Throughout the past eight years, Bill Belichick has cultivated a team with a certain type of personality. It is restrained. It doesn't show emotion. It has a one-track mind solely focused on winning games, one at a time. It rarely offers the kind of colorful sound byte you may find in, say, the Red Sox clubhouse.
Ellis Hobbs exhibited the polar opposite of every one of those traits.
The colorful defensive back, who spent four years with the Patriots and played in 63 games, is beginning training camp outside Foxborough for the first time in his career, and according to Sports Illustrated's Peter King, he doesn't miss everything that comes with wearing red, white and blue.
"In New England, they believe in keeping your emotions down," he told King during Philadelphia's training camp on Saturday. "It zaps the life out of you. I remember standing on the sidelines in my first playoff game, home against Jacksonville, and getting all excited and I'm jumping around, and I feel this touch on my shoulders. I was told, 'Calm down.' I'm thinking, 'Wow, my first playoff game. Let's enjoy it.' But that's not the way it's done there."
The comments don't come as a shock to Patriots fans, who are used to seeing Hobbs exhibit the displays of emotion — some appropriate, some not — most New England players steadfastly suppress. In 2007, after the Patriots beat the Chargers, Hobbs taunted Philip Rivers so voraciously that the quarterback threw a verbal tantrum in a postgame interview, insisting Hobbs was the "sorriest corner in the league." (Hobbs repsonded by picking him off when the two teams met again in the playoffs.)
Still, apparent bitterness aside, Hobbs did have some nice things to say about his tenure in New England, particularly concerning Belichick.
"I respect Bill as a coach more than anyone I've met," he told King. "Bill was so smart. He went about it like the team we're playing is a building. You don't just throw a bomb at the building; it has to be strategically placed. Like against Dallas a couple of years ago. Everyone's analyzing the game and saying, 'We've got to stop T.O. to win.' Bill said to us that the key to the game for Dallas was [tight end Jason] Witten, not T.O. You stop Witten, you stop Dallas. We did, and we won."
And now that he's outside the confines of Gillette, Hobbs can enjoy acting more like T.O.
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