STEPHEN NICKOLAS "STEVE" BELICHICK
January 7, 1919 - November 19, 2005
Steve Belichick was the youngest of five children born to Marija (Mary) Barkovic and Ivan (later John) Bilicic, who immigrated to the United States in 1897 from Draganic, Karlovac County in Croatia and settled in Pennsylvania. When he married, he changed his surname from Bilicic into Belichick at the suggestion of Immigration Center.
In 1924, the family moved to 62 Wilson St. in Struthers, Ohio, where Steve Belichick maintained strong ties with the local Croatian community. In 1951, he married Jeannette Ruth (Munn), with whom he had one child, Bill. Their son is currently the head coach of the New England Patriots and has cited his father, with whom he began analyzing game film at the age of 10, as his chief early influence.
After graduation from Struthers High School, Belichick attended Western Reserve University, where he played as fullback, scoring several touchdowns for the team in his senior season in 1940. He scored the first touchdown during the school's first and only bowl game, the 1941 Sun Bowl.
After graduation from Western Reserve University, he worked as an equipment manager for the Detroit Lions. The team was struggling, and Belichick reportedly told the coach, Bill Edwards, "I can do better than most of the guys you've got." Edwards, who had coached Belichick at Western Reserve, agreed, and signed him as a player. Though the team's fortunes did not improve, Belichick had some success, scoring a 65-yard touchdown punt return in a loss against the New York Giants.
In 1942, Belichick joined the United States Navy, serving in both Europe and the Pacific. After he completed his service in 1946, he became the head coach at Hiram College, southeast of Cleveland. In 1949, he left Hiram to become the backfield coach at Vanderbilt University, where he spent two seasons before joining the University of North Carolina as an assistant to George Barclay in 1953.
In 1956, Belichick joined the United States Naval Academy staff, where he served primarily as a scout for over 30 years. His book Football Scouting Methods (Ronald Press, 1962) became a standard, described by Charley Casserly as the best book on the subject he had read, and by Bleacher Report as the "Bible" of football scouting.
Steve Belichick, died November 19, 2005 of heart failure at age 86. Funeral services were held at the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Md., where Belichick was an assistant coach for 33 years.