Bill Belichick would fly coach and put veteran players in first class, and one former Patriot said it was a huge factor in how players judge head coaches

Patrick McDermott/Getty ImagesChris Long said on ‘The Ryen Russillo Podcast’ that Bill Belichick would give the first class seats to veterans, and players took notice.
  • According to the former Patriots defensive end Chris Long, Bill Belichick would sit in coach and allow veteran players to take the first-class seats on the team’s charter flights.
  • While appearing on “The Ryen Russillo Podcast,” Long said, “One of the first things older players do when they size up a coach is – where does he have me sitting on the plane?”
  • The year after Long left the Patriots, the team invested in a pair of private jets that likely alleviated some of the stresses brought on by seating arrangements on charter flights.
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Over the past two decades, Bill Belichick and Tom Brady have led the New England Patriots to six Super Bowl titles, cementing their place as the most dominant dynasty in NFL history.

This year, the team is on a similar trajectory. Led by a historically good defence helmed by Belichick, the Patriots are off to an undefeated start and look like favourites to return to the Super Bowl for the fourth straight year.

Read more:

Bill Belichick took over the Patriots defence for the first time in years and now they’re dominating like never before

But Belichick’s contributions to the team and its sense of unity go beyond his weekly game plan. According to one former Patriot, Belichick’s actions off the field, and specifically, on the team plane, were also key to earning his players’ trust.

During his weekly appearance on “The Ryen Russillo Podcast,” the former Patriots defensive end Chris Long said Belichick would sit in coach during the team’s chartered flights, letting veteran players take the seats in first class.

The conversation began with Long and Russillo discussing which team had the best plane ride home on Sunday after their game. Long chose the San Francisco 49ers, who scraped out a muddy 9-0 win over Washington in the pouring rain.

“I’m going to imagine that the players on that plane get to sit first class,” Long said. “Because Kyle Shanahan is probably a player’s coach. Some coaches don’t have players in first class; some coaches have the coaches in first class, which is absolute bulls—. They didn’t hit anybody that day.”

“So some teams put the players in first class, and other teams put them in coach?” Russillo asked.

“Oh yeah,” Long replied. “I’m going to tell you who does put players in first class though. If Bill Belichick can sit in coach and put his older and good players in first class with the sleeper seats on those long flights, then anyone can do it.”

“If Bill Belichick is willing to sit in coach, other head coaches need to take notice. One of the first things older players do when they size up a coach is – where does he have me sitting on the plane?”

For current Patriots players, the seating arrangement on flights is now less of an issue, as the team bought a pair of its own private jets in 2017, outfitted with extra-large seats and extra legroom to accommodate its players.

Read more: Check out the New England Patriots’ Boeing 767 private jet that flew the team to Super Bowl LIII

But when Long played for the Patriots in 2016, the team was still chartering flights, meaning that there was a real divide between those in first class and those in coach, and according to Long, players took who got to sit where to heart.

“The GOAT is putting players in first class, and he’s sitting in coach,” Long said of Belichick. “Guy’s got six Super Bowl rings, and he’s back there sitting in 17C.”

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