Aside from being one of the most recognizable names in the game, NFL Network’s Rich Eisen is also somewhat of a rare breed in that he’s a purveyor of takes that’s pretty much universally loved, or at least well-respected among sports fans of all allegiances. And a decent part of that widespread love is Rich’s show is 99% mercifully free of the scorching-hot-taek everyone-yell-louder-than-the-guy-to-your-left warglebargling that seems to be like 80% of sports media these days, especially *ahem* in our neck of the woods. He’s measured, inquisitive, and generally talks to his audience like he actually respects their intelligence. Crazy, right?
And on Tuesday’s show, Eisen proved the age-old truism that’s still true even with the greatest quarterback of all time leaving town for a team with a pirate ship in the stadium - the world does, in fact, revolve around the New England Patriots.
It starts with a simple enough question that gets into that nebulous, non-quantifiable stuff like MOTIVATION and GRIT and PROVING YOUR DOUBTERS WRONG and FIRE and all that; who’s got the biggest chip on their shoulder this season, Bill Belichick, Tom Brady, or Cam Newton?
The results were surprising! (Well, to me, at least, but I also may or may not have gotten into the Cuervo last night after the Celtics and Bruins both notched W’s, so, take that for what it’s worth)
That’s a pretty convincing majority of his show’s fans that think Cam’s got a chip the size of those Doritos JACKED on his shoulder, and where it really gets interesting is when the show starts riffing for almost 10 whole, glorious minutes on why Cam Newton is almost certainly motivated to go full Khaleesi on the rest of the NFL this season. Especially if his workout videos where he literally says he’s been forgotten and sh*t on are any indication.
Here’s the whole segment:
Let’s hit the high points, shall we?
Right off the bat, Rich goes in on an age-old take that I’d imagine makes almost every Patriots fan want to cross-check whoever’s saying it, and flat-out says “yeah we basically just made that up to fill space on shows after they kept winning Super Bowls so we’d have something to talk about”.
We’re talking about the classic “is it Brady or is it Belichick??”.
“The Brady-Belichick stuff is 20 years in the making. What would you say, was it the third Super Bowl? It wasn’t the first, it wasn’t the second, but it might’ve been right around the third Super Bowl, for three out of four years, after they beat the Eagles was the back-to-back.....Maybe right around that one in Jacksonville, I’m trying to remember...I think that was the ‘who needs to other one more?’, the birth of ‘we’re bored by all this in the media, we’ve got to come up with different storylines to talk about. Who’s the more important guy to the Patriots’ success winning equation, is it Belichick or is it Brady?’ It was right around then, so let’s just peg it right there. It has been 15, 16 years of this conversation on Sunday morning shows, shows similar to this one....it’s been a decade and a half of us asking a question to which there was no correct answer, and we were never going to get an answer, until 2020!”
Nice to hear someone just say it, at least.
Then they riff for a bit on how old QBs finishing out their careers on a different team usually just move to the west coast and chill, instead of Brady grinding like he has since he was at Michigan and gunning for his seventh ring on a team that could legitimately end up in the Super Bowl hunt.
“This is all ready-made for Brady to show ‘I’m going to do it’ and this is a guy whose entire career, a la Jordan, is creating perceived slights that no one in their rightful mind would ever place upon him, because of how he has constantly improved and proved everyone wrong. So that chip’s going to be huge.”
“And Belichick will never talk about the chip, but he is as competitive as they come. He is as competitive as they come. He is the guy who will never talk about the headlines in public, but you talk to any player that’s ever played for him, he’s Mr Bulletin Board Material. He’s literally making everyone aware of what’s being said about them. Remember when they were heading off to the Super Bowl a couple years ago and everyone’s like ‘we’re the old guys, everyone is counting us out, nobody believed in us’ and I turned to you on this show, sitting in this chair, like ‘who are these human beings?!?”
This next one about Belichick will never, ever get old, because dunking on Lane Johnson just always goes down smooth:
“Remember Belichick waited a year and a half after the Eagles beat them in the Super Bowl and said ‘we’re having more fun than them’? Do you remember Lane Johnson led that whole parade saying, that’s what they said the week leading up to the win of the Super Bowl in Minnesota, ‘we’re having more fun, those guys aren’t having fun’? Belichick waited a year and a half for the Patriots to beat the Eagles again, and what did he say at the podium? Just dropped ‘it was fun’.”
“It was fun, it was fun to go out there and get a win”
All right, let’s get to the Cam stuff already!
“And yet, my answer to this poll question is Cam Newton, because he literally has the most to prove. He has been totally counted out. Everybody forgets he has won an MVP award within the last half-decade. He was Rookie of the Year with one of the greatest rookie campaigns a rookie has ever had. He did what he promised to do in Carolina, which was be iconic and entertaining. He did live up to all of that. And nobody knocked on his door, except New England, and paid him a million bucks - really, seriously - it’s the equivalent of finding spare change in the NFL couch cushion, is what they’re paying him. And of course there’s incentives where he can get up to 7.5, but I mean, a mere bag of shells, to use the Honeymooners phrase...he played in Super Bowl 50. That’s not too long ago. This guy has truly been counted out.”
“And Cam’s replacing Brady. And so, who has the most to prove? Who’s got the shoulder chip bigger than Cameron Newton? That’s who I’d choose in this one.”
Man, especially with no preseason because of, well, you-know-what, the regular season can’t get here fast enough.