New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick runs a notoriously tight ship, but one former player just revealed the desperate lengths he said he once went to avoid getting fired by the legendary football icon — he crashed his car.
Rich Ohrnberger played for the Patriots on and off for three seasons from 2009 to 2011. One of the rules in the Patriots organization has been to never be late for a meeting or practice. One morning during his rookie year, the right guard found himself in a precarious situation with his back against the wall.
Ohrnberger, co-host of the “The Hartman and Rich O Show” in San Diego, recalled on Thursday, “You don’t want to be the guy wandering into a squad team meeting with Bill Belichick and the rest of the squad team looking at you.”
“I wake up, my phone died overnight, and I realize I wake up to the sound of chirping birds and not my alarm going off, and I am frantic,” he explained. “I don’t even bother looking at the clock.”
“I had this sinking feeling in my stomach,” Ohrnberger said. “Like ‘I’m gonna get cut. Like, he’s not going to have me on this football team come tomorrow. What do I do?'”
That’s when he decided to make a last-ditch effort to conjure up an excuse that might not get him fired. He said he rammed his vehicle into a van.
“I see a church van in front of me that’s all dinged up. It’s got the black smoke coming out of the exhaust pipe. I’m like, ‘I’m gonna hit this car.’ I’m gonna rear end this car. I’m gonna hit this car because it’s better to pay the insurance or peel off this guy a couple hundred bucks than embarrass myself for being late to this Patriots team meeting,” he explained.
Then, the NFL rookie realized that he had hit an elderly man, which he felt awful about.
“I rear end this poor old man, who by the way, was like minutes from being 100 years old,” he added.
Once Orhnberger arrived at the Patriots facility, he spoke with Belichick’s assistant before seeing his offensive line coach, Dante Scarnecchia. His boss wasn’t buying his story.
“First one in there was Dante Scarnecchia, my offensive line coach,” Ohrnberger continued. “He goes, ‘How’s it going, speed racer?’ I was like, ‘What’s that?’ He says, ‘Running a little late this morning?’ I was like, ‘Dante, I got into an accident.’ He’s like, ‘Yeah, yeah, yeah. That stuff may fly at IBM if you’re one of those geeks working on the computers and stuff. That stuff doesn’t work here. You be on time from now on.'”
He didn’t get fired. He went on to play for the Arizona Cardinals and San Diego Chargers before exiting the NFL after the 2014 season.