Bill Belichick’s first full-time coaching job was with the Lions in 1976, and more than four decades later he paid a visit to Detroit and sat down with his boss, Rick Forzano. NFL Films documented their visit.
The 89-year-old Forzano, who worked with “Billy” Belichick’s father at Navy in the 1950s and 1960s, still has a good memory of the five-time Super Bowl-winning Patriots coach as a boy.
“I went to Navy as an assistant coach and Billy was about 8, and his mother and dad had me stay with them,” Forzano recalled, adding that he and Steve Belichick often talked football with Billy in the room.
“And I listened,” Belichick said. “I listened. I got to hear a lot of those conversations and that’s where I learned a lot, from both of you.”
Years later, after Belichick had completed a year as a part-time employee on the Baltimore Colts’ staff, Forzano hired Belichick as a full-time assistant special teams coach on the Lions’ staff. Belichick was making $10,000 a year, which is about $43,000 in today’s dollars.
“That was up from $25 a week,” Belichick said of his salary with the Colts.
Belichick thinks of Forzano as the link between himself and Paul Brown, the innovative football mind who was a mentor to Forzano.
“You learned a lot from Coach Brown, and I learned a lot from you, so I feel like I learned a lot from Coach Brown,” Belichick told Forzano.
The NFL Films video is a great look at a great coach paying tribute to a mentor who helped him in his early days.