With the NFL season starting up again, the New England Patriots will be making a run at yet another Super Bowl to add to their already impressive resume, which to everyone else who’s ever watched football, should be nothing new to them. In fact, the Patriots according to ESPN BPI rankings opened the season at a 32% chance to win the Super Bowl this year. And even though they their slot receiver star in Julian Edelman, the Patriots have a system that is so consistently potent and intact that Brady could make a rock look good in a Pats uniform. It is no secret that the Patriots have remained atop the NFL for quite some time now. And Patriots quarterback Tom Brady captured his 5th Super Bowl title thanks to an epic collapse from the Atlanta Falcons. When it comes to Bill Belicheck and the Patriots, they always seem to be looking towards the future, not looking back. Nothing rattles or phases the Pats which is why they have been so great in the eyes of their fans.
However, I think this is also a great time to look back at the Patriots. Although the Pats have put together a dynasty of a football program over centuries, they also have quite a bit of things they would like their fans to forget about. Perhaps it was incidents that occurred a long time ago such as scandals or league punishments. Or maybe they were more recent incidents involving players not behaving off the field. Regardless of when these events or things transpired, here is a list of the top 15 things the NFL wants you to forget about New England.
15 Aaron Hernandez
I’m sure many Patriots fans would like to forget about this individual. However, before he plummeted off the NFL, he did have some high moments with the team. He got to play alongside Brady, he was paired with perhaps one of the best TE’s in football. Oh, and he won a Super Bowl with the team as well. There was so much promise for Hernandez coming out of that great season, which is why many Pats fans hate to see what happened to him and would love to forget.
Hernandez was reported to have gotten in multiple fights off the field, which led to this horrible act. Hernandez wasn't a model citizen in prison either, as he got into altercations. He was acquitted of a second double murder charge and committed suicide in his cell just five days later.
14 Their relationship with Roger Goodell
The Patriots organization doesn't have a particularly strong relationship with Roger Goodell, simple as that. Evident from the league penalizing them over deflated footballs and where they were caught cheating multiple times. Regardless of what one thinks of the league penalizations, the Pats don’t have a good relationship with the Commish.
Goodell has to maintain an image of impartiality and especially given the fact that Goodell had to present the Lombardi Trophy to the Patriots last February. Last week, Kraft told USA Today Sports what their relationship is like, after Goodell showed up for this season's opener in Foxborough: He has the right to come to any game he wants,” Kraft told USA TODAY Sports. “I hope he enjoys the game as much as I plan to enjoy the game.” Didn't exactly sound all that warm...
Another thing about the Patriots is that they have been accused of cheating multiple times by other NFL teams, one of which being the Philadelphia Eagles. After losing to the Patriots in Super Bowl XXXIX, the Eagles used this evidence almost as an excuse for their loss. And this would be something many Pats fans would like to forget because it attached a label to them, making them appear as cheaters for the rest of the league.
The same season that the Spygate story surfaced, the Patriots began their remarkable run at a perfect season before losing to the Giants. In the years that followed, the Patriots would continue to fall short of another Super Bowl, before breaking their 10-year drought with a win, sans Spygate, in Super Bowl XLIX.
12 Tom Brady’s relationship with Donald Trump
I was a bit hesitant to put this on the list because I see sports talk shows talking about politics and social issues all the time, so I know how much it can be belabored at times. And I know that its a very sensitive topic to touch on because of numerous issues. However, I think it is important to note this because many athletes do not like Trump. Several Patriots players even refused to go to the White House in honor of capturing their illustrious 5th Super Bowl Title. Kevin Durant of the Golden State Warriors refused to go when they won the title. So it should be nothing new to assume that that there are athletes who disagree with Trump.
However, I think it is interesting whence finds athletes who do seem to agree with him, one of which being Brady. I find it very interesting to see how Brady has a relationship when Trump even when most athletes, even his own teammates do not like him. Brady discussed his relationship with Donald Trump right before the super Bowl last year on Sports Illustrated saying ‘‘I don’t want to get into it, but if you know someone it doesn’t mean you agree with everything they say or they do. You have a lot of friends in your life,’’ Brady added. “I think there are things that are based in your own dealings with someone that is a personal dealing, not a public dealing. Because you have personal experiences.”
