One of Bill Belichick's first hires to his Patriots' coaching staff has returned to the team where he earned the first three of his six Super Bowl championship rings.
ESPN's Dallas-based website and other news outlets have confirmed that veteran strength and conditioning coach Mike Woicik has accepted the same position with the Dallas Cowboys, thus returning to the team where he first established himself as one of the best at his job in the NFL.
He was the strength coach with the Cowboys from 1990-96 before leaving for New Orleans to work under Mike Ditka. Belichick hired Woicik on Feb. 16, 2000, just 20 days after he had accepted the Patriots' head coaching job.
Born in Baltimore but raised in Westwood, Woicik attended Boston College (and held the school's discus throw record), then got his master's degree in physical education from Springfield College, where he began a coaching career that has spanned 33 years, 21 of them in the NFL.
He was Syracuse University's strength coach from 1980-89 before entering the NFL ranks with the Cowboys. Woicik's six Super Bowl rings are more than any player or coach in NFL history. He is a two-time winner of the Professional Football Strength and Conditioning Society's coach of the year award, earning the honor in 1992 with the Cowboys and 2004 with the Patriots.
Woicik's contract with the Patriots (who had yet to confirm his departure Saturday) expired after the 2010 season. They may not have to look far for his replacement, as the Patriots added assistant strength coach Harold Nash to the staff six years ago and may prefer to promote from within.
Aside from his Westwood roots, Woicik had local ties as the brother-in-law of former Foxboro High School girls' basketball coach Nancy Woicik, now a coach and athletic director in Somers, Conn.
Woicik replaces Joe Juraszek, who left the Cowboys because of what the ESPN Dallas site termed "a medical issue."