Bill Belichick has received a lot of criticism throughout his career, most of which stemmed from his incredible success during that time. Although he’s dealt with cheating accusations, questionable roster cuts, and displeasure from the media for how he conducts his press conferences, the scrutiny since Tom Brady’s departure has become increasingly harsher.
That was certainly apparent during the 2022 season and gained more traction in the media when players consistently expressed their unhappiness with how the year was progressing. It began with Mac Jones’ display of frustration in multiple games, continued when offensive players spoke to the media after a loss, and picked up again with the suspension of Jack Jones and Jake Bailey last week.
The original news of the suspensions was shocking especially given the timing and the players involved. Bailey had just been designated to return from IR, leaving many pondering the circumstances that led to his punishment. But that took a backseat when the alleged reason that rookie Jones was suspended was revealed.
During an appearance on NBC Sports Boston’s postgame coverage of the Patriots’ final game, Albert Breer suggested Jones had “talked back to” Belichick when he was confronted about missing rehab appointments.
This, of course, prompted former Patriots players to speak on the matter, emphasizing the change in the behavior of young players in today’s NFL.
Ty Law stepped out first, sharing his thoughts on WEEI’s “The Greg Hill Show” earlier this week.
"“Now, Coach Belichick (is a head coach) — there’s only 32 of those. But I see a lot — and I’m talking about, I see a lot — of coaches that say things to people or players that feel like, because they are making the type of money that they’re making, they’re untouchable. And I think that has to change because the coach is always the coach. You always have to respect them. But, players making the type of money that they’re making right now, they don’t give a damn. Let’s just call it what it is.”"
Law’s latest comments are a stark contrast from the last time he discussed a young player being labeled as ‘disrespecting’ Belichick and Co. Just last month, he defended Mac Jones after the quarterback was accused of being unprofessional toward Matt Patricia when he was seen waving him off mid-game.
Adding to the conversation, fellow former Patriot Vince Wilfork was asked his opinion on the rumored situation during his appearance on NBC Sports Boston’s “Early Edition” on Wednesday.
"“These guys don’t respect the game and don’t respect coaches the way we used to. I’ve never seen anybody talk back to Bill. As a leader and as a captain, of course, we’ll have conversations on things that we might not like, but that’s behind closed doors, and it’s not us challenging Bill. It’s trying to get a better understanding of what’s going on. But as far as talking back to a coach — no, you don’t do that.But this new era of football, these kids feel entitled. It started in college. You’ve got all this mess going on in college — you’re taken care of as a college player, and then you get to the league, and now all of a sudden, you want the same treatment. But you have to realize, the (NFL), it ain’t college. You have to prove yourself at this level.”"
If there is any credibility to the alleged incident, Law and Wilfork’s reactions are warranted. Despite the fact they both played for the Patriots during the height of their success, the respect for a head coach should remain the same no matter the results of a season, even more so when that head coach is the greatest of all time.
But does this have a bigger meaning? Has Belichick lost his aura? Has the magnitude of his accomplishments not been felt by younger players?
Or is this a bunch of commotion set off by an unverified rumor?