By Kevin Flanagan
BSD Senior Staff Writer
These are not your older brother’s Patriots anymore. In fact, these are your Patriots who pulled off the greatest comeback in Super Bowl history a short 15 months ago against the Atlanta Falcons, when they trailed by 25 points with a little over two minutes left in the third quarter.
However, you wouldn’t know it as the have morphed into the me, myself and I Pats, who are bickering their way to the end of the greatest dynasty in modern NFL history.
The so-called Patriots’ Way now resembles the Barnum and Bailey Circus – complete with three clowns – the destined to be Hall Of Fame quarterback, coach, and tight end.
On Wednesday morning at the NFL Spring Meeting that is ironically in Atlanta, Pats owner Robert Kraft had this to say about his MIA MVP quarterback who deems his presence at the team’s voluntary workout unnecessary these days.
“I think he’s very excited about the upcoming season,” Kraft told the assembled media regarding Tom Brady. “These are voluntary workouts, and I think he’s in great shape. I think he’s at an age where — I was thinking back to when he joined us — he’s blessed to have three children now and built a number of businesses and has certain responsibilities. I think it’s very hard for him to fulfill those during the season and the commitment he has to football. I can only say this – I know he’s very excited about being at minicamp and having a very special season this year.”
When it came to the absence of Rob Gronkowski as well, all Kraft could muster was, “We all love Gronk.”
That’s funny, because less than 24 hours before when Bill Belichick was asked about the missing dynamic duo, the love didn’t seem to be exactly flowing. “Well, I’m not going to talk about the people who aren’t here,” said the haughty head coach. “The guys that are here are improving, working hard and, uh, those are the guys we are focusing on.”
Classic Belichick. No wonder why his two best players choose to stay away from him as long as they possibly can.
And the hypocrisy from Brady is simply overwhelming. As NBC Sports Boston’s Mike Giardi first pointed out, this quote from the GOAT from June 2013. “He (Bill Belichick) talks about, you think it’s just an OTA in the springtime, and it’s not that important and all those things that probably could enter your mind,” said TB12 at the time. “The truth is, this lays the foundation for the start of training camp and if you have a good training camp, it usually means a good start to the season. A good start to the season leads to good position entering the second half of the season.
“Everything ends up having some significance to it. You’re not just out here running plays and going through different things that aren’t going to mean anything. We’re out here trying to get a lot of things accomplished. I think we have done that, but there’s still a lot of work to be done. It’s really never ending, especially when you play for Coach Belichick.”
Would you like some avocado ice cream to mix with those words before you eat them, Tommy Boy?
The way this seemingly perfectly poised organization 12 months ago to continue this unprecedented dynastic run well into a third decade has imploded on itself in such a short period of time, is amazing.
First, GM Bill trades away the QB of the future – Jimmy Garappolo, aka Jimmy GQ – for an underwhelming second-round pick at the traded deadline – supposedly at the behest of Kraft who was pressured by Brady – without shopping him across the league was the initial head shaker.
Then coach Bill – who’s security blanket when questioned about his decisions has always been he’s “doing what’s best for the team” – let’s a personal vendetta get in the way of playing perhaps his best cornerback in the Super Bowl while his team gets lit up by a career backup quarterback and costs his team a championship by doing so.
And not to be outdone, the now 41-year-old quarterback who professed he would play into his mid-40’s and twisted the owner’s arm to have his heir-apparent shipped out of town, uses his Facebook infomercial to put doubt in the minds of anyone that watched that he wants to continue playing now that he has the team leveraged.
Add to that, the perhaps greatest tight end to play the game has gone full-on goofball in order to gain a few extra dollars on his contract – something that would have had him banished from Foxboro back when the Patriots’ Way was the Patriots’ Way – and you have the colossal circus the once best-run franchise in the NFL has become.
Sure, on talent alone, Brady, Belichick, and Gronkowski may just have another run at a championship left in them. That being said, “planet players” never existed on the great Patriots teams of the past two decades.
But they will almost certainly be the reason that the most successful team in the salary cap era comes crashing to the ground in the near future.