By living his mantra of "do your job," Bill Belichick has passed a football icon in the record books. The longtime Patriots coach passed former Bears head coach George Halas for No. 2 all-time in career wins by a head coach following Sunday's 22-17 road win over the Jets.
Belichick, 70, now has 325 career wins in 28 seasons as an NFL head coach. Halas, who for a time owned, coached and played for the Bears, compiled 324 wins during his 40-year run in Chicago that included winning six league titles in four different decades.
Halas, who during his career surpassed former rival and Packers coach Curly Lambeau for first on the all-time list, was passed by Colts/Dolphins Hall of Fame coach Don Shula in 1993, 26 years after Halas coached his final game for the Bears. Shula, who presided over the NFL's only undefeated team in 1972, retired two years later with 347 wins, which remains the all-time record.
Belichick received an informal football education from a young age. HIs father, Steve, was a former NFL fullback who served as a scout on Navy's football staff for over 30 years. The younger Belichick began his coaching career shortly after playing football and lacrosse at Division III Wesleyan.
At 27, Belichick received his big break, as he was hired to the same Giants staff that included his future boss, Bill Parcells. Belichick, who broke into the NFL with the Colts before spending time with the Lions and Broncos, remained on the Giants' staff when Parcells was elevated to head coach in 1983. Despite a rocky first season, Belichick stayed with Parcells despite having an opportunity to join the Vikings' defensive staff.
Belichick's loyalty to Parcells was immediately rewarded. Following a breakout 1984 season that saw the Giants upset Eric Dickerson's Rams in the playoffs, Parcells promoted Belichick to defensive coordinator. The Giants' defense quickly ascended to the league's best, as they spearheaded New York's run to the franchise's first Super Bowl win at the end of the 1986 season. Belichick was carried off the field after the Giants shut out Washington in the 1986 NFC title game that clinched New York's first Super Bowl berth.
Four years later, the Giants shocked the world by dethroning the two-time defending champion 49ers in the NFC title game. They further shocked the world after upsetting the Bills in Super Bowl XXV. Belichick's defensive game plan against Buffalo -- rushing only three man, conceding the run and punishing the Bills' receivers -- resides in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
"We were resilient. We were that team that was not to be denied."— NFL Network (@nflnetwork) November 16, 2019
The 1990 @Giants were a complete team that didn't back down 💪 #NFL100
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Belichick became a first-time head coach shortly after winning his second Super Bowl with the Giants. While his tenure in Cleveland didn't come close to matching his success in New England, Belichick nevertheless lead the Browns to a playoff win over Parcells' Patriots in 1994. The Browns did not retain Belichick upon the team's move to Baltimore after the 1995 season.
A coaching free agent, Belichick reunited with Parcells with the Patriots in 1996. New England advanced to the Super Bowl that season, largely on the strength of its defense. Belichick would then follow Parcells to the Jets from 1997-99, helping New York get to within a game of the Super Bowl in 1998.
Belichick had a cup of coffee as the Jets' coach before ultimately becoming the Patriots' head coach in 2000. After winning just five of his first 18 games, Belichick and the Patriots caught fire after Tom Brady replaced an injured Drew Bledsoe three games into the 2001 season. Belichick stuck with Brady after Bledsoe was cleared to return, a largely unpopular move in New England at the time.
The rest, as they say, is history, as the Patriots shocked the Rams in Super Bowl XXXVI using a similar game plan to the one Belichick employed against the Bills 11 years earlier. The Patriots won two of the next three Super Bowls while becoming a dynasty.
No. 20: “A Dynasty Born” - Super Bowl XXXVI Rams vs. Patriots (Feb. 2, 2002) #NFL100 @Patriots— NFL (@NFL) October 5, 2019
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Belichick started to have more detractors, and a few controversies, following the Patriots' run of dominance in the early 2000s. But he continued to win and win at an historic pace during the 2010s, as the Patriots won three more Super Bowls to match the Steelers' all-time tally of six. Belichick's success led to him joining Halas, Shula and several other legendary coaches on the NFL 100 All-Time Team.
While he once scoffed at the notion of coaching into his seventies, Belichick is doing just that seven games into the 2022 season. While a seventh Super Bowl win may or may not be in his future, one thing that does appear to be in Belichick's sights is No. 1 on the all-time win list, a record that was once thought to be one of sport's untouchable milestones.