Inside Bill Belichick’s resignation as the Jets’ coach 20 years ago

8:00 AM ETRich CiminiESPN Staff Writer CloseLongtime Jets beat writer for New York Daily News Syracuse University graduateOn the morning of Jan. 4, 2000, Bill Belichick began one of the biggest days in his professional life on a treadmill in the New York Jets’ weight room. There was nothing unusual about that; he was among…

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    Wealthy CiminiESPN Group of workers Author


    • Longtime Jets beat creator for New York Day-to-day Information
    • Syracuse College graduate

At the morning of Jan. 4, 2000, Invoice Belichick started one of the most largest days in his skilled existence on a treadmill within the New York Jets’ weight room. There was once not anything abnormal about that; he was once amongst a handful of coaches who appreciated to paintings up a sweat prior to attacking the day-to-day grind of the NFL.

What took place subsequent, although, was once hardly ever regimen.

After his exercise, Belichick — nonetheless in his Jets warm-up swimsuit — was once noticed leaving the construction in an overcoat, wearing a briefcase.

“I stated to myself, ‘That is likely one of the strangest issues I have ever observed. There is something up,'” former Jets public members of the family director Frank Ramos recalled of Belichick’s abnormal garb and oddly timed go out.

One thing was once up.

A couple of hours later, Belichick delivered probably the most surprising bulletins in sports activities historical past. Moments prior to he was once to be officially presented because the Jets’ trainer, he famously scribbled on a sheet of loose-leaf paper that he was once resigning because the “HC of the NYJ.” He passed it to crew officers and performed a 50-minute information convention that went over like fingernails on a chalkboard.

What took place that day endlessly modified the Jets, the New England Patriots and the NFL. Two decades later, it nonetheless conjures up a lot of reactions from the ones concerned — anger, laughter, bewilderment, vindication and paranoia.

Some harbor conspiracy theories, believing Belichick was once in cahoots with the Patriots prior to quitting at the Jets and his mentor, Invoice Parcells. That he in brief left the construction with a briefcase triggers photographs of clandestine and incorrect task.

On some stage, Belichick’s departure continues to be shrouded in thriller. Some other folks, basically within the Belichick camp, refuse to at the present time to speak about what they know. Responding to ESPN’s interview requests, they acted as though they have been being requested to snitch on a mob boss.

“Doubt I will contact that one!” one longtime Belichick confidant stated in a Fb message to ESPN.

Former Jets president Steve Gutman, who adopted Belichick on the podium right through the notorious information convention, seemed like a witness beneath cross-examination when wondered about Belichick’s resignation. Parcells, whose complicated courting with Belichick started in 1979 with the New York Giants and turned into the topic of an ESPN 30 for 30 documentary, recounted the day ever so in moderation, as though strolling barefoot close to shattered glass.

In some way, that is simply what it’s.

Everyone is aware of the epilogue — Belichick has grow to be a six-time Tremendous Bowl champion in New England, the Jets proceed to wallow as an also-ran — however there may be extra to the tale. Here is a nearer have a look at the 48-hour duration that modified the whole thing, in the course of the eyes of those that have been there:

On Sunday, Jan. 2, the Jets completed the 1999 season with an 8-Eight document, defeating the Seattle Seahawks for his or her fourth directly win. With hypothesis swirling about his long term, Parcells known as an impromptu personnel assembly at nine a.m. Monday.

Invoice Muir, Jets offensive line trainer: “I will keep in mind after our ultimate recreation, we have been all sitting within the place of work and the secretary got here down and stated Invoice [Parcells] sought after to look everyone within the personnel room. All of us went in, we have been sitting across the desk. Invoice is available in and he sits down and he says, ‘Remaining evening, after the sport, I submitted my resignation to Steve Gutman. Because of a prior contractual dedication, Invoice Belichick is now the top soccer trainer.’ He mainly were given up and left the room. It was once lovely abrupt.”

Parcells: “He was once beneath contract to be the trainer of the Jets if I wasn’t there. That is simply how it was once.”

Gutman: “He had a freelance and it was once all set.”

