Four-time Pro Bowler Asante Samuel says he had a hand in making Bill Belichick one of the greatest coaches of all time.
“Fun Fact: I made Belichick understand the cornerback position better and how to make plays in any coverage,” the former Patriots defensive back wrote on Twitter on Tuesday. “He never agreed with the way I played but now he teaches it. #pick6 #hof.”
CLNS Media further elaborated that “Samuel was the king of the T step [and] cover-1/divider leverage.”
Samuel, 39, began his career with the Patriots as a fourth-round pick in the 2003 NFL Draft. He spent five years under Belichick and tallied 22 interceptions and 237 tackles through 75 games. His highlights include two Super Bowl wins (38 and 39), two Pro Bowl selections, a league-leading 10 interceptions in 2006 and crucial pick-sixes in the 2006 playoffs against the Jets and Colts.
Samuel’s most memorable moment, however, came against the Giants in Super Bowl 52. Trailing by four points with 1:20 left on the clock, Eli Manning tossed an errant pass intended for David Tyree that Samuel miscalculated and dropped, quelling the Patriots’ historic run and ending his time in New England on a sour note.
Samuel’s relationship with the team began to deteriorate long before that moment. Much to his dismay, the team franchise-tagged him after the conclusion of his rookie contract, quickly fraying his relationship with Belichick, who served as the de facto general manager. The move prompted a holdout from the All-Pro cornerback through the preseason in hopes he could negotiate a long-term deal.
“Man I was so frustrated and fed up with the whole thing.” Samuel told Patriots Central Radio back in 2017. “We weren’t really getting anywhere and they weren’t really communicating with my agent or nothing.”
He eventually signed the one-year, $7.8 million tender, agreeing to play a certain percentage of snaps on the condition he would not be tagged a second time, and was named to the Pro Bowl for the second time.
“It worked out for me, man,” he said of his time with Belichick. “It made me a better man, but it’s not something I enjoyed.”
As a highly sought-after free agent in spite of the Super Bowl blunder, Samuel signed a six-year, $57 million contract with the Eagles. He ended his career with the Falcons, and recalls a jocular moment with his former coach and quarterback.
“Fun Fact: When I was in Atlanta getting ready to play the Patriots before the game me, Tom, and Bill huddled up and Belichick immediately start talking sh-t to me,” he wrote on Twitter. “That’s how we rock! #pick6.”