Jalen Mills was very, very excited to meet New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick last week at Gillette Stadium.
“I was talking to the nutritionist in the cafeteria. He was talking to me, telling me about the meal plans and how everything goes and works out as far as the food and the diet and all of that type of stuff,” Mills said. “I’m about to walk out of the cafeteria and I just hear, ‘Hey, Jalen.’ So I turned, around, and it’s Coach, right? In my mind, I’m saying, ‘OK, this is Coach.’ But it really didn’t click that it was Coach Belichick. So, he’s just talking to me, telling me, ‘happy to have you. Glad for you to be here. I’m excited for you to be here.’
“And I literally turned my back to him, and I screamed out loud, ‘This is Coach Belichick.’ ‘This is,’ excuse my language but I’m like, ‘This is (expletive) Coach Belichick.’ Like, I screamed it loud. And then I turned back around, and he was still like monotone, regular, just having a casual conversation. I’m freaking out, and I was like, ‘My fault, Coach. One more thing, I gotta cut you off. I don’t want to disrespect you, but Coach, you’re a legend to me. I’m happy to be here.’ He was like, ‘Same, man. Happy for you to be here. Can’t wait to get going and coach you up.’ That was definitely a highlight of my moment outside of, of course, making it official and signing my contract, meeting him and also meeting Mr. Kraft.”
Mills said Belichick didn’t even flinch during his outburst.
“He didn’t change his vocal tone,” Mills said. “It was like he was used to it, like he was a rock star.”
Playing for Belichick was a “huge” factor in Mills’ decision to sign with the Patriots.
“Just his defensive mind and how he’s able to put guys in positions, the best decisions to make plays for the team,” Mills said. “You can’t ask for anything more.”
Mills also said he was drawn to New England because of what the organization represents and how the defense is run.
“They’ve got guys who are very versatile,” Mills said. “You see them playing guys in multiple positions, and I think that’s what this league is going to. You’ve got guys who play multiple positions, and it’s all about confusing these quarterbacks and being able to make plays.”
Mills, who played cornerback, slot cornerback, free safety, strong safety and linebacker with the Philadelphia Eagles, drew praise from Belichick for his versatility during their brief encounter.
“He loved the fact that I can play multiple positions,” Mills said. “I think that was definitely a big thing for them wanting me in the free agency process.”
Mills could help fill the void left from Patrick Chung’s retirement. Chung, like Mills, played slot cornerback, strong safety and linebacker in New England.