Reggie Wayne: 2015 gesture showed him a ‘totally different Bill Belichick’
Bill Belichick is deservedly regarded as one of the greatest head coaches in NFL history, but the New England Patriots icon has also cultivated a reputation of being among the most gruff, no-nonsense and almost cold-blooded team leaders when it comes to his dealings with players.
While that reputation may be well-earned in many respects given the manner in which Belichick refuses to allow personal feelings to impact personnel decisions, legendary wide receiver Reggie Wayne recently shared how there is another side to the curmudgeonly Patriots head coach that the public rarely sees.
After parting ways with the Indianapolis Colts following an outstanding 14-year run in the wake of triceps surgery, Wayne signed with the Patriots during training camp in 2015. While Wayne’s stint with New England only lasted two weeks before he decided to retire at 36, the Patriots were nevertheless on the hook for a $450,000 signing bonus.
Wayne had every intention of returning that money to the Patriots, but Belichick intervened and told the veteran wideout to keep the $450K.
“I went up to him and I said, ‘Hey, this is what it is. I know got a signing bonus. I’ll give it back, no biggie. Bill Belichick told me to keep it,” Wayne said this week on Dan Hellie’s Helliepod podcast, as transcribed by Clutch Points. “I’m like, ‘Hey, you ain’t got to bend my arm back twice.’ He told me to keep it. And that was love, man. And I always had respect for him. I’ve heard people and seen stuff that he’s done on camera of his respect for me, and maybe that was just his sign of appreciation. We had a lot of battles against that team, so he told me to keep it. We kept it in the bank. I appreciate it. Hey, the best job ever.”
It’s these kind of stories that demonstrate how Belichick isn’t necessarily as he chooses to portray himself to the outside world, as Wayne went on to point out.
“Bill Belichick is not what you think,” Wayne said. “I just think he doesn’t like the media. Every day I saw Bill, he was smiling and laughing. He does have teeth. A lot of people don’t think he has teeth. It was a totally different Bill Belichick.”