There are so many reasons why I love football, and the Patriots. There are probably too many to name, though, to be honest. But outside of it being a place where I have tons of memories with my family, maybe my favorite part is that it’s a true meritocracy — perhaps on the Patriots, more than anywhere else. New England is a place where a sixth round draft pick became the greatest quarterback of all time.
It also is where, even after playing in the last eight AFC Championship games, undrafted free agents routinely not only make the team, but make an impact. It should be no surprise, then, that this quote from Tom Brady about rookie wide receiver Jakobi Meyers got my juices flowing:
“He’s done a great job and he’s taken advantage of his opportunities. I think that’s really what we try to stress to anybody. It really doesn’t matter... the football doesn’t care how old you are, whether you were drafted or not. The football doesn’t care how much experience you have. It just knows that when I let that ball go, it’s got to be in the hands of the guy who it’s intended for.”
It is not just the way Brady phrased this quote, either. The personification of the ball by him gives the idea so much beauty, it sounds like a line out of an upcoming, football themed, ‘Field of Dreams.’ But more than the words deliver a simple idea: Brady doesn’t care who he’s throwing to, which we should’ve all figured out by now. The only thing he cares about is that the receiver comes down with the ball when he throws it to them.
Since the day Bill Belichick walked through the door, that’s the way it’s always been done. It is why the team kept Brady as a fourth quarterback in the first place. He earned a spot on the roster, and so he got it, regardless of how many qualified QBs were in front of him. It’s how Malcolm Butler, an undrafted rookie cornerback, wound up playing in a bunch of crucial plays in the Super Bowl.
It’s how guys like Mike Vrabel, Rob Ninkovich, and Kyle Van Noy went from unimportant role players on their previous teams to becoming key contributors on the Patriots. The list goes on and on, and the rules haven’t changed: prove your worth on the field and in the meeting room, and you’ll have a chance to play. No matter who you are, or what your background was before you got here.
So, get excited for another season of football! The first game is this week, after all. But mostly, thank God that, while humans have been on Earth for about 200,000 years, you were lucky enough to be here when Bill Belichick and Tom Brady were with the Patriots.
Pat is a host of The Patriot Nation Podcast
Interact with him on Twitter @plane_pats