Bill Belichick has consistently displayed an egalitarian team culture that he wanted to establish in New England from the start. Before entering the field for Super Bowl XXXVI, the Offensive starters of the St. Louis Rams‘ Show on Turf followed the tradition by leaving the dimly lit tunnel one by one and stepping into the limelight, amidst occasional boos and cheering fans, while the stadium announcer monotonously listed their names. The biggest applause was for Marshall Faulk and Kurt Warner.
Contrary to tradition, the Patriots stormed onto the field as a team and the stadium erupted in cheers. The Rams were the first team I ever emotionally invested in simply because the 1999 season was the first time in my childhood that I was so engrossed to follow a season from start to finish. It gave me goosebumps. Belichick not only led the Patriots to a turning point but also established the basic principles of his team-building philosophy.
The Patriots were the first dynasty to exist fully within the era of salary-cap constraints. Belichick executed his role as a general manager in the most brutal way imaginable—replacing stars in their prime with budget-friendly alternatives. But he was brilliant in sculpting defensive talent. He let go of Lawyer Milloy before training camp and shortly after his title change, he shifted to Ty Law and a ban was imposed against downfield contact that went on to become the Ty-Law rule. The Tuck rule and deflated footballs are despised everywhere, but Belichick’s defensive backs broke the rules as well.