Given the length of Bill Belichick’s tenure with the Patriots, there are almost too many memorable plays, games, injuries and acquisitions to cover in a post. So instead, cover32 decided to look at some of the best moments during the last 14 off-seasons, from shock arrests, to big-name trades to legendary retirements.
2000: Belichick’s epic resignation from the New York Jets
After Bill Parcell retired (for the second time) as head coach of the New York Jets, Belichick was poised to be the next head coach of the Patriots division rival. Kraft had courted Belichick behind the scenes and the press conference hosted to introduce Belichick turned into an impromptu resignation speech lasting about 30 minutes. He famously wrote his resignation letter on a piece of loose-leaf paper that read, “I resign as HC of NYJ.”
After the Jets tried to prevent Belichick from speaking to other teams, he filed an antitrust suit with the league, and eventually ended up in New England where he instantly became head coach and was essentially given the powers of general manager. The dynasty was born.
2002: Gillette Stadium Breaks Ground
When the Massachusetts Legislature initially denied a bill providing $75 million in infrastructure improvements necessary to build the new Patriots Stadium in 1998, Robert Kraft was in discussions with Hartford, Connecticut to move the team south. The NFL announced loan incentives of up to $150 million for teams in the top six markets, and there were some issues with the potential construction site in Hartford, so Kraft announced that he was abandoning the process. Eventually, the Massachusetts Legislature negotiated with Kraft to build the new stadium with mutually agreed upon infrastructure improvements.
Since opening in 2002 Gillette Stadium has been the most intimidating venue in the NFL for visiting teams. Between 2002 and 2012, the Patriots boasted a 76-15 home record (.835) including the playoffs.