FOXBORO, Mass. — This Thursday likely will be a snow day for many in eastern Massachusetts, as a severe winter storm — a terrifying-sounding “Bomb Cyclone” — is expected to hit the region.
Not for the New England Patriots, though. They’ll be hard at work preparing for whichever opponent they’ll face next Saturday in the divisional round of the NFL playoffs.
And attendance, of course, is mandatory.
“Snow doesn’t matter,” Patriots safety and co-captain Duron Harmon said Wednesday. “You’ve got to find a way to get here. So just be prepared. Maybe wake up a little bit earlier to make sure that your car is good to get out, or maybe you need to get some time to shovel.
“Just make sure that you’ve got enough time to get here, because these days are too important for us to have guys missing or being late and being a distraction. We need everybody here and ready to go.”
The most famous instance of players failing to heed this warning came in 2009, when wide receiver Randy Moss, defensive end Derrick Burgess and linebackers Gary Guyton and Adalius Thomas all were sent home after showing up late on a snowy December morning.
“What do you do?” Thomas told reporters the following day in a now-legendary media scrum. “It’s not the Jetsons, I can’t jump up and just fly. What the heck am I supposed to do?”
Safety Devin McCourty saw that interview on ESPN when he was a senior at Rutgers. When the Patriots drafted him in the first round the following year, he made sure to find an apartment close to Gillette Stadium.
“I knew not to come late,” McCourty said Wednesday. “I found a couple nice places that were about 15, 20 minutes away my rookie year, but I was like, ‘Uhh, I’ll do the (one that’s) three minutes away.’ ”
By his point, most Patriots players are well-aware of Belichick’s no-nonsense approach. But the coach still makes sure they don’t forget.
“He’s mentioned it, that he doesn’t care (about the weather),” said McCourty, a Patriots co-captain since 2011. “Don’t call and say your car got stuck. He would say, ‘I think everyone knows there’s two hotels up here at Patriot Place, so stay there for a night. Find a way.’ But I tell guys to wake up earlier, especially if you don’t have a garage or something. Wake up, go clean your car out.”
Added fellow co-captain Matthew Slater: “We all know there’s weather. Coach has mentioned that several times to the team. So I wouldn’t want to be the guy who is late (Thursday).”
If anyone is, he might not have a job with the Patriots for much longer.
“Guys know that (New England) is the one place where, no matter what time of the year it is, if it’s not going well, you’ll get fired,” McCourty said. “The goal every day is not to get fired. So guys know that.”
According to forecasts, Thursday’s storm could dump up to a foot of snow on the Foxboro area.