It’s a sideline, not a fashion runway. Just the same, plenty of football coaches — because of success, longevity and camera time — have seen their wardrobe choices become iconic.
Bear Bryant and his houndstooth hat. The fedoras of Tom Landry and Paul Brown. Bum Phillips and his Stetson.
But none of that headgear surpasses the most iconic piece of attire in football sideline history: Bill Belichick’s hooded sweatshirt.
Pocket in the front for keeping pencils and cold hands. Hood on the back for flipping up when the weather gets cold or clammy. Or when Bill just wants to go stealth.
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Belichick himself might say, “We’re coaching a football game here, what are we even talking about?” Well, yes. And no. Because this piece of clothing actually represents the football philosophy Belichick’s espoused en route to nine Super Bowl appearances in 20 seasons.
Pragmatic. Utilitarian. No frills. Designed to allow one to work as efficiently as possible toward the singular goal of winning.
But do you ever wonder why he cuts the sleeves off?
I mean, it’s a move that takes an already schlubby look and makes it even schlubbier.
Did he just look at the sweatshirt one day and say, “This thing needs shorter sleeves?”
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In the fall of 2005, Belichick walked into the team’s equipment room and asked the late Don Brocher for a pair of scissors. They were produced.
Belichick laid the gray sweatshirt on a table — it wasn’t a hoodie, by the way — and lopped off both arms just below the elbow.
Why you doing that? He was asked.
“My arms are too short,” he replied.
Did he want the sweatshirts made differently?
Belichick would be his own tailor.
Some of you might remember the itty-bitty arms explanation. It was offered to Dan Wetzel of Yahoo! back in 2012. It was offered to his girlfriend, Linda Holliday, when she interviewed him as a host for StyleBoston.
But the history of Belichick’s hoodies and sweatshirts, the sleeve-ectomies and actually, every wardrobe choice he’s made as head coach of the Patriots? It’s all been compiled by a man named Mike Dussault who works for Patriots.com and previously worked for Pats Propaganda and Bleacher Report.
The eagle-eyed Dussault notes that Belichick was driven to distraction by his sleeves in the Patriots Super Bowl 39 win over the Eagles. Belichick was just fiddling and tugging and tucking until finally he rolled them up inside themselves which is how they were when that game ended and Belichick thrust a stubby arm into the air.
The next season, he took action. Belichick wore a sweatshirt with abbreviated sleeves for an October 2 game against the Chargers.
Now, Belichick had once worn a chopped-up sweatshirt in the sidelines. On the road in Houston in 2003, he wore one in a 23-20 overtime win.
But in 2005, he went all-in. And he immediately went 0-3 with the sleeves cut according to Dussault’s amazing research which is all found in spreadsheet form online. The spreadsheet was created by a man named Bob Yoon who, notably, knows why Belichick cuts the sleeves.
What’s Belichick’s record with cut sleeves on either hoodies or plain sweatshirts? Not good, Bob. It’s 65-26. Which, relative to his overall coaching record, is subpar.
Belichick lost all three Super Bowls he coached with cut sleeves. He’s 1-2 in Conference Championships with cut sleeves. And from 2005 through 2012, every single Patriots playoff loss came when Belichick was wearing a hoodie with cut sleeves.
Makes you wonder. But wonder no more about why the sleeves were cut in the first place!