Everybody OK with what the local football team is doing these days?
NOTE TO the New England Patriots: Haters gonna hate!
Most of it is jealousy over your being the No. 1 franchise in modern sports history. But do the Patriots HAVE to make it easy to dislike them?
When I was a kid growing up in New York, I despised, in no particular order, the Boston Celtics, New York Yankees, Green Bay Packers and Montreal Canadiens. The reason? They were all great, better than the teams I was rooting for.
But, at least to my recollection, they didn’t do some of the things the Patriots have now become known for as Bill Belichick continues to thumb his nose at the rest of the NFL.
Much of it is old news, but Sunday’s 43-0 rout of the horrible Dolphins, again kicked it all into high gear.
First, the Pats go out and sign another troubled wide receiver, this time adding Antonio Brown minutes after he worked his way out of Oakland. Then, of course, the sexual assault charges emerged, the league decided not to place him on the commissioner’s exempt list, Belichick rushes him into action and the highly talented receiver did what you expect him to do — catch passes and bury the opposition.
Which brings us to the other point: burying the opposition.
Did Tom Brady really have to be on the field in a 37-0 game late? And while he’s out there, did he really have to throw the ball deep against a washrag defense that had long before melted in the Florida sun?
Pure and simple: They were rubbing it in.
As FS1’s Jason Whitlock tweeted: “Good thing Bill Belichick took it easy on his friend Brian Flores. Bill would run it up on his grandmother.”
This is not the first time they’ve done this. It won’t be the last. Pats fan have to hope the next time isn’t the one some backup linebacker falls on Brady’s leg and snaps it like a well-tuned 42-year-old twig.
Doing his regular Monday WEEI spot, Brady defended the move, saying his team needed the work in its bid to keep getting better, work that figures to come with the Jets next on the soft start to the schedule.
Asked if he thought about sitting with a 37-0 lead, Brady, alluding to the bad things that have happened to his team in Miami, said, “No. We talked about 60 minutes of football because of the history down there and last year, like we said, it took all 60 minutes and we didn’t close it out. I think we talked all week about it being a 60-minute game. So, that was just a good way to finish. We scored on offense, got an interception on defense.
“And all this, early in the year, we’re trying to improve. We’re trying to, I wouldn’t say we’re in midseason form. We still have a lot of work to improve so the more reps we get, the better it is for all us. We have a lot of football to go. So, this is the early stages of the season. We’re out there to play football. That’s what my job is and I’m going to go out there and try to do it.”
Pure and simple, they were rubbing it in.
By the way, the transcript of Belichick’s Monday media conference didn’t include any questions about running up the score.
Meanwhile, the league is investigating Brown. And Sports Illustrated came out with a lengthy piece Monday trashing Brown with the sub-headline: “Exclusive: Accusations range from a previously untold account of sexual misconduct, a charity auction theft, multiple domestic incidents, and a long list of unpaid debts. Numerous conversations with people who have dealt with Brown, as well as reviews of court and police documents from three states, paint a disturbing picture.”
In the piece, which was based on interviews “with more than two dozen people,” the charges leveled by his former trainer after the sides apparently weren’t able to reach a financial settlement were just one of the troubling incidents concerning the new darling of Foxborough — including “run-ins with the police.” Brown is also portrayed as one who doesn’t pay his debts.
Robert Klemko wrote, in conclusion: “On Sunday, Brown joined the Patriots’ huddle for their second offensive play of a 43-0 blowout of the Dolphins in Miami. As the crowd buzzed, he lined up in the left slot and caught an 18-yard pass from Brady, one of his four catches — including a touchdown — in his Patriots debut. He may win a Super Bowl in New England. He may not. He may face consequences brought on by those who say he has mistreated and deceived them. He may not.
“Considering his behavior over the past three years, the only certainty is that Antonio Brown will remain in a white-hot spotlight of his own creation.”
Clearly, the addition of Brown (even with the possibility his stay could be short, depending on the NFL) makes the Patriots a better team. As NBC Sports’ Peter King wrote Monday, “Antonio Brown has hijacked the first two weeks of pro football’s 100th season, and not much should change this week as allegations of assault against him are investigated by the league. In other news, he’s a good football player. He dominated a couple of series at Miami with four days of practice on a new team. If he plays, he easily could be a redux of the 2007 Randy Moss in New England.”
Other NFL notes …
King named Belichick coach of the week, saying, “Two straight years he’s lost his defensive chiefs (Matt Patricia, Flores), and in the first two games of the season, New England has held Pittsburgh and (Triple-A) Miami to three points in eight quarters.” …
While the Patriots have embarrassed the Steelers and Dolphins by a combined 76-3, Flores has lost his first two games, both at home, as a head coach with Miami by a combined 102-10. …
Meanwhile, it was a big day for the Pats QB fraternity: Brady, Jimmy Garoppolo and Jacoby Brissett combined to go 54-for-81 for 707 yards, eight touchdowns and two interceptions while going 3-0. …
CBS analyst Nate Burleson, during the pre-game “proper or overreaction” segment, said the Patriots going undefeated was “proper.”
Finally, a bad day for both Stephen Gostkowski and Adam Vinatieri, but the latter, who will turn 47 in December, was reportedly set to finally end his long Hall of Fame career. From Stephen Holder of The Athletic: “Just grabbed Adam Vinatieri as he headed to the bus (Sunday). He said “you’ll hear from me tomorrow.” I told him we don’t see him tomorrow. And he said, “Yeah, you will.”
As King wrote: “Surely he has to be crushed by his recent performance. But his legacy, regardless what this week brings, will end with a yellow jacket and bronze bust.”
Mike Shalin covers Boston pro sports for the New Hampshire Union Leader and Sunday News. His email address is firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @mscotshay.