Bill Belichick is set to enter a unique echelon of coaches this week as the future Hall of Fame head coach turns 69 on Friday. Belichick, who seemingly has no plans to step down as head coach of the New England Patriots any time soon, will be just the seventh head coach to man the sideline at 69 years old (Bruce Arians will be the eighth in October).
The record of NFL head coaches at the age of 69 or higher is a mixed bag, with this current generation of coaches proving age is just a number. Pete Carroll won a division title in his age-69 season while Marv Levy is the gold standard for head coaches that age or higher. Whether Belichick can emulate that success with the New England Patriots in 2021 and beyond remains a mystery, specifically since Tom Brady isn't returning to Foxborough.
Belichick is arguably the greatest coach in NFL history and has a golden opportunity to set a bunch of NFL records over the next several years. In honor of Belichick's 69th birthday, we'll take a look at how the six coaches that are 69 and older fared in the NFL and Belichick's quest to become the league's all-time winningest coach.
There's elite company Belichick is set to join over the next several years.
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Records of head coaches age 69 or older
- George Halas (1964-1967) -- 26-27-3 (.464)
- Marv Levy (1994-1997) -- 33-31 (.516)
- Dick Vermeil (2005) -- 10-6 (.625)
- Tom Coughlin (2015) -- 6-10 (.375)
- Pete Carroll (2020) -- 12-4 (.750)
- Romeo Crennel (2020) -- 4-8 (.333)
Crennel is the oldest head coach in NFL history at 73 years and 199 days, which he accomplished last year as the interim head coach of the Houston Texans. He passed Halas for the all-time mark, who was 72 years and 315 days old when he coached his final game for the Bears in 1967. Belichick would need to coach until 2025 to become the oldest coach in NFL history -- and this is assuming Carroll (who will be 69 years and 362 days old on the first Sunday of the NFL season) retires from coaching.
Levy has the most wins past the age of 69 with 33, and also is the only coach past that age to win a playoff game. Levy won his final playoff game on Dec. 30, 1995 at the age of 70 years and 149 days -- the only coach over 70 to win a playoff game (Carroll can match him this year). Levy is also the oldest head coach to win a division title at 70 (the Bills won the AFC East in 1995) and the oldest head coach to coach in a playoff game at 71 years and 147 days.
Levy's success past the age of 69 is the benchmark for Belichick, but Carroll is currently setting records of his own as he heads into his 70s. The Seahawks went 12-4 and won the NFC West in Carroll's age-69 season, as the 12 wins are the most for a coach age 69 or older. A 10-win season in 2021 from Carroll's Seahawks will match Levy for the most double-digit win seasons from a coach age 69 or older in NFL history. Vermeil is the only other head coach with a 10-win season age 69 or older, and he retired from coaching after the 2005 season.
Belichick needs two double-digit win seasons and needs to average 8.5 wins a year over the next four years to pass Levy's 33 wins (again assuming Carroll doesn't coach well into his 70s). He needs two playoff wins and two division titles to have the most in that category past age 69.
Let's take a look at Belichick's all-time ranks amongst his peers:
Most wins as a head coach (regular season)
- Don Shula -- 328
- George Halas -- 318
- Bill Belichick -- 280
- Tom Landry -- 250
- Curly Lambeau -- 226
Most wins as a head coach (playoffs)
- Bill Belichick -- 31
- Tom Landry -- 20
- Don Shula -- 19
- Joe Gibbs -- 17
- Andy Reid --17
Most championships as a head coach (NFL)
- Bill Belichick -- 6
- George Halas -- 6 (including 1921 pre-playoffs title)
- Curly Lambeau -- 6 (including 1929-31 pre-playoffs titles)
- Vince Lombardi -- 5
- Chuck Noll -- 4
- Guy Chamberlain -- 4 (1922-24 and 1926 pre-playoffs titles)
- Paul Brown has the most championships as a head coach (7), but four were in the All-American Football Conference
Most Super Bowl wins as a head coach
- Bill Belichick -- 6
- Chuck Noll -- 4
- Joe Gibbs -- 3
- Bill Walsh -- 3
Most conference championship wins as a head coach
- Bill Belichick -- 9
- Don Shula -- 6
- Tom Landry -- 5
- Chuck Noll -- 4
- Joe Gibbs -- 4
- Marv Levy -- 4
- Dan Reeves -- 4
- Bud Grant -- 4
Here are some more Belichick achievements that have solidified his legacy as one of the greatest head coaches ever:
- Belichick has 311 victories between the regular season and postseason, third behind Shula (347) and Halas (324).
- His 17 division titles are the most by a head coach in NFL history. Shula and Landry each have 13 division titles.
- The Patriots had 19 straight winning seasons (2001-2019) under Belichick, one behind Tom Landry (1966-1985) for the all-time mark (20).
- Belichick has 46 consecutive NFL seasons as a coach from 1975 through 2020, which broke a tie with Dick LeBeau -- who coached in the NFL for 45 straight seasons.
- His 43 postseason games as a head coach are the most in NFL history.
- Belichick's 11 consecutive division titles as a head coach (2009-2019) are the most in league history. Paul Brown (1950-1955), Tom Landry (1966-1971), Bud Grant (1973-1978) and Chuck Noll (1974-1979) led their teams to six straight titles.
- Belichick has 244 regular-season wins with the Patriots, the fourth-most regular-season wins with one team among head coaches. Halas is first with 318, Shula is second (257), and Landry third (250).
- Belichick, Shula, and Chuck Knox are the only three-time NFL Coach of the Year winners.
- Belichick led New England to 17 consecutive seasons with at least 10 wins, an NFL record. The 49ers are second with 16.
- Only one of three head coaches with 100 more wins than losses (Shula, Halas).
How can Belichick become all-time winningest coach?
Belichick needs 49 wins to pass Shula (328), needing to average 9.8 wins over the next five years to pass him (Belichick would be 73 at that pace). That number is more than attainable. He needs just 37 wins to pass Shula for the most wins in NFL history (regular season and postseason), an average of 9.25 wins a season over the next four years.
To pass Halas, Belichick needs to average 7.8 wins a season over the next five years (or 9.75 over the next four). He only needs 14 wins to pass Halas for combined regular-season and postseason wins, and could reach that goal in 2021.
While winning a championship is difficult, Belichick needs one more Super Bowl for the most championships in NFL history (seven). He needs a conference championship to become the first coach to win 10 conference titles.
If Belichick coaches well into his 70s, he should hold the all-time wins mark amongst head coaches. The only obstacle for Belichick is his success without Brady. Belichick is just 61-72 in games Brady doesn't start -- with just one playoff win -- and 219-64 in games Brady starts.
Belichick's success is tied to Brady at this juncture (since Brady is still playing and won a Super Bowl without him), but that doesn't take away what he has accomplished in his Hall of Fame career. As the legend turns 69, Belichick can embark on new ventures on becoming the greatest head coach in his 70s in league history.
There are still plenty of milestones to keep Belichick going.