Bill Belichick has seen pretty much everything in his four-plus decades in the NFL and is essentially a walking, talking, frowning Wikipedia page for professional football.
But when Belichick spent the weekend in Canton, Ohio –first on Saturday for the Pro Football Hall of Fame inductions that included former Patriots cornerback Ty Law and then Sunday’s visit to the Hall for the entire Patriots team and staff – even he learned something about the game he loves and the epicenter of its history.
“I think one of the great things about the Hall of Fame that they pointed out to us multiple times, which I’m not sure I fully understood – but the Hall of Fame really is a Hall of Fame for every NFL player, not just the enshrinees and the ones with the busts,” Belichick said during his Monday morning press conference in Detroit, prior to joint practices with the Lions. “Literally, I could go to 1941, go to 1941 Lions and pull up my dad, and see the team picture, and see an article about him and so forth. Their objective, and I’d say they’ve achieved it, is so that every family member, son or daughter, grandson or granddaughter, or whoever could actually go there, or the player themselves could actually go there and not just see their name, but see something about the person. Pictures, articles, as well as stats or whatever the case may be, regardless if the player played one year or 20 years in the league. They’ve done a great job preserving the history of the game. When only 1 percent of their memorabilia and collection is on display, then you realize the enormity of what they have and how great and how special it is.”
With two days spent in Canton, Belichick raved about everyone he came across, even enjoying the induction of some former heated on-field rivals.
“As always, the Hall of Fame was awesome,” Belichick said. “From David Baker all the way down to all the people we interacted with, which I want to say was practically everybody there – their research people, their archives, the people that showed us around and answered questions. It was a great experience. Because I was there a little longer, I got to see a lot of things maybe that I wouldn’t have seen otherwise. Certainly, it was great to see Ty and all of the people that came to support him, as well as the other guys that were there. Kevin [Mawae], who was with the Jets when I was there of course, and Gil Brandt, who I’ve had a long relationship with, and Ed Reed, who’s killed us so many times, but we can put a smile on our face now because we don’t have to deal with him on the field. So, it was great to see all of those people, and Tony [Gonzales] as well. That’s another guy that killed us when we didn’t double cover him, which was almost every play we doubled him.”
Tom Brady was just one of the Patriots players who seemed to truly enjoy the trip to the Hall, sharing some photos and thoughts on social media. Belichick thinks it was a meaningful pit stop for his entire squad on its trip to Detroit.
“It was great. I think our team appreciated it,” Belichick said. “We saw a lot of the history of the game, the busts and the enshrinees and other historical things about the Hall of Fame.
“It was quite a – to see Red Grange’s shoulder pads, Joe Namath’s cape, and Johnny Unitas’ high-top shoes – it’s just thrilling. It really is, to put it all in one place. It was great.”