It takes a special person (for better or worse) to issue an ultimatum to a legendary head coach and general manager like Bill Belichick. Apparently, Asante Samuel is special.
Samuel was a guest on Hall-of-Famer Terrell Owens’ podcast Getcha Popcorn Ready, and he told the story about the time he threatened Belichick and practically dared the legend to franchise him. According to Samuel, he had been in a battle with Belichick for playing time throughout the 2006 season. Belichick had even played 2-way player Troy Brown over him at points.
However, when Chad Brown was injured after Week 11, Belichick had no choice but to turn to Samuel. The four-time Pro-Bowler responded with a three-interception performance against the Chicago Bears. According to Samuel, he taunted Belichick as he ran back the first two picks.
Samuel was ready to finish his contract with the New England Patriots after the 2007 season, but before the year, Samuel says Belichick called him from a blocked number and informed him he’d planned on franchise tagging him. Samuel says he demanded to speak to Patriots owner Robert Kraft, who called him and was a little less forceful but still didn’t change the overall message. Ultimately, Samuel told Belichick that if he franchise tagged him ahead of the 2008 season, “I’m a f*** this team up.”
Belichick told Samuel, “go home, and have your agent call me in the morning.” Samuel’s agent called, and ultimately, Samuel signed his tenure as a restricted free agent, but the Patriots didn’t franchise him. Samuel eventually signed with the Philadelphia Eagles the following offseason.
The Breakup Was Best for Both Parties
Samuel has a unique personality. He was as talented as any player in the league at his position during his era. Samuel’s three Super Bowl titles, four Pro Bowls, and All-Pro honors are a testament to his talent. That said, when you look up players who bought into the Patriot Way in the encyclopedia, do not expect to see a picture of Samuel.
He was very much an individual and not inclined to shut his mouth when encountering things that rubbed him the wrong way. He was ready for his time as a member of the Patriots to end, and you could say he did what he needed to do to take control of his career.
Belichick always prioritizes his vision for the team, chemistry, and culture of the locker room. Belichick was aware of Samuel’s talent. That’s why he wanted to use the franchise tag to retain his services for another season.
However, he wasn’t willing to risk the locker room’s culture for one player, so he allowed Samuel to walk. Samuel won two Super Bowls in New England and never won another through his career’s final six years. Samuel’s last season in the NFL was with the Atlanta Falcons in 2013 at the age of 32.
Belichick and the Patriots won three more Super Bowls after Samuel’s exit.
The Second-Generation Samuel Is on the Way
Samuel’s son, Asante Jr., is expected to be drafted in the first round of the 2021 NFL Draft. Samuel spoke to Owens about his development and the excitement around his son’s football career.
- Patriots Named ‘Best Fit’ for Speedy Free-Agent WR
- Patriots Predicted to Trade Back in First Round of the NFL Draft
- Patriots Captain Suggests Forgotten QB Still an Option to Start in 2021
- Former Patriots QB Called a ‘Natural Fit’ for a Return to Foxborough
- Stephon Gilmore Makes Odd Move on Social Media