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The Real Football Players Of New England

Every week, there’s some new story of dysfunction.

April 10, 2018 - 11:31 am
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It’s April 10th. Five months from today, Monday Night Football will take place and we’ll be wrapping up Week One of the NFL season. When you think of it in those terms, it doesn’t seem that long. When you think of it in New England Patriots storyline terms, it’s a very, very long time. An extremely long time. 

Because every week, there’s some new story of dysfunction. Malcolm Butler isn’t playing in the Super Bowl. Josh McDaniels is becoming the Colts head coach. Gronk is retiring. Josh McDaniels isn’t becoming the Colts head coach. Tom Brady’s contract. Gronk is being traded. Butler’s leaving in free agency. So is Nate Solder, Dion Lewis, and Danny Amendola. Brandin Cooks is actually traded. And that’s all in the last two months. The organization with the least amount of drama ever has turned into The Real Football Players of New England.

And here’s the latest one: The Boston Herald reported over the weekend that back in training camp, Bill Belichick “chastised Gronk in front of the players for being a TB12 client, according to a source.” 

Tom Curran backed that up by tweeting: Source told me that, during camp, when Gronk was performing poorly, he was called out in front of team for being ineffective. Change in regimen was derisively referred to as the reason. This was big part of Gronk's irritation that lasted all year.

Of course it was. 

Between the reports that Brady and Gronk’s trainer, Alex Guerrero was banned from the sideline and team plane, the ESPN report that centered around Brady’s relationship with Guerrero and the TB12 Method, and then the rumors of Gronk being irritated and contemplating retirement, and now this, you know, I’m starting to get the sense that Bill Belichick isn’t all that cool with Alex Guerrero. In fact, it seems like he hates him and that a lot of the issues in New England point back to the relationship between Guerrero and Patriots players. And I’m not exactly sure why that is.

I get that the Patriots have a training staff that clearly Belichick likes or he wouldn’t have them there. And that Belichick is probably old school in his approach to strength and conditioning and he probably doesn’t want his guys bolting that staff for some guy who’s advocating a different method and something that he probably thinks is pretty wacky. 

BUT…that guy with the wacky techniques is training your 40-year-old quarterback who just won the MVP. And considering that Gronk came back from back surgery to post a 1,000-yard season, and says he hasn’t felt this good in a long time, means the guy Belichick thinks is a quack as a found to keep Gronk on the field as well, something that’s never easy. Granted, Guerrero’s methods do seem a little odd, and dude does have a sketchy background, but maybe Drinking all that water, avoiding nightshades, focusing on flexibility, and getting all those rubdowns might actually be working. 

Sure, Gronk didn’t have the best camp ever and he knew it, but that might have had something to do with the fact that he was coming back from back surgery and not who was rubbing all that lotion on him or why?

And maybe this isn’t about Guerrero’s methods not working because they clearly do; his two best players swear by him. Maybe this is more about the Hood resent that he got his authority jacked. That his players aren’t listening to him or doing what he’s telling them to do. Two high profile players pushing for different rules and different methods isn’t exactly the Patriot Way. Especially if they’re recruiting other teammates to the cult, errrr method. But if it works, why does Belichick have such an issue: after all, availability is the best ability, and his best players were able to stay on the field last year and in large part they credit Guerrero for it. But this sort of dysfunction and airing it out in the media every week is helping anyone; in fact, it’s like the most un-patriot thing ever. Belichick is fighting a losing battle here, something he is not accustomed to in Foxboro.

Every week, there’s a new story and most of them are fill-in the blank stories: Belchick is angry at [INSERT PLAYER NAME] for [INSERT REASON]. And frequently the [INSERT REASON] section is about stretching and mobility with Alex Guerrero.  

The point is: Brady and Gronk like what they’re getting from Alex and it’s pretty hard to argue with the results. So why doesn’t Belichick let it go? Because that is a really strange hill to fight much less die on. It would be one thing if these methods were ruining your stars, but they’re making them feel good and they’re playing pretty well. So why are you aggravating your hall of fame players when they’re doing everything they can to get ready for the upcoming season and stay on the field. 

Again, I know that easing off and allowing this to happen goes against every fiber of Belichick’s being, but what’s more important here: keeping the Hall of Fame quarterback and tight end happy? Or it being your way or the highway. Sure, you’ve run guys off before, but do you really want to run off your best remaining two players and kill what’s left of that dynasty. 

Is it really worth risking this dynasty with a fight over a trainer? I’d say no, but for Belichick, maybe it is. Stand down Hood. Stand down.

In fact, why don’t you just lighten up and let Guerrero rub some of that magic potion on you and feed some avocado ice cream. If it works for TB 12, it ought to be good enough for HC 1.