Jerod Mayo tells epic story about a meeting with Bill Belichick as a rookie

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In the minutes leading up to a New England Patriots practice in 2008, linebacker Jerod Mayo found himself on the shoulders of his veteran teammates. They were celebrating Mayo. The rookie had just inexplicably negotiated a non-contact practice with the one and only Bill Belichick.

It’s one thing for a veteran to ask Belichick to allow the players to go without pads and have a mellow practice session. It’s another thing for a rookie to do it. And it’s another thing entirely for Belichick to grant that rookie’s request. But that’s Jerod Mayo for you. He’s a special guy for Patriots — and he has been since he stepped foot into Gillette Stadium.

Mayo managed to be a key leader in Year 1 on a roster that featured Tom Brady, Rodney Harrison, Randy Moss, Vince Wilkfork, Ty Warren and Richard Seymour, among others.

“That team was loaded. So for me, it was just: Let me learn from everyone else — and not say anything unless I have to,” Mayo said during an appearance on the Pats from the Past podcast.

“But I will say this: the reason I gained the respect of the players is because I would go in there and Bill was on the computer and ask them, ‘Hey, the guys are tired. We don’t want to be in pads today.’ No one really wanted to go in there, because Bill is a tough guy. And so for me, I was always raised that the worst thing someone could say to me is no. Then go ask.

“And so I would go in there. I was always joking that I was batting. 300 at the time — .250, .400. Sometimes the request would be granted. But there other times where he would say: ‘Hey, get out of here.’ But I would go into the locker room and tell people we’re not in pads today, it was like a celebration. They were literally picking me up on their shoulders, like ‘This guy went into the fire, went into the dragon’s layer and asked for something and got it.'”

And so it’s no surprise that Mayo lasted in New England as a player for eight years in one of the most physically taxing roles a defense player can play at inside linebacker. And once he retired and worked in business and media for a few years, he then returned to the Patriots where he serves as the outside linebackers coach and seems to be splitting defensive coordinator duties with Steve Belichick.

“I think the guys really realized I care more about them than myself — than my ego. I didn’t care about getting cussed out. Even to this day, I get cussed out and it’s like, ‘Alright, OK,'” Mayo said. “I tell Bill what it is. I don’t sit there and agree with everything he has to say and he doesn’t agree with everything I have to say. There’s a mutual respect there.”

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