Harmon embraces Patriots 'swagger' and non-complacency

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Harmon embraces Patriots 'swagger' and non-complacency

FOXBORO -- A familiar refrain was heard across the National Football League this spring: are you bleeping kidding me? The Patriots got that guy?? Bleep. Whether it be Brandin Cooks or Stephon Gilmore or - to a lesser degree - the likes of Kony Ealy, Mike Gilislee and Rex Burkhead, the Pats offseason activities made the defending Super Bowl champs a more talented team, at least on paper. 

“That just shows that this is a team that’s always looking to get better,” Duron Harmon told me. “The players aren’t complacent. The coaches aren’t complacent. The organization isn’t complacent, and I just think when you have that type of mindset coming from up top, coaches, players, the organization, it is easy for the players not to get complacent. We know we have to continue to get better, continue to work. We gotta do everything we did and more last year to try to do what we want to do again this year.”

Harmon has a terrific perspective on the how the operation is run. He has consistently improved, to the point where he was a fairly well sought after free agent. But his first choice was to return to Foxboro, and the two sides made it happen. Was there more money elsewhere? Yes, but the steady Harmon embraces being a Patriot and embraces those around him. 

“When you have a good group of guys, I think that’s what makes playing this sport for this team even better, that’s what makes me even more excited,” he said. “Being able to go out there with a great group of guys, guys that I love and depend on {and} they depend on me… when you have that type of chemistry, that brotherly love, it makes playing football more fun and easier.”

Easier is an interesting word choice. There’s nothing easy about being a member of this team, this organization. Forget about expectations outside the building, the ones inside are far greater, and more pressure-filled than anything we could cook up. That said, the continued success provides an obvious ground floor for the players to build off - hey, you’re Super Bowl champs - and that wealth of experience in all sorts of situations breeds confidence.

“We get the swagger more so from the work we put in,” said Harmon. “If you look at how we practice, how hard we practice, how much work we put in with the weights, the film room, iI think that’s what gives us our swagger because we really believe - I believe - no teams, or very few teams, put in the amount of work we put in. That gives us the type of confidence so that when we got out there we say we’ve seen this before, we’ve been thru this before so let’s just go out here, play by the rules and everything will be fine.”

Coaches and teammates alike point to Harmon as one of the steadiest voices heard throughout the season and certainly at halftime of the Super Bowl. Listening to him talk tells you exactly why.

Matt Light: Better ways to protest than kneeling during national anthem

Matt Light: Better ways to protest than kneeling during national anthem

Matt Light told the Boston Herald that watching the dozen-and-a-half or so New England players who kneeled during Sunday's national anthem was "the first time I’ve ever been ashamed to be a Patriot," and he expounded on that during a Monday appearance on Toucher & Rich.

"As a country, we face a lot of issues," he said. "We have a lot of things we have to do better. There are mistakes that get made, there's bad people, there's a lot of things out there, right? And as an NFL player, as a guy who spent 11 years in that locker room, I know the power that that platform creates . . . It gives you an amazing ability, if you want to try to help a situation or raise awareness, you can do it.

"But shouldn't there be some consideration as to how you do it? Shouldn't we ask of the leaders in that locker room, and the men that represent the Patriot brand, shouldn't we hold them . . . accountable for their own actions? And shouldn't we at least beg of them to consider what it is they're doing and the impact that it'll have in the greater community?"

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Light told the Herald he was at the game with a 91-year old veteran and the wife of a slain SEAL Team 6 member who was at her first NFL game. He said on Toucher & Rich:

"Now, again, I would just encourage people to say to themselves, 'Is there a better way to handle this?' And had they done that, they wouldn't have disrespected a guy like Dom Rasso, who is a SEAL Team 6 member, who I was standing next to, and also the widow of a SEAL Team 6 member who was there for her first game, and she literally cried.

"I mean, that's a shame. Because men decided that their way was more important than the other men and women in this country. And if you have something that you want to get a point across on, speak to it. Put your time and energy into it. Put your resources towards it. Do something. To take a knee during our national anthem sends a very clear message to many, many millions of Americans and it's not the right one. And they know that. Yet they chose to do it anyway. That's what I have a problem with."

