EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA


January 28, 2008

Ex-Pats served some humble pie, too

GLENDALE, Ariz. - It's usually on Mondays. Bill Belichick, the head chef on Route 1 in Foxboro, brings out enough pies for 10 football teams.

Unbeaten. Untied. And enough humble pie to make you forget about both.

"It's never good enough," says Patriots cornerback Asante Samuel, who was wearing one of those T-shirts that linebacker Adalius Thomas had printed just before the halfway point in late October.

Well, what do Charlie Weis, Adam Vinatieri, Ty Law, Willie McGinest, Deion Branch, Romeo Crennel and Eric Mangini all have in common, besides being current household names in the football?

They are very, very talented ex-New England Patriots coaches and players, all of whom played roles, some bigger than others, in building pro football's newest dynasty.

And, like it or not, they have been served the same humble pie Belichick apparently serves to his current crop of 2007 players, who might have felt a little too good about themselves this past fall and winter.

During the Super Bowl runs 2003 and 2004, Pro Bowl players and "irreplaceable" starters like Law and Richard Seymour missed significant time, yet the Patriots went on to not only win consecutive Super Bowls, but win an NFL record 21 straight games.

"Sure, it's tough watching them win without you. Heck, it's tough watching them play without me," said Law four years ago, while sitting on his motorized chair in the Patriots locker room after the Super Bowl victory in Jacksonville. "These guys are like family to me. And you want to be there with them when their winning, contributing. This has been the toughest thing I've ever gone through in my career."

But the ex-Patriots have received their pieces of Belichick pie, too. Sometimes gigantic pieces.

Each of the last four seasons, the Patriots have lost a player or coach - sometimes multiple players or coaches - of note.

"You realize after you leave that everyone is replaceable," says former Patriots linebacker Ted Johnson, who retired after the 2005 season. "Sure, it can be humbling. You'd like to think you played a part in making the franchise what it is today. And I believe I did. But you also understand that when you leave, someone better might come in behind you. ... Yeah, that can be humbling."

Johnson could speak for all of the ex-Patriots still in the league.

Text Only | Photo Reprints
Latest News


What are you thoughts about playing the Giants in the Super Bowl?

Game is a toss-up.
Doesn't matter. Pats are better.
     View Results
New England Patriots
Super Bowl Coverage