Muir: “[Parcells] left and, clearly, there may be stoned, shocked silence within the room. I keep in mind distinctly, Invoice Belichick stated, ‘You guys most certainly determine I knew that, and that this was once the logical conclusion, however I am listening to it for the primary time similar to you.'”

In his e book concerning the 1999 season, titled, “The Ultimate Season,” Parcells says he knowledgeable Belichick the day prior to the ultimate recreation that he was once “lovely positive” about retiring. He quotes Belichick’s reaction as, “I have been ready a yr [to take over].”

Parcells instructed ESPN lately: “No, I do not understand that. I am positive we mentioned one thing at that time, however I do not keep in mind the dialog.”

Ramos, Jets public members of the family director: “On Monday, I had long gone to Parcells early within the morning and gave him my concept how [his farewell news conference] would cross. He would announce he would now not be teaching, however would nonetheless be the manager accountable for the soccer operation, and that he would introduce Belichick to be the following soccer trainer.

“It will be like an ideal move, one trainer to any other. And [Parcells] stated, ‘Why do not you cross communicate to Invoice about it?’ So I did, and he sought after no a part of it. Belichick stated to me, ‘No, let Invoice have his day. He merits the day, let him have that. I will do it the next day to come.’ I stated, ‘That isn’t the way it must be. Invoice has had numerous large days and does not in point of fact want any other special day. This might be an excessively clean transition.'”

Carl Banks, Jets director of participant construction: “Given the historical past of that courting — I imply, the Giants’ scenario prior to — it does not wonder that Belichick did not need to be within the room for some roughly formal baton passing.”

Ramos: “In my head, I believed there is something amiss right here. When Invoice Parcells runs one thing, he runs it. For him to to not need to say that is how it’ll be performed, and to depart it to me to speak to Belichick … I believed it was once in point of fact peculiar.”

Muir: “I keep in mind later [on Monday], we have been all sitting round looking ahead to Invoice [Belichick] to name a gathering. Phrase got here down the corridor there may not be any assembly as of late. See you the next day to come. All of us went house and we got here again the next day to come.”

Belichick did to find time Monday to fulfill with Jets contract negotiator Mike Tannenbaum to talk about the crew’s salary-cap scenario. Monday ended with Parcells’ emotional farewell within the crew auditorium. (His retirement from the NFL can be short-lived, as he returned to train the Dallas Cowboys in 2003.) Previous within the day, the Jets had won a fax from the Patriots, soliciting for to talk with Belichick about their head-coaching emptiness.

The Jets, who denied permission that day, scheduled a information convention for two: 30 p.m. Tuesday to introduce Belichick, who was once first observed at 6 a.m. within the weight room on his fateful day. Belichick jogged at the treadmill along protection Kevin Williams, whom he later referenced in his rambling resignation speech. On the time, Williams was once on injured reserve, recuperating from a life-threatening bacterial an infection that had left him in a coma for 2 weeks.

Williams: “I used to be simply strolling at the treadmill — they would not let me jog or anything else but — and [Belichick] got here in and did his run. He was once roughly unhappy. You’ll want to inform one thing was once on his thoughts. Lets see outdoor over the fields, and he stated one thing like, ‘All you’ll be able to stay doing is operating laborious.’ It was once roughly philosophical, like, ‘You’ll be able to paintings as laborious as you’ll be able to paintings and every now and then it sort of feels love it ain’t just right sufficient.'”

Banks: “I used to be one of the most ultimate individuals who spoke with [Belichick] previous to that announcement. He was once down within the gymnasium, understanding at the treadmill. I actually walked as much as him and I stated, ‘Congratulations, do you wish to have me to do anything else as of late?’ He simply roughly checked out me and stated, ‘No, I may not want anything else. Thank you, Carl.’ He gave no indication. I imply, it was once as directly face as it’s good to get.”

Then, in step with Ramos, Belichick slipped out of the construction in brief and suspiciously in his overcoat.

Ramos: “I instructed Steve Gutman about it. I stated, ‘That is in point of fact abnormal. You’ll be able to’t consider what I simply noticed.’ He stated, ‘Gee, I do not know what that implies.’

