Browns coach visits old school as a hero At Annapolis High he played center

February 25, 1993|By Monica Norton | Monica Norton,Staff Writer

Screaming hordes of teen-agers generally reserve their yells for rap artists and television teen idols.

But yesterday, students at Annapolis High and Annapolis Middle schools gave their vocal chords a workout for a football coach.

Bill Belichick, head coach of the Cleveland Browns and a graduate of Annapolis High School, visited to encourage students to stay in school and stay away from drugs.

Shaking hands and signing at least 100 autographs, Mr. Belichick made his first stop yesterday at his alma mater. A 1970 graduate, Mr. Belichick was a center on the high school football team. Yesterday, he was installed in the school's Hall of Fame.

"It's really an honor," Mr. Belichick said of his induction. "I have a lot of good memories of the school. It's just a real honor to come back to your old high school and be remembered like this."

The night before his visit, Mr. Belichick also was honored by the Annapolis Touchdown Club. To show his appreciation, Mr. Belichick donated the $1,000 honorarium he received for speaking to the Al Laramore Scholarship Foundation, named for the late Annapolis High football coach.

Mr. Belichick has been surrounded by football nearly his entire life. His father Steve was the assistant coach at the U.S. Naval Academy for more than 30 years. He took his first NFL job in 1975 as a special assistant to Baltimore Colts coach Ted Marchibroda -- at $25 a week.

He has worked with the Detroit Lions and Denver Broncos. Joining the New York Giants in 1978 as a special-teams coach, Mr. Belichick worked his way up to defensive coordinator and won two Super Bowl rings along the way.

The Cleveland Browns hired Mr. Belichick as their head coach in 1991.

During his stop at Annapolis Middle School to visit with eighth-grade students, Mr. Belichick fielded questions.

"Are any of your old teachers still here," a young man asked.

"Who was the toughest team you played," another asked.

"Is there another team you want to coach," queried another.

Mr. Belichick told them yes, a few of his high school teachers were still around. The Houston Oilers and the Washington Redskins were two of Cleveland's toughest opponents. And no, there's no other team he wants to coach now.

A girl asked Mr. Belichick if any of his players had been on drugs.

"Yes," he answered. "And this is important. We have had players who've used illegal drugs and steroids. But we also have a program to try and rehabilitate. A couple of our players who've run into unfortunate circumstances have been able to correct their problems."

Mr. Belichick cited running back Kevin Mack as one of Cleveland's success stories. Mr. Mack was sentenced to two months in jail in 1989 for using crack cocaine. He has come back to have both a successful career and life, Mr. Belichick said.

After his talk, Mr. Belichick was mobbed as he tried to leave Annapolis Middle School.

"We love you," students screamed.

Others yelled, "Thanks for coming."

Quite a few young boys professed, "We're going to come play for you."

"I'm going to be a quarterback," another yelled.

One young man began practicing his winning Super Bowl speech. "I'm going to Disneyworld," he yelled.

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