Patriots: Rob Ninkovich responds to Danny Amendola’s Brady-Belichick comments

HOUSTON, TX - FEBRUARY 05: Rob Ninkovich (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)
HOUSTON, TX - FEBRUARY 05: Rob Ninkovich (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images) /

Even after their worst season in two decades, the New England Patriots have managed to become a prominent topic of conversation leading up to the Super Bowl.

Sure, that was bound to happen with Tom Brady getting set to compete for his seventh Super Bowl title in his first year away from his former franchise, but the extent to which the Patriots have been discussed of late has been astonishing.

What really dumped fuel onto the fire? Veteran wideout Danny Amendola, who won two rings with the team during his five-year tenure in Foxborough, unearthed an entirely new debate when he claimed on live television that Brady, not head coach Bill Belichick, humanized and fulfilled the famed “Patriot Way.”

Some of Amendola’s former teammates have since come out in defense of Belichick, and Rob Ninkovich, now an analyst for ESPN after an eight-year run with the Patriots, followed their lead by throwing some shade at the 35-year-old receiver.

Rob Ninkovich thinks that Bill Belichick was just as responsible for the Patriots’ sustained success as Tom Brady.

"“Look, the way Bill coaches is the Patriot Way,” said Ninkovich. “And for 20 years, they had Tom Brady to embody that philosophy perfectly. The way that Bill coaches his team to be putting the team first, not selfish, doing what’s best for the team, putting the team’s goals in front of your own personal goals. That was Tom Brady. He was able to do that for 20 years.“I get players sometimes, they start to lose the concepts of look, ‘We’re the ones out here making the catches and the tackles and all the things that win you the football game,’ but the way Bill coaches the team is the Patriot Way.”"

That’s what we like to call a level-headed take, though it’s worth noting that Amendola came out and tried to clarify his provocative comments. In doing so, however, he bizarrely doubled down on them, conveying his frustration with re-negotiating his contract for three years and taking pay cuts so that Belichick could spend money elsewhere.

As Ninkovich noted with his response, that’s precisely what Brady did for two decades — opting against signing monster extensions because he knew that it would give the Patriots the best chance to compete for a championship.

Not until his final years in Foxborough did Brady’s tension with the organization boil over, and that can mostly be attested to the roster construction taking a significant step backwards. For the most part, you didn’t hear a peep about the three-time MVP complaining about reworking his contracts because he was consistently winning at the highest level.

Amendola was fortunate enough to win two championships because of this philosophy, but that apparently wasn’t enough to dissuade him from roasting his former head coach, who’s widely considered the greatest to ever do it.