It's not often that you get to hear extended commentary about Patriots history directly from the man who coached some of the most successful teams, but Bill Belichick was recently interviewed by The 33rd Team and was asked about a variety of topics.
In the latest installment of the series, Belichick discusses Super Bowl teams of the past, going over the first championship-winning team from the 2001 season.
While sharing his thoughts from that year, the head coach described the difference in the roster from their Super Bowl appearance five years earlier, stating the team had "declined quite a bit" but mentioned there were still a few pillars on the roster they could build around.
"When the opportunity came in 2000, even though this team was nowhere near the team that we left in ‘96, it had declined quite a bit. There were still a few pillars here that we could build with, and I’d say by ‘03 — even though we won in ‘01 — by ‘03 that this was a pretty good football team in all three phases of the game. It kind of took the same basic four-year window that it took in Cleveland. Again, we were fortunate to win in ‘01, but I’d say by ‘03, ‘04, we had one of the better teams in the league."
Upon hearing what his former coach had to say, former Patriots linebacker Ted Johnson took issue with the comments, mainly due to being a member of the team that season.
While appearing on 98.5's "Zolak and Bertrand" on Wednesday, Johnson shared his disappointment with how Belichick described his former team and felt that the coach devalued a team that most believed had no chance in beating the "greatest show on turf," the St. Louis Rams.
"It amazes me that he would devalue or discredit the 2001 Super Bowl team. I know we were 14-point underdogs, but it’s weird. I would think he would be more proud of that Super Bowl than any of them. I take issue with these comments."
The linebacker-turned-media pundit backed up his disappointment by listing the most prominent players on the team at that time, proving his point that there were more than just a few integral pieces on that team. He named Drew Bledsoe, Troy Brown, Tedy Bruschi, Ty Law, Willie McGinest, Lawyer Milloy, and Adam Vinatieri, all of whom have gone on to become NFL or Patriots Hall of Famers.
This isn't the first time a former player has taken issue with something Belichick had to say, but it's hard to decipher if Johnson's reaction to what was said is how the head coach meant his words to be interpreted.
Belichick is not known for downplaying his teams over the years, especially those that won a championship. So it seems unlikely that he intended to dismiss what the 2001 team accomplished or the talent of several players on that team.