Was Mac Jones Channeling Tom Brady In This Motivational Message?

Is this an 'FEA' year for the Patriots QB?


Feb 15, 2023

The 2016 season was an “FEA year” for Tom Brady. Mac Jones might be carrying that same energy into 2023.

Last week, Jones posted the following comment on a video shared by Nic Shimonek, a former Texas Tech quarterback who’s training him this offseason:

“Consistency and RE EARN THE RESPECT thru work!!!! #FEA”

It’s not clear what message Jones was trying to convey with that hashtag. But to Brady, those three letters were a motivational mantra that drove him through one of the defining seasons of his career.

The former New England Patriots star adopted it in 2016, as he was preparing to return from the four-game Deflategate suspension he served at the start of that season.

“From the suspension standpoint, once that was over, that was over,” Brady recalled in his “Man in the Arena” docuseries. “That was in the past. I wasn’t going to dwell on that. It was an FEA year. FEA meant ‘(Expletive) ’em all,’ man. They ain’t cheering for you anyway, so you may as well go out there and win. Because we’re going to go please everybody and get everybody to like us by losing? (Expletive) that. We’re not doing that. We’re going to go (expletive) ’em all.”

The 2016 Patriots and their uber-motivated QB bulldozed through their remaining schedule after Brady’s return, winning 14 of their final 15 games and closing with the famed 28-3 comeback against the Atlanta Falcons in Super Bowl LI. Brady, ruthlessly efficient throughout, tossed 12 touchdown passes before his first interception and finished the regular season with just two picks.

Again, we don’t know whether “FEA” means the same thing to Jones as it did to Brady. But the current Patriots signal-caller would have every reason to feel similarly as he enters what could be a make-or-break third season.

The 2022 campaign was a supremely difficult one for Jones, who not only was saddled with poor coaching by the out-of-their-depth duo of Matt Patricia and Joe Judge but also had to hear large swaths of the New England fanbase openly calling for him to lose his job to rookie Bailey Zappe.

Chants of “Za-ppe, Za-ppe” could be heard at nearly every home game after Jones’ October return from a high ankle sprain, aggravating some within New England’s locker room. Prominent former Patriots, including Julian Edelman and Vince Wilfork, also called out Jones for what they viewed as unprofessional on-field behavior as the QB expressed his frustration in frequent NSFW outbursts.

All told, it was a nightmare year for the young passer, though he did shake off his early-season ball-security issues and played some of his best football down the stretch. This season, with experienced coordinator Bill O’Brien now in charge, Jones will be looking to prove that his struggles were more a result of the Patriots’ overall offensive ineptitude than his own abilities.

Thumbnail photo via Jeffrey Becker/USA TODAY Sports Images
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