Patriots coach Bill Belichick was a popular mention Saturday evening at the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
Several new inductees acknowledged Belichick during this year’s enshrinement ceremony, shouting out the Super Bowl champion for his impact on their respective careers.
Some of the appreciation was expected.
In the first speech of the evening, retired Dallas Cowboys executive Gil Brandt, who was friends with Belichick’s late father Steve, recalled meeting Belichick when he was just 12 years old.
“He would run routes on the practice field for quarterback Roger Staubach during my scouting visits to Annapolis in the early ’60s,” Brandt said. “How was I to know that little boy that loved football so much would be a six-time Super Bowl champion named Bill Belichick, who finds his name listed among the best to ever coach the game and has been a great friend over the past half-century.”
Later in the night, former Patriots cornerback Ty Law called Belichick “the GOAT” and thanked the 67-year-old for showing him how to be “a true professional.”
“Thank you for believing in me,” said Law, who played 10 seasons in New England. “Thank you for not trying to change who I was. You gave me the opportunity to try my way first, but you always reminded me if I messed up, we’re going back to do it your way. But the only thing is he didn’t say messed up — I know we’re on TV — he said a couple of other words.”
It appears Belichick’s impact extended to other players across the league as well.
Former NFL center Kevin Mawae, too, thanked him for making him a “better player.”
“I never felt more challenged mentally in a game than when I faced your teams,” Mawae said. “I came to love the puzzle, I figured out your defense in the chess match those games became. I didn’t win all of them; in fact, my teams lost most of them. I think we were 4-13 against you.
“That sucks. That was awful. [I] still hate the Patriots; everyone hates the winners. But holding your defense to zero sacks or having big rushing games came with a great sense of accomplishment.”
The most surprising — and perhaps unintentional — nod, however, came from former Baltimore Ravens safety Ed Reed. While listing members of the Ravens organization, Reed seemingly flubbed and referred to former coach Brian Billick as “Coach Belichick.”
“I would like to thank that organization, [owner] Steve Bisciotti, [former general manager] Ozzie Newsome; Coach Belichick, his staff; Coach [Jim Harbough], his staff,” Reed said.
His remarks were met with a few confused looks, but perhaps Belichick, given his well-documented adoration for Reed, cracked a smile.