When the idea of playing for the Patriots was posed to Nick Mangold, the former Jets center had a hard time wrapping his head around the whole deal.
"That would be awfully difficult," he told SiriusXM NFL radio. "I've got to assume that after years of all the battles that I’ve had with New England, I don’t think Bill’s all that fond of me."
Mangold is a free agent after he was cut by the Jets in February. He's still dealing with the lingering effects of an injured foot that forced him to miss half of last season.
That Mangold assumes anyone in the Patriots organization -- and Bill Belichick in particular -- isn't head over heels for him makes sense. He spent 11 years with the rival Jets after they made him the No. 29 overall pick in 2006.
But what Belichick has said publicly about Mangold has been nothing but complimentary.
"They do a good job," Belichick said of the Jets offensive line back in 2015. "Mangold is a really good center, a veteran player, smart. I’m sure he sets the table for everybody."
In 2012, Belichick was asked about Dolphins center Mike Pouncey and referenced Mangold. "Those two guys are probably as good as we face," he admitted.
The Patriots player who most often battled with Mangold was probably Vince Wilfork since Wilfork arrived to the league just two years before Mangold and then faced him twice a year in the division.
Whenever Mangold's name came up, Wilfork referenced just how difficult the 300-pound pivot made his job.
"He’s probably the best, probably the best center, I believe," Wilfork said of Mangold in 2012. "I’ve been saying this ever since the guy’s been a rookie. He’s been pretty steady for them. And it hasn’t changed.
"Everything it seems like goes through him. The run game, he calls the plays on the line slides, he’s the guy in charge. That’s how it should be, because that’s their bread and butter. When they need a play, if they’re running the ball, it always seems to end up behind No. 74. He’s a big-time player for them, I give him all the respect in the world facing him numerous times."
The Patriots appear set at the center position with 2016 starter David Andrews returning and second-year player Ted Karras backing up. Mangold's probably not in the plans.
But, judging by Belichick's comments on the record, it's not because he doesn't like him.