Why was Bill Belichick wearing a Croatian flag against the Packers?

Joshua Rogers October 3, 2022
Why was Bill Belichick wearing a Croatian flag against the Packers?
Photo by Patrick McDermott/Getty Images

NFL fans wanted to know why Patriots coach Bill Belichick was wearing a Croatian flag on his jacket against the Green Bay Packers in Week 4.

The Patriots were in action against the Green Bay Packers in Week 4 on Sunday night (2 October). The Pats went into the game without QB Mac Jones. He was ruled out of the game due to the ankle injury suffered in Week 3.

Brian Hoyer replaced him but also went down during the game. Rookie fourth-round pick Bailey Zappe was called into the action to replace him.

Despite the injuries, the Patriots managed to keep it close. However, they were beaten 27-24 in the closing seconds of overtime on a 31-yard field goal by Mason Crosby. New England are now 1-3 for the season.

Fans notice Bill Belichick wearing a Croatian flag on his jacket

During the game, fans noticed that Patriots head coach Bill Belichick was wearing a Croatian flag on his jacket.

Belichick had on his usual windbreaker emblazoned with a Patriots logo on the left side. However, on the right side there was a patch with the Croatian flag.

He also had one on his left sleeve as seen in the photo below.

Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images

Why Belichick wore a Croatian flag

The reason for the flag patch is because the NFL is celebrating the league’s international diversity. Players and coaches will wear the flags of countries to honor their family heritage.

According to the NFL, ‘over the next two weeks, more than 200 players will proudly wear helmet decals of the country or territory’s flag that represents their nationality or cultural heritage.’

Belichick’s grandparents, Ivan Bilicic and Marija Barkovic, arrived in the United States from Croatia over 100 years ago. 

“My grandfather emigrated and got his citizenship (US) in 1915, ” he said according to Croatia Week.

“My grandfather came over by himself, he was married to Mary (Marija) and came over to work in the coal or steel mills in western Pennsylvania. After two years, Mary decided to come over and look for him. She got on a boat and came to the United States and so they were kind of reunited then and started the family.”

Other players taking part in the initiative

205 players who will be sporting non-U.S. decals on their helmets over Weeks 4 and 5. Notable players flying the flag for the initiative include Kyler Murray (Arizona Cardinals – South Korea), Amon-Ra St. Brown (Detroit Lions – Germany) and Tua Tagovailoa (Miami Dolphins – Samoa & American Samoa).

According to NFL Communications, Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray will display the flag of South Korea in tribute to his mother, Missy. He said: “I’m proud to play with the flag of South Korea on my helmet. It’s a great way to honor my mom, honor my heritage and highlight the diverse backgrounds that make up the NFL.”

Steelers star Chase Claypool is one of 14 players representing Canada. According to NBC Sports, Nigeria will have the most representatives with 56 players wearing the famous green and white of the country.

Meanwhile, 20 executives and coaches will participate, including Belichick. You can see the full list of 200 participants here.

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Joshua is a senior sports writer with over four years' experience in online writing. He graduated with a BA in Ancient History from The University of Manchester before receiving an MA in Sports Journalism from The University of Central Lancashire. He became a trending writer for a leading social publisher and later spent time covering the 2018 World Cup for The Mirror Online. He then moved to a social marketing agency where he acted as website editor. His specialties on The Focus include F1, tennis, NBA, NFL and combat sports.