Why Bill Belichick’s Genius Can’t Be Replicated

When Robert Kraft traded a first-round draft pick to the New York Jets in 2000 in exchange for the right to hire Bill Belichick, N.F.L. insiders considered it “an awfully steep price,” as one put it, and a journalist mocked him for being “snookered.”

Convinced that Belichick was a coaching savant, Kraft ignored the naysayers.

Belichick also knew what critics were saying. He had an undistinguished record as a head coach, and Kraft was a relatively new owner of a franchise that had never won a championship.

Hours before Belichick’s first game as head coach of the New England Patriots on Sept. 3, 2000, he gave Kraft a gift: a vintage print of Ted Williams and Babe Ruth. On a nondescript card, Belichick scribbled, “Thanks for giving me the opportunity to coach your team. Let’s hope we will be as successful as these two fellas.”

Kraft framed the print and the card and hung them on his office wall, where they remained for the past 24 years.

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