What is ‘The Patriot Way’ anyway?
There are almost too many subplots to keep track of heading into this weekend’s Super Bowl. There’s the Tom Brady vs. Patrick Mahomes narrative. There’s the talk about Brady’s legacy, and about Andy Reid’s spot in the all-time coaching hierarchy. There’s also the Brady vs. Belichick referendum.
If Brady wins his seventh Super Bowl and his first without his grumpy genius of a sidekick, it further solidifies his status as the game’s greatest quarterback while discounting some of Belichick’s contributions. A Brady loss would be a point in favor of Belichick’s claim to the title of best coach in NFL history. Or at least that’s the way the thinking goes. It’s silly, but the talking heads need some way to fill the two weeks ahead of the Super Bowl.
But former Patriots receiver Danny Amendola, who could have just stayed out of that argument, has picked a side. Appearing on FS1’s First Things First, Amendola said Brady and the players deserve more credit for their success than the coaching staff.
“When you see ‘Patriot Way’ in the dictionary, it’s going to have Tom Brady’s name next to it,” Amendola said. “None of those coaches threw any passes. None of those coaches caught any passes. None of those coaches made any tackles. They got guys in the right position because they watch a lot of film and they spend all their time at the facility. But Tom Brady is the Patriot Way, and that’s the reason why Tom Brady’s in the Super Bowl right now and the Patriots aren’t.”
During Belichick and Brady’s dominant run in New England, their success came to be defined by an ambiguous tao called “The Patriot Way.” The term dates back at least as far as 2005 when, after the third Super Bowl win of the Brady-Belichick era, the Boston Globe published a commemorative book titled, Patriot Way: The Road to a Modern NFL Dynasty. But what is it, exactly? Nobody can say, not even the players. Dont’a Hightower told the Houston Chronicle in 2017 that “there is no definition.” It’s a nonsensical phrase meant to imply there’s some secret recipe for success that other teams have been unable to replicate. (Well, except the St. Louis Cardinals, who have their “Cardinal Way.”)
What Amendola is saying isn’t particularly groundbreaking or even really all that controversial. A team can have the best coaching staff in the world, but it needs to have talented players capable of executing the plans laid out by the coaches. You can have the best coaches in the world, but if you’re relying on, say, the 2020 version of Cam Newton rather than Tom Brady, you’re not going to win many games.
So who deserves the most credit for the Patriots’ success? Both of them, obviously. Brady doesn’t win six Super Bowls if he doesn’t have a great coaching putting the rest of the team in the right positions, and Belichick doesn’t win six rings if he doesn’t have an all-time great at the most important position on the field. But that probably wouldn’t fuel two weeks of sports radio.
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