Harrison recalls discussion with Belichick about on-air criticism


Imagine having to publicly call out your former head coach on national television? And imagine if that coach was New England Patriots legend Bill Belichick?

That's the situation Rodney Harrison found himself in when he transitioned from his playing career to a role as a broadcaster with NBC. During his first year on the job, Harrison had to weigh in on the Patriots' infamous "fourth-and-2" play, in which Belichick decided to go for it on fourth-and-2 during a 2009 matchup against the Indianapolis Colts.

New England didn't get the first down and lost, and Harrison had to put his Patriots loyalties aside to share his honest opinion.

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"They're like 'Rodney, we have to come to you.' I'm like, 'Holy crap! You're coming to me?' " Harrison recalled to ESPN's Mike Reiss. "And they're like, 'Yeah, a 1-on-1, and Bob [Costas] is going to ask if you agreed with the call, what Belichick did.'

"So they ask the question and I said that I've known Belichick for a long time, and I've seen him make a lot of decisions, but this had to be one of the worst I've ever seen him make."

Harrison called his first on-air criticism of Belichick a "defining moment" in his broadcasting career. But how did Belichick see it? Would the longtime coach known for his gruff nature and disdain for the media take issue with Harrison for hanging him out to dry?

According to Harrison, Belichick didn't take it personally.

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"I was just up there for the Patriots Hall of Fame [in 2019], and Belichick told me and Willie McGinest, 'Look, if you guys have to criticize me, I understand it. You have a job to do,' " Harrison told Reiss.

"I was like, 'Coach, I have no problem with that!' It was nice for him to say that, because somebody that gave me an opportunity, who really believed in you, the last thing you want to do is criticize him. But I had to do my job."

That's good perspective for Belichick to have, although it's not surprising: If anyone can appreciate someone doing their job regardless of the circumstances, it's Belichick.

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