While it has no clear definition, the “Patriot Way” was a term that was the was frequently used to the describe how the Patriots went about their business since Bill Belichick began coaching this team. What’s their business? Well, to Bill Belichick it means the business of winning football games. Belichick created winning culture by making the players accountable and putting the team first. No one player was bigger than the team and, if someone was out of line, they got a one way ticket out of Foxboro. It was as simple as that. The “Patriot Way” worked and the coach who created the culture was the #1 reason why.
The “Patriot Way” didn’t only work because of Belichick. It worked because their star quarterback, Tom Brady, got right in line with the other players adhered to the system. Despite his amazing talents, Brady was “one of the 53 guys”. He was not the typical superstar. We all have heard the stories about how Brady was the first player at practice. How he set the example for the younger players. Tom Brady put the team first. It was as simple as that.
Then Tom Brady started TB12…
He launched his personal/brand business by using himself as the showcase of the products. It was actually very brilliant from personal business standpoint. He raised his personal game by getting into better shape. And he told all of us – If you use my system, you can get into great shape too. Just look at me.
Patriots fans believed the “Patriot Way” and “TB12”, could coexist. Tom was playing at an elite level as was the team. The Patriots added two more Super Bowl Championship in three years.
Along the way, something changed with the Patriots though. It wasn’t Bill Belichick. He still holds players accountable. He still sends the message of “team first”. However, that message no longer works for the Patriots. It doesn’t work because Tom Brady put his personal brand ahead of the team.
Patriots optional workouts and just that…optional. So, Brady didn’t need to show up. But, in order for the “Patriot Way” to work, he did need to. He needed to set the example for his teammates and he made the decision not to. Not only that, he shoved the “Patriot Way” right in the face of the coach who put him in position to have a successful NFL career.
Last week, the Patriots held OTA’s with the team. Tom Brady was not there. Why? Well, there has been speculation that he needs more rest after a long season. Of course, there are those who say Brady just wants to spend more time with his family. Sounds reasonable for a 40 year old guy, right?
Patriots fans really want to sweep this one under the rug and pretend there is nothing to see here. That their future Hall of Fame quarterback hasn’t changed. That when the season starts, none of this will matter. However, these are the facts:
While the New England Patriots were holding OTA’s late last week, Tom Brady wasn’t present. He was not at home with his kids. He was not resting. Where was he? He was at Gillette Stadium in a bubble throwing passes to Julian Edelman.
To summarize: Tom Brady is no longer putting “team first”. Tom Brady is putting Tom Brady first…and he’s doing it right in the same complex as Bill Belichick, Bob Kraft, and the New England Patriots.
When the Patriots traded Jimmy Garoppolo, Tom Brady gained full leverage with the New England Patriots. He knows this and he’s making a statement that he no longer need to adhere to the “Patriots Way”. It’s now the “TB12” Way.
The guy who showed up first practice not only is no longer there early…he isn’t even showing up. He’s doing it on his own within footsteps of where his team is getting ready for their season. The “Patriots Way” ended with that.