Belichick to Navy's football team: 'I'm behind you every day'
By DAN STEINBERG | The Washington Post | Published: November 15, 2017
Bill Belichick's fondness for the Naval Academy is well-established: His father Steve was a longtime assistant coach and scout at Navy; Bill spent his childhood breaking down film with Navy coaches and watching Navy practices; and he has maintained ties with the program, for example inviting Navy's coaches to sit in on the Patriots veterans minicamp this past offseason.
"When I look back on it, one of the things I learned at Annapolis, when I grew up around the Navy football teams in the early sixties - Joe Bellino, Roger Staubach, Coach Wayne Hardin and some of the great teams they had - I didn't know any differently," the New England coach told Nantucket Magazine. "I just assumed that's what football was. Guys were very disciplined. They worked very hard. They did extra things. They were always on time, alert, ready to go, team-oriented, unselfish. I thought that's the way it all was. I wasn't aware of it at the time, but I can see how that molded me."
The Navy coaching staff borrowed a team motto from Belichick, and picked up further tips during the minicamp. "Their legacy is real here," Navy coach Ken Niumatalolo said of the Belichicks in a terrific Sports Illustrated piece about the relationship.
So with Belichick in Annapolis, Maryland, during the team's bye week, and with Showtime featuring the Midshipmen in a season-long documentary series this fall, it figured that Belichick would wind up on-camera, delivering a motivational speech to a team that had lost three straight games.
"Growing up in Annapolis, the Naval Academy, it's been a huge part of my life," Belichick told the team in the clip, which led off this week's episode. "It's always a pleasure to be here, and I follow you guys every week. . . . Confidence is really today's confidence. It's not last week; it's not next month. So whether you won last week or didn't win last week, that doesn't have anything to do with today, it doesn't have anything to do with tomorrow.
"Don't worry about the Army game; there's nothing you can do about any of that stuff," Belichick went on. "The only thing you can control is what you do today in preparing for the upcoming game next week against SMU. If you can control what your effort is, you control what your performance is. Put the most into it, and you'll get the most out of it. Fellas, good luck the rest of the year. I'm behind you every day, every week, every season. Let's go out and get one."
The players clapped and Belichick waved; later in the episode, receiver Tyler Carmona talked about how important Belichick's message had been. Navy, of course, went on to defeat SMU, 43-40, to become bowl eligible for the sixth-straight season. The Patriots won last weekend, too, and will now spend time at the Air Force Academy, preparing for an upcoming game against the Raiders in Mexico City. Belichick was asked about that stay, in light of his fondness for Navy, during an interview with WEEI.
"I think it's a tremendous opportunity for our football team and the coaching staff and all the people that are here," the coach said. "You know, the Air Force Academy is a highly competitive institution. It's very difficult to get in and very difficult to achieve the standards that they require to graduate as an officer in the United States Air Force. So they do a tremendous job of training men and women to serve and defend our country, and they're highly skilled in operating the most advanced and powerful equipment in the world, as well as having great discipline and leadership and being in top physical condition in order to perform their jobs.
"So it's a great institution, a great opportunity for us to work in that type of environment that demands that high level of performance on a daily basis. So we'll try to make the most of it. . . . It's been a pleasure working with them and we have a tremendous amount of respect for the job they do, how they do it and look forward to observing it and just being around the high quality that they put out every day."