick continued when strolling down memory lane.
“So, those players had a wealth of knowledge in their area and I learned a lot from them, as well as coaches that were there, like Al [Groh] and Romeo [Crennel], Mike Sweatman, Charlie [Weis], so forth,” the now eight-time world champion continued. “So, it was a lot of — Jerry Angelo — a lot of other great people in the scouting department as well that taught me a lot and helped me along the way. So, those are lifelong friendships.”
Tonight, Belichick will once again go up against a team for which he still has a great level of admiration and respect. After all, he knows that he would not be where he is right now without the experiences and relationships he made in the Meadowlands: “It’ll always be a big part of my life and my career.”