The “Patriot Way” has become a thing of lore in New England over the past two decades. Ushered in under the guidance of Bill Belichick, that specific saying has been used to describe many things, but perhaps no one (who is willing) can explain it better than Bill’s son, Patriots assistant Steve Belichick.
“For me personally, I just like it to be fair…” Belichick said on Chris Long’s “Green Light” podcast. “If their the best player here then they’re going to play. We try and do that to the best of our ability and not overcommit to somebody because of the investment we put in them, but give them a chance to go out and compete. And if they are the best, then let them go play.”
Belichick’s words of fairness may not ring true to everyone who’s stepped foot in Foxborough, but the practice of not overcommitting to players based off of investment was extremely evident in 2021.
Jonnu Smith received more money than Hunter Henry in the 2021 offseason to join New England, yet ended the year with just over half the targets. Devin Asiasi and Dalton Keene were third-round draft picks in 2020 and have combined for just five catches over two seasons., Ronnie Perkins, Josh Uche and N’Keal Harry are all top-100 draft picks and struggled to find playing time over the course of their young careers. All examples that lend credence to Belichick’s statement being true.
When asked about examples of players who embodied that definition of the ‘Patriot Way,’ Malcolm Butler came up.
“Malcolm is the perfect patriot way guy to me,” Long said. ” He made one of the biggest plays in franchise history. He also had to sit down in a Super Bowl, on short notice. That’s the full range of emotions about how it’s about what you’re doing right now.”
Butler’s return brought up questions regarding that Super Bowl LII benching, but Belichick had nothing but nice things to say about Butler.
“We got a bunch of good guys in the building, so it’s always exciting when they come back.”