If you want to launch your career under Bill Belichick, who's captured four Super Bowl titles during his last 16 seasons with the New England Patriots, you'll start as an entry-level coaching assistant.
"Few people will be aware of your professional existence," reports MassLive's Kevin Duffy, who interviewed several coaches hired by Belichick to fill the entry-level role. "The pay, at least initially, is laughably low, and the work itself is an endless, brain-frying loop."
But while the gig is "incredibly laborious," a former coaching assistant tells MassLive, it's also "very educational."
When hiring, the coaching legend looks for toughness — and his interview process, which can span several days, is meant to evaluate just that.
"Those interviews are long days," Belichick tells MassLive. "After eight, nine, 10 hours of an interview, you see what kind of staying power they have, how excited they are to keep grinding through the information, how detailed they are, how important it is to them."
The interview typically starts with hours of extensive film breakdown, followed by a meeting with multiple assistant coaches. The meeting is meant to put prospective coaching assistants on the spot and test their poise, Belichick explains.
Patriots defensive coordinator Matt Patricia, a former engineer who started his coaching career under Belichick, notes that his interview with the Patriots was "much more intense than a lot of those engineering interviews I went on."
Surviving the grueling interview process is just the beginning. Even Belichick doesn't hesitate to call the entry-level coaching assistant job "a grind."
It's a "20/20 deal. 20 hours a day for 20 grand a year. And it wasn't exactly 20 yet," says Patriots tight ends coach Brian Daboll, whose starting salary under Belichick was $15,000 a year.
While Belichick's bringing home a much larger paycheck — his annual salary is more than $7 million — he's logging just as many hours or more.
"He's football 22/7," former Patriots linebacker Rosevelt Colvin tells ESPN. "He gets maybe two hours of sleep, and the rest of his life is football."
Another assistant under Belichick, Rick Venturi, agrees, saying, "he never asked you to do anything he wasn't doing."
And the legendary coach knows what it's like to start at the bottom of the totem pole: After graduating from Wesleyan University, Belichick was hired by the Colts in 1975 for $25 a week.
"It was a low-paying job for me, but it was probably the best job I ever had because I learned so much," Belichick tells MassLive. "And I felt like, other people who would want to do that, not for the money but do it because they really wanted to learn the game and enjoy that kind of a grind to be honest with you — because it is a grind, but it's beneficial in the long run — that was kind of the person I was looking for."