Although many fans would like to forget about the fact that Brady could be a conservative Trump supporter, I find a lot of truth in what he was saying. It is indeed personal business, but he has the right to be conscientious about what he believes in and supports. And even though the team might not be supportive of his decisions, I think he has every right to.
11 Former Patriots Player Suffering CTE
The NFL hid information about concussions for years, as was documented in books such as League of Denial, and the 2015 film Concussion. Patriots players were not immune to the consequences of brain injuries caused by football and unfortunately, one of the great Patriots of the 90s suffered from the symptoms of CTE, which led to his premature death. Former running back Kevin Turner was originally thought to have died from ALS, but research done at Boston University found symptoms of brain injuries in his system:
"We believe the extreme severity of Kevin Turner’s disease is related to his 25-season career, and the fact he began playing tackle football at age 5, while his brain was still rapidly developing and more vulnerable,” said Dr. Robert Cantu, a Boston University neurosurgeon.
10 Bill Belichick doesn’t say much
Everyone who’s ever watched football or seen the Patriots knows that Bill doesn’t really say much. Whether its his one or two word answers in press conferences or his facial expressions he always has had an interesting demeanor about himself.
However, some people, specifically Pats fans find his silent nature to be a good thing because he says all the right things, without giving away too much. Bill Belichick has not given up too much in almost anything, and that has never changed for him during his coaching career. Among the many times Belichick gave nothing at a press conference was the time he kept saying "we're onto Cincinnati" back in 2014 after an embarrassing Monday Night Football loss to the Chiefs. Still, the NFL definitely wishes Belichick was a little friendlier with the media.
9 They play in a horrible division
The Patriots play in perhaps one of the worst divisions in the NFL. In fact, the Patriots have won their division more than almost any other franchise in the league, a feat no other team has a chance of matching in their lifetime.
However, it is also also fair to wonder “If the Patriots played in any other division, would they indeed finish each season with the dominant records that have allowed them frequent home field advantage at Gillette Stadium? The Dolphins, Jets and Bills have all failed to find true franchise quarterbacks for 15 years in trying to dethrone Brady and all three are unstable at head coach... Something the Pats have mastered.
Although it would be interesting to see how the Patriots would fair in a more competitive division, many fans don’t like the excuses of playing in a poor division as well.
Ah, deflategate. The penalization of deflated footballs that would eventually cost Tom Brady a four game suspension to start the new season. Many fans were appalled by the decision made by the commissioner to penalize them. I’m sure it was in Goodell’s own interest, and what he though was best for the leagues rules, but many fans were disgusted by it and thats why it is at the top of the list here.
Whatever position one holds on this issue, it has been an issue in the league for quite some time now. And the regulation of football sizes is something the league tries to take more caution in going forward. After many court battles, Brady eventually accepted his four game suspension last year, only to come back and have one of his greatest seasons ever, to shove it back in the NFL's face.
7 Vince Wilfork ran a faster 40 than Tom Brady
Remember that 5.30 40 time Brady ran at the combine? Yes, it is true. Vince Wilfork ran a faster 40 time than Tom Brady. Which if you are an opposing QB, is a pretty frightening thing to think about. Vince Wilfork was a great defensive player, and will go down as one of the best ever, but when you consider the fact that he’s probably pushing 400, is pretty embarrassing if you’re Brady.
To put it in perspective for us Doug Kyed writes on nesn.com saying “Wilfork, then weighing 323 pounds, ran a 5.08-second 40-yard dash during his pro day way back in 2004. Brady, who claims he’s actually faster now at 39 years old, ran a 5.24-second 40-yard dash at the 2000 NFL Scouting Combine." Wilfork went on to say that he's done running 40-yard dashes, so we'll never see a rematch. Wilfork retired this past offseason.
6 Two Super Bowl losses to the Giants
If the Giants hadn’t beat Tom Brady twice in the Super Bowl thanks to Eli Manning and co., Brady would have 7 championship rings which is just absurd. Many Pats fans would love to forget these two loses, especially the one where they could have went 19-0, (cough David Tyree, cough missed FG). The Patriots without a doubt blew that game, and it is again something many fans would love to forget. Would the NFL have loved to see a perfect 19-0 team? It's very probable, but of couse the Giants had to go and spoil it. Eli 2, Brady 0.
