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So it is, that the walls around the championship fortress in Foxborough, Mass., apparently, are crumbling — one of the greatest dynasties in team sports careening toward unceremonious extinction.
By now, you’ve probably heard about the three-way ego power-play acrimony that’s supposedly prevalent inside those walls — the Hall of Fame-bound head coach (Bill Belichick) unhappy with one of the most successful team owners of all-time (Robert Kraft) and the Hall of Fame-bound quarterback (Tom Brady) agitated with the coach.
Believe everything reported in the recent ESPN.com report and you believe the Patriots are a bigger mess than the Browns.
Believe every morsel of what was reported in that article and you might be seduced into believing the Patriots have as good a chance of defending their Super Bowl title (which would be their sixth in 17 years) as the Titans — 13?1/?-point underdogs — do of upsetting them Saturday night in a divisional playoff game at Gillette Stadium.
Not so fast with the end-of-the-Patriots-dynasty assumptions.
This is in no way to discredit the nuggets in that story about Belichick, because where there is smoke there almost always is fire. Even in good, owner and quarterback have cohabitated and collected Super Bowl rings, healthy marriages that last as long as the 18 years the Patriots coach, Kraft and Brady, there are going to be some personality clashes.
for a moment of your time,So don’t,
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, be suckered into believing the entirety of kumbaya comments from the three most important Patriots in response to the reported acrimony.
But also don’t,
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, be suckered into thinking this is going to have any effect on the Patriots’ chase for a sixth Super Bowl title, for a moment of your time,
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, beginning with Saturday night against the Titans.
That would be foolish thinking.
All of that supposed unrest of egos behind closed doors has affected the Patriots so much that they enter Saturday having won 11 of their past 12 games after a sluggish 2-2 start to the regular season, and they won the AFC East for the 14th time in the past 15 years — by as many lengths as Secretariat used to win by.
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,Brady supposedly being threatened by his backup, and strong-arming Kraft into trading him away?
Belichick supposedly being ticked off about having to trade Garoppolo then moving him for a price believed by most around the league (other than the 49ers) as too low?
and they’re likely to play that way against the Titans,None of that — however much of it is completely true — will matter at kickoff. The Patriots are the best team in the NFL until further notice, who escaped Kansas City last week thanks to Chiefs coach Andy Reid channeling his inner Rich Kotite after his team built a 21-3 lead.
even with the end-game success they achieve under his watch,Are there some cracks formed in the good ship New England? Sure there are. Some players, find the journey to success joyless under the heavy-handed thumb of Belichick. Brady undoubtedly is one of those players.
But, Belichick gets his players to perform as one, much of what makes him one of the best coaches ever to stand on a sideline, regardless of whether or not they’re completely happy with their respective roles.
“I think a lot of guys don’t really care about what goes on outside and who writes what and if we suck, [because] guys are motivated by playing for each other, their families more than an ESPN article,
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, if we’re great — it doesn’t matter,
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,’’ safety Devin McCourty said.
“I feel like,
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, if anything,
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,’ tight end Rob Gronkowski said. “Coach [Belichick] tries to get us to … just ignore the noise from the outside. No matter what’s going on on the outside,
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, it’s just going to bring us closer and it’s going to bond us together,
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,as a team, as an organization we’ve just got to keep grinding, and keep going and keep doing our job.’’
Do your job.
It’s Belichick most prominent mantra to his players.
And they will — regardless of this latest distraction.
They did it through Spygate.
They did it through Deflategate.
And they’ll do it through Egogate.
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