He was the first Navy player to win the Heisman Trophy (the most prestigious college football award). Among his fans there was a young Bill Belichick, the future Patriots coach. But when he had to choose between football and the Navy, he went blue. And never regretted it.
Joseph Michael “Joe” Bellino, who passed away a few days ago, was the son of a Sicilian immigrant, and was born in 1938 in Winchester, Mass. He was a brilliant student athlete: when he graduated at Winchester High School he was recruited by more than 100 colleges. But his first and forever love was the Navy, even though that meant giving up a pro footballer career.
About his running skills in football, he’s been described faster sideways than forward. “He runs like a frightened crab”, said the tacklers who tried to stop him. When he graduated, in 1961, Joe gave his cap to Bill Belichick, who was the son of his coach. Now that cap has come back to the Bellino family, as a tribute to a great Italian American.