Decades before his enduring success as Head Coach for the New England Patriots, Bill Belichick spent two seasons with the Detroit Lions during the 1970s. Recently, an old playbook that he used during his time in Detroit came up for auction.

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Heritage Auctions has a playbook Belichick used during the 1976 & 1977 seasons. He first joined the Detroit Lions as a Special Teams coach in 1976. In the following season, he was promoted to Tight Ends and Wide Receivers coach while still working with Special Teams. He was dismissed along with head coach Tommy Hudspeth and the rest of the coaching staff early in 1978. Can you only imagine the "what if" factor here?

Bill Belichick - Detroit Lions playbook via Heritage Auctions
Bill Belichick - Detroit Lions playbook via Heritage Auctions

On the Heritage Auction site it shows a caption to accompany the above photo:

1976-77 Bill Belichick Detroit Lions Playbook with Provenance


Early Belichick "cookbook" dates from his two-year tenure in The Motor City when he was honing the skill set that would one day make him the greatest coach in NFL history. Look inside and delve into the mind of a mid-twenties wonder boy. This was the Bill Belichick bible, packed with hundreds of pages of diagrams, commandments, and fundamentals, categorized by numerous tabs, including "Offensive Organization," "Two Minute," "Wide Rec's, "Draws," "Blocking," "Counter," "Ride," "Plunge," "Belly," "Fire Passes," "Waggle," and more.

The exterior reads "1977 Work Playbook" on the front cover and spine. Meanwhile, the "title page" is inscribed "1976 Revised Playbook," most likely in Belli's own hand. Comes with 1977 Lions media guide, picturing a boyish looking Belichick, and a solid letter of provenance, which reads:

"My father, John Payne, was on the same staff w/ Bill and this playbook was found in a box of Detroit Lions book (sic) etc...This was a playbook that B.B. revised for the 1977 season, I believe."

John Payne coached for over thirty years, including stints in both the CFL and NFL. In 1977, he was the offensive line coach for the Lions and his photo and bio can be found in the included media guide. Letter of provenance from the son of John Payne.

An estimate on the value for purchase of the old playbook starts at $8,000. As of Monday, November 22, 2021, the "Buy Now" price was at $6,600.

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