Are the New England Patriots "fun" to play for? Depends on who you ask.
Pittsburgh Steelers defensive end and former Patriot Cassius Marsh made headlines this week by insisting Bill Belichick's team treats players "like crap" and recalling how players didn't get lunch breaks during his tenure in New England.
That outside criticism reached a fever pitch following the 2017 season after the Patriots lost Super Bowl LII. According to New York Giants head coach and former Patriots assistant Joe Judge, that's when wide receiver Julian Edelman took matters into his own hands.
"When we came out of that whole deal in 2017 where it was like ... 'It's not fun, it's this, it's that' ... there was a white grease board on the wall (at Gillette Stadium), and it was blank," Judge recalled to Los Angeles Rams head coach Sean McVay and NFL Network's Peter Schrager on The Ringer's "Flying Coach" podcast.
"He walked in and wrote in the middle of the board, 'Winning is fun.' And it was something everyone read as they walked in every day.
"... He kind of spread the message to the entire team of, 'Hey guys, you want to have fun? Winning is fun. We do everything we can to win here.'"
Judge, who spent eight years in New England as a special teams coach from 2012 to 2019, admitted that coaching and playing for Belichick was no picnic. But he left Foxboro in 2020 with a decidedly different opinion of the organization than Marsh.
"I'll be honest with you: I had more fun in those eight years than I've ever had in the game," Judge said. "It doesn't mean it's not tough. It doesn't mean it's not demanding. But the team culture in those locker rooms, the enjoyment you genuinely have in seeing someone else succeed, the smiles, the hugs...
"They're fun. They're good dudes. The culture's good. And I know on the outside it's doom and gloom, right? That's not the reality inside. It's not. Those guys were tons of fun to coach."
Judge won three Super Bowls during his Patriots tenure -- including a victory over the Los Angeles Rams in Super Bowl LIII after Edelman's "Winning is fun" message -- so we can see why he enjoyed his experience.
Marsh? He made just 19 tackles in nine games for the Patriots in 2017 before they cut him in November.