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On This Date in Sports January 4, 2000: BB resigns as HC of NYJ

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While working out at the New York Jets facility, Bill Belichick, the defensive coordinator, soon to take over as head coach suddenly is seen leaving the building without changing out of his tracksuit, just before he was to be introduced as head coach, Belichick scribbled a resignation letter on a napkin, “I resign as HC of NYJ”-BB Belichick than gave an awkward, sweaty conference, knowing he was about to jump to the New England Patriots.

Bill Belichick was born on April 16, 1952, in Nashville. His father, Steve Belichick, who had a cup of coffee in the NFL with the Detroit Lions in 1941, was an assistant coach at Vanderbilt when Bill was born naming him after head coach Bill Edwards. Later Steve Belichick served as an assistant coach at the Naval academy for 33 years. His father’s experience as an assistant coach helped Bill Belichick land a coaching job in the NFL shortly after graduating from Wesleyan University.

Bill Belichick’s first NFL job was as a 23-year-old with the Baltimore Colts in 1975 as a special assistant. He would move on to spend two seasons with the Lions and one with the Broncos before becoming special teams’ coach with the New York Giants in 1979. It was there he struck up a friendship with Bill Parcells. When Parcells became head coach of the Giants in 1983, Belichick’s role increased, eventually becoming Linebackers coach for a young Lawrence Taylor. In 1985, Bill Belichick became the Defensive Coordinator of the Giants, a year later he helped lead them to their first Super Bowl Championship.

In 1990, the New York Giants made a second run to the Super Bowl, upsetting the Buffalo Bills 20-19 as they ran a perfect defensive game plan. This helped Bill Belichick land his first head coaching job with the Cleveland Browns. The Browns were in a rebuild mode when Belichick took over in 1991, but he helped them through a transition away from Bernie Kosar. The Browns would make the playoffs in 1994, winning a Wild Card game against the New England Patriots, who were coached by Bill Parcells, who, after a two-year retirement, took over in Foxboro in 1993.

In 1995, Bill Belichick had the rug pulled out from under him, as the Browns announced plans to move to Baltimore. The team went on a downward plunge, leading to Belichick’s dismissal as the team became the Ravens. Without a job, Belichick landed in Foxboro on the staff of Bill Parcells as the Patriots made a surprise run to an AFC Championship in 1996.

Following the Patriots’ loss in Super Bowl XXXI, Bill Parcells was in talks to jump to the New York Jets. With one year on his contract, he made an arraignment that Bill Belichick would coach in 1997, as Parcells served as an advisor, taking over as head coach in 1998, with Belichick staying on a defensive coordinator. The arraignment was shell game to break a contract in New England. Eventually, the NFL would award New England compensation as Parcells became the coach of the Jets. As part of the deal, Belichick was named head coach in waiting to take over when Bill Parcells retired.

Bill Parcells took over a Jets team that went 1-15 in 1996 and had them in the AFC Championship Game two years later. The Jets dealt with injury and disappointment in 1999, finishing 8-8 after Vinnie Testaverde was injured in the first game. At the same time, the Patriots were completing an 8-8 season with Pete Carroll, who was fired after three underwhelming seasons. Knowing that Patriots’ Owner Robert Kraft desired to hire Bill Belichick, Parcells decided to retire as a coach, triggering the clause that made his longtime protégé the coach of the Jets in 2000.

The big day arrived for Bill Belichick, and he was ready to become the coach of the Jets with a press conference in the afternoon. He arrived for a morning workout at the Jets facility but abruptly left. When it came time for the press conference, the Jets were stunned as Belichick has scribbled a resignation on a napkin, “I resign as HC of NYJ”-BB. What was expected to be a happy conference turned into an excruciating exercise, as Belichick appearing sweaty explained he could not take the job that was guaranteed to him.

Two days later, Bill Belichick’s game plan became apparent as he filed a grievance against the Jets, to get out of his contract to take the job with the Patriots. Over the next three weeks, the Jets and Patriots would squabble in much of the same way as when Parcells left to go to the Jets. The settlement would end the same way, with the Jets receiving compensation as Bill Belichick became the coach in New England.

In 2000, the Jets finished 9-7 with Al Groh as their coach, while the Patriots finished 5-11 in Belichick’s first season. Groh would leave the Jets after one year to take a job at the University of Virginia. Belichick, well, you know the rest. The Patriots have won the AFC East in 17 of the last 19 season, including 11 straight division championships. The Patriots have been to nine Super Bowls, winning the Lombardi six times. They go into the postseason this year, needing to play on Wild Card weekend for the first time since 2010. Their goal is to get back to the big game for the fourth straight year, as defending champions.