Belichick Steals Show at Annapolis Touchdown Club Banquet

Andy Hart, Patriots Football Weekly
Bill Belichick was a surprise guest at the 50th annual Touchdown Club of Annapolis banquet last week, wowing the crowd of more than 500.

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Head Coach Bill Belichick – 2003 New Englanders and Patriots fans like to claim Bill Belichick as their own. In many ways the world of professional football in the area saw a rebirth when the longtime defensive coordinator and successful assistant took over the reins of a franchise that had never seen Super Bowl glory in its first four decades of play. With two Lombardi Trophies in four seasons, Belichick has become the patron saint of Patriots football.

But we forget that before he was the master coordinator, before he was even a lowly assistant with the 1975 Baltimore Colts, before he had even ventured north to New England for his post graduate and college schooling, Belichick was a product of Annapolis, Maryland, growing up around, and submersed in, the world of Navy football.

Johnny Unitas and Bill Belichick Last week while in Annapolis visiting his parents, Steve and Jeanette, Belichick made a surprise stop at the 50th annual Touchdown Club of Annapolis banquet. The 2003 NFL Coach of the Year addressed the gathering of more than 500 members of the local community and Navy football family, looking back with fondness on his time growing up in Annapolis, playing football and lacrosse at Annapolis High and endless hours spent with the Navy football team where his father was a longtime assistant.

“Nothing beats coming home,” Belichick said in the Annapolis Capital-Gazette. “It is great to be back in Annapolis among so many friends.

“Annapolis means so much to me. It was a great place to grow up and I feel good whenever I come back.”

Belichick also credited a great deal of the current success he is enjoying as an NFL head coach in a foundation set not only in the time spent around Navy football and boyhood idols like Roger Staubach and Joe Bellino, but also in the teachings of late Annapolis High School coach Al Laramore.

“Al Laramore was an awesome coach,” Belichick said. “He loved football, he loved the game and he loved us as kids.

“Being able to be at the Navy practices, to see great players and great coaches, was an awesome experience. The combination of the people and the institution of the Naval Academy and the people of Annapolis, the support of the community and the Touchdown Club gives to local athletics is incredible.”

In the end, while signing autographs and chatting with the hundreds of people offering their congratulations, Belichick continued to deflect some of the praise while turning the focus to the region and the very Touchdown Club that he was in town to celebrate.

Bill Belichick at Press Conference “People always ask me about my team: ‘How did you do it, how did your team do it, how did it come together?’ Honestly, what we did was the only way I ever saw it happening. I want to thank the citizens of Annapolis, the Touchdown Club, the Naval Academy, but more I want to thank the people of the Naval Academy for teaching me the meaning of the word teamwork,” Belichick said in The Capital.

“I try to impart that to the players I’ve coached and I think our players this year displayed to the entire nation, maybe the entire world, how guys collectively committed to a goal can work unselfishly for the team.

“Thank you Annapolis.”

Maybe Patriots fans should be sending a thank you down the coast to Annapolis as well, to a community that played a key role in the development of a man who has brought so much success and excitement to an entire region of New England football fans