Light didn't accept the arguments of former teammate Devin McCourty, and others, that the protest was against incidents of police mistreatment of minorities, and the disrespect many players -- particularly black players -- felt from President Donald Trump's remarks and Tweets over the weekend. Nor those of Patriot receiver Brandin Cooks, who stressed: "A lot of people think we're disrespecting the flag or the military, but my father was a Marine. My uncle was a Marine. My family fought in the Vietnam War. I have the utmost respect for the men and women that are fighting for our freedom . . . The message is more respect and unity and there's only so many ways that you can do it."

"This is so black-and-white and so simple. Right?" said Light. "So very 'x equals 8,' because that's the kind of a guy I am.

"The President of the United States . . . the way he does things, I don't agree with. But we all know what he was saying. We all know that he was saying that we should respect the national anthem. He never said that 'I don't like black people.' He never said, you know, 'I'm a racist.' Right? Which is what these guys are alluding to, that he must be a racist because he's saying that we should stand for the national anthem and he's trying to keep us down. Or whatever it is, right?"

That statement drew pushback from co-host Rich Shertenlieb:

RICH: What [Trump] did do, was he said that somebody who kneeled because they believed that there were black people who have been abused by the police system (as Colin Kaepernick did), that somebody like that should be fired because he did a silent protest.

LIGHT: I'm not sure how you got that.

RICH: Easily!

LIGHT: If he said that they should be fired . . .

RICH: He did!

LIGHT: . . . for taking a knee, which he did say, I'm not sure that you . . . all the other stuff you implied in that is something that . . .

RICH: Well, why did Kaepernick take a knee? Why did Kaepernick take a knee?

LIGHT: Listen, I don't know. Because Kapernick didn't go much further than taking a knee. He talks about racism and police violence and all these things, right?

RICH: He spoke at length about why he took a knee.

LIGHT: Right, right, right. So, and he took a knee for those things, right? And that was his decision to do that. I don't know why Devin McCourty and the rest of the guys took a knee, because I haven't seen them take the time to really articulate . . . As a matter of fact, only a few of them talked about it after the game. Again, I just encourage people to understand what's really at heart here. The President wasn't trying to subdue or keep people from taking some kind of a stand on what they believe in. Nobody does that. America stands for that. That's what we are as a nation. To have to say it's about free speech is a little ludicrous because we understand that we have free speech.

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Tom Brady on Donald Trump: 'I certainly disagree with what he said'

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Tom Brady on Donald Trump: 'I certainly disagree with what he said'

After beating the Texans on Sunday, 36-33, Tom Brady didn't want to delve too deeply into what went into his locking arms with teammates during the national anthem. 

"I just think," Brady said, "there's just a great love for my teammates."

He didn't want to get into Donald Trump's comments about players kneeling for the anthem, but he was willing to go there during Monday's Kirk and Callahan Show on WEEI.

"Yeah, I certainly disagree with what he said," Brady explained. "I thought it was just divisive. Like I said, I just want to support my teammates. I am never one to say, ‘Oh, that is wrong. That is right.’ I do believe in what I believe in. I believe in bringing people together and respect and love and trust. Those are the values that my parents instilled in me. That is how I try and live every day.

"I have been blessed to be in locker rooms with guys all over the United States over the course of my career. Some of my great friends are from Florida, Virginia, New York, Montana, Colorado, Texas. The one thing about football is it brings so many guys together -- guys you would never have the opportunity to be around. Whether it was in college, and all the way into the pros. We’re all different, we’re all unique. That is what makes us all special."

Brady was one of several players locking arms on the Patriots sideline for the anthem. More than a dozen others, including Devin McCourty, took a knee. Just before and immediately after the anthem, fans booed the demonstration.

"I think everyone has the right to do whatever they want to do," Brady said of the response. "If you don’t agree, that is fine. You can voice your disagreement, I think that is great. It’s part of our democracy. As long as it is done in a peaceful, respectful way, that is what our country has been all about."