FOXBORO, Mass. — Former Patriots defensive end Cassius Marsh, who was cut after playing nine games with New England, said playing for head coach Bill Belichick is no fun. So, now the popular narrative is being a Patriot is not an enjoyable experience.
Understandably, current and former Patriots alike are countering that argument, which also has been expressed by guys who never even played for New England, like Philadelphia Eagles offensive linemen Lane Johnson and Brandon Brooks.
“I have fun here,” cornerback Stephon Gilmore said Thursday. “So, it’s just no shortcuts. You have to work for everything like that. If you don’t want to take shortcuts, you’ll like it here.”
Gilmore could have had a rude awakening joining the Patriots’ no-nonsense approach. He previously played under Rex Ryan with the Buffalo Bills.
“I have fun because I love playing the game,” Gilmore said. “I’ve been playing it since I was 6, so I don’t let anyone take away the fun from me playing the game. It’s fun to me, so that’s all that matters.”
Belichick (kind of) responded to the multiple attacks on fun within the confines of Gillette Stadium.
“We feel what’s important to us is to win,” Belichick said. “So that’s really what we’re trying to do.”
And winning is fun. Safety Devin McCourty, who’s been on the Patriots since 2010, has done a lot of it throughout his career, winning the AFC East each season. He’s won two Super Bowls and been to two more.
So, does he plan on having fun this year?
“I mean, not if we got 0-16,” McCourty said. “That probably wouldn’t be fun. I plan on it. This is fun. There’s some funner things I could do than talking to you, but this isn’t bad.”
McCourty has fun, but he also can understand why someone like Marsh didn’t have any in New England.
“I think now if you look at a team who beats us in the Super Bowl, and then you got guys who are talking about it, so that’s front page news,” McCourty said. “Then Cassius leaves, he played here, so then that’s another. Cassius, he had a frustrating time here, so I don’t expect him to leave and say he had a great time.
“I think if you ask any guy on this team, the fun we have comes from hanging with each other. Like, you guys are in the locker room, the relationships between the guys, a lot of the fun happens in the locker room before we even come out here and have fun winning football games. Obviously we work for a living, so in this business, you have to win. So, when you lose, it’s not fun. People get fired, you lose your job, so that’s not fun. So, like, I wouldn’t believe anyone who told me if they only won half their games, they were having the best time of their life. Like, I’m just not here for that.
“I think the value of how we interact and the relationships we have, no one else sees it. No one in Philly can say those guys don’t like each other, they hate it there. You don’t know that. I think you’ve even seen guys leave, and we still have great relationships with them. Guys still talk. To me, that’s the fun part. And then obviously we come out here on Sunday and win games, that’s the best fun at the end of the week. I plan on continuing to do that no matter what is said.”
McCourty still is in a group chat with former Patriots defensive backs Tavon Wilson and Logan Ryan.
“We’re employed for the Patriots and we’ve won games,” McCourty said. “We were just in the Super Bowl last year. I wouldn’t say that was the most awful season ever. We got a couple guys here from Cleveland. They went 0-16. They told me that wasn’t fun. So, I’m gonna try to stay on this side.”
McCourty’s twin brother Jason, who’s now on the Patriots, played on that Browns team that went 0-16. It probably wasn’t fun.