Patriots

Patriots coach Bill Belichick reflects on 20th anniversary of 9/11

Belichick reflected Friday afternoon on an "unforgettable" 2001 in which the Patriots won a Super Bowl shortly after the September 11 terrorist attacks in New York.

Bill Belichick Patriots
Bill Belichick, kicker Adam Vinatieri and the rest of the New England players took a celebratory lap around Foxboro Stadium following their 20-13 victory over the Miami Dolphins in the last game at the stadium. Boston Globe

Saturday marks the 20th anniversary of one of the most harrowing days in American history: the terrorist attacks of 9/11. Like many people, Patriots head coach Bill Belichick remembers where he was and what he was doing at the time.

“We were game-planning that day on Tuesday,” he told reporters on Friday morning, preparing for a division rivalry game against the New York Jets scheduled that weekend. “Then everything obviously changed quickly.”

The Patriots, like everyone else in America, sat through a heartbreaking day of huddling around televisions as the terrible news about the attacks that leveled the World Trade Center towers, hit the Pentagon, and killed passengers in Pennsylvania trickled in.

Advertisement:

“Just a lot of different emotions and thoughts and questions that eventually got answered, but initially there was a lot of speculation trying to figure out what happened and why it happened,” Belichick recalled when asked about the anniversary.

The Patriots’ game that Sunday, along with the rest of the NFL’s slate, was postponed as the country came to grips with attacks.

When the Patriots finally played the game against the Jets on September 23, the affair was about far more than football. Belichick specifically pointed out how close to home the attacks hit for then-offensive guard Joe Andruzzi — a native New Yorker with firefighter brothers who braved the peril of the burning towers.

The firefighting Andruzzi family famously served as captains for the Jets game, with the lasting image of Joe running out on the field with two miniature American flags to thunderous applause a particularly unforgettable moment.

“Just as a country, it brought a certain feeling of nationality and patriotism to us that I think we all felt during that season,” Belichick said of the aftermath of the attacks. “And then it in a lot of different ways turned into a magical season for our football team.”

That year, of course, was the one in which an unheralded Tom Brady took the reins and led the Patriots to an improbable Super Bowl title that kicked off two Super Bowl dynasties and the legend of the greatest quarterback of all time.

Advertisement:

That’s why Belichick added he has “mixed feelings” when looking back on what 2001 meant for him personally, calling it “an unforgettable year for me and…all of us that were involved.”

“2001 football-wise was a pretty happy experience,” he said. “When you mix it in with 9/11, it definitely puts another perspective on it that is a lot bigger than football.”

This season, the Patriots will take on the Miami Dolphins to kick off their season on September 12.

Jump To Comments

Conversation

This discussion has ended. Please join elsewhere on Boston.com