Bill Belichick, Tom Brady Among New England Influencers Who Helped Shape NFL

Tom Brady Bill Belichick

Getty Tom Brady and Bill Belichick are the faces of a two-decade long dynasty.

The sport of football as we know it has its roots in New England. Legendary Yale coach Walter Camp composed the rules of modern football, Harvard stadium’s permanence is responsible for the forward pass, and several college and professional teams got their roots in the region.

The NFL is no different. Sports Illustrated released its list of 100 figures who helped shape the NFL and it undoubtedly includes several members of the New England Patriots and other New England-based figures.

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Of course, Tom Brady and Bill Belichick found their way on the list but there were others who served just as big a role from breaking the color barrier to bringing awareness to injuries on and off the field. Here’s who made the list.


Bill Belichick

A guaranteed Hall-of-Famer and arguably the greatest coach of all-time, his nearly five-decade coaching career has seen him win eight Super Bowl rings including six as a head coach. A defensive genius, he has engineered the greatest dynasty in NFL history than has spanned 20 seasons and a completely rebuilt defense.


Tom Brady

His skill is unmatched and though he has been in the same offense his entire career, Brady has still enjoyed success with a revolving cast of characters. Take 2010 for example when he was voted unanimous MVP. His top receiving threats that year with Wes Welker and Brandon Tate with depth receivers Taylor Price and Deion Branch. Rookie tight ends Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez factored in but it was a season that solidified Brady as the game’s greatest quarterback ever.


Chip Kelly

He never coached the Patriots, but the former Oregon coach is a New Hampshire native. He attended the University of New Hampshire and moved to Oregon after a successful stint as an offensive coordinator for his alma mater. With UNH, he began pioneering a high-tempo offense and his ideas of preparation and nutrition have filtered throughout the NFL.


Will McDonough

The famous Boston Globe journalist was one of the first to cover the NFL nationally. He broke national news in the NFL for years, including the Rams move to St. Louis in 1996. Former NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue called him the most influential NFL reporter.


Lisa Olson

Another journalist who, while covering the Patriots in 1990, dealt with obscene gestures and sexism from players and ownership. The Boston Herald reporter helped change how the NFL is covered and her impact diversified press boxes everywhere.


Bill Parcells

His short stint in New England brought on a winning culture for the franchise and his coaching tree includes current Patriots coach Bill Belichick.


Fritz Pollard

Pollard endured racism at Brown University in Rhode Island but persevered and earned the trust of his coaches in the end. He led Brown to the 1916 Rose Bowl and was the first African American running back to be named a Walter Camp All-American. He transitioned to quarterback in the pros and broke the color barrier at the position before he was removed from the NFL in 1926.


Darryl Stingley

A former first-round draft pick, Stingley had his career cut short after a hit paralyzed him in 1978. His injury came in the preseason, influencing teams to use their exhibition games as exercise tune-ups instead of physical preparation. Officials have even instituted rules to help protect defenseless receivers.


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