FOXBORO -- Raymond Clayborn was inducted to the Patriots Hall of Fame Saturday, but not before he took care of a little paperwork.
The longtime defensive back signed a one-day contract in order to retire a Patriot, making the 62-year-old the second-oldest player on the team behind the ageless Tom Brady.
Clayborn played for the Pats from 1977 to 1989 and was a three-time Pro Bowler over his 13-season career. He set the franchise record for career interceptions with 36, a number that remains tops in team history alongside Ty Law.
Though the bulk of Clayborn’s career was spent in New England, it ended in Cleveland in 1991. The coach of that team? Bill Belichick.
Clayborn recalled his first impression of Belichick, whom he spotted back in the 80s when Belichick was the Giants’ defensive coordinator.
"Actually, they came up when he was with the Giants and we were [holding] training camp at Bryant College in Smithfield, R.I., the Giants came down to practice one time and I kept saying, ‘Who’s the guy that looks so raggedy back there?’ I kept asking the Giants," Clayborn recalled. "You know, he had cut-off sweat pants and cut-off [clothing] like he wears now. [They said] ‘Oh, that’s the defensive backs coach, that’s Coach Belichick.’”
Clayborn and Belichick’s football relationship came full circle Saturday, as the coach brought the longtime Patriot out to the field to meet with this year’s group.
Cassius Marsh was brought to New England to help a depleted defensive end group and play in the kicking game. The Patriots wanted him badly enough that they parted with two draft picks -- a fifth and a seventh -- to acquire him in a trade with the Seahawks just before the start of the season.
Less than three months later, they've decided to part ways with the 6-foot-4, 245-pounder.
Marsh played in nine games for the Patriots this season, providing the team with an edge defender and someone with special-teams experience. He blocked a kick in Week 7 against the Falcons that earned him an enthusiastic attaboy from coach Bill Belichick.
Coming off the edge, Marsh recorded one sack and 13 hurries. Against the run, he was used more sparingly, and he was one of the Patriots on the scene for Marshawn Lynch's 25-yard run in the second quarter on Sunday. He played in just two snaps in Mexico City after missing the previous week's game in Denver due to a shoulder injury.
Without Marsh the Patriots remain thin at defensive end. In order to help bolster that spot, the corresponding move the Patriots made to fill the open spot on their 53-man roster was to sign defensive lineman Eric Lee off of the Bills practice squad.
Lee entered the league with the Texans last season as an undrafted rookie out of South Florida. Listed at 6-foot-3, 260 pounds, Lee has bounced on and off of the Bills practice squad this season since being released by the Texans before this season.
The Patriots got a good look at Lee during joint practices last summer with the Texans at The Greenbrier in West Virginia. In the preseason game with the Texans that week, Lee played 40 snaps and according to Pro Football Focus he had two quarterback hurries. The Patriots have a history of snagging players they've practiced against, and with Lee, that trend continues.
Bill Belichick sounded less than enthused about traveling to Mexico to play a game. And his line about being "fortunate there was no volcano eruptions, earthquakes or anything else while we were down there," didn't exactly sit well with some folks south of the border.
“Personally, I wouldn’t be in any big rush to do it again,” Belichick said on his weekly appearance on WEEI's "Dale and Holley with Keefe" show Monday. “Players did a great job dealing with all the challenges that we had to deal with. I think we’re fortunate there was no volcano eruptions, earthquakes or anything else while we were down there. I mean you have two NFL franchises in an area that I don’t know how stable the geological plates that were below us [were], but nothing happened so that was good.”
Pancho Vera of ESPN Mexico took exception to Belichick's comment on Twitter, which, translated, called out the "ignorance of the genius of the NFL." More than 200 people were killed after a quake centered near Mexico City struck in September.
Other Twitter users said, using Belichick's reasoning, they wondered if they'd be fortunate not to be killed or wounded in a mass shooting if they were to travel to the US:
Translated, the tweets read "I also have luck in Las Vegas I was not in a shooting" and "But you are right, I apply the same when I go to the U.S. and say I was fortunate I was not in some crazy shootout."