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Bill Belichick Press Conference (Part two)

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Q: During your coaching career, which you mentioned is pretty long, is this team one of your more unexpected successes as a coach at any level?

BB: Well the other season that I could relate this to was my very first season in the National Football League, which was 1975. I was with the Baltimore Colts as the lowest level of employee that you could be for $25 a week. So that year we started out 1-4 and won the last nine games, it was a 14-game schedule. We won the last nine games to go 10-4 and win the division. Of course that was when Miami was real good. Obviously New England, they were coming, but they were pretty good too and Buffalo was pretty good with [Joe] Ferguson and [OJ] Simpson. They were pretty good and the Jets were good with [Joe] Namath and [Richard] Caster and Jerome Barkum and [John] Riggins. So it was a real competitive, especially offensively, a real competitive division and the ball just kind of got rolling. It was 1-4 and I mean obviously everybody wrote us off and you couldn't give away tickets. There weren't as many people as we had yesterday, at that game, at the games we were playing. One win led to another and before you know it we were .500 and before you know it we had a chance to win the division and then we finally won it.

Q: Was that Bert Jones' first year as a starter?

BB: That was his second year. Yeah, the year before he had split time with Marty Domres. There was a controversial quarterback situation, but no, Bert got there. So it was Bert, Ferguson, Joe Namath, Griese and this was [Russ] Francis and [Andy] Johnson and Sam Cunningham and this was a powerhouse here too. I was coaching on defense with the Colts, which was really no fun. I mean there were some pretty good offensive teams.

Q: At $25 a week were you sleeping in the office a lot or home in Annapolis?

BB: No, I had even a better situation than that because Ted Marchibroda was the offensive coordinator for George Allen with the Redskins. When he took the Colts job he didn't sell his house. He kept his house in Virginia. So when we went to the stadium, I mean we had like four different camps around Baltimore before we finally got to the stadium in the end of October because the Orioles were in the World Series and all that. So we're practicing at Eastern High School. They are meeting in the offices of the stadium, anyway. So when the day was over, which was about midnight. Then I would drive Ted, because I was the only one who could stay late, Ted and two of the other assistant coaches, and we would go to a hotel right there by Friendship Airport, which is BWI now. And then the next morning we would all get up and ride in together. So not only did I, in my first year, get the whole experience of from the minute you walk in the office the coaching, the players and the meetings and all that. There was also the being involved with the head coach and the offensive line coaches, special teams coach on an off the field basis of 45 minutes each way in the car…

Q: And you ate it up?

BB: I ate it up as much as we were awake. Ted would talk about, 'Boy that sure was a dumb question I got asked today in my press conference.'

Q: You were taking notes?

BB: Yeah.

Q: What was the moment of that year?

BB: That year it was…we were in Buffalo. I want to say we were down, I can't remember the score exactly, but I want to say it was 28-7, maybe in the second quarter. I'll tell you the truth I think there was only one guy on the field that thought we could win that game at that point in time in the second quarter and that was Bert Jones. I think it ended up being maybe 49-42 or, I mean we couldn't stop them. I mean they just got tired and couldn't score as much. It was a wild game and then just started winning after that. But there was a point in that game where I honestly think the only person on the field that thought we could win was Bert Jones and he kind of played and willed the team to win and it kind of caught fire after that.

Q: Can you compare that at all to the San Diego game?

BB: Yeah it probably would be, it was a little bit different.

Q: Folklore is that you were hired by Ted and weren't paid. So that is a lie? You got $25 a week?

BB: Ted hired me for nothing and I was happy to work for nothing. I was ecstatic to work for nothing, yeah. I was looking for an opportunity and experience. And Joe Thomas came and after about the third or fourth week of training camp and said, 'You are doing a pretty good job, we're going to start paying you.' Great. Twenty-five bucks a week, after taxes it was like $21.22 or something like that.

Q: Was Ted friends with you father or did you write letters?

