Belichick and Ochocinco, the vivacious Bengals receiver, have known each other for the better part of a decade, and they became particularly close when Belichick coached the 2007 AFC Pro Bowlers.
With the Bengals set to arrive in Foxboro this weekend for the teams' season opener at Gillette Stadium, Belichick and Ochocinco had a chance to reflect upon their relationship.
"He became a friend of mine," Ochocinco said. "He has respect for me and my game. I have respect for him and everything he has done as a coach. We've just always been close and fond of each other's work. He's one that I look up to tremendously, one that I've never played for but I show the same respect as if he was my own head coach."
Belichick took it one step further, detailing the private workout the Patriots put Ochocinco — then known as Chad Johnson — through prior to the 2001 NFL draft.
"The first time I met Chad was at USC when I worked him out there on the USC campus," Belichick said. "[We] kind of ran him into the ground. It was a good workout. It was very impressive. He was, I?d say, a little raw coming out of college but very talented. Clearly, he made the transition very quickly to picking up the skills, and techniques and so forth that maybe he didn?t get a chance to do in college. He picked those up in a hurry."
Ochocinco is in the Bengals' good graces again, but the two sides have had their differences in the past. Plus, this is 32-year-old's last year under contract with Cincinnati, and it looks like he'll hit the open market next spring.
Based on Belichick's relationship with Ochocinco, it would only make sense for the two sides to connect down the line.
"I like Chad," Belichick said. "I like him as a player. I like him as a person. I like his enthusiasm and the fun he has with football, and I like how he competes on the football field. I have a lot of respect for that. [We?re] an odd couple, but in the end, I think we have a lot of things in common."