New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick has coached three Pro Bowl games on behalf of the AFC: 1998, 2006, and 2010. He has a 2-1 record (hah) and used these games as a time to scout veterans like Chad Johnson and Adalius Thomas to see if they would fit with the Patriots on a future date.
But there’s one interaction that I wish I could have been a fly on the wall to witness, and Reebok VP Eddie White details it in this IndyStar piece on Peyton Manning in preparation for Manning’s induction to the Colts Hall of Fame.
“We’re at the Pro Bowl one year in Honolulu,” White says, likely about the 2006-07 Pro Bowl. “Bill Belichick is the coach of the AFC team, and Peyton Manning is the quarterback of the AFC team. After a morning practice, they go and have lunch together, just the two of them. They’re sitting there at this restaurant, Belichick drinking Coronas and wearing a Patriots visor, Peyton drinking Budweiser, of course, and wearing his Colts visor. And they’re there for hours. These guys are lining up beer bottles, moving around salt and pepper shakers like they’re offensive linemen! People would walk by, sort of stare for a second then get a ‘Don’t bother us’ face from Belichick or Peyton. To me it was like an NFL meeting between George Halas and Vince Lombardi back in the '40s.
Years later I asked both of them, ‘You didn’t give anything away, did you?’
Both looked at me and gave the same answer: ‘Hell no.’
This is a fantastic story because you know exactly what the two were doing as they moved salt and pepper shakers around the table. They were probably discussing what each would like to do in a certain football scenario, while looking for a weakness to take advantage of the next time the two teams squared off.
It’s like a James Bond movie where he talks to the villain and neither side is going to make a move, but they want to play the mental game to work through what the other is thinking about. It’s brilliant and I would love to watch Belichick and Manning explain themselves.
Also, is that the future of football gaming? Can we turn football into a turn-based strategy game? Sure, I know there’s Madden out there and that’s a close connection to football, but what about a game where you have to micromanage the play and you’re responsible for every player’s action on a given play and not just whoever is touching the football.
I’d watch a show on NFL Network where two coaches or two players are asked to move one player on the chessboard at a time with the goal of getting a player open to score a touchdown. There’s a million dollar idea there.
You can also tell so much about a person based off of their casual beer choice. Belichick is totally a Corona guy on his private boat and Manning is the type of guy who first thanks his sponsors Papa John’s and Budweiser after winning a Super Bowl. Tom Brady would probably be there chugging avocado juice to re-hydrate his cells or something.