xml:space="preserve">
xml:space="preserve">
Advertisement
Advertisement

Annapolis mayor Gavin Buckley to present Patriots coach Bill Belichick with keys to the city next month

New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick, pictured speaking during the 62nd annual Touchdown Club of Annapolis Football Banquet in 2018, is due to receive the keys to the city during a ceremony at the Army-Navy men’s lacrosse game, being held April 24 at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium.
New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick, pictured speaking during the 62nd annual Touchdown Club of Annapolis Football Banquet in 2018, is due to receive the keys to the city during a ceremony at the Army-Navy men’s lacrosse game, being held April 24 at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium. (By Matthew Cole / Capital Gazette)

Annapolis Mayor Gavin Buckley will try once again to present New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick with the keys to the city.

Buckley is now hoping to conduct the special ceremony honoring the Annapolis native during the Army-Navy men’s lacrosse game, being held April 24 at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium.

Advertisement

“Third time’s the charm,” Buckley said. “We would love to finally get Bill Belichick across the line because he is so deserving of this honor.”

Buckley was referring to the fact two previous attempts to present Belichick with the keys to the city of Annapolis did not come off.

Advertisement
Advertisement

Buckley initially decided to recognize Belichick after he led the Patriots to their sixth Super Bowl championship in 2018. The mayor said such a distinguished honor was long overdue for the Annapolis High graduate who has become one of the greatest coaches in National Football League history. He played football and lacrosse while he was at Annapolis High School.

“I’m very cognizant of recognizing people from this town that go on to achieve great things,” Buckley said. “I feel it’s important to let the world know this is a native son whose success story started right here in Annapolis. Growing up in this great city can be a springboard to greatness.”

Belichick is the son of the longest-serving Navy assistant football coach and has remained closely connected to academy athletics throughout his life. Steve Belichick worked as an associate professor of physical education at the academy and was on the football staff from 1956 through 1989, a tenure that spanned seven head coaches.

Steve Belichick coached special teams and specialized in scouting. He authored Football Scouting Methods, a book that numerous college and professional coaches have referred to as the “bible” on the subject.

Advertisement

When the elder Belichick died in 2005 at the age of 86, his son donated the family’s historic book collection to the Naval Academy Athletic Association. That massive library, totaling more than 400 volumes, is displayed in the lobby of the Navy football offices on the third floor of Ricketts Hall.

“My father and I often discussed consolidating our collections and making them available for others to enjoy,” Bill Belichick said in October 2006. “Because of our ties to the Naval Academy and the Annapolis area, they will now have a perfect new home.”

Because of that background, Buckley felt it was natural to present Belichick with the keys to the city during a Navy athletics event. He worked with Navy athletic director Chet Gladchuk, and it was decided to hold the ceremony during the Army-Navy men’s lacrosse game in April 2019.

However, former Navy football great Joe Bellino died on March 28, 2019, and his funeral was scheduled for the same day of Army-Navy lacrosse. Belichick, who had developed a close friendship with the 1960 Heisman Trophy winner, was invited to the funeral by the Bellino family and did not hesitate to accept.

“Coach Belichick had confirmed for Army-Navy lacrosse and was very excited about getting the key to the city,” Buckley said. “When Joe Bellino passed, [Belichick] called and said he needed to attend the funeral. He was very apologetic even though his reason for canceling was perfectly understandable.”

Buckley and Gladchuk tried to reset the presentation, but it never was scheduled for the Navy football home opener against Holy Cross on Aug. 31, 2019. That’s because Belichick was attending an event being held the night before honoring former Navy football coaches Rick Forzano and George Welsh.

Belichick did indeed serve as keynote speaker for the Forzano-Welsh tribute but could not stay for the Navy-Holy Cross game the next day.

“I understand how busy this man is, so I just asked coach Belichick to let me know the next time he would be here in Annapolis and had time to receive the key,” Buckley said.

“Coach called to let me know he would be in town that weekend, and I asked if he would still consider doing the presentation. Coach said he would be honored, so we set the wheels in motion,” Buckley said. “I’ve talked to coach Belichick a couple times now, and it is obvious he’s a great guy who does not forget his roots or his hometown. As the mayor, I find that very humbling.”

Unfortunately, the Navy-Hopkins game was never held because the Patriot League shut down all spring sports just a few days beforehand due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Now Buckley must hope Navy athletics resumes activities this spring, so the keys to the city ceremony does not get canceled a third time. Navy announced the pause would begin March 1 and it is now approaching three weeks without varsity sports teams being able to practice or participate in competitions.

After graduating from Wesleyan University, where he played both lacrosse and football, Belichick got his first coaching job in 1975 as a $25 per week assistant with the Baltimore Colts. In 1976, Detroit Lions head coach Rick Forzano hired Belichick as an assistant special teams coach. Forzano, who knew the Belichick family well from his time as an assistant and head coach at Navy, later added tight ends and wide receivers to Bill’s coaching duties.

Belichick served as an assistant with the New York Giants for 12 seasons under head coaches Ray Perkins and Bill Parcells. He was the defensive coordinator when the Giants won Super Bowl XXI and Super Bowl XXV following the 1986 and 1990 seasons. His defensive game plan for the New York Giants’ 20-19 upset of the Buffalo Bills in Super Bowl XXV has been placed in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

After stints as the head coach of the Cleveland Browns (1991-95), assistant head coach with the New England Patriots (1996) and defensive coordinator of the New York Jets (1997-99), Belichick was named head coach of the Patriots in 2000 and the rest is history.

Under Belichick, the Patriots have a regular-season record of 280-136 over 19 seasons and a 31-12 record in the playoffs. Belichick has led the Patriots to 11 consecutive AFC East titles and Super Bowl victories in 2001, 2003, 2004, 2014, 2016 and 2018.

“I am humbled and honored to be recognized by Mayor Buckley and the City of Annapolis,” Belichick said in a previous statement about the honor. “I would like to thank Admiral Buck and Chet Gladchuk for allowing me to receive the key in Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium. I loved the years I spent growing up in Annapolis and at the Naval Academy, and I always look forward to returning. I am proud to be an Annapolitan!”

Recommended on Baltimore Sun

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement