So a couple weeks ago, when running back Stevan Ridley was benched for playing with his eyes closed or something, we learned that Ridley was going to reach out to Kevin Faulk regarding how to play with a slippery football. Faulk struggled with fumbles early in his career and head coach Bill Belichick immediately threw out his football knowledge.
Hall of Fame tight end Ozzie Newsome fumbled once with the Cleveland Browns as a rookie. He didn't fumble again. He brought up this story when Faulk struggled in 2000.
When Faulk improved by 2002, Belichick threw out the same exact story about Newsome not fumbled after his rookie year. Presto, hall of famer!
With the Ravens coming to town, and Ozzie being some sort of diabolical genius of a team manager for Baltimore, of course Ozzie was going to come up. The context though?
Q: How does a guy get above that line [of earning the coaches' trust]?
BB: By performing. You go out there and perform. You don't drop below the line. Take Ozzie Newsome. There's a good example right there. When Ozzie was a rookie, he played 13 years, when he was rookie, he fumbled, lost the ball, team lost the game. Never fumbled again the rest of his career. Never fumbled again the rest of his career – 600 and 700 [662 receptions] passes, however many passes it was, however many times he touched the ball the rest of his career, never fumbled again.
Why is Ozzie Newsome in the Hall of Fame? That's why. That kind of commitment, that kind of performance. It was important enough to him. Fumbled once, didn't fumble again the rest of his entire career. Now think about that.
Want to know how a guy gets in the Hall of Fame? That's one reason. Lawrence Taylor. How many sacks did he have? How many times was he offside? Go back and look how many times he was offside. It wasn't very many. There's a guy that hit the quarterback, made as many plays defensively as any player in football, certainly any player I've ever coached but any player in football – I'd put him up against anybody in terms of big plays, hitting the quarterback, tackles beyond the line of scrimmage.
I don't care what the stats are, a lot of plays that he made, that somebody else made, but he was an impact, dynamic, as disruptive a player defensively as there's probably ever been in the National Football League. How many times was he offside? Was he offside? Yeah, but he was a pretty disruptive player without doing that.
I think those are examples of what I'm talking about – for all of us.We all make mistakes, even the great ones, but they don't repeat them, they don't make very many of them, they correct it, it's important enough to them to move on and get it right. That's how you do it. You get it right.
YES! Belichick the human cyborg broke out the same line! AND HE INTRODUCED LAWRENCE TAYLOR! So if a player is supposed to earn the coaches trust and remain above "the line", they essentially have to be Hall of Fame caliber players. So Tom Brady. Vince Wilfork. Logan Mankins.
Woe to those other players who make mistakes because Belichick won't hesitate to bench you if you so much as fumble a cup of Gatorade on the sideline.
But no pressure, Ridley. I'm sure you'll be fine.