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Belichick and Carroll - friends and foes

Hard to argue with Patriots chairman and CEO Robert Kraft's ability to gauge coaching talent.

You see, in his two decades of ownership in New England, Kraft has hired just two coaches.

And those two coaches will face off on Feb. 1 in Super Bowl XLIX in Arizona, looking to add to their collection of championship rings.

Pete Carroll's three-year run in New England from 1997-99 didn't play out the way anyone would have liked. But since then he's gone on to find title success in college at USC and then by winning the ultimate prize in football last year with a Seattle team that he rebuilt from the ground up.

Carroll's Seahawks are looking to become the first NFL team to repeat as champions since Bill Belichick's own Patriots in 2003-04. And Kraft will be watching two guys who passed the test of his job interview process battle wits.

"I don't think of us stopping them, I think of us trying to win our fourth Super Bowl. They have a pretty good coach." Kraft said Sunday night, celebrating a blowout of the Colts that sent his team to its sixth Super Bowl under Belichick and eighth overall, tying most for any NFL franchise. "I've hired two coaches and I'm happy to say they're both winners."

Both can't be winners in Arizona, though. And the two weeks leading up to the potentially epic battle will likely bring many comparisons between the two coaches, two teams and two organizations.

Belichick leads a New England squad that's about doing its job, playing one game at a time and running a tight-lipped ship. Carroll guides a young, aggressive, athletic, emotional team that flies around the field and seemingly lives a bit on the edge.

But it works for them, and Belichick acknowledges that. In fact he has great respect for Carroll's ability to stick to his own style and message, even if it's in stark contrast to the way Belichick goes about his own business.

"I think Pete's a great football coach," Belichick said in a Monday conference call. "His record speaks for itself. I've always had a lot of respect for Pete. He believes what he believes in. I think that they kind of have their way of doing things, but it works very well and Pete's consistent, he's got a consistent message. I think he's coached pretty much the same type of – he has the same type of style and similar type of coaching personality and scheme and just kind of the whole thing for many years now. It's well over 20 years that I've coached against him and known him through our different competitions in the National Football League. Then in college when he was at USC, you saw more of that and he had tremendous success there."

In what might be a bit of a surprise to some, Belichick went on to say that he and Carroll have a strong personal relationship as well.

"Pete's a good friend. I sit down and talked with him on many occasions and I really respect what he does [and] how he does it," Belichick said. "His players play hard, they play well and he has a really resilient team with a lot of energy. I think that he's done a tremendous job in Seattle, as he did at SC and he's a really good football coach, and they have a really good team. I like Pete; like him a lot."

One is seen as the pumped-and-jacked, rah-rah coach who brings an emotional style to an emotional team. The other a stone-faced, detail-oriented master of preparation.

Two very different coaches with two very distinct connections. Each passed the Kraft test for hiring and each battling for another Super Bowl ring on Feb. 1.

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