The Dolphins’ bullying scandal has led to a leaguewide concern over similar issues in locker rooms around the NFL. The Patriots apparently don’t have such a problem.
Tom Brady is the singular voice of the Patriots’ players, and he was sympathetic toward the Dolphins’ current situation during an interview with WEEI’s Dennis and Callahan on Tuesday morning, but he couldn’t draw any connections between that atmosphere and the one in the Patriots’ locker room.
“It’s an unfortunate thing,” Brady said. “There’s been a lot of awareness brought to the situation, based on what’s happened down in Miami. But that’s their issue to deal with. It’s certainly not an issue that any of us Patriots want to deal with. We’re not really concerned with that, to tell you the truth. We’re concerned with how we’re going to do our best to prepare to prepare for the biggest challenge of our year this week.”
The Patriots under Bill Belichick haven’t had many malcontents in the locker room, but the ones they have they’ve dealt with swiftly. Adalius Thomas started having some issues with leadership in 2009 and he was gone by the next spring. A year later, Randy Moss got wrapped up in some foolishness and was traded away a few weeks later. And Aaron Hernandez, well we all know his situation at this point. And the Patriots were quick to cut him once news of his arrest broke.
Belichick doesn’t stand for any nonsense or bad behavior in the locker room, as he’s more interested in building a successful, winning culture, and Brady knows that starts with the character of the guys on the team.
“We’ve had a pretty good record of success because of the character and quality of the individuals in the locker room,” Brady said. “That’s been most important to Mr. [Robert] Kraft, coach Belichick, bringing guys in and say, ‘What kind of person is this? How will they fit into the locker room? Are they a Patriot kind of player, which is really putting the team first and going out there and helping us win games, playing your role, doing whatever the coach asks you to do to win.
“We don’t want to do anything to misrepresent what’s going on in our locker room, we want to be good role models, we want to win football games. And I think that’s what it comes down to. We show up every day trying to do our job and really not let anything else get in the way of that. Because if there’s issues in your locker room, if there’s issues that are outside of the realm of your own opponent that you’re dealing with, it just takes away from what you’re trying to accomplish. Coach Belichick has always done a great job of keeping the players focused on our opponent, and that’s where our energy needs to go.
Like many teams around the league, the Patriots have some fun with rookie hazing — spraying some with water after practice and even giving out some haircuts — but Brady is adamant that it’s all done for fun and to try and bring the team closer together.
“I know we always cut the guys’ hair,” Brady said of the team’s hazing ritual. “It’s a fun thing, its a camaraderie thing, it’s kind of a group sacrifice, we’re-all-in-it-together type of thing, and it’s done in a playful way. Hopefully it’s never done out of disrespect, and it’s done as more to bring the team together and not drive the team apart.
“The veteran players set the tone, the younger players follow. That’s what creates really a strong cohesive locker room where you love the guys that you play with, you’re willing to commit yourself and sacrifice your own well-being for what’s in the best interest of the team. And that’s how you go out and win games.”
The Patriots’ recent track record, making the playoffs nine of the last 10 years, pitted against that of the Dolphins, who have made just one playoff appearance in the last 12 years, should be proof enough of the differences between the two cultures.