Steve Belichick, a former Navy assistant football coach and father of New England Patriots Coach Bill Belichick, died of heart failure Saturday night at his Annapolis home. He was 86.
Steve Belichick worked at the Naval Academy from 1956 to 1989, during which Navy played in six bowl games and featured Heisman Trophy winners Joe Bellino and Roger Staubach. Navy won nine games four times and finished with 14 winning seasons during his tenure.
Belichick spent Saturday afternoon in the press box at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium mingling with Navy athletic personnel while watching Navy's 38-17 victory over Temple.
"He's a guy who poured his heart and soul in the Naval Academy and we respected him to the highest order," said Chet Gladchuk, Navy's athletic director. "His loyalty is a great reflection to what the Naval Academy stands for. He was part of the fiber to what this school is all about. When I found out he passed away, I got sick to my stomach. It's a sad day for the Naval Academy."
Belichick was a fullback for the Detroit Lions in 1941 and earlier that year led Case Western Reserve University to the Sun Bowl. He also coached football at Hiram College (Ohio) from 1946 to 1948.
Belichick would regularly stop by Ricketts Hall -- the building that houses Navy's athletic department -- to stay in touch with his friends, said Gladchuk.
"I remember on Thursday morning he came by and we had a cup of coffee, just like we did two or three times a week," said Navy football coach Paul Johnson. "He had millions of stories. . . . stories about football and coaching and scouting and about life. He was a special person and it's a really sad day."
His son, Bill, coached the Patriots to a 24-17 victory yesterday over the New Orleans Saints.
"I coached this game with a heavy heart," Bill Belichick said after the game. "My dad passed away. I found out about it in the middle of last night."
A spokesman for John M. Taylor Funeral Home in Annapolis, which is handling the funeral arrangements, said plans for a date would likely be made today.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.