A chance encounter between Adam Sandler and Dan Patrick at a Knicks game led to decades of friendship and collaboration.
Beginning with “The Waterboy” in 1998, Patrick — the iconic sportscaster who was a fixture at ESPN and later hosted NBC’s “Sunday Night Football” coverage — has appeared in more than 10 of Sandler’s movies.
The run, as Patrick recalls, actually began over an apparent snub from his former “SportsCenter” co-host, Keith Olbermann.
Patrick explained that he had “kind of known” Sandler “on the periphery”, and that Olbermann was supposed to have been cast in the broadcasting role in “Happy Gilmore” that was ultimately played by Verne Lundquist.
After exchanging brief pleasantries at halftime of a Knicks game, Sandler told Patrick, “Your boy — he screwed me over!”
When Sandler told him that Olbermann was supposed to be in “Happy Gilmore”, Patrick responded, “Well, the next time you need someone from ESPN, I’m your guy.”
“You’re in my next movie,” Patrick remembers Sandler replying. “You’re Danny McF–king Patrick, and you’re gonna wear a mustache and be a police officer.”
Patrick spoke to The Post to promote the book that he co-authored with longtime “Simpsons” writer Joel H. Cohen.
The book is entitled “The Occasionally Accurate Annals of Football”, and it’s a humorous look at the history and some of the quirks of what has become our national sport.
Patrick played himself in “The Waterboy”, narrating a “SportsCenter” feature on Sandler’s Bobby Boucher character, and would take on the cop character in Sandler’s 2005 remake of “The Longest Yard”.
“As Rob Schneider said, once you’re in the Sandler family, you never get out,” Patrick said.
“He’s so loyal. That’s really how it started. He would have me do cameos, but basically he would have me come in so he could have somebody to play basketball with, and he would write a part in the movie for me and bring me in for a couple of days. It’s crazy.
“He’s so much fun to work with because he wants everybody to have a good time. He’s been way too generous.”
Patrick has been on-air nationally since he joined ESPN in 1989, but the Sandler appearances have opened up a whole new world in terms of who he gets recognized by on the street.
“Those movies had a cycle through, and now you have younger kids who are watching those movies for the first time. If it’s younger people, they might notice me as the school principal from ‘Hubie Halloween’, so it’s fun,” Patrick said.
“His deal with Netflix means all his movies are available, and people will recite lines to me that I had.”
The roles have ranged from cameos to fairly larger spots, such as when Patrick played Tanner Patrick in the 2011 movie “Just Go With It”.
“That’s when I started to panic a little bit, because normally you’re on-stage with people that you know from being around Sandler and his movies, but Jennifer Anniston and Nicole Kidman had no idea who I was — other than they knew I wasn’t an actor after a little while,” Patrick laughed.
“I was trying to stall them to not realize that I couldn’t act until it was too late, and then they couldn’t complain to Sandler. That was challenging. That was when I was like, ‘Damn this is real.’ Nicole Kidman is a serious actress. Anniston had fun. She just kept calling me ‘the sports guy’”.
Patrick, by virtue of having been famous for as long as he has, has naturally attracted other stars into his orbit.
Will Ferrell got in contact with him, as a fan of the “Dan Patrick Show”.
“He would email me notes,” Patrick said.
“He’d be listening in the morning, and he would just throw out a line about something, if I had a question, or whatever it might be.”
At one point, maybe a decade ago, Patrick mused that he wanted to eventually take the show to Dublin.
Ferrell emailed him that he was in if that ever happened, and wound up paying his own way to join the program when they went to Ireland for the Notre Dame-Navy game this past summer.
Joel H. Cohen, who has been writing “Simpsons” episodes for over 20 years, reached out to Patrick and asked him to appear in an episode calling a rock-skipping contest with Homer.
On the same call, Cohen was emphatic that Mark Sanchez was not to blame for the infamous “butt fumble” play, and that it was actually the offensive line’s fault.
“We sort of played this verbal tennis match with ideas or thoughts. It wasn’t going anywhere in my mind — he just wanted to talk sports,” Patrick said.
“And then he goes, ‘You want to write a book?’”
Patrick gave a hesitant “Sure” and Cohen clarified that he meant for them to write a book together.
“He goes, ‘Can we look at all these stupid things that have happened in football, or have fun with this? Like every book has to do with gladiators or what the game is like or building men. Why don’t we have fun with it?’”
Patrick still didn’t think it would go much further than a perfunctory Zoom call, but found him to be an “extremely, funny, sharp guy” that he ultimately wound up partnering on with a “whimsical” look at the game of football.