In a cruel twist of fate, Patriots playoff legend Danny Amendola -- after repeatedly to remain in New England -- is now a member of the Miami Dolphins. Amendola was , and he's not the first to open up about his tough playing experience under arguably the greatest coach of all time, Bill Belichick.
After former Patriots and current Giants left tackle Nate Solder described on Thursday, Amendola called Belichick an "a--hole" sometimes and said that playing for him is "not easy" on Friday. But Amendola, like Solder, intended for both of those things to be taken as compliments in a certain way, because at the end of the day, he knows that Belichick's tough approach gets results, as in Super Bowls.
"It's not easy, that's for sure. He's an a--hole sometimes. There were a lot of things I didn't like about playing for him, but I must say, the things I didn't like were all in regards to getting the team better, and I respected him," Amendola told ESPN's Mike Reiss."I didn't like practicing in the snow, I didn't like practicing in the rain, but that was going to make us a better football team and that was going to make me a better football player. It wasn't easy, and he'd be the first to admit, at the [Super Bowl] ring ceremony, that it wasn't easy playing for him. The silver lining was that we were at the ring ceremony."
Nobody should be making their shocked face. After all, denies he quit for those reasons, but the point remains that everyone in the football world knows that Belichick is a demanding coach. Just look at the recent retirement rumors surrounding Rob Gronkowski, who isFuture Hall of Fame receiver Reggie Wayne once tried to finish his career by chasing a ring with the Patriots. He ended up quitting before the season even began, Wayne
And then of course, there's what happened to Malcolm Butler at the Super Bowl. Just before the Patriots' heartbreaking loss to the Eagles, Belichick Nobody knows why -- , . Belichick's never given a reason to explain his decision in the two months since.
Amendola, who called Belichick the "best coach to ever coach the game," also has no clue what went down.
"I have my thoughts about it because I was out there putting my blood, sweat and tears out on the field that night, and one of our best players wasn't on the field," Amendola said. "To tell you the truth, I don't know why. I did ask, but I didn't get any answers. I can't make decisions like that, so I don't necessarily worry about it, but I know Malcolm is a great player and he could have helped us win. For whatever reason, he wasn't out there. He's going to play more football in his career, and he's going to be a great player for a long time."
When he was asked if he sensed if Butler's benching hurt his Patriots teammates, Amendola said, "Yeah, I did, honestly. Nobody really got an explanation for it. He's a brother of ours. He was a brother of ours that year. And I hate to see a guy who worked so hard throughout the season not get a chance to play in the biggest game of the year and really get no explanation for it. With that said, I don't know how the business aspect went into that decision. I don't know how the personal aspect went into that decision between him and Bill. But as a friend, I would have loved to see him on the field that day."
But as Amendola noted, Belichick's unrelenting approach has led to a tremendous amount of success. Unfortunately for Amendola, Belichick's uncompromising mindset extends to free agency, where he almost always refuses to overpay players out of loyalty. This offseason, the Patriots let Dion Lewis, Solder, Butler, and Amendola leave in free agency. Amendola ended up sticking around in the AFC East by signing with the Dolphins, who handed him a two-year deal worth $8.25 million guaranteed and $12 million with incentives.
Amendola admitted that he fell victim to thinking that Belichick -- who has spoken highly of Amendola in the past, once saying "When you look up 'good football player' in the dictionary, his picture is right there beside it" -- might break his rule for him. That obviously didn't happen.
"I came in with an open mind," Amendola said. "I understand Bill [Belichick] runs a tight ship, and he hasn't been known to pay his players, really. I understood that I gave money back to him so I could play for him and play for my teammates and fulfill my side of the contract, and at the end of the day, I had faith that he was going to give me an opportunity to stay."
"When free agency broke, I came to the realization that he wasn't going to really come close to any of the other offers I had," he said. "I had to make a decision for my family and go down to Miami and continue my career there."
In Miami, Amendola, 32, will get paid more, which is probably the most important aspect at this stage of his career, but he's unlikely to see the same amount of overall success that he experienced in New England. With the Patriots, Amendola served as one of Tom Brady's most trusted pass catchers for five seasons, catching 230 passes for 2,383 yards and 12 touchdowns. More importantly, he always had a knack for coming up with big-time plays in the moments that demanded them. He caught 57 passes for 709 yards and six touchdowns in 13 postseason contests.
Now, Amendola will function as Ryan Tannehill's security blanket coming out of the slot. Chances to catch passes will be had, but he shouldn't expect to get much of an opportunity to add to his playoff narrative. The Dolphins, who are coming off a 6-10 season, have made the playoffs three times dating back to 2001, which is when the Patriots won their first of five Super Bowls under Belichick.