NFL

'You guys are soft like marshmallows' – Harmon recalls defining Belichick memory as Patriots tenure ends

By Sports Desk January 15, 2024

Duron Harmon's defining memory of playing for Bill Belichick is not one of their three Super Bowl triumphs together, but the coach using a jar of marshmallows to motivate him in preseason. 

Belichick's remarkable 24-year stint in charge of the New England Patriots came to an end last week after he oversaw a career-worst 4-13 season in 2023, with former linebackers coach Jerod Mayo taking charge.

The 71-year-old led New England to nine Super Bowls throughout his 24 seasons at the helm, winning six of those with the most recent coming against the Los Angeles Rams at Super Bowl LIII. 

Safety Harmon was present for that triumph, as well as wins at Super Bowls XLIX and LI, as a regular fixture in a dominant Patriots side led by legendary quarterback Tom Brady.

Harmon remembers his time under Belichick fondly, but it is the coach's personable side, rather than his tactical acumen, which stood out most prominently. 

Asked for his defining memory of Belichick while speaking to Stats Perform, Harmon said: "It's crazy. It's not even a football field memory. It was a training camp. I can't remember what year it was. It had to be 2016.

"We still had Logan [Ryan], it was me, Logan, Devin [McCourty], and I think at the time we were all maybe dealing with something, like little injuries. I don't think we were practicing. 

"Bill came up to us. Logan, Dev, and I were stretching. I look up and he says, 'you Rutgers guys, you know what? You guys are soft like marshmallows'.

"We're like, 'what are you talking about?' He was like, 'not even practicing'. He goes on his spiel. 

"The next day, when we go into the meeting room, there's three big jars of marshmallows at our seats. We just start dying, laughing, because a lot of people don't see that side of Bill, but for us, that's the side that we've seen all the time.

"Then that preseason game against the Panthers, all three of us got interceptions and he came up to us at the end of the game and said, 'maybe I need to put marshmallows by your seats weekly'. 

"His great coaching style that I really appreciated was one thing, but having memories like that, where we can have a personable connection, will always go a long way for me."

Harmon believes Belichick's incredible work ethic is the secret to his success, saying: "When we won the Super Bowls, he let himself loose a little bit. I will tell you that. That's when you see him really just take a step back and enjoy it.

"I've been very privileged to be in this league for 11 years, and I can honestly say I've never been around anybody who works as hard as him each day. 

"That is the reason why the Patriots organisation has been successful for as long as it has been. He believes that if you want to have a championship team, there has to be a standard of excellence no matter what you're doing."

The consistency Belichick instilled in the Patriots was perhaps his most impressive accomplishment, with the team enjoying 19 consecutive winning seasons from 2001 to 2019.

Harmon hailed his ability to motivate players to go again, saying: "When we came back after winning the Super Bowl, he'd let us know that it's over, we don't talk about previous years.

"There were even times when he wouldn't let us wear the Super Bowl gear that we got in the building anymore, because he wanted us to realise this is a new year. 

"He does a tremendous job of letting us know we've got to put that year to bed. Now it's time to get working on the new one. Everybody buys in, because we know what happens when we do."

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