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Friday, October 4, 2013
Bill Belichick on longevity, continuity

By Mike Reiss

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- Big money ... impatient owners ... more intense media scrutiny.

There are several reasons for quicker-than-the-norm coaching changes in professional sports, although Sunday's game between the New England Patriots and Cincinnati Bengals represents the opposite end of the spectrum.

Bill Belichick and Marvin Lewis
Bill Belichick and Marvin Lewis are the two longest-tenured coaches with the same team, with 25 years between them.
Bill Belichick (14 years) and Marvin Lewis (11) are the longest-tenured active NFL head coaches with the same team, which was a topic brought up to Belichick on Friday morning.

"It's kind of surprising, really. When I came into the league, that's the way it was. Coaches coached for a long time with the same team and they had a consistent program. There was always turnover, but not like there is now, where guys coach for a year, a year and a half, and the team makes a change. The wheels spin pretty fast," Belichick said, as he was just beginning to embrace the topic.

"Along with it goes all the changes [with] coordinators and position coaches. You go to the combine and it seems like every year one-third of the coaches are wearing a different jacket than they wore the year before when you saw them. From that standpoint, it's a big change from what I was used to, I'd say the way I was brought up in the league, brought up in football.

"We all know it's a production business, we all know that we're not guaranteed anything for very long. But the way things turn over in this league, or in pro sports in general, it's pretty amazing really.

"On one hand, it seems like a long time given the quick turnover we have. On the other hand, given the way I was used to it, it doesn't seem like it should be that way."

Belichick was asked what it means to him to be able to coach the same team for 14 years. His answer shed light, from this view, on why he's followed more of a Chuck Noll-like path than a head coach who might jump from one team to the next.

"I feel a loyalty to all the people that are in the organization. And I'm not saying I'm great or anything, that's not the point. The point is that when you're the head coach, there are a lot of people that are dependent on you," he said.

"Having been an assistant coach for a long time, and been the son of an assistant coach for a long time, you know that your future is, to a certain degree, tied to the head coach. It's important to me to be able to hopefully provide some stability to the other members of the coaching staff and other members of the organization that relate to the football department, the players.

"We all know that the first thing that changes is the coach [and] the next thing that changes is most of the roster. I certainly like the fact that we have players that have been brought up in this system, that have tried to develop in this system, and hopefully they have the confidence to know that they can come back and play in this system again with the skills and the training and the knowledge that they've learned to do it. I feel a loyalty to them and I think they also feel a loyalty to me along those same lines. It's a two-way street.

"I know everybody has got to take care of themselves and their own needs and all that [but] I do have a lot of loyalty and respect for the people who work for me and I want to try to continue to provide a good working environment for them to be successful, for us to be successful, so we can all benefit from that.

"So yeah, I would say that's definitely important to me and that's the way I was brought up."