Several Parallels Between Bill Belichick and Tom Landry, Including Super Bowl Appearances

Bill Belichick has led the New England Patriots to their fifth AFC title and fifth Super Bowl appearance. New England has a record of 3-1 in four previous visits.

Belichick is one of three coaches to lead the same team to the Super Bowl at least five times. The other two are Miami’s Don Shula and Dallas’ Tom Landry. Shula also made an appearance as the Colts’ head coach in Super Bowl III, giving him the record with six total appearances.

There are several parallels bewteen Belichick and Landry, several of which involve teams from Baltimore.

Both men earned their reputations as defensive coaches with the New York Giants.

Landry developed the 4-3 defense and helped the Giants to win the NFL title in 1956. New York also played for the title in 1958 and 1959, losing to the Baltimore Colts in both of those seasons. In 1960 at the age of 36, the Dallas Cowboys made him the coach of the expansion Cowboys.

Belichick coached one of the best linebacking corps in league history as the Giants won Super Bowl titles in 1986 and 1990. The Cleveland Browns hired him at the age of 39 to serve as head coach. Unlike Landry, Belichick’s coaching tenure came at the end (of sorts) of the franchise, as the Browns moved to Baltimore to become the Ravens after the 1995 season.

It took Landry 11 seasons to lead the Cowboys to a Super Bowl appearance. Baltimore appears yet again in this story, as the Colts knocked off the Cowboys on a last-second field goal. Landry led the Cowboys to their five appearances over the course of nine seasons between 1970 and 1978, winning two of those games.

Belichick never led the Browns to a Super Bowl. After returning to serve as an assistant with Bill Parcells with the Patriots and Jets. The Patriots hired him in 2000, and after the following year—the 11th season after the Browns first hired him—Belichick led the Patriots to a Super Bowl title. Once the Patriots appear in Super Bowl XLVI in two weeks, Belichick will have led his team to the title game for the fifth time in eleven seasons.

In two of those seasons, the Patriots had to beat the Colts, now hailing from Indianapolis. And, fittingly, the Patriots beat the Baltimore Ravens to give Belichick his fifth Super Bowl appearance.


  • Fred Goodwin

    Claims of cheating also link the two.  We are all too familiar with “Spygate” — can you remember the accusations of the Cowboys cheating and who lodged the complaint? 

    How did Tex Schramm answer the complaint?  As far as I know the League never investigated the claims of Cowboy cheating, unlike the whitewash job they did “investigating” Spygate.

  • Anonymous

    George Allen accused the Cowboys of spying on the Redskins’ practice in 1972. (I also seem to remember that the Cowboys accused Allen of the same thing when he was with the Rams in the late 1960s.) I know there were several other accusations. I don’t know what Schramm’s response was, though.

  • Krl97a

    Belichick would have to almost double what he’s done so far to equal Landry’s record of 20 consecutive winning seasons.