By Matt Dolloff, CBS Boston
BOSTON (CBS) — One of the most popular (and probably overwrought) storylines heading into Tom Brady’s return to the playing field is whether he will be playing with the proverbial “chip on his shoulder” after being dragged through the mud and over-punished for DeflateGate. With the whole controversy in the rear-view mirror, it’s possible that Brady plays with a little something extra as he sets out to win his fifth Super Bowl.
Tight end Martellus Bennett has been the Patriots’ biggest weapon in the passing game so far in 2016 and figures to be one of Brady’s favorite toys as the offense inevitably opens up with No. 12 back under center. When asked about Brady or anyone else on the Patriots playing with a chip on his shoulder, Bennett kept the focus on the team before going on a whimsical tangent about chips, a perfect answer that only he could deliver.
“You can’t play this game without a chip on your shoulder,” he said to reporters Thursday. “Whether there’s guys that got cut, guys that got traded, guys that feel like they got passed up by other teams … to play this game, you’ve got to have a chip.
“Everybody’s chip is a little bit different. It’s like Lay’s, I guess … You might be a BBQ guy, you might be a sour cream & onion guy, but as long as you have your chip, that’s what gets you through the game.”
When asked whether he thinks the NFL and commissioner Roger Goodell may have given Brady “an extra chip,” Bennett added, “Goodell looks like a Pringle guy. I don’t consider those chips.”
Interpret that last part however you want, but no other player in the NFL (outside, maybe, Martellus’s brother Michael) could give an answer like that. Bennett stayed in line with the Patriots’ team message and gave his own unique take on the very concept of having a chip on your shoulder, all wrapped into a neat package.
The Patriots may be the ultimate “Chip on your shoulder” team with the way they have repeatedly responded to adversity and stepped up in the face of doubters and intense scrutiny in the Brady/Belichick era. Brady has been a guy who “got passed up by other teams” for his entire career as the 199th overall pick in the 2000 Draft, so there’s no doubt that he constantly plays with that on his mind. Goodell’s chip? Only Brady knows that.
Ultimately, Brady is not the only player in the NFL who ever plays with a chip on his shoulder, but he will certainly have one on Sunday against the Browns. The way he looks in his return could be an indication of just how high those chips are stacked.
Matt Dolloff is a writer for CBSBostonSports.com. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect that of CBS or 98.5 The Sports Hub. Have a news tip or comment for Matt? Follow him on Twitter @mattdolloff and email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.