Historic pairing: Tom Brady, Bill Belichick in 7th Super Bowl

    New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick and quarterback Tom Brady celebrate after advancing to Super Bowl LI.

    Story highlights

    • Belichick and Brady enter their 7th Super Bowl together, the most for any head coach and starting quarterback duo
    • They are finishing their 17th season together

    Houston (CNN)The greatest NFL head coach-quarterback combination began 17 years ago. But before Bill Belichick and Tom Brady could get started, Brady was going to need some directions.

    Belichick was hired as the New England Patriots head coach on January 27, 2000. Shortly after, on April 16 -- which happens to be Belichick's birthday -- the Patriots selected Brady 199th overall in the 2000 NFL Draft.
      "When they picked me, I had to look on a map to see where the New England Patriots played, because I had never been this far east," Brady, a California native, said. "But it was a magical day in my life, and I know for Patriot fans having Coach Belichick come to this team was the best thing for this franchise."
      The rest, at least for Patriots fans, is glorious history. Sunday will be Belichick and Brady's seventh appearance together in the Super Bowl, a record for both a head coach and player.
      Should they win their fifth Super Bowl together, Belichick and Brady will surpass another legendary head coach-quarterback duo: Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Chuck Noll and quarterback Terry Bradshaw, who have four.
      "I have been very fortunate to coach Tom," Belichick said. "Tom is a tremendous player. He is a tremendous competitor. He prepares extremely hard. He comes to work every day and gives his very best effort. I am fortunate to have the opportunity to coach Tom for these years. ... I have a lot of respect for him. There is a mutual respect there."
      Belichick, 64, has coached in the NFL for 42 years. Brady turns 40 later this year and is the longest tenured Patriots player, tied for the most by an NFL quarterback with John Brodie (San Francisco) and Dan Marino (Miami).
      But this partnership -- of a kind that may never be seen again -- can't last forever. How much longer can the pair keep going? And who is going to retire first?
      "That's a good question," Brady said. "I don't know what (Belichick) plans on doing. You know, he's the best. I've been very lucky to play for him."

      No signs of slowing down for Brady

      What a run it's been.
      Dating to the 2009 season, the Patriots have won eight straight division titles, moving them past the Los Angeles Rams (who had seven from 1973-1979) for the most consecutive winning seasons since the 1970 AFL-NFL merger.
      The Patriots have 16 straight winning seasons (though Brady missed the 2008 season with a knee injury) to tie the San Francisco 49ers (1983-1998) and the Dallas Cowboys (1970-1985) for the most consecutive wining seasons since the merger.
      The Patriots also have played in the last six AFC Championship Games, the longest streak in the league.
      Brady celebrates with Belichick after defeating the Seattle Seahawks 28-24 in Super Bowl XLIX in 2015.
      The constant on the field has been Brady. He is fourth in NFL history with 61,582 passing yards and is the all-time leader for the most wins overall by an NFL quarterback, with 207 (183 in the regular season and 24 in the postseason).
      "He has had a tremendous career," Belichick said of Brady. "He has had a great year this year. I think Tom's record and his performance speaks for itself. We have talked about it many times. There are a lot of superlatives. He deserves all of them."