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The End of the Bill Belichick Hoodie Era

In all the words currently being written about the end of the Bill Belichick era in Boston — or, technically, the Boston suburbs — which reportedly finally came to a close on Jan. 11 after weeks of speculation, the end of the N.F.L. season and the Patriots’ dismal loss to the Jets, the one that sticks in my mind is “hoodie.”

More than anyone except perhaps Mark Zuckerberg, Boston’s famous football coach has become synonymous with that particular garment. It is “an inseparable part of his legacy,” according to Bleacher Report. His “trademark,” wrote Sports Illustrated. “Iconic,” crowed Buzzfeed. For decades the hoodie helped burnish the Belichick legend, but recently it has begun to seem part of the problem: less a symbol of his coaching genius than, perhaps, a sign of his obsolescence.

For most of his 23 years with the Patriots, the sweatshirt has been Mr. Belichick’s garment of choice for game day. And not just any old sweatshirt, but a particularly nondescript, schlubby blue or gray sweatshirt, often with the sleeves lopped off in a seemingly random way somewhere between the elbow and the shoulder, and layered over another shirt. Sometimes it was paired with flip-flops. The majority of that time, when he was leading the team to its six Super Bowl wins, the sweatshirt seemed to symbolize Mr. Belichick’s singularity: his ornery refusal to be anything but himself or follow any vision but his own; his gruff, blue-collar fighting spirit; his consistency; his refusal to give up — not the game and not his favorite wardrobe item.

Bill Belichick (clockwise from top left) in Foxborough, Mass., in December 2023; in January 2017; in July 2008; and celebrating with Tom Brady after the Patriots defeat of the Miami Dolphins in December 2014. Credit…Greg M. Cooper/AP, Steven Senne/AP, Charles Krupa/AP, Photo, Jim Rogash/Getty Images

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