The Pittsburgh Steelers have a long tradition of criticizing Bill Belichick and the Patriots. Shortly after the Spygate scandal broke nine years ago, former Steelers wideout Hines Ward said he’s convinced the Pats knew their calls in the 2002 AFC Championship, which New England won by a touchdown. Just this past September, Pittsburgh head coach Mike Tomlin complained about the headsets malfunctioning in the season-opener at Gillette Stadium, and heavily implied Patriots subterfuge was to blame for the technical difficulties.
With that history in mind, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that a member of the Steelers has thrown shade in the Patriots’ direction once again. A fan told Pittsburgh running back DeAngelo Williams on Twitter Monday he’d love to see him play in New England, to which Williams responded with a diss directed towards Belichick.
From what I’m told only tom Brady likes the head coach so no thank u I’m happy where I am https://t.co/WILRq6FbSu
— DeAngelo Williams (@DeAngeloRB) February 15, 2016
It seems to be a gross exaggeration for Williams to say Tom Brady is the only player who gets along with Belichick, considering Julian Edelman pledged his allegiance to The Hoodie after last year’s Super Bowl victory. Several notable ex-Patriots, including Rodney Harrison, Tedy Bruschi, and Vince Wilfork often vouch for Belichick’s character as well.
But that’s not to say every player who’s left the Pats has spoken fondly of his experiences playing under Belichick. Linebacker Brandon Spikes described his time playing in New England as “four years a slave” after he signed with the Buffalo Bills in 2014 and Adalius Thomas once said Belichick treats his players like kindergartners. (Perhaps not-so-coincidently, Spikes and Thomas were each disciplined after being late to practice in a snowstorm.)
Perhaps the most notable rift Belichick ever had with a player was with star defensive end Richard Seymour, who was unceremoniously shipped to the Oakland Raiders prior to the 2009 season. Seymour said he was “blindsided” by the trade and accused Belichick of taking too much credit for the team’s success.
Wes Welker also left the Patriots on frosty terms three years ago, when he signed with the Denver Broncos in free agency. Welker, who was benched for the opening series of the Patriots’ 2011 Divisional Round Game against the New York Jets for making foot jokes about Rex Ryan, said Belichick was hard on him towards the end of his tenure in New England.
Seymour returned to Gillette Stadium two years ago to honor the 2004 Super Bowl team, so it appears Belichick can bury the hatchet with former players who have spoken ill of him. But his critics exist, even if there may not be as many as Williams claims.
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