“Clearly, he had long gone to make a telephone name off the valuables, or one thing like that. Perhaps he had a freelance in hand. My feeling was once, he had a freelance in hand on Saturday. I do not know that to be true, however that was once my feeling, that he already knew that Parcells was once going to retire as soccer trainer and that he and [Patriots owner Robert] Kraft had already put in combination a package deal.”

Victor Inexperienced, Jets protection: “Once I were given performed lifting, I went as much as Belichick’s place of work and gave him a Tiffany paperweight for his table, a congratulatory reward. It was once so great. It was once like a snow globe, formed like that. It was once crystal. He took it, he thanked me. It was once like not anything went down or was once taking place.”

Dan Henning, Jets quarterbacks trainer: “[Belichick] known as a gathering and we sat round, and he mentioned what we have been going to do for the following six weeks, like going to the Senior Bowl. Which was once tremendous. He was once the top trainer. Industry as same old. That is the method I noticed it.”

Parcells (from his e book) : “From what I discovered later, Belichick was once no longer the similar man on Tuesday that he was once on Monday. He was once visibly fearful. He could not forestall his palms from shaking within the coaches’ assembly, which he known as to an early halt.”

Muir: “I keep in mind leaving the room and calling my spouse and pronouncing, ‘I feel I want to cross search for a role.'”

Mary Grace Tranchina, govt assistant to the teaching personnel: “The coaches’ locker room was once proper throughout from my place of work and [Belichick] got here out of the locker room freshly showered, however raveled as may well be. Like, I do not know, it was once peculiar. Having a look again now, it is sensible now, however I by no means knew.”

Muir: “I left the construction to head get a haircut. I got here again within the construction and everyone was once glued to their TV. I stated, ‘What the hell is happening?'”

Henning, employed via Parcells, no longer Belichick, walked to Parcells’ place of work to talk about his task standing. He puzzled if Belichick would retain him.

Henning: “[Parcells] stated, ‘Take a seat down, you would possibly not need to do anything else.’ I stated, ‘What are you speaking about?’ He stated, ‘Watch the TV.’ So I used to be sitting in there with Invoice, gazing the TV, when Belichick had the clicking convention and resigned. I stated, ‘How did that every one occur?’ He stated, ‘Neatly, you already know, he it seems that has one thing going with any other crew.’ Clearly, New England.”

Parcells: “[I found out] that day, I assume. He got here in and had a work of paper in his hand and stated he was once resigning the task.”

Gutman: “Two phrases: Marvel and sadness.”

Parcells: “I do not know [if I was surprised]. I used to be simply disillusioned, I assume.”

Gutman: “I discovered that minute — as he walked into the clicking convention.”

Ramos opened the scoop convention this manner: “At the moment, I would love to introduce Invoice Belichick, who has a statement to make.” Belichick walked to the rostrum, giving a pleasant hi as he sauntered previous a reporter within the entrance row. Along with his blouse collar and tie knot askew, Belichick seemed as though he had speed-dressed for the instance.

Marvin Jones, Jets linebacker: “I keep in mind gazing the clicking convention along with his wrinkled swimsuit.”

Williams: “I keep in mind getting off the treadmill and going within the coaching room, and we have been sitting in there speaking, and it got here around the display, throughout ESPN, that he resigned. I simply noticed him! I may just inform he had one thing on his thoughts, however he did not say anything else about that. He acted on intuition. He made up his thoughts, I assume, down there, and he went upstairs and did what he needed to do.”

Banks: “I used to be at the Belt Limited-access highway [in New York], using house. I used to be paying attention to it at the radio and it was once like, ‘Wow, I had no concept. I simply talked to him.'”

Sal Paolantonio, ESPN reporter: “I used to be with regards to the middle of the room [during the news conference], proper in entrance. I may just see everyone’s faces. I may just see Steve Gutman and he was once ashen-faced, like someone simply instructed him that he misplaced his canine. Belichick walked as much as the rostrum and he seemed unhinged. He seemed like he was once extraordinarily dissatisfied and I did not know what the heck was once happening.”