BB: You know it was really a great opportunity for me because Ted had come from George Allen and back in those days George Allen had like 19 coaches on a staff. And when Ted got Baltimore I think essentially, the way I've heard it was Joe Thomas told him, 'You know you can only have six assistants because when I coached back in '52 we only had three. So I am doubling it for you.' And Ted was used to working for a big staff or with a big staff. So when he had his six assistants, seven assistants including special teams. Right. When he had his seven assistants, he could have used another 10 guys, but you know couldn't pay anything and all that. So when I offered to work for free, we had a marriage there, a lot of work and no pay. So that's…I would have done anything and did do whatever he wanted. So and in truth, that year, because we scrimmaged the Redskins I think four times that year. I mean this was back in the days where we went to camp July 5 and the first regular season game was September 28. I mean it was ridiculous. But I think we scrimmaged the Redskins four times and there were guys on that staff that I really had more responsibility than that were the ninth, tenth guys on the staff and all that. Not that I knew anything, but we just didn't have that many people, so I was doing the stuff that they were doing. Whereas there were another seven or eight guys sitting around on that staff that were looking at me like, 'How come he gets to…Look at what he gets to do and here we are, we've been here for four or five years and are still way down on the totem pole.' But that was back in the days where the Redskins really had one of the premier organizations in pro football. George Allen was the first one to hire a special teams coach and he had quality control assistants to help the Quality Control Assistant and stuff like that.

Q: Tebucky Jones' improvement? Seems like he allows you to do more with your cornerbacks?

BB: Yeah Tebucky, he's really come along. I'd say the last six, seven weeks he's really made some big plays for us on defense. A lot of big hits and you're right his coverage, his range seems to have expanded a little bit. It certainly has helped us with the corners and then those corners have a lot of confidence in both he and Lawyer [Milloy], but particularly now with Tebucky's performance the last month, month and a half, knowing that he's in the middle and knowing they can be a little more outside because there is going to be a wreck if they come in there and being able to use that help a little bit more, whether it's consciously or subconsciously by having more confidence in it. There's no question. And then Tebucky though, as well as he's played on defense, has continued to just step up and make big play after big play in the kicking game. I mean the opening kickoff, I thought that set a good tone for us where he got [Steve] Smith down there on the 20, 25-yard line. Again he hit Smith on a punt, caused a fumble, you know did a…really he's done a great job in coverage for us all year. So he has come on lately and that's been a big key for us in the secondary.

Q: If Marchibroda had not brought you on board, what else would you have done? Would you have kept sending out letters or…?

BB: Yeah, probably. Well you know I was on my way down to N.C. State. Lou Holtz was the head coach down there and I was all set to go really with Lou. And I'd say around the first of June, somewhere in there, he called and said that the position that he had for me, that he was going to put me in, had been eliminated because of the budget for Title IX and they redid the budget or whatever and had to appropriate some money into the Title IX women's programs and so forth and so that it wouldn't be available. The option was to go down there without the graduate assistant's scholarship or don't go at all. So probably what I would have done if that hadn't worked out is, I probably would have gone and taken the N.C. State thing without the pay, but as much money as I was making with the Colts, I couldn't afford to turn that down.

Q: Were there perks with the Colts? Did they throw in two tickets to a game?

BB: Let me tell you, when we started that season they could have thrown in two sections for the game and you couldn't have filled them. There weren't 17,000 people in the stands. Now by the end of the season…so they sold all the tickets for every game. I mean there were no season tickets. As we started winning, all the tickets were sold out in the lobby and if you've ever been to Memorial Stadium there's a ticket lobby out there, you know, baseball games and all that and that's where they were. So they lined out and that thing would wind, you know, for a mile out into the parking lot by the end of the year to the point where what we used to do is we'd meet in the Orioles locker room and then we would walk through the lobby, the defense would walk through the lobby, over into the visitors locker room. I'm sorry, I mean into the Colts locker room and then we would walk into the Orioles locker room because I had Earl's locker. I'd say by three quarters of the way through the year the ticket lobby was so packed that we couldn't get through there so we had to go out, through the dugout, out on to the field and come back in that way or it would take us a half hour to get through the lobby with everybody asking for autographs and all that. I mean it was a madhouse. I mean there were as many fans…you know the fans yesterday, speaking of fans, were just incredible. I mean to have 10, 12, 15,000 however many it was down there, Patriots fans behind our bench and yelling for us. I mean that was, what a great feeling. To go down to Carolina and have that much support down there…it was similar to what we saw in Atlanta, there probably wasn't the balance that there was in Atlanta, they were drowning out a lot of people. But yesterday, that was almost like a home game.

