SECAUCUS, N.J. –- Bill Belichick returned to New Jersey on Sunday to spend some time with his first great defense.
Belichick participated in the Giants' 25th anniversary celebration for the 1986 Super Bowl champions. While he has kept in touch with many of his former players, the Patriots head coach said he hasn’t seen maybe half of the ’86 squad until today.
“It was awesome, 25 years… special group,” Belichick said. “Unselfish, it was a very competitive group, they loved to practice, they played hard. We had a lot of great players and they fed off each other.”
Belichick marveled at the talent he had on a defense that included the likes of Lawrence Taylor, Harry Carson, Leonard Marshall and George Martin just to name a few.
“Honestly, I think I learned something from every guy,” Belichick said. “Our defense understood the team concept. The corners knew what the linebackers were doing. The linebackers knew what the nose guard was doing. The nose guard knew it. I learned from Jim Burt, George Martin, Perry (Williams), Lawrence, Pepper (Johnson), Carl (Banks), Mark Collins… all those guys, I learned a lot from all those players.”
“They had different styles, different things worked for them better than some other guys,” Belichick continued. “There were things that Leonard could do that George couldn’t do, vice-versa. Jim Burt, Erik Howard, I mean, can you imagine two nose guards like that? Can you imagine Pepper Johnson not in the starting lineup? Our depth was remarkable really, how much talent we had, particularly on the front seven. I learned one thing… they’ll make you a good coach.”
Wearing his two Giants Super Bowl rings from 1986 and 1990, Belichick spoke of what he learned from those two Super Bowl victories and how he used that to his advantage in New England.
“It definitely helps to be in a big game and to have won them,” he said. “You learn something every day, every game. Each year is a learning year, it is a long process. But having done it, then when you go, like to go to the Super Bowl in ’01, having been there on a short week like we did, that was a short week, we went on a short week after the San Francisco game, you are not going in there blind."
"You know what you are dealing with. I think that helps. And if you can convey that confidence to everybody else, look, I’ve been there, I know what we need to do, then maybe that comforts them a little bit. So there certainly is a lot of benefit to it.”