The New England Patriots have been one of the most dominant sports organizations in the modern era, but it seems that ESPN is again growing sick of their success.
After the Patriots’ AFC Championship win in January 2015, ESPN’s Chris Mortensen reported that 11 of 12 Patriots footballs used in the game were under-inflated by two pounds. The information, which turned out to be drastically inaccurate, led to what is now known as “Deflategate,” yet Mortensen failed to correct the inaccuracies in a tweet and ESPN failed to correct it in their story for more than six months. The scandal and drawn-out investigation that followed slowed the Patriots down, but not for long.
Now ESPN senior writer Seth Wickersham has published a piece focusing on the power struggle between Patriots owner Robert Kraft, head coach Bill Belichick and star quarterback Tom Brady, suggesting that it could be “the beginning of the end” for the dynamic trio. However the only evidence to back up that claim are a few incidents that played out publicly and a few comments from New England staffers, executives, players and league sources with knowledge of “the team’s inner workings,” claiming that Belichick, Brady and Kraft “have had serious disagreements.”
Now, you don’t have to read Wickersham’s lengthy hit piece on the Patriots to realize three men who have experienced unprecedented success, even if it’s been together, have “serious disagreements.” Anybody with half a brain and any knowledge of how an NFL organization works could tell you that. But if you hate the Patriots as much as ESPN seems to and are holding out hope for their dynasty to fall, then you would probably enjoy their feature on this fine Friday morning.
Among the incidents cited by Wickersham that played out publicly are just one of Brady’s classic sideline freak-outs, the decision to remove Brady’s personal trainer from team operations and the decision to trade Jimmy Garoppolo to the San Francisco 49ers. The rest of the evidence that Kraft, Belichick and Brady are apparently at each other’s throats comes from Wickersham’s anonymous sources with the team, so take that as you will.
Basically Wickersham’s entire article suggests that Brady and Belichick, after working side-by-side for nearly two decades, are trying to outlast one another in New England, and that one of them won’t. Kraft only comes into the picture when he’s forced to either side with his head coach or his star player, and Wickersham argues that his decision to trade Garoppolo indicates that he stands with the latter. And while Wickersham seems to believe that everything began unravelling in New England this season, the Patriots are first in the AFC East with a 13-3 record heading into the playoffs. Sure doesn’t seem like things are falling apart in Foxboro to me.
When Wickersham reached out to the Patriots for comment, they responded by saying there are “several inaccuracies and multiple examples given that absolutely did not occur.” Sound familiar?
But Belichick, Brady and Kraft will likely pay no mind to ESPN’s big feature story because, if it wasn’t already clear, “the worldwide leader in sports” hates success. Just take a look at their ratings. Sad!