HOUSTON (AP): He values the team’s overall culture ahead of its individual parts. He rules his team with an iron fist, and yet, instills that team with a sense of family. He can appear heartless – quick to say “goodbye” to those who no longer fit in – and yet, he is deeply loyal. He has hard-and-fast ideas about how to run his own team, but is never against learning and adding bits of others’ expertise to his own repertoire. Yes, this is a description of New England coach Bill Belichick, who can set himself apart today by winning a record fifth Super Bowl title as a head coach. It’s also a description of former coaches Chuck Noll of the Steelers and Tom Landry of the Cowboys and Alabama’s Nick Saban. As well as Gregg Popovich of the Spurs and former UCLA coach John Wooden and pretty much every other person who has cemented him or herself on the Mount Rushmore of the profession. “Xs and Os are the price of admission,” says John O’Sullivan, founder of the Changing the Game project , who speaks often about the importance of coaching in society. “But great coaches, the first thing they do is connect. When you connect with people, they’ll run through a wall for you.” Belichick, a people person? Famous are the stories of Belichick’s willingness to go the extra mile – especially in the film room – from the time he got his first NFL job, as an assistant to Colts coach Ted Marchibroda in 1975. “The impression he made on colleagues was almost universally favourable — open-minded, incredibly hard-working, absolutely committed to being a little better every day … a master at using film,” wrote David Halberstam in his 2005 profile on Belichick, “The Education of a Coach.” Another great coach took note of that. Before Nick Saban started winning his five national titles in college, he was Belichick’s defensive coordinator with the Browns from 1991-94. “I thought I knew something, and really found out that I was really in a position to learn a lot,” Saban said. “That time in Cleveland probably helped me as much as anything in developing the kind of philosophy and organisations that have helped us be successful through the years. I attribute a lot of it to Bill Belichick.”
March 24, 1997Footing formwork for the Unit 6 of the East Crescent.