BOSTON (CBS) – Former Patriots safety Lawyer Milloy joined 98.5 The Sports Hub’s Felger & Mazz on Radio Row on Friday, reflecting on how his Patriots career came to an end and how it helped him understand the NFL.
Milloy spent the first seven years of his NFL career in New England, first coached by Bill Parcells followed by Carroll. He played for Bill Belichick for two seasons, winning the Super Bowl with the team in 2001, before being abruptly released just days before the 2003 season began.
It was a move that shocked many, and angered Milloy for a long time. But as he matured as a player and understood the business side of the game, he came to terms with the move.
“It was a while (before I got over it),” said Milloy. “I saw coach Belichick in the preseason when I was with Atlanta, four or five years afterwards. He said ‘look Lawyer I respect you and I’m sorry for how everything went down.’ That was closure for me.”
“It took me to mature as a man to understand the business side of it,” he said. “To me it sucked, but I get it now.”
Milloy said he went to the 2011 AFC Championship in Foxboro not to watch his former team play the Baltimore Ravens, but to see team owner Robert Kraft.
He had tickets to attend the game through a different party, but those plans fell through and he was left without a way to get in. But because of the notoriety he earned while with the Patriots, he was able to get in and see Kraft.
“I’m always associated with greatness because of what we did,” he said. Once inside, Milloy met up with Ty Law, and they went into Kraft’s suite.
“I went up there and b-lined to Kraft. Everyone was wide-eyed when they saw me,” he said. “I went to him and said ‘sorry about losing your lifetime partner; I respected her and she showed me a strong woman should stand side-by-side her man, not behind.’ Secondly, I’m here because I will always be a Patriot in my eyes. He could have said whatever after that, but that was my final closer.”
Listen: Robert Kraft On Felger & Mazz
Milloy’s release was one of the first big transactions to show “The Patriot Way,” in which no one player was bigger than the team. They are still running things that way, and teams are copying that approach, but Milloy says it’s catching up with the team.
“I think right now it’s catching up with them,” he said. “I think they get it, and the rest of the league is trying to emulate what they do. I get it now, but I didn’t back then because I was a young player, but this is a business. The ultimate goal for the owners is to get a competitive roster with a chance to win, for at least one year, for the least amount of money. They mastered that concept, not just one year, but at least four or five years. And they’re still competitive.”
“This is a copy-cat league. From the play calling all the way to the coach to the GM, everyone wants the championship recipe. If I’m an owner and can get that recipe and keep money in my pocket, let’s do that, right?”