Father-Son Legacies Embodied by Belichicks, Patriots Football

Anthologist and author Terri Guillemets once wrote, “Every son quotes his father, in words and in deeds.”

Sometimes, it is done verbally. Other times, it happens through actions. However, there are instances when the special connection between father and son becomes evident simply by glancing at a photo.

Often, that picture can be worth a proverbial “thousand words.”

father-son legacies embodied by belichicks, patriots football

Brian Belichick, Stephen Belichick, Bill Belichick Cred: @BelichickFDN, Instagram, X

Though former New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick has typically been unfazed by the social media phenomenon by which today’s world is now driven, the 72-year-old has recently become a bit more active.

Just one day after posting a heartfelt thanks to Pats Nation for his warm reception during Wednesday’s Patriots Hall of Fame induction ceremony of Tom Brady, Belichick once again took to such platforms as X (formerly Twitter) and Instagram on Sunday to reveal a touching Father’s Day tribute.

While his holiday posting may have been his first familial tribute by way of the world wide web, it is far from being the first homage he has paid to fatherhood during his time in the public eye.

In fact, Patriots fans were once reminded of that father-son bond by the way a man once wore his hat.

The ‘Right Thing to Do’ 

Perhaps as much as his genius on the field, Belichick is known for his ‘unique’ fashion sense. Some have grown to love it. Most others have used it as a fashion punchline. Regardless of one’s opinion, almost everyone can agree that it is a style all his own.

After all, only Bill Belichick could make a cut-off hooded sweatshirt become such coveted regional couture.

However, Super Bowl LII between the Patriots and Philadelphia Eagles [hardly a fond memory for any Pats fan] ironically provided the ideal backdrop for an anything-but-average moment in Belichick’s sartorial history. Upon his arrival at the game’s host city of Minneapolis, Minnesota, Belichick was seen sporting a black fedora hat as he disembarked from the Patriots team airplane.

It was a ‘classic’ look, but it was not exactly ‘classic Belichick.’

Upon seeing New England’s coach looking uncharacteristically dapper, the reaction of fans and media alike was instant. It became the subject of speculation, some praise and most of all a few laughs.

(Even I could not resist..)

In spite of the hoopla, it turns out that Belichick had one of the best and most sincere reasons anybody could have for wearing a garment. During Super Bowl LII’s Opening Night media festivities, Belichick revealed the real reason behind his choice of headgear.

“That was my dad’s hat so I thought I’d just toss that one on today,” Belichick said. “I felt good about wearing it … it did the trick.”

When asked why he chose to wear the hat at this moment (besides Minnesota’s cold climate,) Belichick provided his answer.

“I just thought it was the right thing to do,” he said.

Anyone familiar with the legendary coach is keenly aware of the reverence and respect with which he holds the memory of his father, Steve Belichick.

In conjunction with the great love between father and son, Belichick is also a staunch advocate of his father’s coaching philosophy. He often cites the elder Belichick’s highly-regarded book “Football Scouting Methods” as the greatest influence on his own coaching style. The elder Belichick, a legendary Naval Academy assistant coach, regarded the key to being successful as mastering “the alignment, assignment, and execution of every move of every player visible on the screen.” Once he embraced this fundamental principle, Bill was able to put his father’s wisdom into a practice all his own.

“That’s who I learned from … Working hard, doing your job, paying attention to details, treating the players as fairly and honestly as you can treat them,” Belichick said in a 2017 interview. “If it’s good, it’s good, if it’s bad, it’s bad. Just being honest with them. I would say all of those things I got from a lot of coaches, but I certainly got it from [my father] him.”

Legacy Inherited 

Ultimately, Belichick has succeeded not by trying to ‘be’ his father, but by following his example. The results have more than spoken for themselves. In turn, he now passes these lessons to his sons Stephen and Brian, who joined their father on the Patriots staff until his parting ways with the organization in January.

It is a truly unique legacy, once again poised to be handed down from father to son.

Attempting to carry on a father’s legacy is a tall task for any son. For Stephen and Brian, it is nearly insurmountable — especially when taking into account their father’s professional success. Still, the generations of Belichicks would agree that legacy is about more than just their respective gridiron resumes. Instead, the true definition of ‘legacy’ lies within the respect they feel towards each other — professionally as well as personally. Regardless of their last name, the coaches must earn their place on the staff with prowess and dedication.

It is a lesson which Stephen has carried with him to the University of Washington, where he will serve as defensive coordinator for the forseeable future.

“That’s how he raised me,” Stephen said of his father. “Those are the morals and the things that my grandpa used to talk about, too – ‘you’ve got to earn what you get.’ He was excited when I came out here [University of Washington] because he got to evaluate the scheme last year, evaluate the players last year. I’m sure he’ll come out here at some point to do some stuff. The guy just loves football.”

Though New England’s coaching plans will not include Bill Belichick for the first time in nearly a quarter century, the Pats’ coaching staff will not be without the services of football’s preeminent coaching family.

Brian [Bill’s youngest son] remains as the team's safeties coach under new coach Jerod Mayo. Though he will undoubtedly miss his father’s presence on the sidelines, Brian is encouraged by the added dimension Bill’s departure has added to their relationship.

"I think in a way, and this is getting a little personal about our family dynamics … it was good for us to have some separation from being in a football building every day seeing each other. Whereas now, we're not just connected by football, " Brian Belichick said about his relationship with his father in May. "Not that it was that way before, but we talk about other things because we're in different places and not in the same place every day … There's a lot to talk about football-wise, so it was hard to not get caught up in that when you saw each other at work every day."

A ‘Father-Son Thing’

Despite his parting ways with the Patriots this offseason, Bill Belichick’s prowess as an NFL head coach requires no embellishment. His eventual enshrinement in Canton became a mere formality long ago. Six Super Bowl championships and becoming a three-time AP Coach of the Year award recipient are just some of the accolades which Belichick has collected during his time on the sidelines.

Whether he is praised as a ‘defensive genius’ or playfully mocked as a ‘diabolical manipulator,’ Belichick has reached the top of the coaching plateau for one, simple reason. He has never ceased to be a student of the game — a lesson he learned from his father, and one which he has relayed to his sons.

As Bill has shown honesty to them, both Stephen and Brian are equally so in return. Their mutual candor is a trait which Bill pridefully described in a 2023 interview.

"One of the good things about Stephen and Brian is that they aren't afraid to tell me when they think I've screwed something up - which is fairly regularly," Belichick admitted with a grin.

As the younger Belichick coaches look to their father for wisdom, counsel and guidance on the sidelines, Bill continues to look to his father’s example for inspiration. The three generations of Belichicks are still bonded by a legacy forged through example. Sometimes, it is as simple as executing a play with Belichickian precision. Other times, it may be going against the grain by making an unusual fashion statement, just as Bill Belichick did approximately six years ago.

In turn, one might say Bill Belichick’s sons are now learning the proper way to wear their father’s ‘hat.’

Simply put, It’s a father-son thing — and once again, it is ‘the right thing to do.’

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