Haters gonna hate

Haters gonna hate
March 21, 2013, 4:00 pm
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Between all the Wes Welker craziness and yesterday’s banishment of the Tuck Rule, it’s been a busy few weeks for the Bill Belichick haters.

In Welker’s case, the conversation has revolved around Belichick’s ego, tight wallet, questionable negotiation tactics and general knack for treating players like disposal, easily-replaced pieces of junk. I know it was an emotional time, but reading some of the comments around interwebs, you would have thought this team was on the fast track back to the Dick MacPherson/Rod Rust era. THIS TIME, Belichick had gone too far. He’d crossed the line to the point of no return.

With the Tuck Rule, the conversation eventually found its way back to how the entire Patriots dynasty is a sham. That it was born out of a ridiculous rule (even if the call was correct) and then perpetuated by years of illegal reconnaissance and outright cheating. “He still hasn’t won a ring without his cameras!” is a popular claim. And I agree. I mean, just think how different things might be if Belichick had been able to sneak a peak at the Giants practicing The Helmet Catch during their walkthrough.

Just this afternoon I was reading a story that compared Belichick to Barry Bonds, and naturally, Patriots fans to San Francisco Giants fans — aka the spineless saps who continue to stand blindly by their hero, while the rest of the world can easily see that he’s just the devil in a hoodie (or in Bonds' case, a XXXXXXL baseball hat).

And you know what? I don’t disagree with everything from the previous few paragraphs. There’s definitely some real truth to the Welker arguments, and I’m willing to admit that there’s a decent chance that I’d hate Belichick’s guts had I been born anywhere outside of New England. But at the same, there’s no doubt that there’s a side of Belichick that the haters conveniently ignore, or just can’t see. And that there are aspects of his undeniably ruthless negotiating tactics that affect the fans and media far more than they do those who actually live and play in that world.

Take Adrian Wilson. A 12-year NFL veteran, five-time Pro Bowler, one-time All-Pro safety and the newest member of the Patriots secondary. He had his introductory conference call with the media this afternoon, and had this to say about the events that led him to signing with the New England.

“Whenever Coach Belichick calls, you answer,” he said. “That's not a call you send to voicemail. Obviously being able to be competitive every year, and being able to not only [compete] for the playoffs and the division championship, but also have a chance to go to the Super Bowl. Ultimately, at the end of the day, I'm going to come in and compete with everybody else and see what my role is on the team. I have no problem with that. Coach Belichick was very up front with me. I have nothing but total respect for him and what that organization has done throughout the years. New England was definitely my first choice. All the reports were saying I wanted to stay out west, but that wasn't true. It wasn't a hard sell. At the same time, talking to Coach Belichick . . . I just felt like it was the right fit.”

Now, obviously he’s going to speak glowingly about his new coach in the immediate aftermath of signing a contract, especially when he’s still trying to win a job. But the fact is that Wilson’s been around the NFL for more than a decade. He understands the way things work. He’s not only well aware of the baggage that comes with playing for Belichick, but I’m sure he has friends and former teammates who have played for him.

He knows the deal, and it doesn’t matter.

And as long as players around the league continue to feel that way, the haters’ hate becomes less and less significant.

Not that that will stop them.