But Belichick and the Patriots, who won six Super Bowls together, have parted ways after two straight losing seasons and the organization recently elevated Mayo to the top coaching post.
Mayo met Wednesday with reporters for the first time as a head coach and said while he will impart lessons learned from the coaching legend, he will have his own approach to the job.
“For me, I’m not trying to be Bill. I’m not trying to be Bill,” he said. “I think that Bill is his own man. If you can’t tell by now, I’m a little bit different, even up here” at the microphone.
“But what I will say is the more I think about lessons I’ve taken from Bill, hard work works. Hard work works, and that’s what we’re all about.”
Mayo played eight seasons for the Patriots as a linebacker, being voted to the Pro Bowl twice and winning the Super Bowl in 2015. He had coached the New England linebackers since 2019.
Mayo, 37, becomes the youngest head coach in the NFL, surpassing the previous youngest, Sean McVay, who has held the mantle since he was hired by the Los Angeles Rams in 2017.
Mayo said he is honored to be the New England organization’s 15th head coach – and the team’s first Black head coach.
“This has definitely been a dream of mine,” Mayo said. “I’m a huge believer in just developing people. … My calling is to be a teacher and to develop people and help them see what they don’t want to see, but what they need to see.”
While Patriots owner Robert Kraft told reporters he is blind to color and hired the best person, Mayo said that he does recognize color.
“You want your locker room to be pretty diverse and you would want the world to look like that,” Mayo said. “I do see color because I believe if you don’t see color, you can’t see racism. … It does matter so we can fix the problem that we all know we have.”
Kraft said he thinks Mayo’s destiny was to be a head coach.
“His credentials garner respect and he relates beautifully to the players,” Kraft said.
The Patriots finished 4-13 in 2023 and had a losing record in three of the past four years. In Belichick’s farewell news conference, Kraft expressed his displeasure at seeing his team consistently losing.
But Mayo said changes won’t be as immediate as it was at the head coaching position.
“We’re still evaluating everything as far as players, as far as the schemes, as far as the coaching staff,” Mayo said. “I will probably be better equipped to answer this question a little bit down the line.”
Belichick, now a coaching free agent, won a record six Super Bowls as a head coach and two as an assistant with the New York GIants.
He is one of several people who has interviewed with the Atlanta Falcons for their vacant head coaching position, the team announced this week.
CNN’s Ben Morse contributed to this report.
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