FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- When Andy Reid was grieving the death of his son Garrett in 2012, Bill Belichick attended the funeral, his presence a reflection of the friendship between the two coaches.
Reid and Belichick became close in the early 2000s and their connection remains strong. Both have revisited that time heading into Thursday's NFL opener between Reid's Kansas City Chiefs and Belichick's New England Patriots (NBC, 8:30 p.m. ET).
Back in those days, Reid was in the early stages of his first career head coaching job, with the Philadelphia Eagles (1999-2012). Belichick had just been given a second chance as a head coach, hired in New England (2000-present).
"We played against them in preseason. I don't know if it was every year, but it seemed like it was every year," Belichick recalled. "We got a chance to see them on a regular basis, had a lot of trades. We've never been on the same staff together, so there isn't that type of relationship [but] I'd say we're pretty close."
This week Belichick, 65, referred to Reid as "one of the great coaches in this league."
In turn, Reid, 59, joked his friendship with Belichick is a result of them both growing old.
"We've been doing this a long time, so you get to know each other over the years and you respect each other's work," Reid said. "Nobody does it better than him. We've talked and raised kids at the same time, done all those things at the same time, and come up through it that way. We've just gotten to know each other over the years and I appreciate his friendship and I appreciate what he's done for the National Football League too."
Belichick heard the compliment and said Tuesday he feels the same way about Reid, whom he has referred to as a "straight-up football guy."
"I respect the way he coaches his team. I respect the way they play. They're always tough. We've always had great battles with them," he said. "I can't think of too many teams that have handled us better than the way they handled us in 2014. That was one game, but there have been a lot of great competitive games going back to the '07 game when he was in Philadelphia."
That was the year the Patriots were scoring so often, the idea they were running up the score was prevalent. The Patriots were 10-0 when Reid brought his Eagles -- led by quarterback A.J. Feeley -- to town and almost pulled off a shocking upset. Few gave them a chance, but the Eagles led 28-24 in the fourth quarter before the Patriots sweated out a 31-28 win.
Belichick and Reid have spent time together away from football, and when Belichick was asked what he appreciated most about his friendship with Reid, he said, "Everything."
"It's all the things outside of football -- family, personal, things that we have in common, personal likes, dislikes," he said.
"I know Andy's family. I have a lot of respect for him, his family, him personally and professionally."