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Bill Belichick’s movie night his latest attempt to fight through preseason grind

08.25.11 at 2:45 pm ET
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FOXBORO — Bill Belichick has never been shy about busting out motivational tools during the preseason, so it was no surprise that he and the rest of the Patriots took a break from the grind Wednesday night to watch “The Fighter,” the Academy Award-winning story of Massachusetts boxer Mickey Ward.

After the movie, Ward spoke with the players. On Thursday morning, Belichick talked about why he decided to break things up with a movie and talk.

“I think he’s obviously a legendary sports figure and fighter around here that everybody knows, sort of, and … great guy, had a great career and [that was] something that our team enjoyed last night,” Belichick said.

“Look, we’ve been in camp for a long time, been watching a lot of film at night, practice film, opponent film, everything, so we decided to go to the movies and make it a little more enjoyable — popcorn, candy out there, let them relax a little bit,” he added. “I think sometimes when your team’s worked hard, they deserve a break. I think they enjoyed it. It was a good night.”

In previous years, Belichick has invited speakers like Bill Russell and Jim Brown to address the team during preseason. In 2001, he took the team to an IMAX theatre in Providence to watch a film about Ernest Shackleton’s expedition. And later that same year, he showed a video of a “Breeder’s Cup” race to the team, using the comeback of a thoroughbred racehorse named Tiznow (who turned certain defeat into victory) to help inspire the team down the stretch.

“It was a good movie to watch. It was nice to hear from Mickey, his side of the whole thing. How to always keep fighting, keep going, and when you’re down and you don’t think you could do it, you can still get through it,” said offensive lineman Logan Mankins. “It’s good. It’s good that everyone got to hang out and have a good time together, eating popcorn and Gatorade and water, so that was nice, and we’re here a long time — from morning until night — so it was nice to have the evening off yesterday.”

“Coach knows — he’s been coaching a long time,” said wide receiver Deion Branch. “He knows when to let up off the pedal on the guys and when he needs to keep his foot down. That’s his decision. We’re just here following orders. We go to practice, and if we come in without a meeting, that’s cool too. Overall, it was a great movie. I’m glad I had that opportunity to watch it with the guys. Coach knows exactly what he’s doing.

“I’m a big boxing fan, so I truly enjoyed meeting this guy,” added Branch, who took the opportunity to get a picture with Ward. “It’s a little different to see his story and for this guy to come in and share some of things about what went on in his life and growing up some of the adversity he went through, that was great.”

Read More: Bill Belichick, Bill Russell, Deion Branch, Ernest Shackleton
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