(Photos courtesy of the New England Patriots/David Silverman)
Talk of Fame Network
The NFL has Teams of the Decade, but it never had a Team of the Century … until now, that is. And now we have the New England Patriots reaching six Super Bowls in 14 years and winning all but two of them in an era when salary caps are supposed to prevent dynasties from happening.
Except one just did.
So the obvious question is: What does Patriots’ coach Bill Belichick know that the rest of the league does not? Former Patriots’ safety Rodney Harrison, now with NBC, had an easy explanation when he sat down with us on the Talk of Fame Network’s latest broadcast.
“Well,” he said, “he’s smart. And the rest of the league is dumb.”
Harrison’s response was to a question about what Belichick knew when the Patriots added him after San Diego let Harrison walk following the 2002 season. The Chargers thought they’d gotten the best from Harrison, one of the game’s hardest hitting safeties, but they were wrong. Instead, he not only continued his career in New England; he became a starter on three Super Bowl teams, won two Super Bowl rings and wound up a four-time All-Pro.
Obviously, Belichick saw something in Harrison that others – OK, San Diego – did not. And the outspoken Harrison was only too willing to point out what that was.
“It’s amazing to me how a team like the San Diego Chargers, that had been habitual losers, could sit there and say that, at 29, 30 years old, that I was done,” said Harrison. “I played with a 35-percent ripped groin off the bone the entire season. Aside from taking pills and shooting myself up with these doctors and stuff like that, I could’ve sat home and made three-and-a-half million dollars doing nothing.
“(Yet) I want out there and risked my career, risked my future to go out there and play. And they said, ‘Hey, Rodney, don’t worry about it. You’re going to be fine. No problem.’ And guess what? I continued to hobble and limp and show toughness, and at the end they said, ‘Rodney can’t play.’ And I was like, ‘That’s a bunch of B.S.’
“And let me tell you: That’s the reason you see so many players nowadays taking the money and running (like) the Albert Haynesworths of the world. Because they realize these teams don’t give a crap about you. And that’s why they’re so intent on getting guaranteed money.
“You look at all the so-called experts. They’re a bunch of idiots. That’s why you see so many different coaches, so many different players, moving around and stuff like that. All the guys that they drafted … they don’t get any production. You get all the hype, all these college experts and draft experts … man, put on the tape.
“I can tell you who can play and who can’t play. I don’t need to sit here and talk to you. If you’re a good person, I can ask your coach. But I want to see what you can do on the football field. I want to see what you do when the ball’s 40 yards away. Are you hustling? Are you running around contact? Are you making business decisions and not hitting somebody in the mouth?
“Those are the types of things that Bill Belichick saw in me that other people didn’t want to see. And one great thing about Belichick is this: He doesn’t care what the league says about someone; if he knows you fit into his system and you’re the right guy, he’s going to get you. And that’s what makes him smarter than everybody else.”