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Belichick has come a long way

Smug, introverted, standoffish.

Those are a few choice words that come to mind when describing New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick. There are plenty of other adjectives used to characterize one of the most successful head coaches in the NFL, however, such as knowledgeable, strategic, supportive and meticulous.

And add appreciative and thankful to the list in painting a picture of the man who has made cut-off hoodies a fashion trend in the NFL. Fortunately, Belichick's attire is no match for the product he puts on the football field, though he admitted that "not for a second" could he ever imagined leading a team to its fifth Super Bowl in 11 years.

"I really just try to live in the moment, whatever that is," Belichick said on reminiscing on past accomplishments upon the Patriots' arrival in Indianapolis for Super Bowl XLVI. "Right now, it's here, and I'm happy to be here, believe me. There's no place I'd rather be.

Other points in time, I was dealing with other challenges, other teams and other situations. I tried to do the best I could in those situations with whatever responsibilities I had. I never really thought too much about where it was going to go."

Belichick reflected on his time with the Baltimore Colts, Detroit Lions, Denver Broncos and New York Giants during his press conference from the team hotel in Indianapolis on Sunday. He mentioned how time consuming it was in dealing with head coaches and players as an assistant, and noted he never took the time to focus on where it would eventually take him.

He also expressed how vital it was to do your job and take care of business before expecting good things to come out of it. If one fails to do those things, Belichick remarked that "you are not really fulfilling your responsibilities to the team and the organization that is counting on you."

Those traits were fostered in Belichick's early years from his father, Steve, who passed away in 2005 after playing both college football and briefly in the NFL. From the time Bill was only four years old, Steve, who was an assistant coach at Vanderbilt University, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and the United States Naval Academy, played a major impact on his son's life and his love for football.

The elder Belichick also shared a Gatorade shower with his son, courtesy of linebacker Tedy Bruschi, following a Super Bowl XXXIX win over the Philadelphia Eagles -- the last of three Patriots' championships within a four-year span from 2001-04.

"He had a huge impact on my childhood, my love for the game and my involvement in the game as a coach, even though I played poorly," Bill Belichick said. "It was still a good experience to play, but coaching, really, has always been the love. I think a lot of little things he did [were] in terms of work ethic and teamwork. Being around the Naval Academy, of course, that is a very unique atmosphere, particularly as it relates to football, but the teamwork that comes with that and the commitment that those players and teams have, I saw at a young age."

It's no surprise that Belichick has cradled that teamwork aspect and instilled it within every organization he has been a part of. He was Bill Parcells' defensive coordinator during the New York Giants' first two Super Bowl runs, and many believe that Parcells wouldn't have garnered so much success in the Big Apple had it not been for Belichick's strategies. Belichick's defensive game plan in New York's 20-19 victory over Buffalo in Super Bowl XXV can be found in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

Enter the new millennium, and Belichick's Patriots have been a model of consistency and an organization that other coaches and players are trying to emulate. Expert drafts and key additions through free agency have both played their part in advancing New England to where it is today.

Not known to tip his hand or give opposing teams any kind of leverage for an upcoming matchup, Belichick is already toeing the road to the Hall of Fame by amassing a sizzling 17-6 record in his postseason career. He is tied with Joe Gibbs for the third-most playoff wins in NFL history, trailing only Tom Landry (20) and Don Shula (19). By the way, Gibbs, Landry and Shula all have their busts on display in Canton.

Belichick is also one Super Bowl win away from tying Pittsburgh Hall of Famer Chuck Noll with four as a coach. He was asked on Sunday how accomplishing that feat would make him feel.

"It would make me feel pretty good, he said. "It's a great honor to be mentioned in the same conversation with Chuck. Chuck was the coach of the Steelers the first year I was coach of the Browns. I got to know him my first few years in the league. I coached with several coaches who coached under him at Pittsburgh. I have a tremendous amount of respect for Chuck and the job he did with his team and the organization. So, it is very flattering to be mentioned in the same sentence with Chuck Noll."

Much like Noll had with quarterback Terry Bradshaw, Belichick has had Tom Brady at his side throughout all of his success in New England. That may not have happened if it wasn't for former New York Jets linebacker Mo Lewis, who leveled then-New England starting quarterback Drew Bledsoe in Week 2 of the 2001 season, the year the Pats captured their first of back-to-back Super Bowl titles.

Brady has been the man ever since, and both he and Belichick earned their fifth Super Bowl appearance together -- the most ever by a head coach-quarterback duo -- following New England's 23-20 triumph over Baltimore in the 2011 AFC Championship. Noll and Bradshaw went to four.

Once again, the Patriots will have the Giants standing in their way for NFL supremacy when the two teams meet in Super Bowl XLVI at Lucas Oil Stadium. The Giants, of course, wiped out New England's perfect season back in 2007 with an upset win in Super Bowl XLII, and possess a stout defense that could shake up the Pats' plans for redemption.

Belichick reiterated on several occasions that all of the meetings between the storied franchises in the past carry no weight. He also mentioned how it's all about the current rosters, and that there's not too many coaches and players still around on either side from the previous Super Bowl meeting.

"We are where we are now, and we're different than where we were earlier in the season," said Belichick in referencing New York's 24-20 win over the Patriots back in November. "The Giants are where they are now, and I think they're different than where they were at different points of the season. To take it back years and years before that, I don't think it has too much bearing on anything. The team that wins Sunday will be the team that performs the best. That's what we are trying to strive our preparations for, is maximizing our performance on Sunday night."

As usual, Belichick will put all he has into Sunday's rematch with New York, which is nothing new for a man on the verge of fastening his legacy as a coaching mastermind. It's a foundation of success that was laid when Belichick first learned about the game, and decades later the young boy who sought out advice and knowledge from his father has been passing on that treasure chest of information to his own players and coaches.

With a win on Sunday, perhaps Belichick will finally be able to reflect on where all those years of learning and teaching has taken him.