FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — Coach Bill Belichick turns 67 on Tuesday, which also happens to be the 20th anniversary of when the New England Patriots selected quarterback Tom Brady with the 199th pick of the 2000 draft. That puts April 16 in contention for the greatest day in franchise history.
And specific to Belichick, it sparks an obvious follow-up question: How much longer will he coach?
The topic evokes memories of what Belichick said as part of the 2009 “A Football Life” documentary, when he noted: “I won’t be like Marv Levy and coaching in my 70s, I know that.”
Belichick, of course, reserves the right to change his mind and it’s entirely possible he already has. As Patriots president Jonathan Kraft said in the 2014 “Do Your Job” documentary: “To project out 13 years isn’t like the Bill Belichick I know. The Bill Belichick I know literally goes minute to minute dealing with what’s there, so hopefully his prognostication[s] were off talking as a 56- or 57-year-old. And hopefully, when he becomes a 68-year-old, he gets new perspective on how young 70 really is.”
In one of his weekly radio interviews last season on WEEI, Belichick hinted that he has done just that, telling co-host Christian Fauria that one of the favorite books he had recently read was “Younger Next Year” by Chris Crowley and Henry S. Lodge, which touts itself as “a guide to living like 50 until you’re 80 and beyond.”
Considering that Belichick is third on the all-time head coaching wins list (261) — with only Don Shula (328) and George Halas (318) ahead of him — perhaps that’s another catalyst for him to reconsider coaching beyond 70. He’s also spoken about how much he enjoys coaching with his sons, Steven and Brian.
But if you ask Belichick directly about how much longer he envisions coaching, he’ll likely decline to address the topic.
Consider this exchange at the NFL’s annual owners meeting in Arizona last month:
Question: How long do you envision yourself coaching for?
Belichick: Just trying to do a good job here.
Question: Could you have foreseen, at any point in your life, that you would have had this longevity as an NFL head coach?
Belichick: Just trying to think about day to day. Year to year. Forty-five years ago, I wasn’t thinking about what was going to happen in 45 years. Or 20 years ago. I was thinking about what was happening in 1999. Or 1989. Or whatever the year was. That’s what it was. Not as well planned out as you are.
Question: Is it fair to say that at one point you might have had an idea that you couldn’t envision yourself coaching to a certain age, but as time progresses, that can change?
Belichick: I’m just going to skip all the questions about me, my future, and anything else. If you want to talk about the football team, great. I don’t think we need to talk about me. We’ve covered that.
And with that, he extinguished the topic as if he were blowing out 67 candles on a birthday cake.