BLOOMINGTON, Minn. — No coach has more Super Bowl wins (5), postseason wins (28) or postseason games (38) than Bill Belichick. So how much longer will Belichick, one of the greats not only in the history of the NFL, but all sports, continue?
“Right now my focus is on the Eagles,” Belichick said Tuesday. “That’s my window right now: try to do the best job that I can for our team in the next few days and be our best Sunday afternoon against the Eagles.”
Belichick, 65, doesn’t appear to be slowing down. Yet this was a stressful season, based on an ESPN report that said he feuded with quarterback Tom Brady and owner Robert Kraft. Belichick, according to the report, barred Brady’s personal trainer, Alex Guerrero, from the sidelines and the team facility. Brady reportedly also went to Kraft and asked the team to trade backup quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo.
In the last two days, Brady called Kraft a father figure and praised Guerrero for helping him with his health.
“They should have written a story about me and my wife, because we have strife sometimes,” said NBC analyst Rodney Harrison, a former Patriots safety. “It happens when you’re in a long-term relationship. It happens. That’s a relationship, that’s a partnership. The thing that I see with those guys is they respect one another and Belichick knows how to push Tom Brady more so than anybody. So it’s a healthy, respectful relationship.”
Very few NFL coaches leave on their own terms, especially with owners in win-now mode. Belichick’s success keeps his job secure, and whether or not the Patriots win Super LII, they likely will be a favorite to win another title next season.
Will age be a factor for Belichick?
Not really. Among coaches who won a Super Bowl, Tom Coughlin was 69 when he was fired in 2015 by the Giants. Coughlin is an executive with the Jaguars. Tom Landry was 64 when the Cowboys fired him in 1988. He never returned to the NFL. Bill Parcells was 65 when he resigned as Cowboys coach in 2006, though he returned as a Dolphins executive until retiring in 2009. Marv Levy was 72 when he left the Bills in 1997.
Belichick could move to a front-office position, similar to what his mentor, Parcells, did. There might be something else in play for Belichick if he continues coaching, according to Harrison, who played six seasons for him.
“I asked him that question at the beginning of the year and he just said, ‘I’m feeling pretty good.’ That’s what he said,” Harrison said. “Maybe he’s staying there to firmly entrench his kids, his boys, in that organization, and once his sons get firmly entrenched, maybe he walks away in a few years.”
Belichick has two sons on his staff. Steve has been a safeties coach the last five seasons. His younger brother, Brian, left the scouting department to become a coaching assistant in 2017. Moving them into higher-profile roles could make it easier for Belichick to retire.
What helps him continue is Brady. At 40 he still wants to play, and the October trade of Garoppolo to the 49ers eliminated a legitimate backup ready to take over.
“He loves it, he enjoys it,” said Tony Dungy, who retired from coaching in 2008 at 53. “He’s great at it, so to me, it just becomes when do you want to spend more time with your family? When do you want to say, ‘I’m going to turn this over to someone else’? I don’t know how long that is going to be for him. But he shows no signs of doing anything different to me.”
If Belichick is ready to retire, he’s not saying.
“I’m not thinking about anything other than doing my best on Sunday against the Eagles,” he said. “That’s all I’m thinking about.”
Bill Belichick is already the winningest coach in NFL postseason history. Will he stick around long enough to hold the record for regular-season wins?
POSTSEASON COACHING WINS
1. Bill Belichick 28
2. Tom Landry 20
3. Don Shula 19
4. Joe Gibbs 17
REGULAR-SEASON COACHING WINS
1. Don Shula 328
2. George Halas 318
3. (tie) Bill Belichick 250
Tom Landry 250