The Patriots got a second crack at the Giants four years later, but again would come up short, losing 21-17 in another tightly contested game.
5 Gronk May Never Be The Same Player Again
Although the Patriots captured last year's Super Bowl, they indeed missed their all star TE in Rob Gronkowski. In fact, whenever Gronk was on the field, the Pats TD efficiency went up almost 3x its usual in the red zone, whereas when Gronk was off the field they struggled a bit more. The Pats won the Super Bowl, but indeed still missed their TE.
One of the things that has derailed Gronk's career is his inability to stay on the field. He's had several back injuries and his arm has been in a brace for several seasons now, due to multiple injuries on it. Gronk has come back this season, but with all his injuries piling up, the Patriots (and the NFL) may see perhaps the greatest potential receiving tight end in history have his career cut short.
4 Darryl Stingley Suffering Paralysis
The NFL has been trying very hard to cut down on hits to the head and one of those reasons dates back to the 70s when hard hitting Oakland Raiders defender Jack Tatum laid a crushing hit on Patriots player Darryl Stingley during a kickoff return. Stingley laid motionless on the turf for several minutes and eventually it was discovered that Stingley was paralyzed. Eventually his condition would lead to his death, as Stingley passed away in 2007, due to heart disease and pneumonia, stemmed from complications from his quadriplegic condition. The hit by Tatum was technically deemed legal by the NFL at that time, so it remains a dark cloud over the violent nature the NFL had. For what it's worth, Stingley himself called the play a "freak accident."
We've seen the Patriots involved in scandals regarding spying, and deflated footballs, but a couple of seasons ago, there was the lesser detailed 'headsetgate'. It all started when opposing coaches began noticing more and more problems regarding the audio in their headsets when playing in New England. During the opener of the 2015 season, the Steelers were picking up audio from the Patriots' radio broadcast on their headset, rather than hearing each other.
NBCSports picked up on the story and said that at least five other NFL teams complained about having headset problems when visiting Foxborough. The problem seems to keep popping up again and again, but thus far, it has never been proven that the problems are a deliberate tactic by the Patriots to gain yet another advantage over their opponents.
2 The Falcons' Collapse
The Patriots won the Super Bowl last year thanks to an epic collapse from the Atlanta Falcons. I think many fans would want you to forget about this because people seem to be making more a deal out of the Falcons collapse, than the Pats' remarkable comeback, which is something most commentators and newspapers cover.
Safety Ricardo Allen described it best: "It makes you numb. I’m kind of numb. I really don’t know what to feel. I’m broken inside. It’s terrible. It’s one of the worst feelings ever. I’m not a guy that forgets easy. I’ll probably never forget this.”
The Falcons would indeed love to forget this game, but I think the Pats would in some respect too because although it was a great comeback win and a great story, I don’t think they would like to be in that scenario again.
1 Tom Brady had a horrible combine result
If anyone has ever watched football or seen Brady play, they would tell you he’s not really fast or good at moving outside of the pocket. And this is certainly evident from his combine results when he was drafted out of Michigan. Posting nearly a 3 second 20 yard dash, a 5.3 40 yard dash, and only reaching a 24.5 vertical. All of these indeed showed how slow Brady is, and not many people saw a future hall of fame QB at that time. Several scouts though Brady would be a bust or was doomed to fail during that time. He had an average season at Michigan, and people didn’t seem to expect much out of him. Although Brady has always been slow and not very mobile, he has always been first and foremost a pocket passer. And this has never changed for him during his career.
Just to put things in perspective of how poor Brady’s performance was at the combine, John Breech shares his take on cbssports.com saying “Fifteen years later, Brady's 40 time still stands as the slowest among active NFL starting quarterbacks -- and it's really not even close, Philip Rivers, who's not exactly known for his blazing speed, ran 5.08 in 2004. Even Nick Foles managed to top Brady, running a 5.03 in 2012. Brady also struggled with his vertical jump at the combine.
The former Michigan quarterback only got 24½ inches in the air. To put that in perspective, Raiders quarterback Derek Carr had a 34½-inch jump at the 2014 combine.” Brady’s combine indeed was poor, and thats another thing many Pats fans would like to forget.