The New England Patriots are one of football’s greatest franchises. The team has found he majority of its success in the 2000s and has become a perennial Super Bowl favourite. Throughout their history the Patriots have had a number of talented players walk through the door. Some have contributed more than others but the distinction is there. New England remains one of the league’s most popular landing spots, as players know that a spot on the roster means a better chance at competing for a championship. But while it is a great payoff, not every player has enjoyed their time in Patriots navy blue.
Like any NFL franchise out there, you’re going to have guys that get disgruntled. That’s a given seeing that you can’t please everybody and you’ve got to put the team – not individual interests – ahead of everything. While there are players that have loved every moment that came with being a Patriot there are others that have absolutely hated it. Be it lack of chemistry, conflicts with coaches or even problems with management, some players have left the team on less than amicable terms. But then you’ve got guys who can’t say enough nice things about the franchise. So let’s take the time to look at both and get each side of the story.
15 Loved It: Martellus Bennett
He’s not with the team anymore, and you might question why a one year player finds himself on this list, but Martellus Bennett was very vocal about how much he loved being a Patriot during his short stint in Foxborough. Any football fan is aware of Bennett’s antics during the offseason. He and his brother are two of the league’s biggest personalities, so people were initially skeptical as to how he’d fit in with the Belichick culture in New England. But Bennett was great last season, filling in for an injured Rob Gronkowski, he was one of Tom Brady’s most reliable targets. Sadly for Pats fans he chose to take a bigger paycheck in Green Bay, but he’ll remember his time as a Patriot fondly.
14 Hated It: Ted Johnson
This one might surprise a few people out there, and while Ted Johnson’s career in New England was filled with success, there were darker forces at work throughout his time as a Patriot. Johnson was a Super Bowl winner with the Pats, an important member of that early 2000s defense that led the team to so much success throughout the earlier half of the decade. But while he might be remembered fondly for his contributions, Johnson himself has trouble remembering things from his playing days. Concussions have made his post football life difficult, the majority of which he suffered in Patriots navy blue. Though he’s opted out of it Johnson was at one point in time a part of a lawsuit against the NFL. Johnson says he’s buried the hatched but admitted that the relationship between him and Pats owner Robert Kraft is strained because of his actions against the league and vocal criticisms.
13 Loved It: Chad Johnson
You might be surprised about this one, mainly because Chad Johnson’s stint in New England was a great bust. But despite his personal struggles Johnson was happy to be a member of the Patriots throughout his one year pit stop. Johnson was long past his prime by the time the Patriots scooped hi up. Well known for kicking the tires on certain players other teams wouldn’t touch, New England seemed like the perfect place for Johnson to end up. Johnson himself was happy to play for Bill Belichick and play alongside Tom Brady. The Brady to Johnson connection never took off, the season ended in a Super Bowl loss and he was shown the door shortly after the season ended. But Johnson was very professional throughout the entire thing.
12 Hated It: Asante Samuel
Success doesn’t always equal happiness in the NFL. Playing for the Patriots, a certain deal of success is expected from fans and even players themselves. When you put on that jersey you know that there’s a good chance that you’re competing that year – and it’s not that much of a stretch to think that it’s going to be a deep run. But while that keeps the younger guys happy, veterans like to have some assurance as they go on with their careers. In plain English, they want to get paid. This served as the basis for Asante Samuel’s fall out with the Patriots. Samuel wanted a certain deal and New England wasn’t willing to budge. Samuel left Foxborough disgruntled and convinced that the team didn’t care for or appreciate him as a player.
11 Loved It: Curtis Martin
This is one of the shorter careers on our list – barring one year deals – but it’s one that Patriots fans have bitter feelings about nonetheless. Curtis Martin came to a New England backfield that had lost several bodies in the offseason and was shouldered with the responsibility of leading the Patriots’ backfield. Martin was an injury risk coming out of college but New England took a chance on him and it paid off greatly. Even now, years after he last took the field in a Patriots uniform he remains one of New England’s leading rushers. While Martin eventually took off for the Jets, the decision was one of the harder ones he made in his career.
10 Hated It: Albert Haynesworth
Let’s be honest here, Albert Haynesworth never really enjoyed playing football. At least, he didn’t after he signed his mega deal with the Washington Redskins. Haynesworth was a huge bust in DC and gained the ire of fans and teammates as his actions – or lack thereof – were considered as a take the money and run kind of deal. Haynesworth was soon out of Washington as the Patriots took a flyer on the former standout, but it didn’t get much better. Haynesworth was just as bad in New England as he was in Washington. He was lazy, disgruntled and ultimately ineffective. He couldn’t have been out of New England – and the league – fast enough.
9 Loved It: Randy Moss
While he ended his career in New England on a bit of a rough note, Randy Moss had reasons to enjoy his time in Foxborough. Prior to his trade to New England, Moss was in a rut. He’d moved on to the Oakland Raiders after a successful Vikings career but had failed to make an impact and there were whispers of his career being on the decline. But with New England Moss found new life, combining with Tom Brady to make one of the league’s most prolific passing attacks. Moss would set records and reestablish himself as a top receiver in the league – if only for a short while. Moss was soon jettisoned from the team after his age began affecting his play, but he still speaks favorably of the experience.
