More than 20 years later, Bill Belichick still looks back fondly at the move that shaped his career.
After his New England Patriots beat the New York Jets on Monday in a last-minute 30-27 comeback victory, Belichick was asked on WEEI on Tuesday about his decision in 2000 to step down from the Jets after just one day as the team's head coach. He famously broke the news by writing "I resign as HC of the NYJ" on a loose piece of paper.
“One of the not only most defining, but one of the great moments of my career," Belichick said of his resignation. "That combined with Robert (Kraft) giving me the opportunity to come here, I couldn’t have asked for anything more. That wasn’t a good situation for me, and I didn’t want to be part of it, so I wasn’t."
Belichick served as the Patriots' assistant head coach in 1996 for the team's Super Bowl run under longtime coaching mentor Bill Parcells, who brought him over to the Jets after the head coach was traded to New York following that season.
New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick reacts after defeating the Atlanta Falcons during Super Bowl LI at NRG Stadium. (Photo: Daniel Powers, Dan Powers-USA TODAY Sports)
In his press conference following his January 2000 resignation, Belichick cited "various uncertainties" related to the Jets' new ownership as the cause for his decision to step down. Looking back, Belichick on Tuesday again stressed how much he valued buy-in from the highest level of a franchise and pointed to his relationship with Patriots owner Robert Kraft, who gave up a first-round pick in a package to the Jets to secure the coach.
"The other half of that was Robert giving me the opportunity to come here and trading — I mean, he gave up quite a bit to get me to come here. That was a big trade. So I’m very thankful that it worked out. I appreciate all the support from Robert, the Kraft family, the Patriots organization and all the New England fans. I’ll keep trying to do my best for this team and this organization, give them the very best that I can. But I’m very thankful for the opportunity to come here, and I just wasn’t going to stay there in that situation. So it worked out.”
Since the move, the Patriots have endured just one losing season — in 2000, Belichick's first year — and have won six Super Bowl titles, along with a record 11 consecutive AFC East crowns.
The Jets, meanwhile, have cycled through six head coaches since 2000. The team's nine-year playoff drought is the third-longest active streak in the NFL.
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