When you win the Super Bowl the bully pulpit is yours. And right now the Philadelphia Eagles are using it to bang away on the ‘Patriot Way’, namely how fun or ‘not fun’ it is in Foxboro.
Comments made this offseason by the Eagles Lane Johnson and more recently Brandon Brooks were followed up the other day by former Patriot flameout Cassius Marsh crapping all over his short and uninspired stint in Foxboro. And with that the anti-fun chorus reached a shrieking crescendo. The calls are now coming from inside the house!!
Which is why today’s Patriots OTA question of the day became about how fun is it to play for the Patriots? Let’s ask Devin McCourty.
“This is fun,” said McCourty answering questions in front of a large hoard of reporters at Gillette Stadium. “There’s some funner things I could do than talking to you, but this isn’t bad.”
McCourty seemed pretty non-plussed by the accusations that the Pats aren’t a fun organization but said he understands where they’re coming from and why.
“I think now if you look at a team who beats us in the Super Bowl, and then you got guys who are talking about it, so that’s front page news,” McCourty said. “Then Cassius leaves, he played here, so then that’s another. Cassius, he had a frustrating time here, so I don’t expect him to leave and say he had a great time.”
Marsh hauled off on the Patriots in an interview with the San Francisco Chronicle saying there was “nothing happy” about his time here and that he was miscast. He said his Foxboro experience made him question whether he wanted to continue playing football at all because he “hated it that much.”
In addition to Marsh there’s also been a vibe from some current players that they could maybe benefit from a little looser environment. Both Rob Gronkowski and Tom Brady reportedly viewed last season as a slog. Of course neither player is currently at OTAs which doesn’t help the (no fun in Foxboro) perception. But McCourty says there’s a lot people don’t see behind the scenes.
“I think if you ask any guy on this team, the fun we have comes from hanging with each other. Like, you guys are in the locker room, the relationships between the guys, a lot of the fun happens in the locker room before we even come out here and have fun winning football games. Obviously we work for a living, so in this business, you have to win. So, when you lose, it’s not fun. People get fired, you lose your job, so that’s not fun.”
Dont’a Hightower (who played for Nick Saban at Alabama and was then drafted by the Patriots which means he’s never had fun on a football field in his life) echoed McCourty’s sentiments.
“I mean, it’s not for everybody. It’s definitely harder than most places, but I mean, that’s part of it. A lot of guys know that when they come here. But, I mean, in the locker room, it’s not Bill’s [Belichick] job to make this fun and this atmosphere fun; it’s the guys around it. Every guy in that locker room, I love like a brother. We have fun, whether it’s out here struggling together – blood, sweat and tears – or we’re back in the locker room or we’re hanging out outside of football. So, there’s a time and place for everything, but we know whenever we walk through the building, it’s time to work.”
Hightower, McCourty and several other past Patriots clearly believe that a tough work environment is the price you pay for success. Newsflash: This has always been the ‘Patriot Way.’ I mean the freaking motto coined by the man who runs the show is “No Days Off!” That has to tell you something right?
And while proclamations like the ones below by former Pats Tedy Bruschi and Matt Chatham are silly in their own right (there is no one right way and just cause it doesn’t work for you doesn’t mean there’s something wrong with you) making claims from afar like Johnson and Brooks have done carry considerably less weight.
Players that don’t like their Patriot experience are the ones that can’t take tough coaching, get eaten up by the pressure, blame others for failures and expect things are supposed to be given to them.
— Tedy Bruschi (@TedyBruschiESPN) May 31, 2018
We had fun winning our rings, this whole conversation is just stupid. It wasn’t easy, but not easy doesn’t mean not fun. Hard can be rewarding, some people don’t like hard. It is what it is. Old Reggie Wayne & Cassius Marsh as proof [of what?] is just crazy comment section logic.
— Matt Chatham (@chatham58) May 31, 2018
“I wouldn’t believe anyone who told me if they only won half their games, they were having the best time of their life, said McCourty.” Like, I’m just not here for that. I think the value of how we interact and the relationships we have, no one else sees it. No one in Philly can say those guys don’t like each other, they hate it there. You don’t know that. We were just in the Super Bowl last year. I wouldn’t say that was the most awful season ever. We got a couple guys here from Cleveland. They went 0-16. They told me that wasn’t fun. So, I’m gonna try to stay on this side.”