FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- New England Patriots players were expecting their work day to continue early Sunday evening when Bill Belichick surprised most of them with an audible.
“He just kind of walked up to us, kind of in the old Bill Belichick way with not too much of an expression, and said, ‘We’re going to get some film in, but not football. We’re going to walk over to Patriot Place and watch a movie,'" said second-year defensive tackle Anthony Johnson.
The movie, "Deepwater Horizon," is scheduled to be released Sept. 30 and stars Mark Wahlberg, who was at the theater next to Gillette Stadium to greet players.
The story is set on the offshore drilling rig Deepwater Horizon, which exploded in April 2010 and created one of the worst oil spills in U.S. history. The movie highlights, in part, how those on the rig worked together to survive, which was one of the big messages players received.
“You have to work as a team, you have to push forward, and the rule is to not leave anybody behind,” said veteran linebacker Ramon Humber. “There are going to be bumps and difficulties through it, but as long as we work together and strive together for a common goal to win, that’s all that matters.”
Humber, who previously played for the Indianapolis Colts (2009-10) and New Orleans Saints (2010-15) and has carved out a niche in the NFL as a special-teams player, said it was the first time he’s ever had a coach tell a team they were going to see a movie.
Those who have been around the Patriots a bit longer have seen it before with Belichick, with the benefits coming in the form of team bonding and a potentially powerful message.
“We’ve been grinding hard, studying a lot, going to a lot of meetings and things, and so to have a little opportunity to have some team time, some fellowship and bonding, I think that was valuable,” said left tackle Nate Solder, now in his sixth year with the club.
As for the message that other players received:
Johnson: “When situations don’t go your way, you have to fight through them anyways.”
Defensive end Geneo Grissom: “You can’t take shortcuts. You have to make sure you see everything through. If you do it right the first time, you won’t have to do it again.”
Running back James White: “Everybody has to be on the same page. You have to have that chemistry -- one guy can’t want to do something and everyone else wants to do something else because something like that can happen, and it’s very traumatic.”
Cornerback Justin Coleman: “It shows you have to care about others or people that you work with. Everybody’s role really matters, whether it’s big or small.”
Cornerback E.J. Biggers: “Just the courage and heart of certain people. There are certain people in the world like that who put everything on the back burner to save whoever they can and put their job and everything, their family, at risk. It got intense for a while. At first, you don’t know what to expect. To see the disaster and how it can go so far, that was something I didn’t know.”