Whelan and Dealin’

Ben Whelan

At the beginning of their magical run to multiple super-bowls they were billed as the new America’s Team led by a golden boy out of the pages of GQ. They didn’t engage in on field shenanigans, kept their name out of the gossip columns and had a reputation as lunch-pail warriors who showed u[p for work, worked hard, and then went home to their families. Especially in 2001, directly following 9/11, it was a nice story to have the Patriots, the red white and blue team, as a super bowl winner. Their personnel philosophy revolved around character, signing and drafting choir boys who would buy into the system and not cause distractions. In the face of steroids in baseball and the huge PR problems for the NFL and NBA, the Patriots stood out as a shining example of what a professional sports franchise should be.

So how do you reconcile this image of moral superiority and cleanliness with the current state of Patriots nation following CameraGate, the Rodney Harrison HGH suspension and the coaches much publicized off the field high jinks with somebody else’s wife? Has the team changed, did someone cast a voo-doo hex on the team turning them all into cheaters and philanderers?

The answer is simple. This team is and always has been about one thing and one thing only: Winning football games. The measures that they went through to ensure that the Chris Henrys and Pacman Jones’ of the world did not end up on this team were not because they were building an etiquette team, its because those players would have distracted from the teams main goal. The reason that they are so disciplined when dealing with the media is not because the coach is a control freak, but because he believes that it will help them win football games.

In the end, the fact that they win is the reason why we love this team in the first place, not because of their values and excellent manners. The phrase always associated with the Patriots has always been “they win and they play the game the right way”, but fans would be much more reluctant to part with the first part of this phrase than the second. In fact, I would go so far to say that I’m happy that the coach is doing everything he can to win, even if he is pushing the boundaries. As Ladainian Tomlinson facetiously noted at his press conference leading up to the Chargers showdown with the Patriots “If you’re not cheating you’re not trying hard enough”.

So the next time the Patriots do something “out of character”, and they will again before to very long, remember why you love the team. Would you want Tom Brady dating you daughter? Maybe not unless you want grandkids. Do you want marriage counseling from the coach? Probably not. But if you need to win a big game, look no further than the team in Foxborough.