Crennel has racquetball to thank for this Belichick insight


Cam Newton is still learning new things about Bill Belichick. But Romeo Crennel knows the New England Patriots head coach inside and out.

Crennel, whose Houston Texans will host the Patriots next Sunday, has a history with Belichick dating to their time together as New York Giants assistants from 1981 to 1990.

Crennel also worked with Belichick as an assistant on the Patriots and New York Jets before becoming Belichick's defensive coordinator in New England, where he helped the team win three Super Bowls from 2001 to 2004. So, it's safe to say the Texans' interim head coach is aware of what makes Belichick tick.

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Crennel shared some insight into that subject Monday as his team prepares for the Patriots.

"We used to play racquetball against each other," Crennel told reporters, via Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle. "That was a good indicator of how Bill approached competition. He would figure out your weakness and attack your weakness. That's what he does with football."

Belichick never was a physically gifted athlete -- the height of his athletic career came as a center at Division III Wesleyan University -- but relied on his smarts to gain an edge. He's taken the same approach as an NFL coach, leading the Patriots to six Super Bowl titles by developing smart game plans that neutralize opponents' strengths and exploit their weaknesses.

Belichick may have a harder time outsmarting Crennel, though, as the longtime coach -- who is 2-3 as interim head coach since the Texans fired Bill O'Brien earlier this season -- knows most of his old friend's tricks.


"It will be great to see Bill again," Crennel added, via Wilson. "We worked together for a long time. He's one of the all-time great coaches. It will be great to compete against him on Sunday."

Given that familiarity, don't be surprised if the 2-7 Texans keep things close against New England on Sunday even after its upset win over the Baltimore Ravens.