Keyshawn Johnson, Jets huge receiver: “I used to be status alongside the wall behind the room. I used to be blindsided. I used to be like, rattling, how did that occur? He writes it on a [loose-leaf] serviette and mainly says he is resigning. At that time, I am strolling down the hallway. I am asking inquiries to assistant coaches, like, ‘What are we going to do?’ They did not have any solutions. It roughly were given out of regulate.”

Tranchina: “I used to be behind the auditorium … and my jaw was once to the bottom.”

Henning (who was once gazing in Parcells’ place of work): “[Parcells’] response was once like he was once gazing recreation movie, seeking to perceive the whole thing that was once happening. Invoice had obligations on each ends of it. Here is a man that labored for him, he labored with for years and years. He knew there was once going to be an incredible outcry from each ends.”

Parcells: “I do not recall an excessive amount of. Your thoughts is on different issues on the time when that was once happening. I should not have an actual transparent recollection of that.”

Gutman: “Marvel and sadness. I stay pronouncing the similar factor as a result of that is what it was once.”

After a 25-minute opening remark, adopted via a Q&A with newshounds, Belichick yielded the rostrum to Gutman and left the auditorium. Gutman instructed the newshounds in attendance for the scoop convention: “We must have some emotions of sorrow and feel sorry about for him and his circle of relatives. He clearly has some inside turmoil.”

Ramos: “You’ll want to inform via his speech, Steve was once in point of fact, in point of fact indignant.”

Belichick (within the ESPN documentary): “Necessarily, the issue I had with the entire association ultimately was once, when all this transpired, there was once no proprietor. Mr. [Leon] Hess kicked the bucket prior to the ’99 season. There have been two attainable homeowners, and that was once [Woody] Johnson and [Charles] Dolan. I hadn’t spoken with both one, however I had problems with each. It wasn’t Mr. Hess anymore, which was once the unique settlement. … That entire possession configuration at the moment was once a significant component in my determination.”

(Belichick declined ESPN’s interview request for this tale.)

Parcells (in his e book): “His excuse about issues converting with the dying of Mr. Hess was once susceptible.”

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At a tender age, Invoice Belichick was once one among Invoice Parcells’ relied on advisers.

Keyshawn Johnson: [The Parcells-Belichick relationship] soured. Yeah, it’s good to inform there was once some type of — I do not know — stress. I feel he did it as a result of he did not need Parcells soaring excessive of him, seeking to regulate what he sought after to do with the crew. They are boys now.”

Parcells: “[Belichick has] roughly instructed me what his emotions have been on it. No longer fairly then, however after that. It took a short time. That gave me just a little other standpoint. I used to be disillusioned. I am positive I instructed him that, and that was once that. That is the method existence is. It does not at all times cross the best way it is meant to.”

Paolantonio: “It is nearly like a man who, on the ultimate minute, says, ‘I will’t marry this lady. It isn’t going to paintings for me and I do know I will dissatisfied numerous other folks. I will dissatisfied this lady, I will dissatisfied her circle of relatives, and everyone with regards to her. I paid for the tuxes and the plant life and the dance corridor, the whole thing, however this is not the best factor for me to do.'”

Inexperienced: “He most certainly does not have the Tiffany paperweight anymore as it had ‘Jets’ on it. [Laughs.] He most certainly gave it away to any individual at this level.”

Paolantonio: “I am hoping someone has that piece of paper [the “HC of the NYJ” resignation]. I am hoping when he is going into the Professional Soccer Corridor of Popularity, it is a part of the Invoice Belichick show off. It must be the most important a part of his ancient paperwork. It is corresponding to having Richard Nixon’s letter of resignation.”

Alas, the paper it seems that is misplaced. Nobody is aware of what took place to it. What they do keep in mind is a definite newspaper headline.

The following morning, a Jets staffer clipped the New York Put up again web page and posted it at the bulletin board within the coaches’ wing. It screamed, “Belichicken!” It stayed up for 24 hours, drawing laughs from Belichick’s former colleagues.

