FOXBORO -- Former 49ers and Eagles head coach Chip Kelly made a trip to Foxboro to take in Patriots practice on Tuesday.
The Patriots have hosted a number of visitors this spring during OTA practices. The Boston College women's lacrosse team made their way to the fields behind Gillette Stadium before playing in the NCAA national semifinals. Members of the USA Rugby program were spotted during one session. Coaches from the University of Florida and Vanderbilt University trekked to New England. Former Bruins and Panthers enforcer Shawn Thornton, now the Panthers vice president of business operations, was a guest as was Spurs vice president of basketball operations Monty Williams.
Kelly was accompanied by Maryland head coach DJ Durkin on Tuesday. Kelly was fired at the end of last season by the 49ers after going 2-14 and has been hired by ESPN to serve as a college football anaylst.
Bill Belichick and Chip Kelly have had a friendship that extends back to Kelly's days as an assistant coach at the University of New Hampshire. Kelly made trips to Foxboro then that continued when he became the head coach at the University of Oregon. The two exchanged ideas on Xs and Os, but Belichick has said that Kelly has also shared ideas that go beyond that and into other areas of running a program.
When Kelly was fired by the Eagles toward the end of the 2015 season, Belichick publicly came to the defense of his friend and in the process criticized impatient owners who aren't willing to stick with a head coach trying to overhaul a program.
"I would say it’s really disappointing," Belichick said at the time. "I mean Chip Kelly to me is a really good football coach. I think he does a great job. I think he’s done a good job with that team. It’s disappointing to see. Or Josh [McDaniels] in Denver. There are a lot of examples, but pretty much everybody is on a one-year contract in this league.
"I don’t know how you build a program in one year. Chip is a great coach. He’ll end up somewhere and he’ll do a great job there. I’d say a lot of the players that were on the Eagles that are no longer on the Eagles aren’t really doing too much for anybody else, either."
Tuesday's visit is an indication that the relationship between Kelly and Belichick is still going strong, and that Belichick still values Kelly's insight.