When the Eagles (only) beat the Patriots (because Bill Belichick sat Malcolm Butler) in the Super Bowl, Philadelphia (right) tackle Lane Johnson famously called the Pats a "fear-based organization" and said that he'd rather have fun and win one title than be miserable and win five.
Boy, did Patriots fans hate that. They called the Eagles clowns. They called Johnson weak.
Well, those same Patriots fans had better root heavily against the Bucs this season, because it looks like a couple Patriots legends are embracing the ol' Johnson mantra.
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After the Patriots didn't want to pay him, Tom Brady settled for the Bucs, who were one of two (2!) teams to offer him a contract in free agency. One could imagine that one of the draws, aside from "they offered him a contract," was that Bruce Arians is known to be a chill-ass dude who runs a much looser ship (no pun intended) than Bill Belichick.
Now, Rob Gronkowski, who is on record of saying he was physically, mentally and emotionally worn down towards the end in New England, has come out of retirement to play for the Bucs and only the Bucs.
OK, Patriots fans: Are you with Belichick or against him?
Because while Brady didn't walk out on you (he simply signed with one of the two teams interested in him), Gronk sure as hell did, and now they're set to have a time that falls more in line with Johnson's thinking than Belichick's.
And if it works? Hoo baby. If the freaking Bucs go on and win a title while doing root beer floats during games? It would be against everything Patriots fans have shoved in everyone else's faces.
"We're smarter and work harder than everyone else" is an energy that has propelled Patriots fans for 20 years now.
But if the two best players in franchise history —they are; there's no debate — go and ditch that for "win or lose, we booze" (which is something said by both ninth graders and their new head coach)? That's a tough pill to swallow.
So this is going to be weird. Brady in Tampa was always going to be weird, but now it's Brady and Gronk doing the Arians thing.
Here's where Patriots fans' ride-or-die affection towards Belichick the genius gets put to the test.