By Michael Hurley, CBS Boston
BOSTON (CBS) — Throughout the 20 years of the Bill Belichick tenure, all sorts of characters have passed through the Patriots locker room. Perhaps nobody has been more entertaining to listen to than Aqib Talib.
Acquired via trade in 2012, Talib’s time in New England was short but memorable. And now, Talib has revealed that he came awfully close to a reunion with his “big homie” Bill Belichick this season.
Talib announced his retirement from football on Wednesday, and he explained why Belichick’s offer to return to New England this year led to him deciding to hang up his helmet for good.
“I told myself personally, like, I need to play one more year. So as long as somebody gives me a nice check, of course I’m coming [back],” Talib said. “Or if somebody gave me a nice-ass role.”
That “nice-ass role” came from Belichick, who reached out to Talib and offered him the job of strictly guarding tight ends. With Patrick Chung opting out of the season and with rookie Kyle Dugger likely not quite ready to thrive in that role right out of the gate, Talib’s physicality and veteran savvy naturally made him an appealing choice for the Hall of Fame head coach.
“My guy, my big homie, Bill Belichick called my phone. Called my phone, man, told me that he had the role of a lifetime for me,” Talib explained. “He really wanted me to come in and strap tight ends. I was halfway out the door [to Foxboro]. I got flights, I started finding apartments. I could’ve gotten up to $5.5, $6 million. Nice vet contract. If I could make $6 million and guard tight ends all day, I’m like, cool.”
However, despite that initial excitement, the 34-year-old Talib said some serious doubts crept into his heads once he looked at the tight ends who are on the Patriots schedule.
“Then I kind of start going through that schedule … I kind of seen [George] Kittle. [Travis] Kelce. And [Darren] Waller,” Talib said.
Talib explained that whenever joining a new team, his mindset is always positive and confident. This time, though, was different.
“But this time, I looked at this [bleeping] schedule … and the thought, I said, ‘Can I even strap these damn tight ends?’ And I said, ‘Aw, [poop], it’s over with.’ Once I said that, once that negative thought crossed my mind, I was like, man, my heart, my competitive edge, like, I ain’t really in it like that anymore.”
Talib added: “I just wasn’t feeling it no more, honestly. … You gotta play this game with heart. If you don’t play it with heart, that’s how you get real injuries — concussions and bad injuries when you’re out here playing, you know, nervous and things like that.”
(You can listen to Talib say this in his own voice, but as a warning, there are some naughty words spoken.)
So unfortunately, Talib won’t be authoring any new memorable catchphrases from Foxboro. He will be saying quite a bit with his new podcast, but all of us in New England can’t help but feel a little despondent about what could have been.