Bill Belichick is on the Mount Rushmore of American sports coaches.
The New England Patriots head coach has led the franchise to nine Super Bowls, winning six of them. He won two Super Bowls as a coordinator with the New York Giants. Those championships produced some of the most thrilling and dramatic moments in NFL history.
Belichick has experienced the highest of sports highs. Among those highs? Quitting the New York Jets. That is according to Belichick, who stuck to his former employer on Tuesday, a day after beating them in dramatic fashion on Monday night.
Belichick’s infamous Jets resignation
Belichick famously quit as head coach of the Jets in 2000 before ever coaching a game. He was the team’s defensive coordinator under his mentor Bill Parcells from 1997-99 and was slated to replace him when Parcells resigned after the 1999 season.
A day after accepting the position in January 2000, Belichick took a podium at Jets headquarters for what was supposed to be his introductory news conference. Instead, this happened.
“Due to the various uncertainties surrounding my position as it relates to the team’s new ownership, I’ve decided to resign as the head coach of the New York Jets,” Belichick said.
Three weeks later, the Patriots traded a first-round draft pick to the Jets to hire Belichick as their head coach and the fortunes of two franchises and NFL history were forever altered.
The Patriots have regularly tormented the Jets during their two-decade run of dominance in the AFC East. On Monday, the Patriots rallied from a 10-point halftime deficit to beat the Jets yet again, imposing their superiority over their supposed rivals even in a down year.
Belichick burns Jets on Boston radio
On Tuesday, Belichick spoke with Boston radio station WEEI, and the subject of his resignation came up in the conversation. He called his resignation “one of the great moments of my career.”
“One of the — not only most defining — but one of the great moments of my career,” Belichick said. “That combined with Robert [Kraft] giving me the opportunity to come here, I couldn’t have asked for anything more.
“So, that wasn’t a good situation for me, and I didn’t want to be part of it, so I wasn’t.”
Mystery and intrigue have since swirled around the details of the abrupt resignation that Belichick officially delivered via a hand-scribbled note. Questions remain around what went on behind the scenes, but it’s widely accepted that the team’s transition of ownership from Leon Hess to Woody Johnson played a significant role in Belichick’s decision.
He reiterated on Tuesday to WEEI that the Jets “situation” in 2000 was one that he didn’t want anything to do with.
“I’ll keep trying to do my best for this team and this organization,” Belichick said. “Give them the very best that I can. But I’m very thankful for the opportunity to come here, and I just wasn’t gonna stay there in that situation. So it worked out.”
It certainly worked out for Belichick and the Patriots — a fact that Belichick is happy to remind the Jets of at every opportunity.
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