Do you remember the hit put upon Drew Bledsoe in the second game of the 2001 season? It was reported that “at 4:48 of the fourth quarter he sustained a brutal sideline hit by Mo Lewis, which knocked Bledsoe unconscious for a few seconds.” I still can see the hit – totally unnecessary as Bledsoe was heading out of bounds. Remember this, also, “In March 2001, Bledsoe was signed to a then-record ten-year, $103 million contract . . . .” In the hospital it was found that he had “suffered a sheared blood vessel in his chest.” Belichick in his first year as coach replaced Bledsoe with Tom Brady. The rest is history. Bledsoe did get back to playing later in the year in the AFC championship game when he replaced Brady who got injured and he sealed the victory with a touchdown pass. The next year he was traded.
The hard-hearted Patriots having found in Brady a quarterback who appeared at the time to be better, younger and less expensive than Bledsoe forgot the good years Bledsoe gave the team and shuffled him off to Buffalo.
That is history folks. It is the typical history of the Patriots. No tea and sympathy. The business of the Patriots’ is business even more than football. The business amounts to getting the best player in each position for the least amount of money. Anyone who has been on the Patriots team well knows this. Every fan who has paid attention also knows it. Sure the fans get attached to some players who are let go because they cost too much but they are more attached to the idea of winning. February Super Bowl parties are much more exciting when the home town boys are playing.
Bob Kraft and Bill Belichick have a similar philosophy – “win at all costs” – which is one of the reasons the team goes up to the edge, sometimes tumbling over, as often as it does. That attitude is also reflected in its “what have you done for me lately” attitude that discounts prior proper perfect performance for any type of slippage. Their players know that they are “here today and gone tomorrow” and not even crocodile tears are shed.
This is the huge, and I mean huge, dilemma facing the Patriots today. This may even be the reason behind Kraft’s going along with the NFL punishment of the team. Look! He understands Brady is absolutely loved by the fans (even my grandson wears a Brady Patriots shirt when he could be wearing a Connolly Patriots shirt). But both Bob and Bill believe Brady is bumping up against Father Time, or for those who favor the distaff side, Mother Time.
What better way to prepare for the future than to bring in a better, younger and less expensive quarterback if that is what Jimmy Garoppolo turns out to be. The only way they will know if Jimmy Garoppolo (I have to write the name again to get used to it) is that man is to play him in a few games. Because of the luck of Brady’s suspension they now have four games in which to analyze him. If they think he is the new Tom Brady at 14 years younger than Tom (he is the same age as Brady was when he took over from Bledsoe) then Brady can kiss his Patriots career goodbye. “So long Tom it’s been good to know yah!)
Of course if Jimmy does not live up to their hopes then they have to bring Tom back. Belichick has assured everyone, not the least Tom, that no matter how well Jimmy plays Tom will start game number five. Belichick knowing everyone knows the Patriots MO is in a panic. He repeats over and over again to the point he protests too much. He has no choice since he has to keep Tom happy because he may need him. If he doesn’t – that is if Jimmy is as good or better than Tom – he won’t care one way or the other what Tom thinks.
Tom Brady knows all this. He has seen his close teammates pushed off the ship over and over again. They too got assurances from Bill and Bob they would not be replaced but they were. Tommy has to know deep down that his days are numbered. The fickle fans will fret but as the wins come under Jimmy they’ll forget and become members of the “Tom Who?” club.