Link between JFK, Navy football impacted Belichick

Link between JFK, Navy football impacted Belichick
November 22, 2013, 11:30 am
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(USA Today Sports)

If you want to know why Bill Belichick is the way he is, I have a book for you.
 
It’s called “The President’s Team: The 1963 Army-Navy Game and the Assassination of JFK” and it’s written by West Roxbury’s Mike Connelly.

Belichick, 11 years old at the time of President Kennedy’s assassination, had been around the Naval Academy’s football program since 1956 when his father, Steve, was hired as a scout and backfield coach.
 
Steve, like JFK, was a Navy veteran from World War II. And Steve’s only child was a fixture around the team for all of his formative years.
 
Navy’s coach, Wayne Hardin, told me in August that the young Bill Belichick was fascinated by the workings of the game.
 
“My boys were all his age so they would come to practice, but Bill was glued to it,” said Hardin. “They’d all come to breaking down film and you’d go back and forth, back and forth, back and forth. My boys would want to see the game and they’d say, ‘What are you doing?’  I’d tell them I have work to do and they’d go and play golf. Billy would stay at home with his Dad and do the film. (Steve) would say, ‘You watch the tight ends,’ and Billy would break down the tight ends. You’d ask him, ‘What did they do, ‘They double-teamed’ or ‘He ran a hook 10 yards deep,’ That was the way Bill grew up, analyzing football, analyzing films, analyzing game plans.”
 
Similarities between the way Hardin ran his program from 1959 to 1964 and the way Belichick has run the Patriots are unmistakable. During that period, Kennedy – first a senator from Massachusetts then the president – took a special interest in the program.
 
And as the 1963 season unfurled and Navy presented itself as a national power, Kennedy’s interest and association with that team deepened. There was a very special bond present.
 
On November 20, two days before his death, Kennedy sent a message to Hardin saying how much he looked forward to the Army-Navy game to be played November 30.
 
Belichick spoke to Time magazine about his recollections of Kennedy and that period.  
 
“My most vivid firsthand memory of President Kennedy came when I sat several rows directly behind him at the 1962 Army-Navy Game in Philadelphia’s Municipal Stadium, as Navy beat the Cadets, 34-14,” he recalled. “I was only 10 years old but will always cherish that day. The following year, I attended the Army-Navy game in the same stadium, only this time under very tragic, very surreal and emotional circumstances one week after the assassination. That day, Navy stopped Army at the two-yard line on the game’s final play for a 21-15 victory and a berth in the Cotton Bowl. I learned life lessons on leadership, teamwork, mental toughness from being around the 1963 Navy football team, also known as the President’s Team.”
 
With Friday being the 50th anniversary of Kennedy’s assassination, the link between JFK, Navy football and – by extension – Bill Belichick is worth noting.