Crossing Bill Belichick is an NFL player’s worst nightmare — just ask Jonas Gray.
For better or (mostly) worse, the 29-year-old has a special place in New England Patriots lore. On Nov. 16, 2014, Gray rushed 37 times for 201 yards and four touchdowns against the Indianapolis Colts, a performance that landed him a spot on the cover of Sports Illustrated. It was a dream come true for the relatively unknown Gray, who went undrafted in 2012 despite a solid senior season at Notre Dame.
You know what happened next: Gray overslept and missed a team meeting the following Thursday, was a healthy scratch in New England’s next game and had just 20 rushing attempts over the remainder of the season before being released during the 2015 preseason. He hasn’t played since tearing his quad in 2016 during training camp with the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Though Belichick never has gone into great detail on Gray’s tenure with the Patriots, you don’t need to be Adam Schefter to know that missing a meeting was Gray’s death knell in New England.
But what, if anything, did Belichick to say to Gray after the infamous missed meeting?
ESPN’s Elizabeth Merrill recently caught up with Gray for a story published Wednesday morning. The piece contains more than a few fascinating anecdotes, including Gray’s claims of improperly plugging his cell phone charger into an outlet the night before the meeting, leading to a dead phone and, thus, no wake-up call.
There’s also this bit about Gray, who was told to by former Patriots’ football operations manager Kevin Anderson to stay home until he called him later, trying to explain himself to Belichick:
” … The waiting was killing Gray. He texted teammates, family and former coaches. He apologized for his mistake. Sometime around 5:30 p.m., Gray showed up at the Patriots’ facility to talk to Belichick. He wanted to explain everything — that he did his job but the phone charger didn’t.
“The coach didn’t appear particularly angry, Gray says. Belichick was on a treadmill walking and reading notes. He repeatedly told him, ‘We just can’t have it.’ He said there would be repercussions for the game against Detroit, though he didn’t specify how much Gray would sit. (Belichick, through a Patriots spokesperson, declined to comment for this story.)”
The rest is history.
It’s hard to not feel bad for Gray, who likely made an honest mistake and genuinely felt bad about it. Still, when the greatest coach in NFL history lays out a set of rules, you better do everything in your power to follow them.
Thumbnail photo via Winslow Townson/USA TODAY Sports Images