Bill Belichick has made his mark as an NFL head coach, which was reinforced Friday when he was named the second coach on the NFL's 100th Anniversary Team. Belichick, the Patriots' longtime head coach, is also an NFL historian, which is one of the reasons why he is serving as a guest host for NFL Network during the network's breakdowns of the anniversary team. Belichick is also part of the NFL's recently formed that will help select the 20 former players that will be enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame next summer.
On Friday, Belichick, who stands alone with six Super Bowl victories and nine Super Bowl appearances as a head coach, was asked what being selected as one of the NFL's 100th Anniversary Team coaches means to him.
"It's an incredible honor," said Belichick, who recently joined Don Shula and George Halas as the only coaches in NFL history with 300 career victories. "It's incredibly flattering. Those coaches were all my idols. They were all the ones that I looked up to. We all know that this is the ultimate team sport, and I've had the great fortune to coach so many great players and have so many great coaches and scouts. It's really an honor to all the people I've worked with and been able to coach."
Belichick is one of 10 coaches that will ultimately be named to the anniversary team. The only other coach that is currently on the team is Paul Brown, who coached the Browns to three NFL championships during the 1950s while compiling a 167-58-3 overall record. Brown, who also won a state championship as a high school head coach and a national championship as Ohio State's head coach in 1942, guided the Browns to four consecutive titles in the All-American Football Conference before winning an NFL title in 1950, the franchise's first season in the NFL.
"He's the greatest coach in the history of professional football, clear and simple," Belichick said of Brown, whose coaching tree includes Shula and Bill Walsh, two coaches who will likely join Belichick and Brown on the anniversary team. Brown also coached Chuck Noll, who led the Steelers to four Super Bowl wins in a six-year span during the 1970s.
"Everything that we do today, everything that I do today, Paul Brown did," Belichick continued. "It all started with Paul Brown. He took football from being a sport to being a profession. He made it professional."
While Belichick's greatness as a head coach was celebrated on Friday night, one of his more humbling moments as a coach was also called to mind when Barry Sanders, one of the 12 running backs that made the anniversary team, joined Belichick in the NFL Network studio. Sanders, the third leading rusher in league history, broke the 2,000-yard rushing barrier in 1997 against the Jets and Belichick, who was then the Jets' defensive coordinator under Hall of Fame coach, Bill Parcells. Sanders, who needed 131 yards entering the game to become the third player to reach 2,000 rushing yards in a single season, gained 184 yards in the Lions' 13-10 victory.
"There was doubt," Sanders said about whether or not he would be able to break the 2,000-yard barrier against Belichick's defense. "It was a good game. We knew (playing) against Coach Parcells and Coach Belichick, they didn't give us much. We had to earn everything. But it was a fun game to look back on."