In case there was any confusion, I’m Team Belichick.
And as we get closer to Training Camp for the 2018 NFL season, I’m becoming more adamant than ever before that Bill Belichick needs to take his team back. I just never thought I’d be turning my back on Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski in the process.
On second thought, who’s turning their back on who here?
ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported this week that Brady has not committed to playing in 2018. All the while, Gronkowski is reportedly still contemplating retirement.
Honestly, if you told me Vince McMahon was calling the shots right now in Foxboro, I’d believe you. This whole thing has a WWE feel to it. The storyline is wild. They’re keeping us guessing. The build-up to this rivalry can only mean one thing: Brady and Gronkowski vs Belichick and Robert Kraft at WrestleMania 35 next year at MetLife Stadium, with Jimmy Garoppolo as the special guest referee.
Seriously though, I can’t read this Schefter report on Brady’s “commitment” to 2018 — or lack thereof — and not think of Hulk Hogan hitting Randy Savage with the leg drop heard ‘round the world back in 1996 at “Bash at the Beach,” to which, color commentator Bobby “The Brain” Heenan yelled, “Hulk Hogan has betrayed WCW!”
That was the night the nWo was formed and professional wrestling changed forever.
I get it, this is the NFL we’re talking about, and Brady isn’t about to storm into Belichick’s office to spray paint “TB12” on his coach’s back after he knocks him out cold. But I’ll keep refreshing instagram just in case.
As I write this, Brady has not made an appearance at the Patriots’ voluntary offseason workouts. Gronkowski has also been absent. And it all comes on the heels of now-former Patriot Danny Amendola crying to ESPN’s Mike Reiss in the back seat of an Uber last weekend, calling out Belichick for not playing Malcolm Butler in the Super Bowl and for not wanting to pay his players.
I say “crying” because that’s what it was. I understand his frustrations on Butler being benched, but at some point, we all need to just move on.
Amendola is only upset because he knows he’s replaceable. That was never more evident than when he signed a two-year, $12 million deal with the Miami Dolphins in March. The Patriots wouldn’t match that contract, because, again, he’s replaceable. And I got news for him, so is Butler.
People forget that Belichick picked Butler up off the street, as an undrafted free agent. Without an opportunity in New England, the NFL world might not even know who Butler is.
But then there’s Brady and Gronkowski. I don’t consider them to be just any old spokes on the wheel. They help keep the machine running. Brady more so than Gronkowski, because after all, the Patriots did win a Super Bowl without Gronkowski two years ago.
Both Brady and Gronkowski are under contract, so verbal “commitments” shouldn’t be necessary. But these reports are only coming out because the players are obviously making sure this “news” is leaked. And it’s clear that Brady and Gronkowski would like Belichick to suddenly alter the way he handles business and submit to their personal demands.
To that, I say, enough is enough. You’re either committed or you’re not. The Patriot Way is about much more than on-field production. But now, two of the organization’s greatest players who have thrived under that Patriot Way are ignoring the sign on the wall at Gillette Stadium which reads, “If you don’t want to be here, you don’t have to be.”
And to be clear, I’m not asking Belichick to take that sign down. I’m demanding that he buy a bigger frame.
Listen to “The Danny Picard Show” at dannypicard.com. Follow him on Twitter @DannyPicard.