Here in the greater Foxboro/Bill Belichick region of the country, boredom never seems to last for any stretch longer than, say, 12 hours. Whether it’s a shocking roster move, an unforgettable football game, an unsuspected appearance in the news, or any other of the 9 million various events that take place in the general orbit of Gillette Stadium, we are never short on captivating storylines, now are we?
To prove that, we could look at any sequence of events that has played out since Mo Lewis rocked Drew Bledsoe along the sideline one fateful late-September afternoon in 2001. We could analyze a variety of swings over the past 20 years.
In a span of just two days, the Patriots experienced and celebrated more dramatic developments than a midday soap opera.
–After the world marveled at the rapid unraveling of Antonio Brown, Belichick simultaneously shocked everybody and nobody by wasting zero time in signing the all-world wide receiver. Where most NFL teams seek to avoid “DISTRACTIONS” or circus sideshows, Belichick rushed to welcome it all into his building and his program.
In New England? Anyone who hasnt already done an ingenuous 180 on Brown might only be waiting until his first appearance in a Patriots uniform, perhaps as early as Week 2 in Miami. The last time the Patriots played the Dolphins there, they were the victim of a last-second miracle. As the 2019 season gets ready to begin, they benefited from a different sort of surprise, delivering them one of the leagues most commanding — and belittled — players right into laps already sagging from the weight of their jewelry.
–For the sixth time since 2002, Gillette Stadium played host to a banner unveiling celebration. This year’s party featured the standard fanfare and the welcoming of Patriots legends of the distant and recent past, as the Patriots officially docked their supertanker alongside the Steelers as the only NFL teams with six Super Bowl victories to their name. The difference, of course, is that the Steelers won their championships between 1974 and 2008. The Patriots’ titles were won between 2001 and 2018.
–The Patriots then went out and reminded the football world that, yes, unfortunately, they’re still the Patriots. Despite playing nothing close to a perfect game, they rolled right over those Steelers 33-3. The immortal Tom Brady threw for 341 yards, three touchdowns, and zero interceptions. Julian Edelman caught passes, threw a pass and picked up a first down on the ground. As he shared on Instagram over the weekend, the America’s Worst Nightmare Tour is off to a rousing start.
Not that it was needed, but the 48 hours or so of pure mayhem was just the latest reminder that life in Foxboro is not like life in most NFL locales.
At the same time, you’d never know it based on the postgame press conference of the 67-year-old Bill Belichick.
Its not like Brown was found on the scrap heap like a handful of other Belichick projects. Randy Moss and Corey Dillion were additions purchased on the decline. Albert Haynesworth was a gamble on par with hitting on 21. Chad Johnson/Ochocinco was a Hail Mary that turned out to be a a season of penance for the yakker, who seemingly had a firmer understanding of anything besides the Patriots playbook.
Belichick was, as expected, the same stoic presence at the podium on Sunday night as he’s always been. Being that the Brown move is not yet “official” (in the sense that Belichick never gave the green light to “officially” announce it), the Patriots’ mastermind had little to say about the addition of the most-discussed lightning rod in the NFL.
“Yeah, no,” Belichick said when asked to comment on the addition of Brown. “I’ll talk about the game and the players that are on our team. I thought they did a great job tonight.”
When asked a few minutes later by a different reporter to comment on the transaction, Bill’s response was brief.
The circus act is coming to Foxsborough, the same one Patriots fans derided and rolled their eyes at from afar in the past. Frostbitten feet? Hot air balloons? Refusing to wear his helmet? All before Week 1 of the preseason? Yeah, good luck with that, Raiders. Idiots.
Brady, though, finally opened the floodgates when it came to talking about the controversial addition of Brown, who forced his way off the Steelers last winter and forced his way off the Raiders this summer.
FOXSBOROUGH — At least, thats what the destination reads on Antonio Browns Instagram feed, where a caricatured vision of Bill Belichick is driving the bus to the wide receivers next home in the National Football League.
“I think everybody’s excited to add great players. It helps everybody when you have great players that are sharing the burden of a tough football season. I think, like anything else, whether it was Josh last year or Phillip when he got here a few years ago late, and then this year Antonio, how much can you learn and process and get in here? And we’re all going to work hard and try to get up to speed as fast as possible,” Brady said after career victory No. 238 (regular and postseason combined). “We’re all excited to have him. All I could say is we’re just going to work as hard as we possibly can to get up to speed as quickly as possible.”
Prior to the game, news leaked of Brady being “one million percent in” on the acquisition, to the point where he’s willing to bunk up with Brown in Brookline.
Call it a rushed inaccuracy by Browns social media team, if you will, a harried post in the midst of a wild Saturday afternoon.
“That was a personal conversation with RKK,” Brady said of his conversation with owner Robert Kraft. “I guess I gotta reevaluate … I gotta tell him.”
When asked how he will help Brown assimilate quickly, Brady chose to look at his current situation as a quarterback’s dream.
“Antonio’s had a lot of production, Demaryius [Thomas] has had a lot of production, Julian’s had a lot of production, Josh [Gordon] has had a lot of production, Phillip [Dorsett] had a great game tonight. So, the point is we’ve got a lot of players that are talented and we’ve just got to figure out how to make it all work,” Brady said. “We’re going to work hard. It’s a long year. It’s the beginning of a long marathon and the NFL’s very competitive and it’s going to be a great challenge, but I think we’re all looking forward to it.”
The Patriots are certainly looking forward to it. Those in this great nation who would prefer to see the Patriots stop winning football games might not be.
