It isn’t only the Patriots dynasty that’s dead, but The Patriot Way is, too.
On March 20th 2020, the football world rocked on its heels as Tom Brady walked out of Gillette Stadium to join the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and the New England Patriots organisation crumbled to dust under a swirl of doubts and repercussions. The year wasn’t kind to the Patriots following, with a number of hold outs due to Covid, an inability to secure any talent to support the incoming Cam Newton in free agency, and it culminated in an altogether poor showing throughout the regular season.
The question has always been whether Brady or Bill Belichick deserves more credit for the Patriots’ indomitable reign over the AFC East over the last twenty years, with people calling them both the best to ever do it.
Over the last twenty years, the Patriots have built an organisation built around a “work hard for the team” ethos, which became the very founding stone of their success. But where did it come from, and where is it now?
Bill Belichick is an incredible coach. He’s stern, stoic, committed, and unflappable, but who is he without Brady?
By all accounts there’s never been a teammate as committed to the cause as Brady. His consistent pay cuts, work, and determination to succeed is the Patriot Way. His unwavering leadership, his camaraderie with his team mates, added on to his example are the Patriot way, as Danny Amendola alluded to on FS1 on Monday.
“When you see ‘Patriot Way’ in the dictionary, it’s gonna have Tom Brady’s name next to it,” Amendola said. “None of those coaches threw any passes. None of those coaches caught any passes. None of those coaches made any tackles. They got guys in the right position because they watch a lot of film and spend all their time at the facility. But Tom Brady is the Patriot Way, and that’s the reason why Tom Brady’s in the Super Bowl right now and the Patriots aren’t.”
Now, it’s easy to see Amendola’s comments as a shot at his former organisation simply out of bitterness. The Patriots favourite dubbed Playoff Dola by his fans took numerous pay cuts in order to make the team succeed, but that’s not because of Bill or the organisation, that’s because Tom did the same and expected the same commitment from his team mates.
This wasn’t a shot, this was an attribution of success to Brady, and a showing of well-earned loyalty. We’ve seen the loyalty from team mates to Brady over the years, whether it’s Tight End Rob Gronkowski saying he wouldn’t play for another quarterback, or Julian Edelman‘s consistent online chatter about Brady being the greatest, it’s always there.
Now, it’s normal for team mates to show loyalty to their elite quarterback. If you go in to Green Bay you’ll hear the same love of Aaron Rodgers, you heard the same for Andrew Luck, Drew Brees, Carson Palmer. Those guys were all loved, too, but with Brady there’s a very real sense that he’s hands-on in the development of players.
The Patriots are known to take under-performing assets and getting the most out of them. Getting them to show up and compete, and improve their level of play. Now, is that down to the coaches? Yeah, I’m sure partially. But is most of it attributed to the greatest quarterback of all time being the first to arrive and the last to leave, a man that’s been there and done it all, climbed the ladder all the way to the top, and still has the drive to do more? Of course, it is. If you’ve ever been around those sorts of people, they’re intoxicating. Their sheer determination and willpower is palpable, and it draws you in, makes you more determined and committed. It makes you want to be like that guy, and it makes it impossible for you not to work as hard as he does.
That is the Patriot Way. The Patriot Way is in Tampa now, and guess what, they’re in a Super Bowl.
So, where do the Patriots go? Matt Stafford apparently told the Lions that he would accept a trade to anywhere except New England. Is that attributed to Matt Patricia returning there, or is it down to being in Detroit with Amendola, and him knowing that the dynasty is dead and buried? No more are the Patriots going to be able to get players on cut-price deals because Tom isn’t there doing the same. They have a harder time getting players motivated because Tom isn’t there. They don’t have that on-field leadership presence because Tom isn’t there. None if it works without Tom, and we are seeing his absence, his foundational stone’s removal, forcing the Patriots to crumble.
It’s a worrying time for the fans…