For more than a decade, it’s been characterized as “no fun.” Now, in 2020, the intent is the same but with a different description. Patriots players are not allowed to be themselves.
Here we go again.
“The Patriot Way” is back as the current whipping boy as Tom Brady wreaks havoc on the, well, overrated NFC in January.
And Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach Bruce Arians, who has become famous, finally, because of his quarterback and the Bucs’ meteoric rise from nobodies to Super Bowl contenders, gives a direct slam at Bill Belichick and the New England Patriots.
“Consummate leader,” Arians said Sunday night. “Has been all year. Got the air of confidence that permeates through our team every day. I allow him to be himself. Like, New England didn’t allow him to coach. I allow him to coach. I just sit back sometimes and watch.”
I don’t know what that means — the “didn’t allow him to coach” part.
If Arians said Belichick, he believes, made a big mistake in not figuring out a way to make it work with Brady, Arians would have 99% of New Englanders on his side.
Nobody I know wanted Brady gone or felt his skills had declined, etc.
What Arians didn’t say was he inherited 20 years of experience, a 77% winning percentage, nine Super Bowl trips and six Super Bowl wins.
Oh, yeah, and 20 years with the greatest football mind in the history of the sport.
Ex-Patriot Rob Gronkowski chimed in, a little more carefully when asked by another ex-Patriot, Willie McGinest, about the biggest difference between Arians and Belichick.
Gronkowski on Arians said, “The freedom, the freedom of being yourself with the coaches.”
I would concur. I would also concur that’s probably the case with the other 31 teams in the NFL not named the Patriots.
Here’s the deal, also mentioned by Gronkowski, playing for the Patriots, and really Belichick, is a lot like being part of a military establishment.
There is a chain of command. And that chain must be followed or you’re out. Oh, yeah, and what the general, a.k.a Belichick says, goes.
That might not even be the worst part of The Patriot Way. The players are usually paid less than they believe they deserve.
And you know those social media rants, of players trashing other teams before and after games, well, we don’t see them in New England.
Is that a bad thing, not letting players speak their minds?
There are benefits to many of those participants the last 20 years under Belichick. They have had the opportunity for high-paying, high-prestige gigs elsewhere.
If you don’t believe me, ask Charlie Weis, Romeo Crennel, Eric Mangini, Asante Samuel, Aqib Talib, Bill O’Brien, Nick Caserio, Willie McGinest, Scott Pioli, Tedy Bruschi, Brian Flores, Jason Licht, Bob Quinn, Joe Judge, Thomas Dimitroff, etc.
Those gentlemen, among others, left Foxborough and don’t have to work another day in their lives due to the money they earned thanks to their “Belichick experience.”
What’s ironic about Arians’ comments is, unlike the Eagles’ no-fun claims, it came after the Eagles beat the Patriots and won the Super Bowl.
Arians and the Bucs are light years away from that. They not only have to go to the “Frozen Tundra” in Green Bay and win, they then have to probably beat Kansas City and The Next Great One in Patrick Mahomes, or the hungriest team, the Buffalo Bills, with the hungriest fanbase in pro sports, the Bills Mafia.
There’s a reason players’ coaches, like Arians, last about three to four years.
And there’s a reason Belichick has been doing it for 20 years in the same place.
My advice to the Tampa Bay Bucs and their head coach: Worry about today’s practice and let New Englanders worry about their dreadful football team.