The Pro Football Hall of Fame is an elite club in which only the players and coaches who have best contributed to the game are enshrined.
We all know that to be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame you must have had a very decorated career as a player or coach.
With that in mind, is Bill Belichick a Hall of Famer?
The first thing many of you thought when you read my question was Spygate. You thought how can a “cheater” be inducted into the most exalted and renowned honor that the NFL has to offer.
Many may say that what Belichick did from 2000-2006 is tainted because of Spygate. They say that the “scandal” helped Belichick on winning many of those games and championships.
Many failed to do extensive research on the subject and immediately blurt out what they heard from ESPN or other prod casters.
If we set Spygate aside and look at his accomplishments you’ll realize that Bill Belichick is truly a Hall of Famer.
Few coaches in the history of the National Football League have accomplished what Bill Belichick accomplished.
New York Giants Defensive Coordinator.
New York Giants Defensive Coordinator.
Bill Belichick had his rise to fame when he was the New York Giants' defensive coordinator. He was one of the best and brightest defensive coordinators during his time in New York.
During his 12 years as the New York Giants' defensive coordinator the average overall rank of his defense was about 8th in the league.
He posted top-10 defenses eight times.
He posted top-five defenses six times.
His 1985, 1986, and 1990 defenses were ranked 2nd in the league in overall defense.
In 1990 his defense was ranked 1st in points allowed.
His most significant defensive job as the Giants' defensive coordinator is not remembered for the brilliance he showed but for the last play of the game. In Super Bowl XXV Bill Belichick’s defense held the high-powered Buffalo Bills' offense to 19 points. The game plan that he devised for the famous or infamous upset is now situated in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
Cleveland Browns Head Coach:
Bill Belichick was the head coach of the Cleveland Browns from 1991-1995. He had a disappointing career as the Browns' head coach but few realize or give him the credit for having a good season in Cleveland and he never had a season in Cleveland in which he didn’t win at least five games. His overall record in Cleveland was 36-44, which is a terrible record. However, in 1994, he lead the Browns to an 11-5 record.
New England Patriots Head Coach:
Bill Belichick’s time in New England was the golden age of his career. As New England’s head coach Bill Belichick compiled a 105-40 record.
He created one of the NFL’s greatest dynasties with the Patriots, winning three Super Bowls in a four-year span.
In 2001, Belichick led the Patriots to their first Super Bowl victory in franchise history. In the Super Bowl victory over the St. Louis Rams Belichick showed his genius when he shut down one of the NFL's greatest offenses to only 17 points. Belichick’s defense kept the Rams to three points in three quarters. His game plan against the Rams is now held with his game plan against the Giants in Super Bowl XXV in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
In his nine years with the Patriots the team has only failed to make the playoffs three times. In addition, he had five consecutive playoff appearances.
I know there’s some people who have done their research and feel annoyed and that it's unnecessary that I mention this, but I’m putting together a case for why Belichick should be a Hall of Famer, I have to address this issue as it is part of Belichick’s career.
First and foremost Belichick was not convicted of “cheating” by the NFL. He was convicted of improper camera placement.
As my good friend John here on B/R has mentioned many times before, the NFL rule books state that teams cannot put cameras anywhere in a stadium that doesn‘t have three walls and a roof over it (the press box).
Belichick didn’t use the video tapes he had for the game that was being played. He used them for future reference. He didn’t video tape every team they played. The video tapes containing others things and contained few aspects of the opponents defensive signals.
We must ask ourselves a question: did Bill Belichick gain any competitive edge with Spygate, and if so, how much of an edge?
Belichick reportedly started video taping the other team's defensive signals in the 2000 NFL season, which was the year that the Patriots finished the season with a 5-11 record.
The next season was a dramatic turnaround, as the team won their first Super Bowl.
Right after winning their first franchise Super Bowl in 2002, a year that included the era of Spygate, the Patriots finished the season with no playoff berth.
The next year they went back to the Super Bowl and won it. The same thing goes with 2004.
So the first five years of Spygate resulted in three Super Bowls and two seasons with no playoff berths.
If Spygate was such an advantage, why was it so inconsistent?
The answer: Even if it did give Belichick an edge, it was only a minimal edge--if it was such an enormous edge, then the Patriots wouldn’t have been so inconsistent in their first five years of the Spygate scandal. Yes, they won three Super Bowls, but they missed the playoffs twice those years.
Lets look at his career after spy gate. After the NFL found out about Belichick’s video taping NFL agents were ordered to oversee everything that the Patriots do on the sidelines.
In his first season without “cheating” ( he didn’t “cheat” in the Jets game because the video tapes were seized) he became the only coach in NFL history to lead a team to a 16-0 season.
He lead the New England Patriots to a 18-0 record before finally losing to the New York Giants in the final minutes of the Super Bowl. He engineered a defense that was ranked 4th in the league in overall defense.
In his second year of not “cheating” he lead the Patriots to an 11-5 record and missed the playoffs only for the simple fact that he had a poor conference record, and the Patriots became the only 11-5 team since the 1985 Denver Broncos to miss the playoffs.
Belichick's overall record after Spygate is 29-6.
An argument could be proposed that Bill Belichick now has a better team and doesn’t need to cheat. That isn’t exactly true. Yes, the Patriots now have a better offense but their defensive unit during the Spygate era was much better than the one they had during the past two years.
The Patriots have won at least nine games in the last seven years under Belichick.
In the playoffs, Belichick is 15-4 over his career both with the Browns and Patriots. Only Vince Lombardi has a better wining percentage in the playoffs than Belichick does.
The only obstacle preventing Bill Belichick from being a Hall of Famer is Spygate. But as I mentioned, he has succeeded without Spygate. If you look beyond that, Belichick’s accomplishments are unmatched by any coach in the last decade and is among the NFL’s all-time great coaches.