Bill Belichick's going to need a new keychain.
This weekend, Coach Belichick returned to his native Annapolis to watch Navy's men's lacrosse team face off against their rival Army, but the game wasn't the only reason he was in town. Coach Belichick was honored with a key to the city to celebrate his ties to Annapolis and the Naval Academy.
Coach Belichick's dad, Steve, served in the Navy in the 1940s and then spent more than 30 years in the Naval Academy football program as a scout from 1956 to 1989. During the broadcast, Coach Belichick talked at length what it meant to him to grow up in the city.
"[It means] pretty much everything. I grew up about a mile away from the stadium and came here ... so the Naval Academy has been a big, big part of my life, my family's life, I followed my dad around," Coach Belichick said. "[I] always was able to go over to the Academy and play and and watch the great athletes and the great Midshipmen and coaches that were there, you know, perform and grow as men and ultimately into the leaders of this country so I've seen a lot of lacrosse games here .... kind of where I started to get my love for the game. It's a lot of fun to be back here."
The Naval Academy Director of Athletics Chet Gladchuk said that Coach Belichick's presence over the weekend helped drive the Midshipmen to a win over Army. That's the impact every time he visits. Between Coach Belichick and his father, Gladchuk said, they are ingrained in the Academy.
"He's an inspiration to all of us. Every time he finds time to visit Annapolis, there's a thrill of excitement in the air that Bill's gonna be in town. Bill's coming to town. It just lifted the spirits and the energy and the enthusiasm by virtue of his presence. He is clearly one of this city's and the Academy's favorite sons," he said. "His dad was just so much a part of the fiber of what the institution represents, in that his relationships with the people here still is of great significance and great memory. Steve was an icon. He was the anchor, if I may use that term, at Navy of who we are and what we're about. I was privileged to know, Steve, when I first came to the academy 20 years ago, and every morning you'd be walk in the front steps and working his way up to coffee and have a chat with the coaches and swing by the office on occasion. So the Belichick legacy is even beyond. As I mentioned, it's ingrained in the institution and certainly in the mission."
In addition to receiving the key to the city, Coach Belichick also addressed the lacrosse team before they took the field. Coach Belichick's affinity for lacrosse is certainly well-documented (like the Premier Lacrosse League which is returning to Gillette Stadium in June), and he said growing up in Maryland, he learned to appreciate the game, as well as a certain crustacean.
"One thing when you grew up in Maryland, there's two things that, that really stand out. One is lacrosse, and the other is hard crabs, so that those two things are our way of life," he said.
Spoken like a true Maryland man, and now he's got the key to prove it.