What if Bill Belichick had become the coach of the Jets?

The NFL staff has identified plays or events that may have altered the course of history. Each Tuesday and Saturday throughout the offseason, we will be tackling a different scenario and speculate on how things might have gone differently.

When Bill Parcells opted to step down as head coach of the New York Jets after the 1999 season, he was convinced he'd be leaving the franchise in good hands. Parcells envisioned a smooth handoff to his top lieutenant, Bill Belichick, who had served as assistant head coach/defensive coordinator for New York the past three seasons.

But what followed was a bizarre turn of events that helped spawn the league's next dynasty. On the day Belichick was to be introduced to the media as the 14th head coach in Jets history, he instead submitted his resignation, scribbled on a sheet of loose-leaf paper. After delivering a rambling half-hour speech, attempting to explain his decision to the assembled press, he was gone.

The stunned Jets were dealt another blow when, just days later, Belichick accepted an offer to become the head coach of the divisional-rival New England Patriots. New York did receive a first-round pick from the Patriots as compensation, but eight years later; this must represent one of the most lopsided deals in league history.

Having learned from his mistakes as a head coach with the Cleveland Browns (1991-1995), Belichick has achieved remarkable success in New England, leading the Pats to a 75-37 record and three Super Bowl victories (Super Bowl XXXVI, Super Bowl XXXVIII, and Super Bowl XXXIX).

Meanwhile, fans in New York have been left to wonder: What if Belichick had accepted the head coaching position with the Jets?

-- David Mosse

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