Twenty-four years as the head coach of the New England Patriots.

Six Super Bowl titles.

Nine AFC Championship victories.

Seventeen AFC East titles.

Bill Belichick is no longer the head coach of the New England Patriots.

As I write this, just hours after the announcement, I am struggling to come to terms with the fact that the coach who has been in charge of my team for all but three years of my life, will not only not be on the sideline for the Patriots this year, but may in fact be on the sideline for a different team.

I always thought Belichick would end up getting the all time wins record in the NFL with the Patriots before riding off into the sunset one final time, but it looks like that may happen with a different team now. As of now reports are saying that both the Atlanta Falcons and the Washington Commanders would be logical spots for him to land and I also saw the Los Angeles Chargers were the betting favorites to acquire his coaching services.

While the Patriots have my heart, just like with Tom Brady, I will gladly add another NFL team to watch to my repertoire and root for someone who brought so much joy and success to what was essentially a poverty franchise before he took over. Although I won’t be buying a jersey for another team this time.

I had originally thought about writing something similar when Brady retired last year, but part of me wanted to hold out hope that he would unretire for the second time. But now it’s official, the Patriots I grew up with no longer exist. Even Matthew Slater, a longtime special teams captain, is expected to retire.
I watched every minute of that dreadful game against the New York Jets in the snow, knowing it was possibly the last time we would see Slater in a Pats jersey and Bill on that sideline. Throughout the game the broadcasters reflected on Belichick’s tenure and showed highlights of Super Bowl wins and it felt like the beginning of what I hope is a beautiful send off for the longtime coach.

A lot of my teen and young adult years were formulated around the Patriots’ success — and failures — in the 2010s. From the Super Bowl loss against the Giants in 2012, to the glorious Super Bowl victories, to the final pass of Brady’s Patriot career, I watched it all. Seeing the way they won, the whole “Do Your Job,” mentality, all of it inspired me to do better and be the best I could be at what I do. The Patriots, specifically Belichick and Brady, are one of the biggest points of inspiration in my entire life. I’m getting misty-eyed just writing and thinking about the fact that it is officially over.

Some of my earliest memories are of my brothers and me all wearing Brady jerseys, whether it was a Christmas card we sent out one year, or even the picture of my brother Sam, who was two or three years old when the Pats won their first Super Bowl. While I didn’t start really watching until I was much older, I have been a Patriots fan for life.

Even now it still upsets me to see they split back in 2020, regardless of the fact that I wanted both to succeed. But now that it’s over for both here, we can look back and celebrate their accomplishments and everything they did together. And I hope that begins with the press conference announcing the split that had not happened as of press time.

While it saddens me to see things end, it’s clear things took a downward spiral this year with the Pats finishing with a 4-13 record for the season. Rumors swirled throughout the year that this was the last year we would see Belichick on the Patriots’ sideline, but I wouldn’t believe it until it happened. Even until this morning I had hope that he would come back and they would figure it out, but as they say all good things eventually come to an end.

I’m not sure what the future holds for the Patriots but with rumors that former linebackers Mike Vrabel or Jerod Mayo could be in line to take over as the next head coach have me cautiously optimistic that the future is still bright. With the third overall pick in the draft, there couldn’t be a better time to hit the reset button.

For Belichick, I hope he finds success with another team and perhaps brings the Lombardi Trophy home to another franchise.

Whenever it comes to goodbyes like this, I always think back to that famous Dr. Seuss quote, “Don’t cry because it’s over. Smile because it happened.”

Go get that record Bill and thanks for the memories.