Whether you love him or hate him, it’s hard to argue with Bill Belichick’s track record. During his time in New England, the Patriots’ head coach has turned the franchise into a dynasty; you don’t six Super Bowl titles by accident. He’s also shown a knack for getting the best out of his players and turning any roster into a legitimate contender.
As any coach can tell you, NFL players aren’t robots; like any other human being, they need a certain amount of praise from time to time. While Bill Belichick surely understands that reality, he once gave a Patriots player the game ball for the most disgusting reason.
Bill Belichick seems grumpy, but probably has a softer side
During his time in New England, Bill Belichick has become an NFL fixture. That reality means that virtually every football fan is familiar with the coach’s unique quirks.
Beyond his coaching success, Belichick’s gruff nature has become a part of NFL popular culture. Between his cut-off hoodies and curt press conferences, the Patriots boss can come across as more of a grumpy grandfather than anything else; while you can’t question his knowledge, he doesn’t seem like the most pleasant guy to be around.
In reality, though, Belichick is probably more human than he lets on. While the coach isn’t keen on publically showering his players with praise, he has spoken highly of guys like Tom Brady and Stephen Gostkowski after they’ve left New England. The coach was also a fun-loving fraternity president during college, so there’s definitely a ‘work hard, play hard’ side to his personality that most people don’t get to see.
Bill Belichick once gave Larry Izzo the game ball for a disgusting performance
Based on what we know of Bill Belichick, you’d probably assume that the coach gives out game balls to players who do the little things right, like making a key block or refusing to give up on a play. On at least one occasion, though, he chose to honor a different type of performance.
At some point during his New England Patriots career, linebacker Larry Izzo felt the call of nature. Rather than leaving the field and potentially missing a play, he managed to relieve himself on the sidelines. Belichick was apparently impressed with his subtlety and awarded him the game ball.
In 2012, Dan LeBetard asked Wes Welker if Izzo really “went number two on the sideline” and earned a game ball. Against all odds, the receiver confirmed it actually happened.
“This is 100% true,” Welker explained. “Larry would be so mad at me if I said that this didn’t happen because he takes ultimate pride in this whole deal.”
That game ball wasn’t Larry Izzo’s only accomplishment, though
Larry Izzo wasn’t just skilled in the art of subtly relieving himself, though. While the linebacker might not be a household name, he had a solid career in the NFL.
After playing his college football at Rice, Izzo went unselected in the 1996 NFL draft. He signed a free-agent contract with the Miami Dolphins and spent five seasons in South Florida; he then joined the New England Patriots in 2001. The linebacker was a member of three Super Bowl championship teams and earned three trips to the Pro Bowl during his time in Foxborough. While he was never a star, Izzo was a key special teams player and piled up 207 total tackles during his NFL career.
Despite that resume and his coaching success—Izzo has plied his trade on the sidelines since 2011—Welker is sure that his bathroom-related game ball is his proudest accomplishment.
“I guarantee that game ball is probably a more prized item for him than his Super Bowl rings.”
Stats courtesy of Pro-Football-Reference