By Conor Roche
Aside from the six Super Bowls he’s won as the Patriots’ head coach, a major part of Bill Belichick’s lore is his stern manner. Belichick’s attitude has famously led to strict punishments for players who show up late for team practices and meetings over the years.
Former Patriots offensive lineman Rich Ohrnberger, who played on the team from 2009-11, knew that when he woke up later than he should’ve on the morning of team meetings. So, instead of facing any potential discipline from Belichick, Ohrnberger thought of a bit of a reckless way to get out of trouble.
“You don’t want to be the guy wandering into a squad team meeting with Bill Belichick and the rest of the squad team looking at you,” Ohrnberger said while recalling the story on his San Diego radio show, “The Hartman and Rich O Show.” “I wake up, my phone died overnight, and I realize I wake up to the sound of chirping birds and not my alarm going off, and I am frantic. I don’t even bother looking at the clock.”
Ohrnberger said that he was going to be about 10 minutes late when he entered his Chevy Tahoe, rushing to collect everything that he needed for the day from his home before speeding out of the driveway.
“I had this sinking feeling in my stomach,” Ohrnberger said. “Like ‘I’m gonna get cut. Like, he’s not going to have me on this football team come tomorrow. What do I do?’”
As Ohrnberger was driving down a slightly sloping hill near Gillette Stadium, he decided it was best to get into a car crash at that moment to avoid getting in trouble by the Patriots.
“I see a church van in front of me that’s all dinged up, and it’s got the black smoke coming out of the exhaust pipe, and I’m just like, ‘I’m gonna hit this car. I’m gonna rear end this car,’” Ohrnberger said. “‘I’m gonna hit this car because it’s better to pay off the insurance or peel off this guy a couple hundred bucks than embarrass myself being late for this Patriots team meeting.’”
Ohrnberger said he hit the car hard enough that it dented his bumper but didn’t hit it so hard that it caused any further damage. However, he said he felt bad right away as the person who emerged from the car he hit was a “poor old man who was minutes from being 100 years old.”
Ohrnberger recalled that it started raining almost instantly after the crash. He said he gave the man all of the needed information and then some, giving him a couple hundred dollars, and joked that he even gave him his social security number.
Once Ohrnberger arrived at Gillette Stadium, his story was met with skepticism. Patriots director of football/head coach administration Berj Najarian questioned Ohrnberger before telling him to go to his position group room for meetings while the team meeting was going on.
After 40 minutes of Ohrnberger waiting by himself for the offensive line meeting to start, offensive line coach Dante Scarnecchia sniffed out his story.
“He was like, ‘How’s it going speed racer?’ And I was like, ‘What’s that?,’” Ohrnberger said recalling his conversation with Scarnecchia. “‘Running a little late this morning?’ I was like, ‘Dante, I got into an accident.’”
“‘That stuff might fly at IBM, OK? Like, if you’re one of those geeks working on the computers and stuff. That stuff doesn’t work here,’” Scarnecchia replied back, according to Ohrnberger. “You be on time from now on.”
Ohrnberger’s story has made the rounds on the internet over the last 24 hours, with several news outlets picking it up. The New York Post published an article on it late Thursday, but the picture of a Patriots player it posted in the story it claimed was Ohrnberger really wasn’t him.
Ohrnberger didn’t specify when the incident occurred. He was drafted in the fourth round of the 2009 NFL Draft, but only played five games over three seasons with the team.
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