NFL combine prospect gets firsthand taste of fabled ‘Patriot Way’

Vanderbilt tight end Jared Pickney learned about the ‘Patriot Way’ during his meeting with the New England Patriots at the NFL combine.

If you ask New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick to describe exactly what the “Patriot Way” is and means, he’ll brush off the question with an even larger dose than usual of his trademark surly grouchiness and disapproval. Belichick has gone on record as saying he doesn’t even know what that is, and nor does he care.

If you ask Vanderbilt tight end Jared Pickney what it is, though, he might have a bit more to tell you.

The NFL draft hopeful is in Indianapolis this week participating in the league’s annual combine. Pickney spoke recently about the difference he perceived between his meeting with New England management versus some of the other teams he’s also interviewed with, per’s Deyscha Smith.

“It’s interesting, because (with) a team that’s been winning for as long as they have, you expect them to come in with a certain mentality and to share that mentality, and to spread it and impart it on you,” Pinkney told NESN’s Zack Cox, according to Smith.

“And that’s exactly what happened. I gave a kind of wonky answer, and it was like, ‘No, that’s a loser’s mentality.’ And I was like, ‘OK, my bad.’ They were like, ‘You need to be like this and that and that,’ and I was like, ‘Yes, sir. I’m better.’”

It’s just the latest example of what separates the Patriots culture from the culture of some of the NFL’s less fortunate and less successful teams.

Even with New England in a bit of a relative tailspin right now (by their own lofty standards) because of Rob Gronkowski’s surprise retirement, all the drama and scandal surrounding Spygate 2.0 and Tom Brady’s potential free agency, it’s clear that the winning pedigree is still very much alive — at least in the minds and actions — of the Patriots employees.

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We’ll see if Pickney ever ends up revealing just what it was he said that caused such a harsh admonishment from the Patriots. Even if he never does, it still makes for a great story — and it should provide hope to New England fans that the future remains bright with or without Brady under center, as entire cultures for teams don’t change overnight.

Just ask the 2019 Cleveland Browns.


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