The New England Patriots and Washington Football Team will open up their preseason exhibitions on Thursday, allowing Ron Rivera and Bill Belichick to get their first glimpses at their teams in action on the field. Although the well-respected head coaches will be going head-to-head this week, there’s clearly a fair amount of mutual respect between the two.
Belichick’s Patriots posted a disappointing 7-9 record last season and missed out on the playoffs for the first time since 2008, so the six-time Super Bowl champion will be looking to flip New England’s trajectory in 2021. Rivera seems to have the utmost confidence that he’ll be able to pull that off.
During his media session at training camp on Tuesday, the Washington Football Team head coach complimented Belichick for always being himself, no matter how his team is performing. He also expressed how he’s excited to watch the Patriots rebuild under their coach’s leadership.
“The best thing about coach is there are no apologies for who he is,” Rivera said about Belichick, per Nicki Jhabvala of The Washington Post. “He’s true to form. …I enjoy watching him. … They were a dynasty basically, and now they’re rebuilding and it’s going to be fun to watch.”
Ron Rivera on Bill Belichick: "The best thing about coach is there are no apologies for who he is. He's true to form. …I enjoy watching him. … They were a dynasty basically, and now they're rebuilding and it's going to be fun to watch."
— Nicki Jhabvala (@NickiJhabvala) August 10, 2021
Rivera and Belichick have both been around the NFL for the last few decades, so this isn’t the first time that they’ve traded niceties. After Rivera was fired by the Carolina Panthers back in 2019, he spoke about how he had tried to emulate some aspects of Belichick’s coaching style.
“I’ve tried to pay attention to what Bill Belichick has done, and how to slowly transition guys out and transition guys into being the new core guys,” Rivera told NBC Sports’ Peter King in 2019. “That’s what he’s done tremendously well.”
On the flip side, Belichick wished Rivera a speedy recovery last summer after the Washington head coach was diagnosed with cancer. The touching note showed just how much the two had developed a friendship over the years.
Although Belichick and Rivera will continue their relationship off the field, they’ll now turn their focus to winning Thursday’s game. The Patriots and the Washington Football Team preseason opener will get underway at 7:30 p.m.