It’s no secret that Bill Belichick is not known for being a nice guy. His interactions with the press resemble a forced-conversation between an angst-filled teenager and his parents. He’s notoriously heartless, having no problem cutting or trading a beloved player once they’re no longer of value to him. And he’s clearly willing to bend the rules in order to give his team a competitive advantage. For the most part, Belichick seems to relish his role as NFL supervillain, because why worry about making friends when you can keep winning Super Bowls? And, as they say, haters gonna hate. But while he may never be voted as Mr. Congeniality, there’s one thing that proves that Belichick may not be the heartless robot many believe: his love for his late father.
Steve Belichick may not be a household name like his son, but in his lifetime, he managed to have an undeniable impact on the modern football landscape. After playing college football at Western Reserve, Steve got a job as equipment manager for the Detroit Lions in 1940, where he was eventually signed on as a player. Steve had mild success on the field before joining the Navy in World War II, where he served in Europe and the Pacific. After four years of service, Steve spent several years coaching and scouting for different colleges before he landed at the Naval Academy in 1956, where he was a backfield coach and scout for more than 40 years.
During his time with the Naval Academy, Steve became one of the leading innovators of scouting talent to ensure his team was getting the best possible players. In 1962, he published Football Scouting Methods, which was so ahead of its time that it has been called “the Bible” of the trade and is still used by scouts and coaches to this day. In 1989, Steve officially retired from coaching and scouting but thanks to his son’s coaching career, he never really left the game. Steve died on November 19, 2005, just months after witnessing his son win his third Super Bowl with the Patriots.
Belichick’s deep affection for his father is clear anytime he’s asked about the impact he’s had on his life. His cold, detached demeanor instantly fades away, as he fondly recalls everything his father meant to him as a mentor, parent, and friend. Earlier this season, Belichick spoke about his dad as a coach and a father during an interview and he had to fight back tears as he was overcome with emotion due to the immense pride he has for the man who raised him.
The Belichick Legacy.
— New England Patriots (@Patriots) December 7, 2017
This week, the five-time Super Bowl champion again reflected on everything his dad had taught him after it was discovered the fedora he wore on the team flight to Minnesota belonged to his old man.
“That’s who I learned from,” Bill Belichick said. “Working hard, doing your job, paying attention to details, treating the players as fairly and honestly as you can treat them. 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 him.”
Like many sons, Belichick grew up idolizing his dad and, according to Belichick’s mother Jeanette, the Patriots coach would follow Steve around the Naval Academy in hopes of learning everything he could.
“He loved everything that his dad did,” Jeannette recalled in an interview. “Anything that Steve did, [Bill] wanted to do.”
So as Belichick heads into his eighth Super Bowl this Sunday, expect him to be the same hooded curmudgeon he has been for his more than two decades as an NFL head coach. But while it might be tempting to dismiss him as nothing more than a workaholic jerk as you watch him grimace from the sideline, remember that underneath that mean exterior lies a kid who just wants to make his dad proud. We all contain multitudes.