In 2003, on a hot summer’s day during practice, newly acquired safety Rodney Harrison did what he was trained to do. Practice hard.
As receiver Troy Brown came across the middle, Harrison saw an opportunity to lay good wood on Brown. Harrison knew only one speed, and when Brown entered his sector, he blew him up. Brown popped up, and in a startled manner, had a look of “hey, this is practice man!”
Then the flood gates opened, as the offensive players rushed to Brown’s side and rushed Harrison. The defensive players weren’t going to let the them get at Harrison.
That folks, is team building in a nutshell. It's how good teams become great, and the Patriots went on to win the Super Bowl that year.
Toughness, mental or physical, is the ingredient of a winner. Talent gets you into the NFL, toughness keeps you there.
So many are having conversations on Boston radio, asking “are the fights good or bad?”
We told the story above not for effect, but for a reason, and yes, fights are good. Nate Solder, who will be guarding Tom Brady’s blindside, first pissed off rookie Chandler Jones. Then he managed to get under the skin of Brandon Spikes. We don’t know about anyone else, but we want a nasty SOB to be Brady’s bodyguard, not a polite doorman who will get pushed around while getting his QB killed. Chandler is a rookie so we understand him blowing his cool, but Spikes? We say good work Solder. Once you have them fighting, they aren’t thinking about the game.
On the defensive side, this had been lacking since the departure of Harrison.
Yesterday, Bobby Carpenter got into a dust up with Shane Vereen with the help of Patrick Chung, and the offense, just like in 2003, took exception. Bill Belichick and Tom Brady talked to the team explaining that it’s good to have emotion, but it's bad not being able to control it.
However, when you look at it, in the Patriots' past two Super Bowls, the New York Giants were the nastier team.
So a little attitude may go a long way towards finally finishing the goal - winning the Super Bowl, not getting to it.