It’s all fun and games until someone gets hurt. That old saying can now apply to the New England Patriots and the team-building activity players participated in on Monday.
To the surprise of many observers, head coach Bill Belichick canceled the final two practices of spring minicamp in favor of an experience that would help his players bond. Later in the day, reporters discovered that the excursion meant to boost morale and keep things light in Foxborough was a paintball game.
When you get hyper-competitive athletes and coaches in an aggressive environment, the possibility of something dangerous happening is strong. Evidently, that happened during the Patriots’ trip to Boston Paintball.
The media covering the Patriots didn’t get any other details, but it was probably only a matter of time before something got out on social media from one of the players involved in the paintball game. Would you have bet Instagram, Facebook, or… Twitch?
According to linebacker Kyle Van Noy, Belichick shot him in the face during the paintball game. That’s not hyperbole, either. There’s a reason why participants are wearing masks during these games. People are shooting at each other, man.
On Tuesday, while playing Fortnite with teammate Dont’a Hightower, Van Noy revealed during the conversation streamed on Twitch (a clip of which you can view below) that he was hit in the face with a paintball.
“I got hit, I’m telling you,” said Van Noy. “This paintball hit me in the mask, and the mask hit my tooth and my s— still hurts.”
Hightower then asked Van Noy to reveal who shot him. The five-year veteran played coy at first, but Hightower kept pressing until the name was finally given.
“Bill got my ass,” said Van Noy. Since no one else on the Patriots’ current roster goes by the name “Bill,” it’s safe to assume that he was referring to his head coach.
Fortunately for Van Noy, the Patriots didn’t have practice on Tuesday with Belichick canceling those final two days of OTAs. Several players probably sought treatment for sore muscles and aches after hitting the field for the first time in a few weeks. But how many guys may have needed an ice pack for their jaw after getting shot by a paintball?
Should we be surprised that Belichick might take an assassin’s mentality into a paintball game? The man is serious — and that applies to many other interests besides football. Clearly, the head coach wasn’t messing around. Team-building doesn’t necessarily involve management, after all.