(Reuters) – Few teams have faced controversy over recent years to the extent of the New England Patriots, and none have enjoyed their measure of success, which quarterback Tom Brady credits to “brainwashing” by coach Bill Belichick.
Brady, who has won four Super Bowl rings with Belichick and will be playing in his seventh NFL title game on Feb. 5 against the Atlanta Falcons, said the culture cultivated by the coach required players to block out distractions and focus on the job.
“Ignoring the noise, the positive things people may be saying about you, or the negative things people may say about you. Just believing in yourself and not making excuses,” Brady said on his weekly WEEI radio appearance on the Kirk and Callahan Show.
This season, the Patriots overcame the league’s four-game suspension of Brady stemming from a plot to deflate footballs used in the AFC title game two years ago.
Two years ago, the Patriots blocked out the noise over ‘Deflategate’ to beat the Seattle Seahawks in the Super Bowl.
In 2013 they dealt with the arrest and subsequent murder conviction of their tight end Aaron Hernandez.
Six years before that, Belichick was fined $500,000 and the Patriots lost a first-round draft pick after an investigation found New England had videotaped an opponent’s signals on the sidelines in what became known as ‘Spygate.’
Beyond all that, they have navigated through the mundane ups-and-downs of injuries and bad calls, reaching 11 AFC title games in the Brady-Belichick era practicing the Patriot Way of stressing personal accountability and a business-like approach.
“There’s always an excuse you can build into why you lose a game. ‘We’re only playing on six days rest, we have this person hurt, or we didn’t get that call,'” Brady said. “There are a million of them.
“I think our coach does a great job of never buying into the B.S. He never makes it about one player. He never makes it about one play. He never makes it about one call, or one situation.
“He never lets his foot off the gas pedal so when it comes to our team, you’re brainwashed. That’s just the way it goes.”
(Reporting by Larry Fine in New York; Editing by Andrew Both)