Patriots

Bill Belichick and Romeo Crennel reminisced about their racquetball battles in the 1980s

"He would figure out your weakness and then he would attack your weakness," Crennel said of Belichick.

Romeo Crennel and Bill Belichick go way back. Matthew J. Lee/Globe Staff

Bill Belichick and Romeo Crennel have countless shared memories on the football field, and as it turns out, they have plenty of others in a different athletic realm as well.

Belichick, the head coach of the Patriots, and Crennel, the interim head coach of the Houston Texans, reminisced this week about their racquetball battles decades ago.

In 1982, when a player strike and labor battle shortened the regular season, Belichick and Crennel had some unexpected free time as members of the New York Giants’ coaching staff. Belichick was coaching the linebackers and Crennel was the special teams coach, and they turned to racquetball as a means of passing the time when games were canceled.

Crennel, 73, played defensive tackle for Western Kentucky, and Belichick, 68, played center for Wesleyan football. Belichick also happened to be a college squash player, but they made it clear neither was a star when it came to their hobby.

“What I took away from it was neither one of us are very good racquetball players,” Belichick told reporters Tuesday.

Crennel, who was the Patriots’ defensive coordinator when they won three Super Bowls in the early-2000s, said Belichick’s mindset as a racquetball player was a strong indicator of how he approached competition in football.

“He would figure out your weakness and then he would attack your weakness,” Crennel said.

Belichick, who pointed out that fellow coach Bill Parcells joined sometimes as well, said they would “work up a good sweat” while playing. He called Crennel a “really good athlete” and said it was easy to see his quickness on the court, clarifying that the competitions were more for fun and fitness than anything else.

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He added that there aren’t too many people who could rank above Crennel as a coach, calling him “a great teacher” and “someone who adds a lot of positivity.”

“He’s a great football coach, one of the very best I’ve ever worked with,” Belichick said Monday. “He’s a great friend. I’m not going to call him a great racquetball player. I’d say neither of us would fall into that category, but we did have a lot of good times.”

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