The end of Bill Belichick’s coaching career is reportedly in sight, and people worry how he’ll handle life without football

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Charles Krupa/AP

Bill Belichick, Tom Brady, and the New England Patriots defied time again this season en route to an appearance in Super Bowl 51.

For years, the NFL world has been waiting for the Patriots’ drop-off, but it still hasn’t come, as the team continues its machine-like pace in winning games and vying for more championships.

However, there has to be an end one day, and it may not be that far off.

According to ESPN’s Seth Wickersham, Belichick’s coaching career doesn’t have an exact end date, but it’s in sight. Though his retirement won’t be in a year or two, “it’s coming,” and people close to him worry how he will handle a life without the NFL.

“Nobody knows how much longer Belichick will coach. Well, that’s not totally true. People close to him know. Or have a vague notion. The end isn’t this year or next, but it’s coming, maybe when his two sons, Steve and Brian, who work with the Patriots as the safeties coach and as a scouting assistant, respectively, are firmly established in their NFL careers. That idea of him not coaching, an idea that even he has struggled with, brings a palpable sadness to those who spend a lot of time with him. They worry for his happiness without the weekly rhythm that has attended his entire adult life. … But the idea of him truly alone, without a team for the first time – few can say what that looks like.”

Though it’s a vague notion, the idea that Belichick could retire in a few years seemingly matches Brady’s timeline. Brady, at 40, has said he’d like to play until he’s 45 (though he’s also suggested playing until he’s 48). Belichick, at 64, may be on a similar path, choosing to leave when Brady decides to hang up his cleats.

It’s difficult to imagine an NFL without Brady, Belichick, or a seemingly unbeatable Patriots squad. If this year was any indication, that version of the NFL may still be a few years away, but inevitably, that time will come.