By: Russ Goldman
For several seasons now, I usually read before the new one begins, the potential downfall of the New England Patriots by several in the media, and also many rival fans. Well, with the terrible situation with Aaron Hernandez, and the injury to Rob Gronkowski, I have a feeling the predictions of doom are going to flow throughout Training Camp. The funny thing is that this talk of demise could lead to a special season for the Patriots.
For most NFL teams, a turbulent off-season can ruin the new season before it begins. However, over the course of the Belichick era, the Patriots have fought through adversity, and in many cases have thrived under the pressure. No team circles the wagons better than the Patriots.
In the 2001 season, the Patriots had to fight through adversity on a few occasions, and came out the other side. In the second game of the season, quarterback Drew Bledsoe got hurt, and at that moment I believe truly began the first block in the building of the Patriots Dynasty as quarterback Tom Brady came in, and has never looked back.
Also, that season the Patriots deactivated number one receiver Terry Glenn for the end of the season that also included the Playoffs and the Super Bowl. The Patriots were left with Troy Brown and David Patten as their top receivers.
Both of these issues were overcome by the Patriots as Brady commanded the offense, while Brown and Patten made huge contributions that helped the team earn their first Lombardi Trophy. There were several in the media that predicted the demise in that season, and were all proven wrong.
In 2003, the Patriots cut safety Lawyer Milloy before the first game, and the negative commentary began early as ESPN analyst Tom Jackson famously said ” they hate their coach”. Could the Patriots use this for motivation for the rest of the season?
Well, the answer was yes as Patriots Linebacker Willie McGinest discussed on the NFL Network show , America’s Game: The 2003 New England Patriots. McGinest mentioned that the comments by Jackson did bring the team together.
The Patriots fought through the adversity of losing a team leader, and it took them all the way to the Super Bowl and win it. Maybe someone in the media actually played a role in this special season?
In 2007, the Patriots had the Spygate scandal that rocked the team, and the entire NFL. Many in the media were predicting that the Patriots would drop back because of this scandal.
Yet again the Patriots rallied together, and it is pretty obvious they used the scandal, and all the negative comments in the media, as motivation to propel the team to an undefeated regular season. Belichick and the players used all this negativity as fuel I feel, and it took them almost to a complete perfect season. The Patriots lost in the Super Bowl to the Giants, but to fight through this adversity, and almost make history is something very positive to remember, to come out of a very bad situation which they were responsible for.
In 2010, the Patriots were coming off of a disappointing 2009 season, which saw the team end 10-6, and lose in the first round of the Playoffs to the Baltimore Ravens. In that pre-season, the Patriots did not look great, and the predictions of doom were showing themselves once again.
Radio talk show host Tony Massarotti of the Felger and Mazz show on 98.5 The Sports Hub was extremely negative on the Patriots going into the new season. He predicted on his show that the Patriots could end up as low as 7-9 for the 2010 season.
Well, I decided to contact Tony and make a wager for charity. The bet involved the Patriots and the Jets, as I took the team from New England in this bet to have the better regular season, and Tony took the team from New York. The Patriots ended the season 14-2, and the Jets were 11-5, so I won the bet.
In the end, the Jets got the last laugh as they beat the Patriots in the Playoffs, but it doesn’t take away that the Patriots took a down season from the year before, and turned things around to have an excellent regular season. I have a feeling that the negative comments in the press prior to the season beginning could have been used to fuel the fire of the Patriots.
So, when the future predictions from rival fans and probably several in the media do come discussing the potential downfall of the 2013 Patriots, I welcome them because I have a feeling the Patriots will hear them, and yet again use them as motivation for the 2013 season. No team fights through adversity while taking negative energy, and turning it into something positive like the Patriots. Best of luck to the other 31 teams this season because they are going to need it.