FOXBORO, Mass. — The New England Patriots had an us-against-the-world mentality even before the Deflategate story broke after last season’s AFC Championship Game. No team in the NFL uses controversy, adversity or criticism as motivation better than the Patriots.
But that’s not their focus early in training camp, they say.
Patriots head coach Bill Belichick was asked before Friday’s practice at Gillette Stadium if he wants to “stick it” to the NFL and commissioner Roger Goodell for the ongoing controversy, and potentially win every game by 50 points this season. The six-time Super Bowl champion said that’s not important to him, however.
“Right now, I’m focused on what we’re doing today, not thinking about the past, not last week, not last year, not some other year,” Belichick said. “We have to prepare our team for the opener, a 16-game regular-season schedule. We really can’t do much of that right now. It’s not the time for it. I’m not going to worry about next month, next year, six years from now, six months from now.
“I know that’s really important to everybody else, but it’s really not very important to me and I don’t think it’s very important to our football team. With all due respect, it’s not something I think about or care about, even though that seems to be really important to everybody else. It’s just not on our radar.”
When the Spygate scandal broke after Week 1 of the 2007 season, the Patriots dominated the rest of the regular season and finished with the only 16-0 record in league history. They set team and individual offensive records and won 10 games by 21 or more points.
This year’s roster doesn’t have the same depth and overall talent as the 2007 squad, but it’s certainly possible Deflategate will give extra motivation to the Patriots when their title defense begins Sept. 10 against the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Players with multiple rings, such as Tom Brady, often use every little piece of criticism to recapture their championship drive and determination. We already know he’s “ticked off” about Deflategate.
Thumbnail photo via Geoff Burke/USA TODAY Sports Images
Thumbnail photo via Aug 5, 2014; Richmond, VA, USA; New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick stands on the field during joint practice with the Washington Redskins on day eleven at the Bon Secours Washington Redskins Training Center. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke/USA TODAY Sports Images