FOXBORO, Mass. — Trent Brown had heard the rumors.
In the two months before the San Francisco 49ers traded him to the New England Patriots during the 2018 NFL Draft, sports media had been awash in stories about how Foxboro is a decidedly un-fun place to play football.
Brown wanted to keep an open mind, though. The gargantuan offensive tackle didn’t want others’ opinions to shape how he felt about his new team.
Reflecting on that experience nine months later, Brown said it took him no time at all to discover that criticism of The Patriot Way was unfounded.
?Well, of course, I knew you got a chance to win here,” Brown said Wednesday in the Patriots’ locker room. “But another thing that popped into my mind was all the bullcrap that people say about this place. I?ve always been a man that forms my own opinions, and when I got here, I quickly found out that it?s nothing like anybody says.
“It is fun here. I think the guys in the locker room enjoy each other. Everybody in the facility enjoys each other, and we go out there and play for each other every time we touch the field. There?s no selfishness in the locker room. There?s no egos. It?s just one. … It has to contribute a lot (to the team’s success).”
This season has been a great success for both the Patriots — who punched their ticket to Super Bowl LIII with an overtime win over the Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday in the AFC Championship Game — and for Brown himself.
After playing almost exclusively on the right side during his three seasons in San Francisco, the 25-year-old has started every game at left tackle for New England, often exceeding the level of play set by his predecessor, Nate Solder.
Brown and the offensive line as a whole have been downright dominant since mid-December, allowing just two sacks in the Patriots’ last four games (including zero in two playoff contests) and paving the way for Pats running backs to average 145.8 yards per game during that span.
Brown viewed the team’s Week 15 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers — in which he committed two penalties and his fellow O-lineman combined for four more — as a turning point for the unit.
?I don?t think that sat well with any of us,” he said. “It definitely left a bad taste in my mouth. And our preparation has been great over the time since then, and here we are.”
Of the Patriots’ eight rushing touchdowns this postseason, six of them have come on runs to Brown’s side, including Rex Burkhead’s fourth-quarter and overtime scores against the Chiefs.
?I?m always kind of juiced when the ball is coming behind me, but especially on the goal line, because it ain?t a lot of running anybody can do down there,” said Brown, who’s likely to cash in in free agency this spring. “It?s man-on-man football. That?s about as football as it gets, and it?s just fun.?
Brown also has neutralized two stellar pass rushers in Melvin Ingram and Dee Ford since the playoffs began, surrendering one total pressure in the divisional round, one in the AFC title game and zero sacks or quarterback hits in either. He’ll look to continue that success next Sunday against the Los Angeles Rams in his first career Super Bowl appearance.
?I feel like I?ve gotten better each week,” Brown said. “I feel like we all have, separately and as a unit, and it?s showed.?