Retired New England Patriots RB Kevin Faulk wrote an article for The Players Tribune about how to interpret the catchphrase “The Patriot Way.” It means whatever the author intends- Do Your Job, or Flexibility, or Do Whatever Is Asked- but Faulk believes it all comes down to winning.
Winning is The Patriots Way and it is a contagious culture; the only link from Richard Seymour to Trey Flowers. Teams win in different ways, and players lead in different ways. Devin McCourty can learn from Jerod Mayo, who learned from Tedy Bruschi, who learned from Willie McGinest, but they all had their distinct styles of leadership.
But one thing that Faulk says that is a constant is head coach Bill Belichick’s desire for accountability. Faulk, a recent induction into the Patriots Hall of Fame, shared a story of how he woke up late in his first year with Belichick and was almost late to a practice.
“So when I woke up one morning in December 2000 and realized that there was a team meeting starting in 20 minutes, I immediately thought, Oh, shit…I lived approximately 15 minutes from the Patriots facility — I knew because I had timed the drive just in case I ever found myself in a situation like this. But the snow was a wild card. In those conditions, I didn’t know how long it was going to take me to get to the facility. I just knew that I was probably gonna be late.”
Faulk was going to be late to a Saturday morning walkthrough, so he just put on his slippers and bolted from the house, zigging and zagging through traffic to get to Foxborough. He parked his car, unsure if he locked the door, and ran “full sprint, through the snow, in slippers.”
“As I approached the building, I saw Coach Belichick walking into the meeting room, so I went around to check the back door. Thankfully, it was open, and I slid in the back way and into an open seat. By the time coach turned to address the team, I was sitting down, sweating, and pretending like nothing had happened.
“And then he looked directly at me. He didn’t say a word. He just gave me this you’re-lucky-you-made-it kind of look.
“Coach always knows.”
And that’s at the heart of The Patriot Way. We’ve seen players like CB Darrelle Revis sent home and DT Malcom Brown benched for being late to practice. It’s about sending a message of accountability that some players support, and some players struggle with. The players that embrace that style of coaching have the fall-in-line mentality that is required to thrive in the Patriots organization.
Faulk highlights that the Patriots don’t oppose individuality. Players like Rob Gronkowski and Martellus Bennett have large personalities that still fit into the Patriots structure. It’s about fully committing to the team once practice begins, and again on game day.
That’s it. And it’s a winning recipe.