After blasting the Patriot Way as being “a fear-based organization” and saying Pats players don’t have any fun on Pardon My Take the other day, then in turn getting blasted by Tedy Bruschi for not knowing what he’s talking about, Lane Johnson went back on PMT today and pretty much doubled down on what he’d said before:
The Patriots, obviously, they’ve won five Super Bowls. So it’s the Patriot way to win the Super Bowl. Does that mean that everybody has to act the same way? Do the same thing? Is that necessarily the guideline to win the Super Bowl? … They kept interviewing ex-Patriots players. What do you think they’re going to say? They’re not going to badmouth their coach. They’re not going to say what they really want to say. Do you think that’s gonna happen? Hell, no that’s not going to happen.
OK, so apart from calling guys like Tedy Bruschi and Troy Brown – who echoed what Bruschi said – liars and basically suggesting they’re afraid to speak truth to Bill Belichick’s power or whatever, this is still Johnson talking out his ass.
I get it. The Eagles won. That earns them the right to say whatever they want. When you get that ring, that entitles you think that the way you did it is not only the best, it’s the only way. It happens all the time. When the Seahawks won, it was because Pete Carroll “treats them like men” and respects their individuality enough to “let boys be boys.” Of course, Pete turned out to be a One Pump Chump and a team loaded with talent descended into locker room chaos and more clique-iness than all-girls private school. The Harbaugh brothers were the new hotness when they faced each other in the Super Bowl. But their demonstrative antics and hardo act died quick death in the 2014 playoffs in Foxboro. And not only has John not been back to the playoffs since, Jim is in Ann Arbor and already rumored to be looking for his next job. Mike Tomlin lets his players have all the so-called “fun” they want. And they reward him by talking about their next contract in the middle of the postseason and getting burned looking past Jacksonville. I could cite a dozen other examples without breaking a sweat, but you get the point. The Patriots Way that Johnson is disparaging and Bruschi and Brown defended is the only way that’s worked. That has produced sustained excellence for this long a period of time since the 49ers of the 1980s-90s. And those rosters were stuffed to the breaking point with Hall of Famers.
But the real thing Johnson gets wrong is this business of claiming that on the Patriots “everybody has to act the same way.” Really? So Rob Gronkowski acts the same way as Rodney Harrison who acted the same way as Randy Moss who acted the same way as Joe Cardona? That makes negative infinity sense. The Patriots allow for different personalities. Martellus Bennett is a goofy crackpot. Cameron Fleming studied Astrophysics at Stanford. I don’t know that Marcus Cannon has ever willingly spoken in public. Julian Edelman is like Donkey from Shrek: it’s getting him to shut up that’s the trick. They’ve always encouraged guys to be who they are as individuals.
Remember the Belichick “A Football Life”? When he’s showing the team game film and someone on defense (Gary Guyton if I remember right?) made a great play and he pointed out how no one was congratulating their teammate? He reminded the whole room that it’s an emotional game and they should play it that way. Unfortunately that was 2009 and that team had a huge leadership vacuum. But it’s revisionist history to claim Patriots players’ careers are miserable because the coaches suck the life out of them or whatever.
Sure, the Patriots control the “message.” There’s no question. They don’t want guys talking shit in public, looking ahead to other games or, unfortunately, doing hilarious press conferences where they mock an opposing coach’s foot fetish. And it obviously works for them. But they don’t make everyone pretend they’re all the same person.
The bottom line is that if we’re sitting here four years from now and the Eagles have been to two more Super Bowls and won them both, we can all agree that dog masks and pregame dances parties work better than the Patriots Way. Until then, this is all just yapping.