LeBron James stole the summer headlines with his over publicized and much scrutinized signing with the Miami Heat. This got us thinking about the one of the biggest choices made in Boston sports in recent memory: Bill Belichick’s decision to coach the New England Patriots.
Following the end of the 1999 NFL season, coach Bill Parcells decided to retire from head coaching the team. He handed over the “keys to the car” to Belichick, his long time disciple, in what would be BB’s first gig since his time in Cleveland half a decade earlier.
The Jets’ organization and fanbase were disappointed to see the legend Parcells go, but they assumed it would be a seamless transition, as Parcells thought very highly of his top assistant.
To the surprise of just about everyone, at Belichick’s press conference where he was supposed to be named the future coach of the Jets, he read his letter of resignation. Days later, Coach Belichick would sign with the New England Patriots.
The Jets claimed that Belichick was under contract with the team, and that they deserved compensation for the tampering that took place. As a result, the Patriots indeed gave New York their first round pick in the 2000 draft.
In hindsight, this was one of the most lopsided exchanges in sports.
So why did Belichick choose New England over the New York?
While he was reportedly going to have final say in all football decisions, BB felt that the promise was going to
be short-lived as the franchise was about to be sold and promises from one regime may not be kept. Patriots owner Bob Kraft and Bill Belichick developed a strong bond during the year that BB spent as an assistant under Parcells in New England during the 1996 season. Belichick’s and Kraft’s mutual respect for each other also played a pivotal role.
In Belichick’s ten seasons as coach of the Pats, he has won three Super Bowl titles and has only endured one losing season (his first season in 2000). The Jets on the other hand have been a topsy turvy franchise that has seen many early playoff exits.
What great foresight from the man we have come to trust.
What a great decision!