Eleven days ago, the Patriots announced that “many of us” won’t be attending offseason workouts. For the first week of Phase One, however, many of them did.
Mike Reiss of ESPN.com reports that a “significant group” of Patriots players showed up for the start of the voluntary program.
Per Reiss, participants included quarterback Cam Newton, tackle Trent Brown, tight end Jonnu Smith, receiver Jakobi Meyers, defensive back Jalen Mills, and receiver Kendrick Bourne. Multiple players posted images on social media of activities away from the facility.
“It was a reminder that one of the primary values of offseason programs is the chance to build in-person camaraderie,” Reiss writes.
And he’s right. Whatever the true motivation for players staying away from team facilities (last night’s videos of a maskless Tom Brady and teammates at the UFC event in Jacksonville reconfirms that the pandemic ain’t it), the teams whose players choose to participate in the offseason program will be better prepared to thrive when the season begins. That’s where the union brotherhood takes a back seat to the band of brothers that becomes a football team that tries to capture the prize for which 31 other teams will be vying.
Those whose players stay away will have proven a point, whatever that point may be. Those whose players show up will have a better chance to build a legacy that will be remembered years after the collective bargaining brouhaha of April 2021 is long forgotten by even the most zealous fans and the most plugged-in media members.