Ex-coach and Belichick mentor Ted Marchibroda dies


FOXBORO -- Ted Marchibroda, the former Baltimore Colts head coach who gave Bill Belichick his first NFL job, has died at the age of 84.

During 16 seasons in New England, Belichick has spoken often of his $25-a-week job doing anything that Marchibroda and the other grizzled Colts coaches told him to back in 1975.

Belichick, then 22 and fresh out of Wesleyan, was recommended to Marchibroda by George Boutselis. Boutselis was buddies with Belichick’s father, Steve, a celebrated football coach and scout at the Naval Academy.

"I worked right outside of Earl Weaver's office," Belichick said in 2007, recalling that year with the Colts. "I wrote down all of the films. Every player was all on one card. Punch out the holes, put an ice pick in, drop the cards out, do the breakdowns, do probably 15 to 20 for [assistant coach] Maxie Baughan and the defensive coaches in the old Baltimore Memorial Stadium.

"I learned probably more football in that room — it was a cinderblock closet, really — but I probably learned more football in that room than anyplace else I've ever been. It was like a graduate course in football."

Marchibroda always spoke fondly of Belichick, as well. And took great pride in the arc of his former employee’s career.

But the impact Marchibroda had on Belichick and -- by extension -- scores of coaches since is woven into NFL history. The no-frills, low-pay, long-hours nature of the position is a rite of passage for any young person who thinks he wants to get into the NFL. Everybody has to do it. At least in New England.  

Belichick drove an old Mercury to the stadium every day with Marchibroda, Boutselis and Whitey Dovell riding along. Marchibroda bought breakfast. Belichick kept his ears open and mouth closed.

"It was great just being able to ride in the car and sit and listen to Ted and Whitey and George talk about the different aspects of the game, of the team, of all of the things that they were dealing with and to be able to absorb all of that from dawn to dusk . . . but it was a lot longer than that," he said. "It was tremendous.

"I'm deeply indebted to Ted for giving me that opportunity," he said. "There was no financial reward to it, but there was a personal and professional reward that I could never repay him for."

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