Does John Henry Have a Patriots Problem?

New England Patriots v Green Bay Packers

One of the truly great things about living in Titletown during this era where we’ve no sooner swept the streets after a Duckboat parade than the Boston P.D. is putting the barricades back up for the next one, is the way the four franchises seem to genuinely appreciate each other. The Patriots bring five Lombardis out on Red Sox Opening Day 2017:

Washington Nationals v Boston Red Sox

… The Red Sox rollout with four World Series trophies at Gillette:

New England Patriots v Green Bay Packers

Hell, the some of the Pats were at the Celtics game the night before leaving for Atlanta:

It’s like the owners, executives, coaches and players have formed this exclusive club of super-achievers. A mutual appreciation society where they all support one other, revel in the victories of each, and try to emulate each other’s success. Every last one of them.


For years now I’ve been convinced that John Henry is not on board. Not with everyone. That when it comes to the Patriots, he’s their frienemy. You know that guy in your group who talks a good friendship game but you can’t shake the feeling he resents your success and secretly feeds off the negative energy during your bad times? One of those guys I once heard described as “He’s the first guy to loan you his umbrella. Unless it’s raining.”

That’s how I picture the Red Sox owner when it comes to the Patriots. That for too long now he’s resented the Mr. Kraft’s team’s complete takeover of what was once a capital-B, captial-T Baseball Town. I can’t quantify it. But I know it when I see it. And I am not alone. In fact, it’s become a running joke in this capital-F, capital-R Football Region. Not two days ago a buddy texted me along the lines of “Get ready because you know this is the week John Henry’s newspaper will publish a hatchet piece about the Patriots.”

And like clockwork:

Two Super Bowl trips. Two years apart. Two articles about how everyone in Boston is losing interest in the Patriots. By the same writer.

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Are we supposed to think that’s coincidence?  I mean, even if you want to give The Globe a pass on that first one because the chemical formula for success in the media business right now is “Trump + Anything = Clicks,” it ignores the overwhelmingly vast super-majority who aren’t “wavering” because the Patriots Holy Trinity are all golf buddies with the President.

But even still, how do you explain this current article? Claiming that the interest level has “dimmed?” Despite the string of sellouts. Local TV ratings records that get broken year after year. And more people at the send-off at Gillette last Saturday than can fit into Fenway Park. Please tell me how in the actual fuck can Dugan Arnett, the Globe Staff or John Henry justify claiming “dimmed excitement?” If there was a similar article about lack of interest in the Sox while they were ripping through the postseason last October, I must’ve missed it.

Now, if I was a cynical man (God knows I am) I’d say that management at the Globe assigns these hit pieces every so often, just to try to knock John Henry’s frienemy’s team down a peg or two hundred. So they put Arnett on the case. In a manner of speaking, they drop a Dugan on the Pats:


And Dugan Arnett reaches out to his go-to guy for all things Boston. That one man who so perfectly encapsulates all that we in this city are about, Andrew Kubitschek. Who has his thumb on the pulse of this town the way only a 4-year resident from Minnesota could. Who gets us, whether he’s talking about precision-engineered muscle cars or how when it comes to the Pats, we’ve all lost interest:

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Yup. That Vikings fan has us pegged alright. We’re tame. This is like any other day. At the mere mention of the Super Bowl, we’re all stifling yawns, rubbing our eyes and asking when pitchers and catchers report to Jet Blue. Good thing Dugan Arnett was able to get hold of this brilliant sociologist. Again.

And in case you’re tempted to think there’s not a pattern here of John Henry’s little Ministry of Propaganda and Public Enlightenment coming after a football team, consider this fair and balanced piece of integrity. A tenant/landlord beef between a chain restaurant and a retail space developer. Which nobody but the employees would give a rat’s taint about were it any other landlord:

Toby Keith’s is owned by a mega-corporation and has locations all across the country. But read the article it gets portrayed like it’s the Bailey Brothers’ Building & Loan, making the American Dream come true in Bedford Falls, while Mr. Kraft is the evil Mr. Potter hellbent on destroying it for his own greedy ends. It’s preposterous. But very, very typical in John Henry’s media empire.

I have no doubt that if the best of all possible outcomes should happen Sunday, there’ll be another ceremony at Fenway in April. I’ll just recommend that the Pats keep their heads on a swivel. And spend the months between now and then bracing themselves for more treatment like this. With frienemies like John Henry, who needs real enemies?