“It’s not easy, that’s for sure. He’s an asshole sometimes. There were a lot of things I didn’t like about playing for him, but I must say, the things I didn’t like were all in regards to getting the team better, and I respected him. I didn’t like practicing in the snow, I didn’t like practicing in the rain, but that was going to make us a better football team and that was going to make me a better football player. It wasn’t easy, and he’d be the first to admit, at the ring ceremony, that it wasn’t easy playing for him. The silver lining was that we were at the ring ceremony.” – Danny Amendola to Mike Reiss
And so the never-ending joy ride that is the Patriots’ 2018 continues. A year that started with a largely discredited hit piece from Pats troller-in-chief Seth Wickersham, careened downhill through a gut-wrenching win over Jacksonville in the AFCCG that included a concussing killshot on Gronk, plummeted into a canyon with Malcolm Butler’s benching, plunged to the bottom of a river with the loss to Philadelphia has somehow gotten worse.
Beloved free agents leaving. Gronk pulling a Brettfavre to the point it’s mid-April and we don’t even know if he’s going to play. Tom Brady’s cryptic speech in Tom vs. Time, the most disappointing series finale since The Sopranos. The one positive was Josh McDaniels’ return, and even that feels more weirdly ominous than something to feel great about.
By now it just feels like a Griswold family trip and I’m white knuckle-gripping the wheel screaming, “This is no longer an offseason. It’s a quest. It’s a quest for fun. You’re gonna have fun, and I’m gonna have fun… We’re all gonna have so much fucking fun we’re gonna need plastic surgery to remove our goddamn smiles! You’ll be whistling ‘Zip-A-Dee Doo-Dah’ out of your assholes!”
The only part of the above I can make sense of is Amendola’s comments, which show that he gets it. That Belichick is forever the tough teacher whose class wasn’t fun and he intimidated the crap out of you, but he got the best out of you. Yes, he took paycuts to extend his stay here, but he seems to understand that all the winning and clutch plays in big moments are what enabled him to cash in all those Dolphin dollars. That he wouldn’t be making what he’s making if he’d signed with Cleveland five years ago.
And I can understand Brady missing the first workout because he’s visiting troops and promoting Best Buddies in Qatar. But someone in his camp leaking to Jeff Darlington that he’s going to spend less time in the offseason program is just bad juju. If it’s true, you can’t spin it any other way. Even if he also worked out with the team less in 2008, ’09 and ’10, that is not a good sign. Those were this dynasties Dark Ages. The year he got hurt followed by the most unlikable and unsuccessful Pats team of the Bradichick Era followed by the year they got knocked out of the playoffs by the Mark Sanchez Jets? That is not comforting. Particularly when the Pats are going to have new wideouts and backs he needs to develop chemistry with.
The Gronk situation is even harder to decode. He gets a $250,000 bonus if he takes part in 90 percent of the workouts. Last year they had 33 total. Meaning he can play hooky for three of them and still collect. I have no info as to how many he’s missed in the past, but I can’t remember a healthy Gronk blowing these off. Maybe I’m wrong. But since I have to take a stab at this I’m going to assume his absence is a warning shot across Belichick’s bow that he’s looking for a new contract. Based on this:
Which usually spells doom around here. At least the end of your career in New England. What Schefter’s “good communication” means exactly, your guess is as good as mine. I’d like to think it refers to extension talks, but it could just as easily mean “The Gronkowskis effectively communicated a big ‘piss off’ to the Pats and the message was understood.” As bad as this offseason has played out, I won’t rule out anything.
What a shitty way to spend Bill Belichick’s birthday. And the anniversary of this:
Happy Patriots Day.