A felony struggle ensued between the Jets and Belichick, who attempted — unsuccessfully — to void his contract with the crew. It revived the so-called Border Battle between the Jets and Patriots, who clashed in 1997 when Parcells escaped his New England contract to enroll in the Jets.

This time, Parcells and Kraft — sour competitors — negotiated a reimbursement package deal. The Jets traded the rights to Belichick for a 2000 first-round select, at the side of late-round swaps. Then linebackers trainer for the Jets, Al Groh was once named New York’s head trainer for the 2000 season.

The Patriots stated they did the whole thing via the e book, however some ponder whether they’d reached Belichick via again channels.

Parcells: “I am not answering that.”

Gutman: “I simply do not know, I simply do not know.”

Banks: “Neatly, [Belichick has] at all times been a step forward, put it that method. There will have been some communications happening.”

Henning: “Did he have a verbal deal? I do not know whether or not he had a verbal deal, however I do know they’d conversations. Such things as that do not occur with no need conversations. Let’s no longer child ourselves. This sort of factor occurs on a daily basis in our industry.”

Muir: “Looking back, once I considered it and put items to the puzzle in combination, I feel there was once a pre-arrangement between Kraft and Belichick. [Parcells] were given wind of it and he knew if he retired or resigned, Belichick can be required via contract to be the top trainer of the Jets.

“That explains [the] promptness of the resignation; it was once to snare Belichick into the contract and screw Kraft. I do suppose Parcells was once going to retire in any case, however the promptness by which it was once performed was once to check out to get the rabbit within the snare entice.”

Williams: “Belichick is likely one of the largest ever. I knew it then. Everyone who was once there knew it then. He is a genius at this recreation of soccer.”

Jones: “It was once like letting air out of a tire.”

Inexperienced: “I do not need to say I felt betrayed as a result of that is nonetheless his existence, however I felt disappointment as a result of I felt like I used to be dropping a mentor in Belichick. I at all times requested him questions on soccer. One time I requested him, ‘How can I be higher?’ He stated, ‘To begin with, I would like you to transport to the entrance of the assembly room.’ From that second, I sat within the entrance each unmarried day. Even if he left, I at all times sat within the entrance of the category.”

Banks: “I feel Invoice would’ve performed a perfect task with the Jets and, sure, I feel it might’ve modified the process historical past.”

Ramos: “Hindsight tells you it could were a very powerful press convention in Jets historical past and New England historical past, in keeping with the tips that got here from the clicking convention. Who is aware of what would’ve took place had Belichick taken over as head trainer of the Jets? Nobody will ever know.”

Tranchina: “I keep in mind [Belichick’s] first actual Tremendous Bowl with the Patriots. I stated, ‘I am not gazing it.’ I went house to my one-bedroom condominium, drank a pitcher of wine — a few glasses of wine — and watched ‘Intercourse and the Town.’ That was once the primary Tremendous Bowl I did not watch … after which the second one Tremendous Bowl I did not watch … and the 3rd … Each one he was once in, I could not watch it. I used to be so mad.”

Gutman: “He is a a hit trainer, one of the crucial a hit trainer within the historical past of the league. I do not know what else to consider it. … No [regrets]. You’ll be able to’t are living that method, no.”

Muir: “It’s important to give him credit score. It took numerous balls.”

Parcells: “Clearly, I had a top regard for him. I am glad he is performed smartly. I am the person who presented him to the New England other folks (in 1996, when he employed Belichick as a Patriots assistant). I am happy it labored out for him.”

Jones: “He and [then Jets personnel executive] Scott Pioli and all the ones guys went up there to New England. I might see him at pregame and say, ‘Why the f— did not you deliver me with you?'” [Laughs]

Vinny Testaverde, Jets quarterback (1998-2003): “Years later, once I went to New England, towards the top of my profession, an individual whose title I may not disclose stated at some point we will sit down down, have a lager and discuss how the entire thing went down. To be truthful, I by no means had an passion in understanding the tale. Perhaps some issues are supposed to be stored a secret.”