BOSTON (CBS) — When the Patriots acquired Rodney Harrison before the 2003 season, the hard-hitting safety turned a lot of New Englanders into fans very quickly. One of those newfound fans happened to be the head coach’s son.

Steve Belichick, who now coaches the safeties as part of his father’s Patriots coaching staff, told reporters on Friday that Harrison was simply his favorite football player.

“Rodney Harrison was my favorite football player,” Belichick said. “I looked up to him for … I still look up to him. He had such a tremendous outlook on the game. He played so hard.”

Though Belichick is now a coach, he was very much a Patriots fan back in 2003.

“We signed him when I was in high school. I’ve idolized him ever since,” Belichick shared. “I still talk to him to this day. You know, being a coach’s kid when you’re that young, people kind of treat you differently. But Rodney really humbled me and forced me to learn the hard way, which I still appreciate to this day. I can’t say enough good things about Rodney. He’s my favorite football player.”

Harrison has been in the news for being voted by fans as the 2019 inductee to the Patriots Hall of Fame. And though his Patriots career ended more than a decade ago, he’s still making an impact in Foxboro.

“I watched him with my rookie, Malik [Gant], this morning,” Belichick said.

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