Lockport Union-Sun & Journal — In the frustrated land of the Buffalo Bills, I put forth that the New England Patriots offer a lesson that every person can learn from. When you look at a franchise like the Patriots, you start to think that maybe excuses and settling for less in any situation should be completely unacceptable.
I am not pointing blame at any one person, nor am I making light of any serious situation, but when was the last time you heard of a New England Patriot being arrested for drunk driving, dealing with drugs or shooting up a nightclub? The closest I could find was the comments Randy Moss made to the media about his pending contract negotiations with New England just two days before he was released from the team.
You never get sound bites from Patriots’ players about anything, you never see Patriots’ wide receivers getting face time on media outlets for doing something stupid and there isn’t one casual football fan who can name at least two Patriots’ running backs.
Since Tom Brady took over as the starting quarterback in 2001, the Patriots have missed the playoffs only twice. For one of those seasons, Brady missed the entire season with an injury and the team still finished 11-5. In most seasons, 11-5 would be enough for at least a wild card spot. But in that season, it fell just short.
The New England Patriots have created an environment where winning and professionalism is everything. If a player openly spouts off about his contract negotiations, that player is cut. Even if that player is an extremely effective wide receiver like Randy Moss. Wide receiver Wes Welker took some shots at Jets’ head coach Rex Ryan’s foot fetish in a press conference a couple of years ago and was instantly reprimanded by his coach, Bill Belichick.
The Patriots players never discuss contract issues with the media and no one, including Belichick, gives the media any outrageous prediction quotes that can be put on the bulletin board in the other team’s locker room. The Patriots trash talk by not saying a word at all. New England does its talking on the field, and that is enough to gain the respect of any NFL player or coach.
The Patriots also have an offensive system in place where Tom Brady is the cornerstone and everything works out from him. The Patriots make sure to have an all-world offensive line to protect Brady and open up holes in the running game. From there, the Patriots can put any NFL caliber wide receiver, running back or tight end in its system and the system works.
Players dream of playing for the New England Patriots. Once a player is in New England, he follows the rules so he can stay in New England. Why? Because New England is a winning franchise. New England is the polar opposite to what is going on with the New York Jets and our own beloved Buffalo Bills.
New England has created an organization that the fans can be proud of and that the fans want to support. The Patriots’ fans would sell out Gillette Stadium even if the game were held at 5:00AM on a Tuesday morning. It doesn’t matter because the fans know that they have a winning team.
It all starts at the top. If Robert Kraft didn’t care and just wanted to pull a profit, like some owners we all know, then the Patriots would be just another team struggling to stay .500. Kraft insists on professionalism and excellence, and Belichick delivers.
Does the Patriots’ organization have a little more money to spend on coaching than the Bills? Sure it does. But Bill Belichick is a dedicated coach that took a low paying job with the Cleveland Browns early in his career just to get into NFL coaching. When Belichick took the job with the Patriots, he was not a marquee coach. As the Patriots kept winning, Belichick’s stock rose and so did his salary. The fortunes of the franchise rose right along with him.
When an organization is dedicated to winning, it will do its homework to find leadership that will get the job done. You don’t need a Bill Cowher or John Gruden to have a winning football team. You just need a coach that knows his job and wants to work at being successful. Chan Gailey wants to work at being successful, but he doesn’t know his job.
The next Bill Belichick is out there, waiting to be discovered. The real Bill Belichick could take our team and turn it into a division champion. The talent is here. Yes, even at quarterback. The problem is that, to the current ownership (whoever that may be), turning a profit is adequate.George N Root III is a Lockport resident, Buffalo Bills fan and New England Patriots admirer. His column appears every Wednesday, just like clockwork, because that would make Coach Belichick proud. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, but he doesn't deal in trash talking.