Romeo Crennel and Bill Belichick have a combined 84 seasons of NFL coaching under their belt. On Sunday, the two long-time friends and colleagues will reunite on opposite sidelines when the Houston Texans host the New England Patriots in Week 11.
"It will be great to see Bill again because we worked together for a long time at the Giants and in New England," Crennel said. "He's one of the all-time great coaches. It'll be great to compete against him."
The duo actually competed against each other in a different competitive sport during the NFL player's strike in 1982.
As coaches on the New York Giants coaching staff, Crennel recalls the weekly racquetball matches as one of his fondest memories of Belichick. Crennel was the Giants special teams coordinator while Belichick coached the linebackers. The 1982 season, much like the current 2020 one, was a tumultuous and unpredictable. Game status was week-to-week with the NFL player's strike that lasted from Weeks 3 to 10.
"Usually, on Wednesday they would say, 'you're not playing this week,'" Crennel said. "So, we've already got the game plan together and now we're not playing, so now we have to have something to do. We used to play racquetball against each other in our racquetball courts. That was a good indicator of how Bill approached competition and the game because he would figure out your weakness and then he would attack your weakness. That is the way he does with football."
With no game on Sunday, the two decided a racquetball match was a good way to kill time and get in a workout.
"Yeah, we did have some good racquetball matches," Belichick said. "RAC (Romeo Crennel) was really a good athlete. He's very quick and was a good college player at Western Kentucky. But you could see his athleticism and his quickness on the court. Yeah, we could work up a good sweat there."
The two even included Giants defensive coordinator Bill Parcells in their matches, according to Belichick. Crennel and Belichick coached together on the Giants staff from 1981-1990 and then for five seasons on the Patriots staff (1996, 2001-04).
On Sunday, Crennel will face Belichick for the first time in his role as interim head coach of the Texans.
"He's a great football coach," Belichick said. "One of the very best I've ever worked with. He's a great friend. I'm not going to call him a great racquetball player. I'd say neither one of us would fall into that category, but we did have a lot of good times trying to stay in shape there back in the days."
The Texans will host the Patriots in Sunday's Salute to Service game. Kickoff is set for 12 noon CT on CBS and SportsRadio 610.