FOXBORO, Mass. — Deflategate wasn’t a word used publicly by New England Patriots players very often this past season, but the offseason spectacle always was looming over the team.
Even a year after the Patriots allegedly used under-inflated footballs in the AFC Championship Game, the scandal was motivation for those who work alongside quarterback Tom Brady each and every day. It was a long and tumultuous offseason for the four-time Super Bowl winner, but everything he went through had a rallying effect for the team.
“Certainly (what Brady went through this year) was a motivating factor for us,” Patriots special teams captain Matthew Slater said Monday. “But I think it wasn’t just for him, it was for the whole football team. And a lot of guys went through a lot this year. Maybe not as highly publicized as what Tom went through, but a lot of guys went through things.
“And obviously Tom’s situation was motivation for us, but the ultimate team motivation was a lot bigger than that.”
The ultimate goal and motivation of winning another Super Bowl is out of reach following the Patriots’ 20-18 loss against the Denver Broncos on Sunday in the AFC Championship Game, but there’s something to be said for how far the team made it.
“There were only four teams playing (Sunday), so I think there’s a lot to be said for what we were able to accomplish and where we got ourselves,” Slater said.
And with the Deflategate appeal scheduled for early March, maybe there will be some carryover motivation for next season.
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