“The Patriot Way” might be synonymous with Bill Belichick’s tenure with the New England Patriots and has been oft-repeated this week, but the legendary head coach isn’t really sure what that phrase even means.
Belichick and the Patriots are in the infancy of their most recent reclamation project after they swooped in to sign superstar receiver Antonio Brown following his messy divorce from the Oakland Raiders.
Scooping up “damaged goods” is nothing new for Belichick in Foxboro, with names like Corey Dillon and Randy Moss standing out as the most successful makeovers. The idea is that Belichick brings in the supposedly troubled players and gets them to buy into his system. If they don’t skate their lanes, he sends them packing.
Somewhere along the line, “The Patriot Way” moniker was born, and everyone just believes there’s some sort of secret sauce for Belichick to get any and every player to fall in line amid the quest for NFL domination.
Pressed Tuesday on a conference call with Miami reporters, however, Belichick claimed ignorance about the so-called “Patriot Way.”
Question: We hear a lot about the Patriot Way. How do you define your culture and what you’ve tried to establish up there in New England?
Belichick: “Yeah, I don’t know that I’ve ever used that term,” Belichick said Tuesday. “I’m not really sure what that is either. I appreciate you asking about it though, but I don’t know. It’s a good question.”
Longtime journalist and author Mark Leibovich — who is a Boston native and Patriots fan — wrote a book chronicling the inner-workings of the NFL with a heavy focus on the Patriots. Most notably, Leibovich tried to tackle the sometimes tricky relationship among Belichick, Patriots owner Robert Kraft and quarterback Tom Brady. You could say he’s fairly plugged in.
So it was interesting to see Leibovich weigh in Tuesday with a tweet of his own reacting to Belichick’s quote.
“He totally hates that term,” Leibovich tweeted Tuesday. “Mocks it, cringes at it, seethes over it … ”
It’s hard to tell whether Leibovich knows that from his reporting, is just doing some informed speculation or perhaps it’s a little in both buckets.
If that’s the way Belichick truly feels — his quote Tuesday does nothing to dispel the notion — it’s definitely not shocking. Belichick doesn’t seem like a guy who’s too big on catchphrases and the like, short of “We do what’s best for the football team,” which really is a simpler, more boring way of saying “The Patriot Way.”
In that regard, everything certainly checks out.
Thumbnail photo via Greg M. Cooper/USA TODAY Sports Images