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Bill Belichick receives Game Ball award for commitment to diversity

"This means an awful lot to me."

Bill Belichick
The Fritz Pollard Alliance honored Patriots head coach Bill Belichick for his commitment to diversity. –Nathan Kilma for The Boston Globe

INDIANAPOLIS — Bill Belichick was given an unexpected honor on Thursday at the NFL Combine, receiving the Game Ball award from the Fritz Pollard Alliance for his commitment to diversity.

The Fritz Pollard Alliance was founded in 2003 to advocate on behalf of minority coaches. Former chairman John Wooten, who recently retired and was replaced by Harry Carson, said Belichick deserved the award for doing “a very special job of leveling the playing field in diversity and inclusion in the NFL.’’ The Alliance also named Patriots scout Steve Cargile as the AFC Scout of the Year at Thursday’s awards luncheon.

Belichick was surprised to learn he won the award, and was not able to accept it in person, as he did not arrive in Indianapolis until Friday. But Belichick thanked the Alliance in a video message that was played at the luncheon.