Hours before the New England Patriots were set to play the Buffalo Bills on Monday night, NFL Media’s Ian Rapoport reported Patriots receiver Josh Gordon would be benched for the first quarter due to tardiness.
The report eventually turned out to be false, as Gordon jogged onto the field for the first play and played in the majority of New England’s 25-6 win. After the game, Bill Belichick deflected questions about the report in his typical fashion and Rapoport explained how the report came to be Thursday.
But if you ask former Patriots executive Michael Lombardi, the report never was believable because it doesn’t fit how New England does business. Lombardi discussed the report and why it “never had legs” on The Ringer’s “GM Street” podcast.
“I’m just telling you if Belichick is going to bench a player, he’s not benching him for two periods, OK?” Lombardi said. “Don’t we remember what happened to Malcolm Butler? Malcolm Butler was there, he didn’t play, OK? Nobody knows what happened to Malcolm Butler just like nobody knows what happened to D.B. Cooper, these are riddles we’re just never going to get solved. But the reality of it is, it’s never in the Patriots’ Motus Operandi that they are going to sit a player for a series and they are going to let it out.
“The Patriots they kept the secret of Malcolm Butler better than any organization in the history of (expletive) football, right? They’ve kept it better than anybody. And now, in Week 8, we’re going to find out that Josh Gordon missed a meeting and he’s going to not play, I mean come on give me a break. People are saying, ‘well the reason Belichick played him is because he wanted to mess with the media.’ Let me say this to you, the last thing Belichick is thinking about is the media.
“He’s thinking about Buffalo and today he’s thinking about Aaron Rodgers coming to town. So he ain’t worried about dicking the media, he’s worried about his team. But that story to me never had legs because that’s not what they do. They would have kept Gordon home if that’s what they would have done. They don’t just sit a guy for a series that’s not what they do.”
Lombardi admitted he wouldn’t be shocked if Gordon had been late for a meeting, but he doesn’t believe he would have traveled with the team had that been the case.
“Would I be surprised if Josh Gordon was late for a meeting? No, he’s been late for 10,000, you know? But up there that’s not how they handle their business. That’s not how they do shit. They don’t, ‘OK, you’re just gonna miss two series here and then we’re going to put you back in.’ No, that’s not what they do. If you’re not healthy your ass is staying home… You only go to the game if you have a purpose at the game in New England. You don’t go there to watch the movie on the plane, have a Snickers bar, have the chicken sandwich and get candy on the way out. That ain’t happening there.”