Tributes and words of thanks poured in Thursday from former players and others across the sports world as news broke that the New England Patriots and longtime coach Bill Belichick had mutually agreed to part ways.
Belichick, who won six Super Bowl titles across more than two decades in New England, spoke about the decision alongside Patriots owner Robert Kraft Thursday afternoon.
Others took to social media.
“Wouldn’t change a thing coach,” said former Patriot Julian Edelman in a post on X.
Edelman shared a video message with his post, including clips of postgame celebrations with Belichick, Patriots practices and a joint appearance on the Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon.
Fellow former Patriot Matt Cassell shared his own video message.
“I just feel very lucky and fortunate that I had the opportunity to play for him,” he said.
Cassel said he learned “more football” during his four-year stint in New England than he did at any other point in his career.
He continued, describing Belichick as a “master teacher” and a “master communicator” who pushed players to be their best.
“He’s the best to ever do it,” Cassel said.
Linebacker Steve DeOssie, who played for Belichick on both the New York Giants and the Patriots, told 7NEWS he was always impressed with the way Belichick was able to get the most out of his players.
“I’ve never seen someone more in tune with what it takes to get someone in the loop of trying to help the team and help the team win,” DeOssie said.
Tight end Ben Watson won a Super Bowl with Belichick and said he later returned to New England figuring Belichick would give him a better shot at another championship than any other coach.
“He was very, very tough to play for, at times, but he made everybody a better football player,” he said. “And as a professional, that’s what you want.”
Rex Burkhead, once a running back in New England, shared his thanks for Belichick early Thursday morning.
“Greatest to ever do it,” he said in a post on X. “Thank you Coach.”
Defensive tackle Davon Godchaux, who played in each of the Patriots’ 17 games this past season, similarly reacted on X.
“The Greatest!” he said. “Thank you.”
Brady, Gronkowski thank Belichick
Former Patriots quarterback Tom Brady reflected on his relationship with Belichick Thursday afternoon, describing him in a statement as “the best coach in the history of the NFL.”
Rob Gronkowski, who spent nine seasons with the Patriots before joining Brady for two seasons with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, also weighed in.
“From taking a chance drafting me in the very beginning to teaching and showing me the way on the field, I wouldn’t change a thing!” Gronkowski wrote in a message to his former coach on X.
“Honor to be on your team and thank you for putting us players in situations to have serious success!” he said.
Boston area teams pay tribute
For a coach whose impact was felt for years outside Foxboro Stadium and, later, Gillette Stadium, Belichick was the subject of additional messages from Boston area sports teams Thursday.
“24 incredible years,” read one post on X from the Boston Bruins. “Good luck, Coach Belichick, and thank you for always being a friend of the B’s!”
“Thank you for everything you’ve done in Boston, Bill,” the Boston Celtics said in their own post.
The Boston Red Sox shared a photo of Belichick hoisting the Lombardi Trophy at Fenway Park.
In their “thank you” message, the team credited Belichick with “setting a new standard of excellence for New England.”
The Patriots, themselves, also thanked Belichick on social media.
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