The New England Patriots are one of the most storied franchises in all of football. Initially founded as the AFL’s Boston Patriots, the organization has morphed into the model of NFL success. While there are many important days in Patriots history, all pale in comparison to April 16th. Today marks the birthday of legendary head coach Bill Belichick as well as the selection of superstar quarterback Tom Brady.
April 16th: A Day That Shaped the New England Patriots
Happy Birthday, Bill Belichick
Bill Belichick spent the first 67 years of his life establishing himself as the best football mind of his time. An eight-time Super Bowl champion, Belichick is regarded as arguably the greatest coach in history. Belichick’s 261 wins as a head coach are the fourth-most in history and his .679 winning percentage is the highest among coaches with 200 or more wins.
Belichick was born 67 years ago in Nashville, Tennessee. The son of NFL veteran Steve Belichick, Bill was surrounded by football from a young age. The younger Belichick eventually took his love of football (and lacrosse) to college, playing tight end and guard while at Wesleyan University.
Bill Belichick entered the world of professional football with the Baltimore Colts but became a household name thanks to his time with the New York Giants. Serving as defensive coordinator under Bill Parcells, Belichick led some of the best defenses of the time and helped New York win two championships. Belichick’s crowning moment in New York came when he held Jim Kelly and the Buffalo Bills to just 19 points in Super Bowl XXV. His gameplan was so impressive that it currently resides in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
After a short tenure with the Cleveland Browns, Belichick re-joined Parcels as New England’s defensive coordinator. He helped bring New England to a Super Bowl, although the Patriots lost that one to Brett Favre and the Green Bay Packers. After that Super Bowl, Belichick joined Parcells in New York as his heir apparent. However, Belichick scorned the Jets at the last second, opting to take his talents to New England.
Belichick gave himself the best birthday gift possible in his first season as New England’s head coach. On April 16th, 2000, the first-year coach selected a skinny quarterback from Michigan with the 199th overall pick.
Tom Brady, Pick 199
After repeatedly being benched for Drew Henson and underwhelming at the NFL Combine, Michigan quarterback Tom Brady looked like he might not have an NFL future. Birthday boy Bill Belichick gave Brady a chance, and Brady made the most of his opportunity.
After riding the bench in 2000, Brady took the starting job from an injured Drew Bledsoe two weeks into the 2001 season. Starting 14 games, Brady completed 63.9% of his passes for 2,843 yards, 18 touchdowns, and 12 interceptions. The Patriots went 11-3 in his starts and Brady led the franchise to their first Super Bowl victory. Brady famously erased a 10-point deficit in the AFC Divisional Round and led a game-winning field goal drive in Super Bowl XXXVI. The former sixth-round pick earned Super Bowl MVP honors for his performance.
This was hardly a one-time fluke for the reigning Super Bowl champion. Throughout his career, Brady has completed 64% of his passes for 70,514 yards, 517 touchdowns, and 171 interceptions. His passing yards are the fourth-most in NFL history and his passing touchdowns and third-most. On top of that, Brady owns just about every postseason passing record imaginable.
Brady is a six-time Super Bowl champion, four-time Super Bowl MVP, three-time league MVP, three-time First-Team All-Pro, 14-time Pro Bowler, and is generally accepted as the greatest quarterback in the history of the game.
Last Word on April 16th
April 16th should be a holiday for fans of the New England Patriots. Not only is it Bill Belichick’s birthday, but it’s the anniversary of Tom Brady joining the Patriots. While several forces helped create this ridiculous two-decade run of football dominance, Belichick and Brady are unquestionably the two most important pieces of the puzzle.
Happy 67th birthday, Bill, and happy 19 years, Tom.
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