Jan. 4, 2000, is a day that forever will live in infamy for diehard Jets fans.
As shocking as Bill Belichick’s sudden resignation as the “HC of the NYJ’’ was that day — a missive scrawled on a crumpled piece of paper — it felt like a blessing in disguise considering how Belichick, for all of his coaching brilliance since, looked like a man unfit to lead.
On the day he was supposed to be standing at that podium as the Jets new head coach to succeed Bill Parcells, Belichick was a mess. His nervous appearance — his suit looking like it came straight out of the hamper and his necktie looking more like a noose than a fashion accessory — suggested he’d rather be anywhere else on the planet other than wearing Jets green.
Thirteen days after that memorable press conference, Belichick was hired by Robert Kraft to coach the Patriots.
Who knew then that the supposed blessing would become a two-decades-long curse for the Jets?
Who knew that Belichick’s presence in New England would haunt and torment the Jets so?
Six men have held the post as Jets head coach since Belichick’s resignation before he’d coached a game in green. None of the six has answered the desperate call of every Jets fan, which is to lead the team to its first Super Bowl since the 1969 season.
The six — Al Groh, Herman Edwards, Eric Mangini, Rex Ryan, Todd Bowles and Adam Gase — have combined to lead the Jets to the playoffs a total of six times in the past 20 years.
That’s the number of Super Bowl titles Belichick has led the Patriots to in that span, leading them to the title game nine times in the 17 postseasons he’s brought them to.
The Patriots have compiled a 237-83 regular-season record under Belichick while the Jets are 148-172 in that span.
So: What if?
What if Belichick stayed?
Would he have made Tom Brady a Jet in the sixth round of the 2000 NFL Draft?
Would the Jets have gone to nine Super Bowls, winning six, in the past 20 years?
Or would Belichick, like most of those who preceded him, have been swallowed up by the franchise’s historic culture of falling short?
“I think he would have done well with the Jets, I really do,’’ Parcells told The Post.
Would he have done six-Super-Bowl-titles well?
“To predict something like that based on the history of the game would be almost ludicrous,’’ Parcells said. “Every once in a while, there are those exceptions.’’
It feels like folly to believe the unmatched success Belichick created in New England is the same thing he would have created with the Jets had he stayed. Of course, it’s impossible to know. But six Super Bowl titles for a team that’s been to only one title game in its entire history, and that one was more than 50 years ago?
The chances are great that Belichick would have been more successful than the six who followed him. But it’s unrealistic to think that he’d have led the Jets to the dynastic success he brought to New England, where he was part of a perfect storm that was headlined by the unexpected fortune that Brady brought to the equation.
“I think Belichick was going to be successful wherever he went at that point in his career with the knowledge that he had,’’ former Jets cornerback Ray Mickens told The Post. “If he would have stayed with the Jets, I know we would have been contenders every year for the Super Bowl. He would have been very successful in New York.’’
Matt Chatham, who played for Belichick in New England and with the Jets under Mangini and now is a member of the New England media covering the Patriots, has little doubt about how Belichick would have done had he stayed with the Jets.
“He’d probably have made the same roster decisions and drafted the same players — just for a different-colored uniform,’’ Chatham told The Post. “He probably would have rebuilt it the same at both places. Maybe every player you saw wear red, white and blue here [in New England] would have worn green there. Any place would have been better to have had Bill and eventually won championships in my opinion.’’
Yes, but six Super Bowls titles and nine trips in 20 years?
“Man, I couldn’t imagine it, but I would have loved to have been a part of it,’’ Mickens said. “That’s one of those dream stories. I can guarantee we probably would have been playing in the Super Bowl — at least one.’’
Given the Jets’ star-crossed, title-starved history, merely one would have made for a far more welcome day to remember than Jan. 4, 2000, for Jets fans. Even one would have made Belichick revered rather than reviled in these parts.