ATLANTA -- Pats Maven asked Bill Belichick about his love of history and got a seven minute answer. He asked Pats Maven whether he should take it as a compliment that he knows everything that has happened in football history for the past 50 years. Belichick joked that it shows he has been around a long time.
"It starts with my parents. They are both educators who read a lot of books. They knew a lot about history and visited a lot of historical places. Certainly, Annapolis is one. I went to Gettysburg - all the Washington things and so forth. From a football standpoint, my Dad collected football books from the time I can remember as a little kid. We ended up with 4,000 books. The books led to a lot of other conversations about who they were written about or what the subject was about."
"Any books he (Belihick's father) collected were old books. He did not want any books after 1960. There were surprisingly quite a few football books that were written in that area. We talked about people that were featured in those in those books. Amos Alonzo Stag, Coach Hardin (from Navy), (George) Halas and (Curly) Lambeau and so forth. All of those people were prominent in the development of the game. My parents were from outside Cleveland. We regularly went to the Hall of Fame in Canton. My dad knew a couple of the people there with his Ohio connections. We would go down into the basement of the Hall of Fame and they would show us their collection of books. Other than the Library of Congress it is the largest collection of football books that there is. At least we got a chance to see some books. We recognized a lot of them, but there was certainly a lot that we didn't have."
"Back in those days, it was harder to find some of those books. We don't have the resources that we do now. We would spend hours down in the basement of the Hall of Fame just going through their books. The Hall of Fame was an annual trip for us. We went to Hiram where the Cleveland Browns practiced. My mom taught and dad coached football, basketball and track there. That is where they met. The Browns were there, Paul Brown, the Cleveland Browns and all that is how we grew up."
"I have always enjoyed it. It has always been fascinating for me to talk to people that predate me, which I guess there are not that many anymore - just a couple. Especially the coaching part of it - like learning about different defenses or techniques and how the game evolved before I was introduced to it. One of the best experiences I had was in the 8th Grade. Our 8th and 9th grade coach played at Clemson and we ran the single-wing. That is the only time I have had the exposure to the single wing. That is a key part of the game going back in the teens and 20s with the box and so forth. Lambeau took that to Green Bay and that evolved into the t-formation. Everyone grew up playing the t-formation when I was kid. To have the opportunity to run the single wing for a year, to understand it - that is what my dad ran. Obviously, we talked about it and obviously that was a great experience for me."
"I really appreciate that Coach Mann ran it. There was only a couple of college teams that ran it - UCLA and Clemson. When I was at Andover we played against it at Lawrenceville. The coach there ran it in the early 1970s at Clemson and continued to run it Lawrenceville Academy. One of the real challenges when you talk about great players in the NFL is two-way players versus one-way players. In our game today, everyone is essentially a one-way player including the specialists. If you go back to the 1940s and certainly the 1930s they were pretty much all two-way players. Maybe, they didn't excel as much in their skills as the current players, but current players don't play both ways. They do in rare situations. Julian Edelman and Troy Brown have done it for us. Mike Vrabel did for us. That is a pretty short list. "
"That is a long answer to a short question. Class will start tomorrow at 9 o' clock."