The high road is not the one Lane Johnson likes to travel, at least when it comes to the New England Patriots. The Philadelphia Eagles' starting right tackle has been vocal about the Patriots ever since his own team defeated them in Super Bowl 52. In February, Johnson claimed that the so-called “Patriot Way” is nothing but a “fear-based organization”, and on Tuesday he doubled down by calling the organization “arrogant”.
“Here’s what pissed me off,” Johnson said on The Steve Austin Show podcast (via ESPN’s Tim McManus). “The Patriots, obviously, I respect their coach, I respect Bill [Belichick], I respect Tom Brady, but just because the way that they won the Super Bowls, the 'Patriot Way', is that how everybody else is supposed to do the same thing? No, it’s not. And that’s what I got mad at, the arrogance by them.”
Johnson continued by pointing out that there “obviously” was something going on behind closed doors regarding the New England's respect towards an Eagles team that regularly – and to a certain degree justifiably considering its injury losses – liked to play the underdog card en route to the Super Bowl: The 28-year old accused Patriots head coach Bill Belichick and owner Robert Kraft of talking trash to their Philadelphia counterparts before the game.
“Their owner talking s--- to our owner. Bill talking s--- to our head coach before the game. I’m not going to say it, but a lot of s--- kind built up to that, and I just got tired of hearing about it, man, to be honest.” Of course, Johnson himself refers to this going on behind closed doors which is why public statements made by Belichick and Kraft have not been on the level the lineman claims them to be at.
Kraft, for example, called Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie a “great contributor” for the NFL when speaking about him before the Super Bowl: “Jeff is great. He's a Boston guy and we've been friends for a long time. I know he wants to win as much as anyone. The Eagles have been a very competitive team for a long time. I think the world of Jeff because he's done a lot for the league.”
Johnson, of course, also has an answer for that. “That’s the thing, you’re never going to know,” he said. “Whatever they’re told to do in the media is what they’re told to do. Like I said, they’re robots.” Could it be that the Patriots did do just that leading up to the Super Bowl? It is possibly, because there simply is no knowing what is going on behind the scenes.
But could it also be possible that Johnson is just basing his accusation on rumors and hearsay? That could very well also be the case. In this way, we definitely are never going to know – but it could make for some interesting dynamic when the Patriots ans Eagles meet for their week two preseason contest and potentially some joint practice sessions leading up to the game.