Bill Belichick is a student of NFL history. He has great respect for many of those who came before him in the game of football.
As Bob Socci, the voice of the Patriots on 98.5 The Sports Hub, pointed out on Twitter, that included comments as recently as last October on Steelers Hall of Fame coaching legend Chuck Noll. Noll died Friday night in Pittsburgh at the age of 82.
Here is what Belichick had to say last October 11 about the four-time Super Bowl-winning head coach of the Steelers dynasty as the New England head coach was on the verge of passing Noll on the NFL's list of all-time wins.
"I have tremendous respect for Coach Noll. Yeah, he was one of the great coaches when I came into the league in '75 and for the next 15 years. I had the opportunity to coach with several coaches who were at Pittsburgh with Coach Noll. Some of the things that I learned from them, or about him through them, whatever you want to call it, and of course competing against him. When we were at the Giants, we played them every year in preseason. It seemed like every year, maybe we might have missed one but it seemed like we usually played him in preseason so we played him on a regular basis. Of course in Cleveland, they were in the division, as you mentioned, that first year that he was there. I have tremendous respect for Coach Noll and his whole program there. They were an excellent team and they were a good, sound team, a team that you always, as a coach outside of Pittsburgh, always tried to look at what they were doing and learn from it: their fundamentals, their technique, their scheme, which wasn't overly complicated but it was very sound. When Nick [Saban] came to Cleveland, who coached with George Perles at Michigan State when they ran the Pittsburgh defense, the 4-3 defense, Nick brought a lot of those ideas and concepts to Cleveland. Nick and I kind of merged there with some of the things that we had done in New York, some of the things that he had done as the defensive coordinator under Perles at Michigan State, which was the Steelers defense and so forth. So that was another great opportunity for me to really gain knowledge of that system without actually being there. When I was in Detroit, Rollie Dotsch was there, who was at Pittsburgh for a number of years. I think that their program, what they did there schematically and all was very, very good. Coach Noll and his approach to the game, his consistency, his level demeanor and the consistency that they had, I thought was always exemplary, right at the top of coaches that I tried to learn from and take things from them. I don't know how much was him or Bud Carson or Perles or where one stopped and the other started, but the whole combination of what they did there at the Steelers I thought was pretty impressive. Going against him every year, as a defensive coach against their offense, when I was with the Giants through all those years in the '80s was also always a good, it was a great experience because they were so well balanced, they threw the ball down the field, they ran the ball, they had a good balanced attacked. I think I learned a lot from the outside, looking at that program that Coach Noll ran. Bill [Cowher] really kind of had somewhat of a continuation of that, even though they changed defensively to his blitz-zone package but a lot of the things that they did fundamentally there, especially on the offensive side of the ball, with Dick Hoak there in the running game and all that, it was a couple decades of stuff really that was a carryover from Coach Noll and the consistency that they had all the way up into this century, the 2000s. I don't know when Dick retired, but when Coach [Ron] Erhardt was there, there was still a lot of carryover from some of the things that Coach Noll established. But as far as the other part of it goes, I'd say my focus is really on this game and whatever win it is or isn't, it's not really that important right now. Whatever wins we have had [are] because players have played well. I'm not out there throwing any passes or making any tackles."