Q: You mentioned hiring Scott Pioli from Murray State. Is there a similarity you look for in young prospects? Are they willing to work for short pay? Are they willing to do the bad jobs?

BB: Right.

Q: Do you want that?

BB: Yeah and you could see that easily because Scott worked at Syracuse as a graduate assistant before that and he worked for Paul Pasqualoni and George DeLeone who, if you talked to anybody who's worked with them will tell you those guys are extremely hard working. I've known Paul Pasqualoni for 20 years and he's as detailed a coach and as thorough a coach as any coach I've ever been around. I mean he's extremely detailed and George is the same way. So Scott worked with them and I knew from what he did at Syracuse and also from talking to them how he was. And he was an extremely…he got brought up the right way. And one thing, when you work hard like that in your first couple of years, then you learn that that's the way it is and it doesn't bother you. I've seen other coaches that have come up on a lot less of a work ethic and then end up working for a head coach that demands a lot more out of them and sometimes that is a lot more difficult for them to handle.

Q: Is that a common thread that runs through your assistants and people on you staff?

BB: Yeah I think it does. Most of the people have…I mean everybody pays their dues and comes through it but guys like Eric Mangini, Romeo [Crennel]. They both broke down the defensive film. You know Romeo with the Giants for I don't know four or five years and then became a special teams coach. And Eric the same thing at Cleveland and Baltimore and then at the Jets. He probably did it for five years. Charlie [Weis], he worked for me in 1990 breaking down defensive film. So those guys…Dante [Scarnecchia], I mean he's a warrior. He's come through his coaching career. So you know I think a lot of those guys have come through that and that's probably one reason why we all I think get along fairly well together and certainly can appreciate what the other people are going through like for example on this staff you have myself, Romeo, Dante and Dick Rehbein had all been special teams coaches. So when Brad [Seely] would bring up something in the kicking game, 'We need this' or 'We need that.' It's easy for us to relate to any of those things because we've lived that. So I think that there is a good common feeling there amongst us and appreciation for what other people are going through and how to make their job either easier or help them do their job.

Q: Is there anybody on your staff

BB: Obviously the money is a little bit different, but the guys who do the most work and get the least are Brian Daboll. Nobody does more than he does and nobody gets less. That's the way it is. Daboll is absolutely at the top of that list and he would be the champion too. Of all of the guys, myself included, that have done that job he probably does it as well as anybody that I have ever had do it or better than I did it myself. I would be the first to say that. That guy is amazing. We got a couple of guys in the scouting department that are doing the same thing. Living up here and making $10,000 it is not that easy.

Q: What is it about this game that people are willing to work so hard for such little money?

BB: It beats working.

Q: There is so much aggravation, what is it about coaching that you can't let go of, that you wouldn't let go of?

BB: It is better than a real job. That is the best way I can put it. I know a lot of friends of mine that have been in coaching that have left coaching and gone into other industries whether it be insurance or business or some type of executive job and then after two or three years or one year whatever it is comeback and say, 'Hey I really miss it.' The big thing about it is that it is really unpredictable. Every week there is a new finish, a new finish to the story. You have got a new story line and a different ending and each year it is like that too and every week we see that happen out there so it's, particularly in pro football it is great because you are working with the absolute top people in your field and you are coaching against the best coaches, you are playing against the best players. You are trying to beat them and they are trying to beat your brains out. That is competitive and if you like competition than it doesn't get any better than this. Every Sunday you are going against the best out there and it doesn't take much less than your best for it not to be good enough

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