The New England Patriots are going to be just fine after the ESPN report of their potential demise.
It’s January, and the New England Patriots are poised for another great playoff run. Once again, the Patriots are the favorites to take home the Lombardi Trophy. So the hit piece that ESPN published guaranteeing the imminent demise of New England’s dynasty is right on cue. Because what would a great playoff run be in New England without some bulletin board material?
The article claims there is a power struggle in New England, in part because of Tom Brady‘s apparent new-found sense of entitlement and Bill Belichick’s reluctance to trade Jimmy Garoppolo. However, as they often do, people reacting to this are a little quick to write off the Pats, and here’s why.
Garoppolo’s future was determined back in February
The idea that Bill Belichick was forced into trading Jimmy Garoppolo is logistically flawed. Garoppolo’s future in New England was determined as soon as James White extended across the goal line for the walk-off touchdown in Super Bowl LI.
If Tom Brady doesn’t lead that unthinkable comeback, we’d all be discussing Garoppolo’s succession of Brady. The remarkable comeback and fifth title just made it clear that Brady wasn’t going anywhere anytime soon.
With Garoppolo heading into a contract year, there was no chance of re-signing someone who they knew they wouldn’t start for the foreseeable future. To believe that Brady had to conspire with the owner to get him out would be ignoring all the facts.
All of a sudden, the Patriots are talking to the media?
It’s really, really hard to believe that the most tight-lipped franchise in sports suddenly lets all these supposed facts get out. For the past sixteen years, pretty much everybody within the organization has bought into the ‘Patriot Way’, part of which means no media distractions.
"“If we trade Jimmy, we’re the Cleveland Browns, with no succession plan,” one person inside the organization said earlier in the year."
Are we supposed to believe that people within the organization are turning to ESPN and badmouthing the way the team is handling something?
Through all the controversies that have taken place in previous years, there has never been uncertainty from within before. It’d be smart to doubt that there’s any now.
"But after Garoppolo was knocked out of his second start because of a shoulder injury, he set up a visit at TB12. As he later told Patriots staffers, when he arrived, the door was locked. He knocked; nobody was there. He called TB12 trainers but nobody answered. He couldn’t believe it, Garoppolo told the staffers, and that night ended up visiting team trainers instead."
More from Musket Fire
- What trading Mac Jones during the draft can do for the Patriots
- Best and worst draft picks during the Bill Belichick era
- Early round Patriots draft picks you’ll hate now, love later
- Musket Fire Roundup: Our own final predictions for round 1
- Breaking down the Patriots’ options in the 2023 NFL Draft
It seems almost impossible to believe that Patriot beat writers and people who cover the team for a living couldn’t get a hold of some of the things revealed in the article. The fact that something as relevant as a key player being denied access to a training facility comes out over a year later makes it even easier to question the legitimacy of the claim itself.
Why are these “staffers” and unnamed players, mentioned very frequently in the article, suddenly willing to reveal all these “bombshells” to the media? Perhaps a lot of these stunning quotes and claims made by unnamed staffers aren’t even real.
It’s still the same old Tommy
More insulting than anything is the suggestion that Tom Brady, the NFL’s most humble superstar, has suddenly become a prima donna.
"He feels he has accomplished enough that he shouldn’t have to endure so much grief. Patriots staffers have noticed that, this year more than ever, he seems to volley between unwavering confidence and driving insecurity."
The idea that he’s let five Super Bowls go to his head and become entitled is a slap in the face. A slap in the face to someone who has restructured his contract numerous times for the sake of the team. Someone who works harder than anyone even after accomplishing so much. Someone who won’t even go so far as to call himself a good qurterback.
If Brady has started to slip mentally, he’d be losing ninety percent of what makes him so great. He wouldn’t be the favorite to win MVP right now.
Nothing lasts forever and New England’s dynasty will eventually end. Belichick can’t coach forever and Brady certainly can’t play forever. But he deserves to retire in a Patriot uniform whenever he pleases.
I think even Bill Belichick will make an exception for the greatest quarterback of all time and move on when it’s appropriate, not just when it’s the best thing for his football team. Over time, age will finally put an end to this incredible dynasty. But when it dies, it’ll die for that reason, not because of some ridiculous power struggle from within.