It should be obvious to everyone by now that there's a certain amount of attention that is guaranteed to be generated any time someone in the NFL harps on the Patriots. For one, it becomes a news story. Two, it will enrage the most engaged, motivated, defensive, internet-savvy, and yes, paranoid fanbase in North America to clap back. And that response becomes another news story and the cycle repeats itself. It becomes a sort of a clickbait Ouroboros; an online snake eating its tail.
So when Cassius Marsh surfaced from obscurity this week to remind everyone how the only memorable thing he ever did with short lived, uncredited role as a Patriots background extra in 2017 was get released and complain about playing for New England is "no fun." Even after he was signed by the 1-11 49ers, he insisted he was a lot happier in San Francisco than he was playing for the Super Bowl champs.
So he reminded us again about the one noteworthy aspect of his regrettable cameo in Foxboro. And, as always, New England (meaning I) answered:
But I'm not the only one. Someone who was actually helping to maintain that unhappy, joyless, glum, despondent culture of fun-free despair just responded as well.
Former Pats special teams coordinator and current head coach of the Giants Joe Judge went on Sean McVay and Peter Schrager's Ringer podcast. And referring to other haters like the Eagles' Lane Johnson told the perfect story to illustrate the difference between the Cassius Marshes of the world, and people with multiple rings.
Via NBC Sports:
"When we came out of that whole deal in 2017 where it was like … 'It's not fun, it's this, it's that' … there was a white grease board on the wall (at Gillette Stadium), and it was blank," Judge recalled. …
"He walked in and wrote in the middle of the board, 'Winning is fun.' And it was something everyone read as they walked in every day.
"… He kind of spread the message to the entire team of, 'Hey guys, you want to have fun? Winning is fun. We do everything we can to win here.'"
"I'll be honest with you: I had more fun in those eight years than I've ever had in the game," Judge said. "It doesn't mean it's not tough. It doesn't mean it's not demanding. But the team culture in those locker rooms, the enjoyment you genuinely have in seeing someone else succeed, the smiles, the hugs…
"They're fun. They're good dudes. The culture's good. And I know on the outside it's doom and gloom, right? Tha
It's not the reality inside. It's not. Those guys were tons of fun to coach."
Eh. What do Judge and Edelman know about fun? All they have is six rings between them. Judge turned eight years of coaching punt and kickoff teams into the job of running an NFL franchise. Edelman has a resume that includes several of the most clutch performances in huge games in NFL history. And went from 7th round QB out of Kent State to Hall of Fame consideration. And has half as many Super Bowl MVPs (one) as Marsh has career playoff wins (two). But unlike the others, Judge and Edelman have never experienced the carefree joy of not being asked to work hard enough to win a championship.
"Winning is fun." And the corollary to that, which has been told to me personally by long time NFL veterans is, that if you're not winning, nothing is fun. That your personal glory in the form of 100 yards rushing or two touchdown catches or 10 tackles means jack squat after a loss. And that the atmosphere on a truly bad team is one of pure misery. That it turns the game into a job. And winning is infinitely better.
Obviously not everyone agrees. Your results may vary. I just know I wouldn't trade one Joe Judge or a quarter of a Julian Edelman for 100 guys who put fun ahead of winning. As Patton put it, "When you were kids, you all admired the champion marble shooter, the fastest runner, big league ball players, the toughest boxers. Americans love a winner and will not tolerate a loser. Americans play to win all the time. I wouldn't give a hoot in hell for a man who lost … and laughed."
And as another great winner put it, "Winning is fun."