So unless your New Years resolution for 2018 was to turn off all devices, ignore the internet, and in general avoid humanity you know that ESPN published a nuclear bomb (topical metaphor) of an article regarding the three-headed relationship between Belichick, Brady, and Mr. Kraft. The TL:DR of it is that “sources” say Brady is calling a lot more shots and Kraft made Belichick trade Saint Jimmy, among other uncomfortable decisions made and actions taken by various parties involved, and now Belichick is generally unhappy with his situation in New England, as is Brady with Belichick.
Honestly there is probably a lot of truth in the whole thing. I’m sure Brady and Belichick butt heads. I’m sure Belichick is never truly satisfied with his position. I’m sure they’ve never been best buds. I’m sure the Coach, whether on the surface or deep down, didn’t want to trade Jimmy G, but had to, under orders or by virtue of winning football games/good football strategy. With all that said, the writer Seth Wickersham, has been churning out attack pieces on the Pats since GodKnowsWhen and definitely put as ominous of a slant on it as possible. If nothing else, the Big 3 of the Patriots are completely dedicated to winning, and to some end I’m sure all 3 know New England is the best place to do it.
It did get me thinking though. I actually kind of had an existential moment and, in a way, I suppose this is a bit of a confession. As I read sentences that openly pondered whether or not Brady or Belichick, or both, were on their way out, I actually asked myself if I would still give as much of a shit about the Patriots without them. DO NOT GET ME WRONG I did not become a Pats fan upon the team’s success or the arrival of the two aforementioned current pillars. Patriot fans around my age are always getting shit for being too young to be able to appreciate their success but they won their first title when I was about to turn 12. Over a decade without a sniff of success is a good chunk of time. I got my start pretty early in sports so I remember some putrid Bledsoe years. I remember no name running backs. I remember going to the Super Bowl in 1997 knowing we were going to get smoooooked by Brett Favre. So ya, I’ve been a fan for awhile.
This dynasty though, man. Belichick, Brady, Mr. Kraft becoming “Mr. Kraft”. This has been special. This has been a contingent of people, personalities, and philosophies all of its own, existing inside the history of a ~60 year old football franchise. And there have been other players we’ve gotten attached to that have come and gone as well. Mike Vrabel. College wrestler Stephen Neal. Ben Watson. Tully Banta-Cain. Would we have the fond memories and continued affection for those players if they didn’t come to us during these 18 years? Do I give as much of a shit about Vrabel, for instance, if he caught those 8 TDs as a goal line tight end from 5 other quarterbacks who aren’t Tom Brady while being coached by a coach who isn’t Bill Belichick? Probably not.
So let’s say Belichick thinks he has outstayed his welcome and bounces after this year. Next season we have someone else underneath the headset. Brady, Kraft’s guy, jogs out onto the field. Devin McCourty stretches on the sidelines. They score and on the ensuing kick Matt Slater pins the opposing team at their own 2. Does it feel as special? Are we still living the same dream? Do I really give as much of a fuck? Or is it The Office without Michael Scott? I’m a huge fan of those episodes. You have a dump in your pants if you say they weren’t funny. But a certain spark was missing. A special element. No one could deny that.
So I don’t know. I don’t know if I’ve become the obsessive, psychotic, my-girlfriend-doesn’t-watch-football-with-me-anymore guy because of a growing love of football and the Pats or because of the characters involved. It’s almost an impossible question to answer. The chicken or the egg, the coach and QB or adolescence. I’ll watch the Pats until I die because there isn’t anything else to do on Sundays, I love football, and my happiness is in their hands whether I like it or not. But whether wins and losses, picks and touchdowns, sacks and missed opportunities keep me up at night or not without Belichick, or Brady, is a huge question. One that so far has taken 18 years and three of the best football minds to answer. I just hope they still haven’t come to their conclusion.