Marking the anniversary of Bill Belichick quitting the Jets after a single day

"I resign as the HC of the NYJ"

Bill Belichick, who became the New York Jets head coach when Bill Parcells resigned Monday Jan.3, abruptly resigned the position during a news conference Tuesday, Jan. 4, 2000.
Bill Belichick, who became the New York Jets head coach when Bill Parcells resigned Monday Jan.3, abruptly resigned the position during a news conference Tuesday, Jan. 4, 2000. –AP Photo/John Dunn

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For a single day, Bill Belichick found himself in a very different AFC East vantage point than the one history will remember him for. He stood at the helm of the New York Jets following the resignation of the man who had overshadowed him for much of the past 15 years.

On January 3, 2000, Belichick was named the next coach of the Jets, replacing Bill Parcells. His formal debut would occur at a press conference the following day. The system appeared to be working for New York. Though the franchise was losing its charismatic coach, his hand-picked cerebral successor was sliding in to fill the vacancy.

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Then, without warning, Belichick dropped one of the great shocks in NFL press conference history:

Moments before, Belichick allegedly scrawled his formal resignation on a napkin:

“I resign as the HC of the NYJ.”

Belichick cited the unclear nature of who would succeed Jets owner Leon Hess. A bidding war was underway, with Cablevision’s Charles Dolan clashing with Johnson & Johnson heir Robert “Woody” Johnson. Johnson ended up winning the pursuit later that month, though by that point Belichick was already gone.

The ripple effect of this move, particularly on the AFC East, is still reverberating in 2017. Belichick eventually wound up in New England after a protracted negotiation between two parties, Bill Parcells of the Jets and Robert Kraft of the Patriots, who weren’t exactly on the best terms in 2000.

The results since that time speak for themselves:

  • In 1999, the last year before Belichick became head coach in New England, the Patriots and Jets each went 8-8.
  • Since then, Belichick has gone 201-71 with the Patriots, winning 14 AFC East titles and four Super Bowls.
  • Meanwhile, the Jets have gone 132-140, winning one division title and no Super Bowls.

In his first press conference with the Patriots, Belichick began with a joking reference to his abrupt Jets departure.

“Hopefully this press conference will go a little better than the last one I had,” said Belichick with an uncharacteristic smile.

Update (4:02 p.m.): A previous version of this article incorrectly stated that the Jets have not won a division title in the last 17 seasons. In reality, it has only been 14 seasons.

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