Bill Belichick, Patriots 'part ways' after 24 seasons, 6 Super Bowl titles

The NFL doesn't offer perfect endings to many figures. Not even to a coach with more championship rings than anyone in league history, who took a New England Patriots franchise from the bottom of the NFL to one of the greatest 20-year runs in sports history.

In a headline that would have been hard to believe a few years ago, Bill Belichick is out as the Patriots' head coach. Belichick and the Patriots have decided to "part ways" after 24 seasons and six Super Bowl titles, the team announced Thursday.

Belichick and Robert Kraft put the official stamp on their divorce with a news conference in which they took no questions from media.

The rise of the Patriots under Belichick, with six Super Bowl titles (to go with the two he had as New York Giants defensive coordinator), will forever be part of NFL lore. The story will also include how quickly and completely it fell apart after Tom Brady left the team.

Belichick has a great case as the NFL's greatest coach ever, but he's no longer the head coach of the Patriots.

Coach Bill Belichick led the New England Patriots to six Super Bowl championships. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)
Coach Bill Belichick led the New England Patriots to six Super Bowl championships. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

Bill Belichick's time with Patriots ends

From 2001 to 2019, the Patriots won 17 of 19 AFC East titles, including an NFL-record 11 division crowns in a row. They made the AFC championship game 13 times, won nine of them and went on to win six Super Bowls.

In an age of parity in the NFL, it was an unbelievable run. Then the Brady-Belichick relationship fell apart.

Whatever the root cause, the Patriots and Brady split. Brady went on to immediately win a championship with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, which will forever help shape the debate over whether Brady or Belichick was more important to the Patriots' run.

It didn't help Belichick's case that the Patriots were unable to win a playoff game without Brady. New England missed the playoffs in the 2020 season, made it back in the 2021 season with rookie Mac Jones at quarterback but was blown out by the Buffalo Bills in the wild-card round and didn't reach the playoffs in 2022 or 2023.

The Patriots' 2023 season got off to a miserable start, with the team losing five of its first six games. New England took the worst loss of Belichick's career, a 35-point defeat to the Dallas Cowboys, then followed that with a 34-point loss to the New Orleans Saints.

There were a lot of firsts for Belichick this season, and none of them was good. As the season was slipping away and the Patriots fell to the bottom of the AFC, a previously unthinkable idea started to bubble up: Could team owner Robert Kraft move on from Belichick, and perhaps do it during the season?

(Amber Matsumoto/Yahoo Sports illustration)
(Amber Matsumoto/Yahoo Sports illustration)

Belichick had a legendary run

Belichick's run wasn't without controversy, of course. He was masterful in going all the way up to the edge of the rules. Belichick's critics will always downgrade his accomplishments due to Spygate, a sign-taping scheme for which the Patriots were punished.

Belichick's résumé, however, is undeniable. He took over a Patriots franchise that had never won a Super Bowl and collected six of them. He presided over the first 16-0 regular season in NFL history with the 2007 Patriots. He became the third coach in NFL history to reach 300 regular-season wins, though his time with the Patriots ended before he could pass Don Shula's record of 328 wins. Belichick currently has 302 victories. His 31 postseason victories are an NFL record.

Belichick's time with the Patriots didn't end in celebration, but it doesn't for most coaches and players. It ended with a horrendous season that had more losses by the end of October than New England had in most of Belichick's seasons as coach.

The Patriots' franchise history can't be told without Belichick and the fantastic run he had. That run ended a few years ago, and as a result, the Patriots will be looking for a new coach for the first time since January 2000.