Bill Belichick gets sentimental after coaching 400th game with Patriots


“It’s just been great to see so many players and coaches come through here.”

Bill Belichick had plenty of reasons to smile on Sunday, which was his 400th game with the Patriots. Photo by AP/Michael Dwyer

Bill Belichick reached another milestone Sunday.

The NFL legend coached his 400th game with the Patriots in Week 5, which ended up being a 29-0 shutout win over the Lions.

After the win, Belichick expressed a lot of love and gratitude for his players and coaches on his current squad. On Monday, he took time to remember several Patriots players from the past.

Belichick said he is proud to have been in New England for 23 seasons and reflected on how he came to the Patriots in 2000.

“Going all the way back, it’s a great opportunity to be here in ’96 [as an assistant] and then Robert [Kraft] gave up a lot,” Belichick said. “It was hard to hire me in 2000 and gave up a lot in the trade with the Jets and all that to get here. So it was in itself a great commitment and a blessing for me to get this opportunity. It has worked pretty well since then, all the way around. Hopefully we can continue to improve and keep it going.

“I didn’t realize that, thanks for giving me that number. I didn’t realize it had been 400. It doesn’t seem that way.”

After learning that Sunday was his 400th game, Belichick called out some of the players who have been responsible for the six Super Bowl championships and 17 division titles.

“It’s been great to see so many players and coaches come through here, come in as rookies, grow, develop into great players and have great careers,” Belichick said. “We’ve had a couple of Hall of Fame inductions the last few years as well [Richard] Seymour and [Vince] Wilfork, guys like it. Of course there were the others like Troy [Brown] and Kevin Faulk and the players that were already here when I got here. Hush [Law]guys like that [Jerod] Mayo. All the guys that came in and were here.

“So many of them now, [Matthew] Slater, [Devin] McCourty, people like it. Just watching them come in as rookies and just start from scratch and then develop and grow into some of the greatest players in Patriots history, some of the greatest players of all time.

“Safe, [Tom] Brady and Slater will go down in that category at their positions and for the game. Yes, it has been an incredible number of years.”

Belichick also addressed the several coaches and managers who have been on his staff over the past 23 seasons.

“All the coaches that have come in here and gone from quality control assistants, all the way up the ladder to coordinators and head coaches, elsewhere in the league,” Belichick said. “I look back on it every once in a while and just say, ‘Wow, I’ve been lucky enough to work with so many great, great people.’ Great coaches, great players, great people in the organization, personnel departments, Scott [Pioli] and Nick [Caserio].”

As Belichick began to unwind his uncharacteristically candid response, he went back to business as usual.

“I could stay here for days,” Belichick said. “Thanks for bringing it up, it’s good to reflect on it. You’re right, it’s probably time for me to start thinking about Cleveland.”

Over his 400 games with the Patriots, Belichick has gone 286-114, good for a .715 winning percentage. In case you’re wondering, it would take the 70-year-old Belichick nearly six more seasons to reach 500 games with the Patriots.

But for now, he and the team are focused on his 401st game with the Patriots, which is against the Browns on Sunday.

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