8 Hated It: Aqib Talib
Aqib Talib is one of many defensive backs to make his way through the Patriots’ perpetual revolving door. The Broncos corner revitalized his career which at the time was in danger of flaming out. But Talib was able to showcase his on the field talents enough that the off the field antics were overshadowed. But despite the success he and the team had during his tenure, Talib is no fan of the team that gave him his first Super Bowl ring. Talib has been a mainstay on the Broncos roster for a while now and seems to make it his personal mission to criticize the Pats at every turn. You could say that the bridge is effectively burned.
7 Loved It: LeGarrette Blount
He might not be back with the Patriots next year, but LeGarrette Blount has made it clear that his time in New England has been some of the best of his career. Blount went undrafted due to attitude concerns. He was a disciplinary nightmare coming out of college, but the kind of talent that was worth the risk. Blount moved on from the Buccaneers to the Steelers early on in his career, and it’s in Pittsburgh were his career began to take a dive. Blount’s disciplinary problems had reached their peak with the Steelers but in New England he found his stride – becoming a professional on and off the field. He’s still a free agent, so don’t rule out a return to the Pats, but at the same time he might have to move on.
6 Hated It: Brandon Spikes
Brandon Spikes’ New England career began promising enough. He was a standout on their defense and looked like he’d be a mainstay for years to come. But much like other Patriots that came before him, his long-term spot was never guaranteed. While he was a punishing enforcer, Spikes was never immune to Bill Belichick’s wrath if he stepped out of line. Some off the field issues led to Spikes leaving for the Buffalo Bills. As you can imagine, he wasn’t happy with how his career ended. Spikes described his career with the Pats as being “4 years a slave”. Yikes. The comment drew some heat, but Spikes still stood by his words.
5 Loved It: Rob Gronkowski
Any football fan out there knows how good Rob Gronkowski is. His ability on the field is next level. He’s a physical specimen and has forever changed the tight end position in the NFL. While injuries have been a bit of a concern lately, Gronk is still one of the best in the game at what he does. He looks like a kid on the playground on the field, and off of it he has some of the craziest looking summers that have been dubbed “The Summer of Gronk”. It wouldn’t be a stretch to imagine him ending his career in New England. As much as he enjoys playing for the Pats and as much as the Pats like having him on the roster, you can imagine the two having a long and productive relationship.
4 Hated It: Jamie Collins
Now with the Cleveland Browns, Jamie Collins’ mid season trade was one of the more shocking moves in Patriots history. People were completely taken aback by the move, as Collins was considered one of the Patriots’ better players on the defensive side. A young talent, Collins was a venerable playmaker for the team and seemed like he’d be one of the key components to their playoff run. But discipline and attitude problems saw him jettisoned from the team. Apparently, Collins had clashed with coaches before his trade and the deal with the Browns came into fruition soon after this event. He’ll hopefully find more level ground with Cleveland – though you have to question if he’ll ever have as much success.
3 Loved It: Willie McGinest
Willie McGinest is an all-time Patriots great. The former linebacker was a key part of the early 2000s Patriots teams that established the franchise as the powerhouse we now know it to be. Loved by fans, players and ownership, the feeling is mutual. Now an analyst, McGinest isn’t shy about reminiscing on his Patriots days. He offers an inside look into the franchise mainly because he’s managed to maintain the relationships he established as a player back in the day. You can say what you want about New England, but McGinest seems like a good guy. His status as one of the franchises most memorable players has never been in question and it’s mainly because of the passion that oozes from him whenever someone mentions the team.
2 Hated It: Reggie Wayne
Reggie Wayne was one of the most prolific receivers in the NFL during his prime. His numbers put him up there among the best and with the Colts, he cemented himself as a franchise great. But like a lot of great players, his career didn’t end with a bang. As we’ve previously stated, the Patriots don’t mind kicking the tires on older playmakers that they think can contribute to their scheme. We’ve seen a lot of big name players come and go through New England’s revolving door like they were just regular payers. That wasn’t exactly the case for Wayne. He actually asked for his release. Though this might be surprising to some, Wayne described his time in New England as “too tough” and “not fun”. Sometimes it’s better to retire.
1 Loved It: Tom Brady
The most popular Patriot of all-time as well as their greatest ever player, Tom Brady has cemented his status as New England’s greatest player. This past Super Bowl has pretty much silenced all of his doubters and placed him in history as one of the league’s greatest players. His feelings towards New England are pretty clear. Tom Brady loves being a Patriot. He constantly says that he wants to remain with the team well into his 40s. Brady – one of the best at his position – has taken multiple pay cuts in order to allow the team to spend more money on building up the roster. He’s pretty much the definition of a team playerr. That’s how much he loves the Pats. Most in his position would demand ridiculous salaries but not Brady. He’s happy to be there along for the ride.