RICHMOND – As a special assistant to then-Baltimore Colts head coach Ted Marchibroda in 1975, Bill Belichick, fresh out of college, was given a series of mundane tasks that earned him a reported $25 a week.
Among one of those tasks was to take the playbook, which Marchibroda used a year before as the Washington Redskins’ offensive coordinator, and replace every reference to the Redskins with one to the Colts.
“I remember there was a couple pages somehow that snuck into the playbook that ‘Redskins’ didn’t get whited out and I heard about it on that,” Belichick joked Monday.
That first season, Baltimore and Washington scrimmaged several times – including a 24-10 preseason victory by the Redskins – and the encounters between the teams remained frequent until the Colts left for Indianapolis in 1984.
By then, Belichick had settled in as the linebackers coach – and later the defensive coordinator – of the New York Giants, who would face the Redskins twice a year.
On Monday, as Belichick enters his 15th season coaching New England, he recounted his long history with the Redskins. The two teams began a three-day joint practice schedule that morning that will culminate with a preseason game on Thursday.
“There are a lot of memories that stand out with this organization,” Belichick said. “This is kind of the, I’d say, almost second home my first year in the league.”
Growing up in Annapolis, Belichick considered himself more of a fan of the Colts than someone who despised the Redskins. His father, Steve, was an assistant coach at Navy from 1956 through 1989 and was influential in getting Bill that first job in coaching.
The Giants won the Super Bowl after the 1986 season, when they defeated the Redskins in the NFC championship game, and in 1990. Belichick would later collect three more Super Bowl victories with the Patriots, winning after the 2001, 2003 and 2004 seasons.
Belichick declined to venture a guess as to why it’s been nearly a decade since a team last won consecutive Super Bowls, insisting that he’s “not going to be able to write the history of the NFL.”
Yet entering his 40th season in the league, Belichick has seen quite a bit – especially when it comes to the Redskins.
“Those were some great battles that I’ll never forget,” he said. “They were just a huge part of my career. The Redskins, the 49ers – those were kind of the biggest games on the schedule each year.”