After John Madden's passing on Tuesday, Bill Belichick devoted most of his Wednesday press conference to the NFL legend, providing some important context of how much Madden meant to the game and the legacy that he leaves behind.
"It's a huge loss for the NFL and professional football," said Belichick. "John is just a tremendous person to be around. I think we all, probably, set out to try to have a good professional career. John had about five of them. He set the standard for coaching in his era. They had the best record, best teams, championships, and all that. Raiders had a great style of play that was very, I'd say, captivating. He, certainly, did a lot for the league and the competitiveness of the league."
After coaching, Madden moved to the broadcast booth where he brought a new flair and personality that made the game more accessible to new fans. For many, Madden was the voice of football.
"He moved to broadcasting and, certainly, increased the popularity of the game, singlehandedly, by quite a bit," said Belichick. "I don't know how you'd ever measure that, but I think everybody that liked football enjoyed John's commentary. A lot of people who probably didn't even care about football found John entertaining and watched football because of him. He brought a lot of people to the game. He brought a perspective to the game that was very unique. Loved by all."
Madden's final act, and perhaps the one that brought him the most notoriety, was the video game that bears his name. 33 years after the first version of John Madden football was released, it has become an annual football tradition and has grown into an empire as video games have taken over.
"I grew up playing it," said Adrian Phillips of Madden the game. "You always created yourself and put yourself in the game with the hopes that you would actually be a character in the game. He changed a lot a lot of lives and he motivated a lot of kids, he motivated me for sure because one of my main motivations was I wanted to be on the game. It was cool to actually do that."
"Of course, the Madden game has to be one of the most popular things going," said Belichick. "I think most of the current players in this generation know John Madden through that and that's a big part of it. Certainly, the popularity of football through the Madden game is pretty outstanding as well. He put it all together."
But most important to Belichick was the personal time he spent with the football legend, as the two football lifers crossed paths plenty of times in a variety of ways.
"I had a great opportunity to spend quite a bit of time with John," said Belichick. "It seemed like he and Pat [Summerall] covered our games with the Giants every week. It was like a weekly broadcast crew. Going out to John's bus and just spending time with him there and through the years, all the way up to Super Bowl XXXVI, all the other things that he's done for the league… I particularly enjoyed the Top 100 conversations with John.
"Great person. Multiple great careers. Most importantly, just a great influence on the game of football and professional football. He was a good friend."
Practice & Injury Report
The Patriots began their preparations on the practice field for the Jacksonville Jaguars on Wednesday, with three players returning from the Reserve/COVID-19 list but six remaining on the list and two other absences. Rhamondre Stevenson, Harvey Langi and Yasir Durant were back, all missed the entirety of last week, while Nelson Agholor (concussion) and Joshuah Bledsoe (calf) were absent.
As of Wednesday afternoon, the Patriots Reserve/COVID-19 list includes Matthew Judon, Ja'Whaun Bentley, Deatrich Wise, Brian Hoyer, Brandon King and Josh Uche. All were missing from practice.
Quotes of Note
J.C. Jackson on the team's mindset:
"This is the National Football League, you're gonna lose some. As a defense we know what we've got to do, we know the mistakes we made and we're going to try to build off of that and keep it moving."
Dont'a Hightower on the team's attitude inside the locker room:
"Enough talk, it's time to work and it's always been time to work but there's no more of the little cliché lines and all that stuff. Now it's really just about time to work. These last two games mean a lot to us and we worked really hard and let some games slip from our hands but hopefully, we learn from that and we'll get things going this week."