Bill Belichick is a relentless competitor, even in the most meaningless of games.
In 2011, Belichick served as head coach of the AFC squad in the Pro Bowl. The NFL’s annual All-Star game tends to be a defense-optional affair, but in that particular game, only one side was lighting up the scoreboard.
The NFC built a gigantic 42-0 lead and entered halftime leading 42-7. Belichick, who had coached the New England Patriots to three Super Bowl titles at that point, wasn’t about to let his team be embarrassed to that degree.
Los Angeles Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers was part of that AFC squad. During a conference call with reporters ahead of Sunday’s divisional-round playoff game against Belichick’s Patriots, Rivers recalled the coach reaming out some of the conference’s top players during his locker room address.
“I do remember at halftime of the Pro Bowl game, we were getting killed, and it was … me, Peyton (Manning) and (Matt) Cassel,” Rivers said. “We were getting blown out at halftime, and he kind of called (the whole team) up and said, ‘Hey, we can tackle. I know it’s the Pro Bowl and all that, but can we tackle somebody today? Let’s go out and see if we can make this a little bit respectable in the second half.’
“And then he looked at us quarterbacks. We had all thrown an interception — thank goodness I wasn’t the only one — and he said, ‘And it’d help if you guys would stop throwing it to the other team.’
“I got a kick out of that because I was standing by Peyton Manning and Cassel, and Peyton’s, if not my all-time favorite, one of. I was glad I wasn’t the only one that had thrown it to the other team. But I thought that was pretty good. I got fussed out at halftime of the Pro Bowl.”
The AFC went on to lose the game, but they did make it respectable, outscoring the NFC 34-13 over the final two quarters for a final score of 55-41.