The atmosphere during the first three weeks of New England Patriots spring practices was one of extreme focus and high intensity, with coaches frequently doling out laps and tougue-lashings to players who didn’t follow instructions.
The final week of organized team activities, however, was different.
After wrapping up mandatory minicamp last week, Patriots coach Bill Belichick took his foot off the metaphorical gas, canceling the team’s final two OTAs (scheduled for this Thursday and Friday) and turning Monday’s and Tuesday’s sessions into more fun-filled affairs.
On Monday, the Patriots took a field trip to Fenway Park, where they reportedly spent the day playing cornhole and taking part in other team-building activities. Then, the team closed out its offseason program with a throwback day at Gillette Stadium, according to reports from ESPN.com’s Mike Reiss and The Boston Globe’s Ben Volin.
Here’s how Reiss described Tuesday’s scene, which was not open to the media:
“Specifically, Belichick made Tuesday a wide-ranging history lesson on the roots of football, essentially creating an environment in which players were going back in time. That, of course, meant that there were leather helmets on the practice field, digital clocks covered up in the team meeting room, black-and-white recordings of old football plays shown, and a no-frills lunch menu that resembled what players in the 1930s and 1940s might have eaten (e.g., hamburgers and hot dogs rather than sushi).”
It’s not clear whether these diversions were planned from the beginning of the offseason or formulated after the “Patriots have no fun” narrative picked up steam thanks to quotes from former New England defensive end Cassius Marsh and Philadelphia Eagles offensive tackle Lane Johnson.
Regardless, this all seems like a clear attempt from Belichick and the organization to show that playing for the Patriots isn’t all work, all the time.
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