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Editorial: No shortage of drama for Patriots’ fans

  • Brady


Thursday, February 08, 2018

Sometimes we miss the boring old New England Patriots. Nobody cared about quarterback Steve Grogan’s diet or what kind of pajamas he wore. Talk radio hosts didn’t spend hours trying to figure out what made head coach Ron Erhardt tick. If you asked other fan bases what they thought of the Pats, they would shrug as if to say, “We don’t.” Sure, a lot of those Patriot teams didn’t win very much, but you could always root for Mosi Tatupu. It was a simple, low-blood-pressure time to be a fan.

Those carefree days are long gone.

Even before kickoff in Sunday night’s Super Bowl loss to the Philadelphia Eagles, there was drama in the form of a “football decision” to bench cornerback (and one-time Super Bowl hero) Malcolm Butler. Patriot fans know better than to question the genius of Bill Belichick, yet the move was and continues to be a head-scratcher. What could Butler have done to fall so out of favor? If Belichick had no intention of letting him play even if the defense looked like one of the worst in the NFL, which it did, why even let him suit up?

By Tuesday night, the mystery benching was eclipsed by the saga of Josh McDaniels. Those who follow the NFL were certain that after the Super Bowl, win or lose, the Patriots would say goodbye McDaniels, who was a signature away from roaming the sideline for the Indianapolis Colts. What they didn’t count on was Belichick and team owner Robert Kraft using some sort of Jedi mind trick (or cash and promises) to keep McDaniels in Foxborough. Now the hapless Colts are scrambling to find a replacement – and they are not happy about it. The team’s general manager, Chris Ballard, even ended a press conference by saying, “The rivalry is back on.” Unfortunately for Ballard, that’s not how rivalries work. A team can’t just declare itself a rival of another team, especially if one would-be rival finished 4-12 and the other went to the Super Bowl.

It seems like a safe assumption that McDaniels will replace Belichick as the Patriots’ head coach – maybe in two weeks, maybe in two years. Meanwhile, quarterback Tom Brady seems hell-bent on playing until midway through his fifth decade, and tight end Rob Gronkowski, 28, may be ready to call it a career. All three – Brady, Belichick and Gronkowski – should walk away right now.

Gronkowski is a large man, but even he can take only so many big hits. The concussion he suffered in the AFC Championship game against the Jacksonville Jaguars should make his retirement decision easier, as should his undeniable marketability. Goofy Gronk will have plenty of job offers once he decides to hang up his enormous cleats.

Belichick is the best coach in the history of the game, and it’s not all that close. How could he possibly add to his legacy? How about leaving New England to take over a struggling franchise – and turning it around? That might settle the debate over who has been more critical to the Patriots’ success, the coach or the quarterback. It would also be one heck of a final chapter in a brilliant career.

And that brings us to Brady. The GOAT obviously loves spending time with his wife and children, and Gisele Bundchen is worried about how the brutality of the game will affect her husband’s ability to do that after his playing days are over. We worry, too. As Bundchen said while consoling the couple’s children on Sunday night, “Daddy won five times.” How many of his golden years is he willing to wager for a sixth ring? We hope the answer is “none.”

But maybe we’re just nostalgic for our boring old Patriots.