And perhaps the greatest development of all is that the most recent chapter of his ever-captivating tale is just beginning. Brown still has to, you know, actually show up to work. Perhaps he kept the phone number of that Napa Valley hot air balloon.
There will also be your standard NFL fare, as the defending champs seek to be the first repeat NFL champions since … the Patriots of 2003 and 2004. There will be injuries, adversity, incessant rumors and speculation, and perhaps even a so-called exposé from a national publication or two to really squirt some lime juice into everybody’s wide-open peepers, all of which will remain fixed squarely on the goings-on of this football team from now until February.
Along the way, we’ll all bear witness to countless surges and downturns. Some will be forgotten in a day’s time, others will be remembered forever. Some might even get catchy nicknames, like the Snow Bowl and/or The Tuck Rule Game, The Malcolm Butler Play, Malcolm Butler Not Playing, “28-3,” “16-0,” “18-1,” The Miami Miracle, Fourth-and-2, the Urlacher juke, Edelman-to-Amendola, The Ty Law Game, or any of the dozens of moments that have been etched in NFL history since Brady and Belichick relocated their lives to Norfolk County at the turn of the 21st century.
We don’t know and can’t know what will come next, aside from two inescapable truths. It will be worth watching, and we’ll never see it coming.
All Patriots fans should be thankful for all of this. And whether they recognize it or not, the haters should too.
The best pound-for-pound receiver in the NFL goes and Tasmanian-Devils his way out of Oakland, burning down everything around him right up to and including his own damn feet, and when he pops up out of the wreckage, whats waiting for Antonio Brown? Why, a perfectly thrown spiral from Tom [expletive] Brady, of course.
This is why everyone hates you, New England. No matter what woes befall the rest of the league, no matter how many conspiracy theories both baseless and valid you whip up, no matter how much you try to convince us that your horde of scrappy Do-Your-Jobers are the real victims in Roger Goodells NFL, we know the truth:
You are the absolute luckiest team and fans in human history, and every news cycle that breaks New Englands way—which is every damn news cycle—only underlines that fact in blood.
Youre the kid who gets Christmas every week, the dog who gets grilled steak for every meal. Youre the lottery winner who collects their check, swings by the Quick Stop on the way home, and—oh, would you look at that!—wins another lottery.
They hate us cause they aint us, Boston fans bray, and theyre absolutely right. We hate the fact that somehow, in every situation, against all odds, all laws of nature, all belief in a benevolent higher power, New England wins, again and again. Every year, Bill Belichick plucks the perfect combination of castoffs, has-beens and never-weres and transforms them into a sleek playoff-bound machine. Every year, Brady turns some random gaggle of grocery baggers and truck drivers into a ninja-lethal receiving corps.
The AFC East has spent the past two decades rolling over like a needy puppy. The Chiefs, Steelers and Broncos suddenly forget how to play football when they head to Foxborough in January — and, strangely enough, the route to the Super Bowl always seems to run through Foxborough in January.
And then there are the Super Bowls. The Rams quivered into Jell-O on the big stage against New England earlier this year. The Falcons had a wooden stake sharpened and ready and somehow hammered it into their own hearts. All the Seahawks did was gift New England another ring by running the single dumbest play in the history of football. You realize that were two ridiculous Eli Manning throws and one just-barely-missed Gronk Hail Mary reception from nine Patriot Super Bowl wins? Nine. The football gods denied New England those wins because nine Patriots wins would have forced us to shut down the league once and for all.
Now Brady has his most dangerous deep weapon since Randy Moss. Brady now has a receiving corps of Antonio Brown, Julian Edelman and Josh Gordon, which is the kind of air attack you dont usually see outside of a four-team fantasy football league with your grandparents and your dog. Its like giving Mike Trout an aluminum bat, like letting LeBron James shoot on a 7-foot rim. Its not fair. Its not even in the same hemisphere as fair.
Look, I dont blame Brown for wanting to play for the Patriots. Who wouldnt want to jump from the three-wheeled red wagon that is Oakland into the Lamborghini Murciélago that is New England? (License plate: DFLT THS.) But the way it all went down — Brown sowing chaos at every turn, raising the stakes every day like a player shoving more chips into the center of the table until the Raiders had no choice but to fold … why, its almost enough to make you think something was afoot. But thats crazy talk, right?
Bill Belichick getting ready to send a 2041 7th-round pick to the Raiders in exchange for Antonio Brown… pic.twitter.com/kMghSfXp8W
Dead serious here: if Antonio Brown thought the Raiders were going to cut him, then apologized, THEN got word (via Rosenhaus) that the Patriots were interested, its totally possible he forced his way out of Oakland last night.
New England, this is why nobody cares about deflate-gate, even though you were on the right side of that one. This is why nobody buys your victim act, why nobody takes your side against Goodell. Youve gotten everything you could want as fans, and somehow, you still keep getting more.
Someday, New England is going to fall apart, we whisper, quietly, for fear of attracting the attention of the chowderheads. Someday, Belichick will retire, and Brady will go off to a life of hermetically sealed supermodel bliss, and New England will struggle to get to .500. And then something like Antonio Brown happens, and were reminded again that someday is not today.
Five months from now, theres a terrifyingly good chance that New England will bulldoze its way through the league, that Goodell will hand the Lombardi Trophy to Belichick, that Brady will once again flash that insufferable RINGZZZ grin in a cascade of confetti. Once again, Brady will hold up multiple fingers to symbolize all of New Englands Super Bowls. And once again, well all hold up just one in response.
Jay Busbee is a writer for Yahoo Sports. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or find him on Twitter or on Facebook.