Bill Belichick has a big game coming up in Sunday's season opener against the Miami Dolphins. But before that, the nation will pause on Saturday to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks.
During his media availability on Friday, the New England Patriots head coach was asked to reflect a bit on his team's role in helping the region -- and the nation -- recover from the devastation of that infamous day.
"It's a lot of mixed feelings probably, as we all have," Belichick said. "We were game planning that day on Tuesday, and then everything just obviously changed quickly. Just a lot of different emotions and thoughts and questions that eventually kind of got answered, but initially there was a lot of speculation and just trying to figure out what happened, why it happened and so forth."
The attacks hit close to home for Belichick as a former New York Giants and Jets coach and for former Patriots' offensive lineman Joe Andruzzi, whose three brothers were New York City firefighters.
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"Having been with the Giants in New York and spent time in that area, I had some personal connections to that event as well," Belichick said. "Just as a country, it was kind of, let's say it brought a certain feeling of nationality and patriotism to us that I think we all felt during that season, and then in a lot of different ways turned into a very magical season for our football team."
The 2001-2002 season, of course, was Tom Brady's first season as the team's starting quarterback and they went on to defeat the then St. Louis Rams for the franchise's first Super Bowl win.
"All of us that were intimately involved in the relationships, and ultimately, the success that that team had and the way it had was certainly an unforgettable year for me, and I'm sure for all of us that were involved," Belichick said. "A lot of mixes there. 2001 was, football wise, a pretty happy experience. When you mix it in with 9/11, it definitely puts another perspective on it that is a lot bigger than football."
He was also asked if he felt like football and that Patriots team in particular played a role in bringing America back together after the 9/11 attacks.
"I'm not sure I know the answer to it. I don't know if I have a global perspective on that," Belichick said. "I was so deep in the middle of it that honestly, we were just trying to prepare and win a game. We won a lot of close games that year. We weren't any type of dominating team... I mean, the support was fantastic, and again, it was a very magical year for all of us. What it meant outside of the region and to the country and all of that, I don't know that I could give you a good answer on that."