Back in 2009, Bill Belichick predicted he would not be coaching into his 70s. Appearing on the first ever episode of NFL Films’ A Football Life documentary, he instead mentioned that his career would probably come to an end before his 70th birthday.
That day is today, and yet Belichick is still leading the New England Patriots as their head coach. He also is not showing any signs of slowing down, which is quite the contrast to his statements made 13 years ago.
“I won’t be like Marv Levy and coaching in my 70s, you won’t have to worry about that,” he said at the time. Fortunately, that’s a few years off. I enjoy doing what I’m doing. I don’t think that’s going to last forever.”
In 2009, Belichick mentioned family considerations and the all-encompassing status that football can have a on a coach’s life. With both of his sons joining him on the Patriots’ staff, and with his daughter serving as head coach of the women’s lacrosse team at Holy Cross, his outlook has apparently changed. Belichick said so himself back in 2019.
“When I said it, maybe I didn’t know what 70 felt like,” he pointed out three years ago.
Now, Belichick knows what 70 does feel like. Whether he likes it or not is anyone’s guess, but his focus on leading the Patriots should not be questioned: he is still going strong even after having crossed that barrier.
Belichick is entering his 48th season as an NFL coach, and his 23rd as head coach of the Patriots. He already is the longest-tenured coach in league history — second-placed Dick LeBeau spent 45 straight years as an NFL coach — and with eight total Super Bowl rings the most successful as well.
This season, Belichick will become one of only five men to serve as head coaches into their 70s. The others are are the aforementioned Marv Levy as well as fellow Pro Football Hall of Famer George Halas, as well as current Seattle Seahawks head coach Pete Carrol and former Belichick assistant Romeo Crennel.
Crennel is the oldest head coach the NFL has ever seen, working as interim for the Houston Texans in 2020. He was 73 at the time.
Whether or not Belichick eventually breaks that record remains to be seen. One of his former assistants, however, thinks he might surpass Crennel as the oldest coach in league history.
“If he’s there 10 years from now, it wouldn’t surprise me to see that,” former Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels, who left the team earlier this season to become the Las Vegas Raiders’ new head coach, told NBC Sports.
“He still attacks the job the same now that I saw him attack it when I first started in 2001. Doesn’t matter what part of the year it is. The big thing that Bill has going for him and has always done is he loves all the facets of the football season, whether it’s scouting, preparation for a game, roster evaluation, team-building, developmental parts of the year for the young players. All of those things get weighted the same for him.
As for Belichick himself, he appears to be quite happy in his position as the Patriots’ head coach coach and general manager. Heading into Year 48, he sounded quite happy when talking to reporters at the NFL spring meeting earlier this offseason.
“I enjoy doing it,” Belichick said. “It’s a comprehensive job. It’s a lot. But it’s fun. It beats working.”