BOSTON (CBS) — This offseason has been littered with talk about the Patriots being a fear-based organization, one that doesn’t have any fun.

While there has certainly been some controversy at Gillette Stadium this offseason, not having fun doesn’t seem to be an issue in Foxboro. Bill Belichick gave his team an early start on their summer break, cancelling the final two OTA sessions last week. The two days the team did report to Gillette Stadium, they were treated to a field trip to Fenway Park for some fun and games and a history lesson of football before being dismissed until training camp. Earlier this offseason, Belichick invited Kobe Bryant to practice to chat with the team. It sure sounds like the team is enjoying their time at work this offseason.

So is this a new Bill Belichick we’re seeing, one a little less grumpy and a lot more open to having fun? Has the Grinch of 1 Patriot Place’s heart grown three sizes since the Patriots lost Super Bowl LII? It may seem that way, but ESPN Boston’s Mike Reiss isn’t buying it. We’ve seen Belichick do these kind of things in the past, most recently cancelling practices in 2015, and Reiss says this year is really no different.

“Maybe I’m naive, but I don’t buy this is any different from any other year,” Reiss told Steve Burton on Sunday night’s Sports Final OT on WBZ-TV. “There have been trips they’ve taken to the movies or trips bowling. I get it, maybe Kobe Bryant coming to visit them, the trip to Fenway, the history day they had, maybe it’s a little more than the past. But I really believe that if you talk to players, they’ll tell you it’s not that much different than what they’ve done in the past.”

Reiss adds that Belichick cancelling the final two OTAs is a great sign that the team is ready for the start of training camp at the end of July.

“If I’m a Patriots fan and I see that, I’m feeling good. He’s not going to cancel them if he doesn’t think things are going well,” he said. “These spring practices, what they’re doing is previewing the start of training camp. He wants to run them through the first six or seven practices they’re going to have when they get back for training camp. So when the pace gets faster, these young players that are new to the system have an idea of what is coming so they can compete.

“They felt they had good progress and ended on a high note,” continued Reiss. “If he felt they needed more time, they would have practiced those days.”

Watch Steve Burton and Mike Reiss’ full discussion in the video above and tune in to Sports Final and Sports Final OT every Sunday night at 11:35pm on WBZ-TV!


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