The New England Patriots are preparing to face the Denver Broncos this weekend in an anticipated AFC showdown. That means practice on Thanksgiving, much like it does around the NFL.
Patriots coach Bill Belichick took a moment during his conference call with New England area reporters on Thanksgiving morning to talk about Thanksgiving football rivalries.
“At the high school football level there are so many traditional and rivalry games taking place,” Belichick said, according to CSN New England. “Having been at the high school level and played in those games myself — we always had a traditional Thanksgiving day game between Annapolis and Severna Park — and I know how important that was to the teams, the families, and really the whole school body that supported us.
“It’s such a good traditional way to capture and bring a lot of things together: Family, community, friendship. And to do it in a competitive way, but also in a way that bonds friendship and community support.”
Belichick’s nod also included the high school coaches who influence young people nationwide and help mold the athletes who eventually become NFL players. Again, from CSN New England:
“Just recognizing the high schools and the great job that those coaches do to develop players that eventually become our players and how impactful they are to our players,” Belichick continued. “When I talk to players at the combine and in the spring and so forth, usually the two most influential people for kids are their parents — or in some cases one parent — and then the high school football coach, or maybe the junior high school football coach, or someone that’s been with them along the way that helped them develop as young men.
“All of us that have had that opportunity have certainly gained from it and taken from it. Reaching out to them with our level of appreciation for what they do for kids that we eventually see at this level, and for all of the support that the parents and the families give those teams and those players and how it brings everybody together.”