When Matthew Judon signed with the Patriots, he was afraid he was joining a bunch of “weirdos.”
That’s what he told retired safety Devin McCourty in an interview for “Sunday Night Football” about his preconceived notion of the team from his five years with the Ravens.
But meeting players like McCourty, Deatrich Wise, Dont’a Hightower and Matthew Slater made him quickly realize he would be a good fit.
“I think one of the biggest things was kind of meeting you, guys like you, Hightower, Wise, kind of knowing (Lawrence Guy) already. When I came in here the first guys that I met that played was Wise and Slate. You get to know Wise, you’re like, this guy’s like quirky. Like he’s not a suit and tie guy. He kind of flop around, joke around,” Judon told McCourty”. “And then you meet Slate and just the presence that Slate has in any room. When he talks, it’s very knowledgeable, it’s very matter of fact, but it’s not stuck up. I think that’s what you get outside looking in, you see just a whole bunch of stuck up guys. But then when you get in the building like, ‘bro, like, y’all joke, have fun, do things differently than a lot of other teams around the league or from where I was from.’ I was like, ‘These dudes not pencil necks. But I thought when you were back there running around, I was like, ‘Man, this dude, he a cornball.’ But I got here, and you were kind of straight.
“That’s what I was thinking. I ain’t really never met y’all at any other social event or nothing. I ain’t never seen like a Patriots player out. So, I was like, ‘Man, these dudes are weirdos.’ I ain’t never met none of y’all in the offseason. I come from Grand Valley, so I don’t really know y’all like that or have connections like that.”
Despite thinking he was signing up to play with a bunch of nerds, head coach Bill Belichick still drew Judon to New England, where he signed a four-year, $56 million contract in 2021 as a free agent. Judon has since reworked his contract.
And Judon feels that Belichick has turned him into a better player. Judon made two Pro Bowls with the Ravens but had just 34.5 sacks in 76 games. He already has 29 sacks with the Patriots in just 35 games, and he’s made two more Pro Bowls.
“I just — coming from (John) Harbaugh, I felt like going to Belichick was only a step up in caliber of coaches,” Judon said. “That everything that’s on Bill’s resume, all the wins or all the success or all the players that he has under him, I thought it was only a step up, and I think you kind of see that in my play style, you see that in my numbers. But I think you see that when everybody comes here. Everybody embodies the Patriot way. Everybody embarks on their own journey as a Patriot. Whether that’s coming in here and having success and a lot of success or some people come in here and are like, ‘Bruh, I cannot do that. Like that’s tough.’ Because you’ve seen it both ways. You’ve seen people come here and revamp their careers, or you’ve seen people come in here and are like, ‘No. I’m done.’
“I think me just coming here and just me being a student of the game and just really eager to win and to have success and become a star player. I think just me coming here and learning under Coach Belichick has only helped me.”
Judon registered a sack in the Patriots’ first game of the season against the Eagles.