ALLEN PARK, Mich. — After the final joint practice between the New England Patriots and Detroit Lions wrapped up Wednesday, Bill Belichick took some time to chat in a small circle on the sidelines.
Included in the conversation were Belichick’s girlfriend, Linda Holliday, and Lions running back C.J. Anderson. It’s rare to see Belichick chat up anyone, no less an opposing player, after practice. So, what were Belichick and Anderson discussing?
“Just casual, ‘How you doing? Good seeing you again. Can’t wait to not see you again’ from both sides,” Anderson said. “A lot of respect between me and him.”
The bond stems from the fact that Anderson finds himself playing against the Patriots every year. Anderson’s Broncos played the Patriots twice in 2013 (including the AFC Championship Game), again in 2014, in another AFC title game in 2015 and two more regular-season games in 2016 and 2017. He played against the Patriots as a member of the Carolina Panthers in the 2018 preseason and then in Super Bowl LIII with the Los Angeles Rams.
They actually began the relationship in 2014, as Belichick paid him a compliment that has stuck with Anderson after the Broncos beat the Patriots in the AFC Championship Game following the 2015 season.
“Came back and beat them in the AFC championship, played a really good game, came up to me and said, ‘You’re a helluva player. Play hard,’ ” Anderson recalled Wednesday.
Anderson previously has expressed his admiration for Patriots quarterback Tom Brady.
“Obviously, you respect what they’ve done in our generation is remarkable, and it’s historic,” Anderson said. “You always want to play against them. You always want to try to beat them. Obviously, since 2013, I’ve played them almost every year. And I’ve played them almost every year for something big. And they’ve won some, I’ve won some. So, I might be the nag in the stomach. I might be the bug flying around. It’s all mutual respect. It’s fun.”
Somehow, through the running back’s five stops in the NFL and the Patriots’ regular need at the position, Anderson never has found himself on the Patriots. Would he like to change that in the future?
“I don’t know, man. I can’t look too far,” Anderson said. “This league is not for long. I’ve been blessed to play for seven years. I’m a Lion right now, so I’m going to focus on that. But I wouldn’t say if the opportunity (came up), wouldn’t turn it down. I try to take any opportunity that comes in front of me.”