NASHVILLE, Tenn. — The New England Patriots had a surprise for Tennessee Titans head coach Mike Vrabel before the teams practiced together on Wednesday, with rookies singing him “Happy Birthday” as he took the field.
“That was cool. That was something that was unexpected, but very appreciative,” Vrabel said after practice, adding that he suspected quarterback Tom Brady might have been behind it.
Vrabel, who won three Super Bowls as a member of the Patriots from 2001-08, turned 44 on Wednesday.
The connection between the Patriots and Vrabel — and plenty of competitive trash-talking between former teammates Vrabel and Brady — highlighted a productive day of work for both teams at Saint Thomas Sports Park.
Vrabel’s trash talk started before practice began, when he yelled out to Brady that he was walking on the field upon his arrival. Brady fired back at Vrabel to pay attention to himself.
Brady and Vrabel used to have spirited battles on the practice field as teammates in New England.
“It brought back a lot of memories,” said Vrabel, who enters his second season as Titans coach after a 9-7 season in 2018. “They make a play and [Tom] turns around and says ‘Mikey, you better cover that. You guys need to do this.’ I’m sure I had plenty to say too.”
Vrabel, whose sarcasm is often sharp, sure did. He joked after practice that he spent so much time watching the Titans’ defense because it gave him a chance to chirp in Brady’s ear.
For example, when the “The Rubberband Man” by The Spinners was playing, Vrabel yelled out that it was Brady’s song — a reference to Brady often talking about pliability. At another point, Vrabel quipped that even though Brady has won six Super Bowls, he was hoping they could run a play again.
“We knew coming in there was going to be little bit of that,” Watson said. “Mike was my teammate for several years (2004-08) and I remember times during 7-on-7’s, and stuff like that, him and Tom doing the whole Ohio State and Michigan thing back and forth. So it was a little bit of that today, but I think the focus was two teams in the middle of training camp trying to improve.”
Added Slater: “Two very competitive guys there that once were teammates that did a lot of great things for this organization. It’s great to see all these years later them continue to be successful in the game of football — two of the great Patriots when you think about it, so it was pretty fun to see.”