When Bruce Poliquin roots for the New England Patriots, he carries a little more oomph than the rest of us when it comes to Head Coach Bill Belichick.
Poliquin, of Oakland, the former state treasurer who is running for Maine 2nd Congressional District as a Republican, has known Belichick since their days together on the undefeated 1970 varsity football team at Phillips Academy in Andover, Mass. Poliquin was a running back and Belichick was an offensive center.
“It was a hell of a football team,” said Poliquin. “I wasn’t that big and spent a lot of time on the bench, but Bill was a starter. Even back then, you always saw him walking around with a clipboard with a bunch of x’s and o’s on it.”
Today, Belichick’s list of accomplishments in professional football is lengthy and full of superlatives, including three Superbowl wins with the Patriots.
Poliquin took to Twitter on Friday to wish Belichick and the Patriots, who face the Denver Broncos Sunday in a win-and-go-to-the-Superbowl, lose-and-go-home playoff game, good luck.
“Wishing my old teammate Bill Belichick best of luck this Sunday as our Patriots BEAT Denver!” tweeted Poliquin, who also posted a picture of the 1970 team that he said appeared in the New York Times.
Belichick, who is widely regarded as one of the greatest professional football coaches of all time, was more often than not seen around the Phillips Academy campus with close friend Ernie Adams. Poliquin said the two spent hours upon hours of their free time analyzing opponents and planning their next games. Adams, who is now the Patriots’ football research director under Belichick, shared a common dream with his friend.
“All either of them ever wanted to do was coach,” said Poliquin. “They really had a passion for football. As long as they’ve been together, they have been a dynamic duo.”
Phillips Academy was and is at the extreme of academic rigor for a private boarding school, which Poliquin said made Belichick’s goal to be a football coach unique. But like many other Phillips graduates – such as former President George W. Bush – Belichick ended up literally at the top of his game.
“Bill was no different from the other students that had a passion in whatever it was they were interested in,” said Poliquin. “We weren’t special. We were just guys from all over the country put together at this school and a lot of us were on scholarships, which was the case with me.”
Poliquin said he sees Belichick at class reunions and occasionally sends him a message, including one earlier this week to congratulate Belichick on the Patriots’ convincing playoff win last Saturday over the Indianapolis Colts.
“Bill is so deserving of everything he achieves for his team,” said Poliquin. “I can bet you this: anyone who walks into that New England Patriots locker room at any time when Bill Belichick and Ernie Adams are in that room, there’s a sense of order, a sense of having a goal and a sense of team. That is a real sign of a leader, where you expect excellence from your players and push them as hard as they can be pushed.”
Poliquin, who said one of Belichick’s secrets is that at Phillips Academy he was a better lacrosse player than football player, said his congressional campaign will be on pause this weekend.
“I’ll be on the sofa watching the game like everyone else at 3 o’clock on Sunday afternoon,” he said.