Meridian Star

March 27, 2013

Patriots’ Belichick speaks at JCJC

Tony Tsoukalas
The Meridian Star

MERIDIAN — New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick will be remembered as one of the greatest coaches in NFL history.  Five Superbowl rings, three as a head coach, and a winning percentage of .649 have earned him that status –– so have countless hours of hard work.

    Belichick  delivered that message of hard work at Jones County Junior College on Tuesday, as he spoke with Bobcat football players prior to a private fundraiser benefiting the JCJC football program.

    “Just take advantage of this opportunity, and you earn what you get,” Belichick said. “That's one great thing about football, there are no handouts. You don't get anything because of the car you drive or where you live, you get to go out there and earn it on the field.”

    Before a press conference with the media, Belichick answered questions and gave pointers to Bobcat players in the JCJC field house, spreading information on how to succeed in football as well as life.

     Players were not only given the chance to soak in information from the NFL legend, the team also got a chance to see the normally stoic head coach in a new light.

    “Really, you just got to see what he is like not talking to the media,” JCJC sophomore quarterback Ben Stevens said. “He wasn't anything like what he's like on TV. He's funny, and he's a very good guy.”

    Belichick received one of his first jobs in the NFL, serving in 1979 as the special teams coach for former New York Giants head coach and current JCJC coach Ray Perkins.

    Belichick, who still calls Perkins as a close friend, agreed to come to Mississippi after Perkins invited him down last year.

    “It really all started with Ray,” Belichick said. “I appreciate everything he did for me and my family and the opportunity he gave to me a long time ago.”

    “He's been a great friend, and I've learned an awful lot from him about discipline, consistency, team work and really focusing on detail. A lot of things I learned from him made me a better coach and a better person.”

    Belichick dedicates some of his commitment to excellence from lessons he learned from Perkins during his time with the Giants. Faced with many tough decisions, Belichick said Perkins always stayed firm to his beliefs and never wavered during times of adversity.

    “Coach Perkins demanded a higher level and got a higher level,” Belichick said. “That is one of the many things I learned. Set the expectations high; you are not trying to put a good team out there, you are putting a championship team out there.”

    The Patriots head coach also had plenty of praise for the MACJC, stating he had heard plenty of  stories from Perkins as well as Patriots receiver and JCJC alum Deion Branch about the league's tradition. Belichick said the talent and work ethic demonstrated among football programs in the Southeast makes it a prime breeding ground for NFL talent.

    “Obviously there are a lot of good football players here,” Belichick said. “They work hard, this is a gt football area. They come from some great high-school programs. Guys who work hard,  improve, have talent,  and  can put it all together become potential draft choices and pro prospects. Those are the guys we look at.”