Rick Forzano, the man who gave Bill Belichick his first chance on an NFL staff, has passed away.
The former Detroit Lions, Navy Midshipmen, and Connecticut Huskies head coach died at the age on 90 on Wednesday,
Forzano was named Lions head coach in 1974 and served up until four games through the 1976 season, during which he compiled a 15-17 overall record in Detroit. In his tenure, Forzano coached the team's final game at Tiger Stadium and the first at the Pontiac Silverdome.
Before his time with the Lions, he spent two stints at Navy, first as an assistant and then head coach.
As a coach at Navy, he met Steve Belichick, a scout for the team. Once he got the Lions gig, he gave Steve's son, Bill, his first shot as a professional coach. Belichick first served as a special teams assistant in Detroit before becoming the coach of the wide receivers and later the tight ends.
Former Detroit Lions coach Rick Forzano has died. He was 90. He coached the Lions from 1974-76. He hired Bill Belichick in Detroit in 1976. NFL Films did a short feature on the two a couple years back: https://t.co/iAv0xjM4CE— Justin Rogers (@Justin_Rogers) January 11, 2019
"Rick gave me a great opportunity here, because when I was with the Colts I didn't have a position to coach, I didn't really have a group of players that I was responsible for," Belichick told NFL Films back in 2017. "When I came here, Rick gave me the opportunity with the tight ends. The opportunity to coach a position, that's a big step for any coach, and that was an opportunity that Rick gave me that I probably wasn't ready for, but I certainly appreciated the opportunity for it."
Belichick is forever grateful for the opportunity that Forzano gave him. Since he got that shot, Belichick has become one of the greatest football coaches of all time.
To be sure, Forzano's legacy is in no doubt. He's got his place in the history of the game, and he will be missed.