For many Pittsburgh Steelers fans, Bill Belichick was the bad guy.
He first came to national prominence as the head coach of the Cleveland Browns from 1991 to 1995, which is certainly not a way to get off on a good start with the Pittsburgh faithful.
Then came his tenure with the New England Patriots, which started with a win over the Steelers in the 2001 AFC Championship Game, and continued as a thorn in the side of the Black and Gold for two decades. Belichick finished his tenure in New England, by way of mutual separation on Thursday, with a 14-4 record against the Steelers.
Three times in his tenure, Belichick eliminated the Steelers from the playoffs, which would be enough to cause a lifetime of ire in nearly any case, but compounded with the allegations that New England was running an illegal practice-videotaping operation during that time period, and Belichick will likely be reviled in the 412 for all of time.
But not by everyone in the city. Steelers linebacker Elandon Roberts is a big fan. Roberts was a sixth-round pick of the Patriots in 2016, and won two Super Bowls as a member of the team. He said that Belichick had a big influence on the player that he became.
“Coach Belichick and the Patriots organization changed my whole life,” Roberts said. “He gave me an opportunity. That was my phone call and Bill Belichick was on it. Obviously, I don’t think this is the end of Bill at all, but just from the years in New England, I don’t think there’a a greater coach out there. …
“I remember when Tom won his first Super Bowl, I was seven years old. That’s a long time. I’m 29 right now.”
So while many in Pittsburgh will likely not mourn the parting of ways between Belichick and the Patriots, there is at least one member of the Black and Gold with a deep level of appreciation for the man in the hooded sweatshirt.