New England coach preps for 'warm welcome' at Linc, recalls fond memories of Philly

Ed Benkin
November 12, 2019 - 3:44 pm
Bill Belichick

Patrick Smith/Getty Images

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PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — Bill Belichick knows what kind of greeting he’ll receive on Sunday at Lincoln Financial Field when the Eagles take on the Patriots.

"I always got a real nice and warm reception from the fans," he joked. "I'm sure that will continue."

While the Patriots coach knows the boos will be waiting for him in South Philadelphia, it won't change the respect he has for both the Eagles and the city of Philadelphia.

Belichick has had his share of memorable moments in the city. He spent 11 years as an assistant with the Giants before moving on to become a head coach in Cleveland and New England. Belichick has faced the likes of Dick Vermeil, Buddy Ryan and Andy Reid, and he knows he is always in for a tough contest when his teams play in the City of Brotherly Love.

"They're always a very competitive team," Belichick said. "Jeff Lurie and his family have done a great job with that franchise. They've been very competitive through the years there, going back to Dick, Buddy and, of course, Andy, and now (Doug) Pederson is an Andy disciple."

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Belichick spent much of his time with the Giants as their defensive coordinator. He helped lead New York to Super Bowl championships in 1986 and 1990, but he has had his share of bumps in the road with Ryan's Eagles.

During one of the more intense periods of the Eagles-Giants rivalry, New York lost five out of six games to Philadelphia between 1988 and 1990. While the Eagles defense was led by the likes of Reggie White and Seth Joyner, Belichick had his hands full on the other side of the ball with Randall Cunningham, Keith Jackson and Keith Byars.

"There was a great rivalry with the Eagles and the Giants," Belichick recalled. "It was tough against Vermeil, and then we did OK for a while. It was kind of tough in the later ’80s when they had some of those great defenses, and Jackson and Byars and all of those guys."

Belichick also picked up a huge win at Veterans Stadium as Cleveland's head coach in 1994. It was the beginning of a seven-game losing streak for the Eagles that year, which led to the end of Rich Kotite's coaching tenure.

But before his days with the Giants, Browns and Patriots, there were times when a young Belichick would travel to Philadelphia for the Army-Navy game, which he watched at the former Vet or JFK Stadium.

"I personally have always had a real affection for the city of Philadelphia," Belichick said. "I grew up there going to all the Army-Navy games every Saturday after Thanksgiving. We'd get out there on Black Friday and see all the shoppers out there and how busy it was on Broad Street. There was Wanamaker's and the Bellevue-Stratford. There was really a lot of great memories from my childhood from those weekends in Philadelphia."

Belichick is hoping for a different happy memory this Sunday. His Patriots are 8-1, but coming off their first loss of the season. In the meantime, he’ll have to hold onto those joyous thoughts from his childhood while he reaps his usual “warm welcome” from Birds fans.

"They've always been a tough team to deal with," said Belichick. "The fans are passionate. It's a great environment."