Bill Belichick is one of the most successful coaches not just in the history of football, but sports. That is not disputed. But it turns out, what may be in dispute is how we all have pronounced his name.
Forever, his named has been pronounced beli-chick or beli-check, and he’s not made much of a stink about either. But it turns out, according to the hoodie, neither of them may be right. Check out how he pronounces his dad’s name from a recent CBSSN special:
The Belichick Legacy.
— New England Patriots (@Patriots) December 7, 2017
That sounds like bu-luh-chick to me, which is quite different from how the entire world has been pronouncing that name since Bill became a prominent coach over 30 years ago. He hasn’t raised a fuss about it at any time, nor have we really heard to him refer to his last name at any point in spite of the myriad of times he’s spoken to the media, so this may be new and somewhat unexpected.
The backstory on the family name, from David Halberstam’s excellent book The Education of a Coach, gives an idea of where the name came from and how it might be pronounced:
The name was originally Bilicic, and it was phoneticized or Americanized, not, as happened with so many immigrant families, at Ellis Island, by immigration officials reluctant to master the names of the old world, with their weird mixtures of vowels and consonants, but rather by a first-grade teacher in Monessen, Pennsylvania. That teacher, told by Anna Bilicic, Steve’s oldest sister and the first family member born in the United States, that her names was Bell-uhchick, wrote it down as Belichick, thereby earning the undying hatred of Mary Barkovic Bilicic for corrupting the family name.
There’s not a clear answer in there either, but if there’s anyone to trust about how to pronounce a last name, why not ask the person who has the last name to begin with (I have much personal experience with this, trust me).
History tells us the Belichick family itself doesn’t know how to pronounce the name, so this entire story may be much to do about nothing. But, if it’s something about Bill that we don’t know about, it actually is kind of a story.