Maurice Britt played with Bill Belichick's father in the NFL
The NFL and the Belichick family have an extensive history. Maurice Britt, a former wide receiver for the Detroit Lions, left the sport of football in 1941 to serve in World War II in the Army Reserve.
New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick's father, Steve, was a teammate of Britt. He also left the Lions to serve as a Navy armed guard officer in the Pacific during WWII. Running back Byron “Whizzer” White also left the team to go serve as a Navy intelligence officer.
Britt was a former University of Arkansas All-American wide receiver. He would earn a journalism degree and go on to play nine games for the Detroit Lions before enlisting in the Army. His only reception in the NFL was a 45-yard touchdown catch that helped the Lions win against the Philadelphia Eagles.
Aside from his short NFL career, Maurice Britt became a decorated soldier for his brave service during WWII. He was the first American to receive all four medals of valor given by the U.S. Army for distinguished service.
In an interview with NFL films, Britt was humble in describing his extraordinary service record:
"War is not as heroic as we sometimes try to make it. It's mostly filth and sorrow and grime and all the bad things and very little of the good things."
Maurice Britt, Steve Belichick, and Byron White succeeded beyond the NFL
The three players from that 1941 Detroit team made their mark in the NFL and beyond. Britt returned to Arkansas to become the state’s lieutenant governor. Byron White eventually became an associate justice of the U.S. Supreme Court, and Steve Belichick returned to football to be a scout and coach.
In 1941, Detroit would end its season against Chicago with a victory. However, that sentiment was short-lived as the game occurred one week before the attack on Pearl Harbor. The attack on U.S. soil would draw the powerhouse nation, along with the three NFL players, into World War II. And the rest ... was history.
The NFL has a deep history interwoven with world history due to the extraordinary people who played the game and went on to accomplish great things after their professional football careers. For a future Hall of Fame coach like Bill Belichick, it’s not hard to see the roots of his NFL success.
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