New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick is the master of bulletin board material, capable of taking the smallest slight and turning it into disrespect of the highest degree. There’s a reason why the Patriots don’t say anything in their press conferences; they don’t want the other team to have any extra motivation to put on their cleats before the game.
While the Patriots haven’t said anything, the Tennessee Titans have still found a way to feel disrespected heading into Saturday’s game for a multitude of reasons. First, Las Vegas has the Patriots as two-touchdown favorites, so Tennessee isn’t given much of a chance. Then there’s a lot of the media saying that the Patriots are going to win in a cake walk.
And then there’s Boston Globe columnist Dan Shaughnessy, who put on paper what a lot of fans are thinking about the Patriots-Titans tilt.
Let’s just say Titans All Pro free safety Kevin Byard was not amused.
“I have been seeing a lot of crazy things,” Byard told the Titans official team site. “Earlier in the week, coach showed us some reporter said the Patriots have back-to-back (bye) weeks before the AFC Championship Game. I just look at it and laugh, and I am pretty sure the entire world thinks of it the same way. But’s that cool, I think it would make this win that much sweeter.”
What is this article Byard is referencing? Let’s look at the opening of Shaughnessy’s column in the Boston Globe.
“And so the Patriots get back-to-back bye weeks. Think of Saturday’s Titans game as a playoff layoff.
“It’s hard to know where to start with the compulsory trashing of the not-ready-for-prime-time Tennessee Titans.
“Let’s acknowledge up front that the Titans are professional football players who have achieved much by advancing to the divisional round of the NFL playoffs. Nashville is one great town and the Titans are an estimable organization. They almost won a Super Bowl in 2000, and they threw a big scare into New England’s Super Bowl champs on a cold night in Foxborough back in January of 2004.
“All that said, let’s cut to the chase and call this what it is. The Titans are a joke and have no business making the trek to Foxborough for a divisional playoff game Saturday night. These Titans are accidental tourists in the 2017-18 NFL tournament. They are 13-point underdogs. They have absolutely zero chance to beat the Patriots Saturday night.”
Yeah, this is definitely what Byard’s talking about and it shows that the Titans are definitely throwing up these negative articles on the bulletin board to promote an “us against the world” mentality.
Which is fair. No one believes the Titans are going to win, other than former Jaguars running back Maurice Jones-Drew, so they should be playing with a huge chip on their shoulder. The Titans have nothing to lose and should pull every trick out of their hat against the Patriots.
And Shaugnessy’s article to the Titans is similar to the Titans beat writer that called the Patriots cheaters (I’m not even going to bother to link to it). Every market has someone that simply stirs the pot.
But there’s just something about having a Shaughnessy article as the bulletin board material. When a lot of Patriots fans would be the first to hesitate and say, “well, uh, maybe don’t give him too much credit, he does this all the time,” it means that Shaughnessy has a reputation not worth putting on the bulletin board. His goal is to get on the bulletin board with every tomato can column he pens.
It’d be different if Tom Curran or Mike Reiss wrote is this fashion, but it’s Shaughnessy, Tennessee. Just...uh...maybe don’t give him too much credit.