Eagles right tackle Lane Johnson hit the headlines earlier this week after an appearance on Barstool Sports' podcast Pardon My Take in which he labelled the Patriots a "fear-based organization.".
Here's what the All Pro tackle originally said to ruffle so many feathers: “I just think that The Patriot Way is a fear-based organization,”
He continued: “Obviously, do they win? Hell yes, they win....Do I think people enjoy and can say, ‘I had a lot of fun playing there’? No, I don’t. That’s just the God’s honest truth. They’re successful, but when they go to interviews, they act like [expletive] robots.
"Hey, stop being a [expletive]head. We can be cordial for a little bit. You only get to do this job one time, so let’s have fun while we’re doing it. Not to be reckless, but I’d much rather have fun and win a Super Bowl than be miserable and win five Super Bowls. But hey, it is what it is.”
His comments struck a nerve with former Patriots Teddy Bruschi and Willie McGinest and it's not difficult to see why. Bruschi fired back at Johnson on ESPN's First Take saying: "I had a lot of fun...in the ones that I was there I can't understand what he's saying there".
“If you want a relationship and you want to double-date with your coach, go play with those guys. If you want to learn how to win games and consistently win games, you play for Bill Belichick.”
Johnson wasn't about to let the former Patriot have the last laugh though, using Bruschi's own words against him in a rather amusing tweet:
Following a social media backlash, Johnson reappeared on the Pardon My Take podcast on Friday and wasn't in any mood to back down on his opinions.
In typical brash style, Johnson doubled down on his claims and revelled in playing the enemy to the Patriots and fans around Boston, saying:
“I think a lot of guys just want to be happy playing football. … The Patriots obviously won five Super Bowls, so it’s the Patriot Way to win the Super Bowl. Does that mean that everybody has to act the same way? Do the same thing? Is that necessarily the guidelines to win the Super Bowl?”
Reacting to Bruschi and other former Patriots commenting on the situation Johnson said:
“They kept interviewing ex-Patriots players...What do you think they’re going to say? ‘I (expletive) hated it there’? No. ‘I won Super Bowls. We had a great time.’ They’re not going to bad-mouth their coach. They’re not going to say what they really want to say. Do you think that’s going to happen? Hell no, it’s not going to happen.”
The 27-year-old also seemed to enjoy the vast amounts of hate mail he's been receiving from Patriots fans and jokingly quipped: “And everybody in Boston — hey, I’ve got hate mail I still haven’t read. I’m looking forward to reading it.”
Whilst the Patriot way is clearly a hugely successful model, it also isn't the only way to win. Johnson is likely just one of many players in the league that would rather live without the fear of answering to the proverbial iron fist of Belichick.
But, the disciplined culture gets results, and as Bruschi alluded to, the Patriots certainly do have fun when they win. And they win a lot.
Whether the 'fun' culture in the Eagles locker room leads to further success is yet to be seen, and interestingly Johnson refused to make any guarantees in that regard.
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