BOSTON (CBS) — There is no defined explanation for what “the Patriot Way” actually is. It’s a term that applies to the way that Bill Belichick has run the organization for 20 years, but it’s also a term that Belichick doesn’t even acknowledge himself.
Nevertheless, the “Patriot Way” mythology endures, and it mostly boils down to this: No one player is ever above the team.
Partly because of this, one of Cam Newton’s first thoughts upon hearing of New England’s interest in him revolved around how he might mesh with Bill Belichick. But it’s a relationship that certainly can work, according to Willie McGinest. Provided, of course, that Newton buys in to the way the Patriots operate.
“I think like any other player — whether it’s Corey Dillon, Randy Moss, any other player, high-profile player with a big ego and personality — that’s coming to our organization, they quickly find out it’s about team. Team ranks over individualism, no matter who you are, how big your personality is, how good you are, what draft pick — none of that matters. And players respect that,” McGinest said on the “Pardon My Take” podcast. “They respect the fact that all the players in that locker room get treated the same, have the same treatment, everybody’s getting held accountable, everybody prepares the same, and the rules are in place for everybody. There’s no exemptions. So I think he will respect that and I think he’ll also respect that he’s going to an organization that has had a lot of success without him, and he can be a part of something really good if he buys into it. ”
McGinest, who was an unquestioned locker room leader in Foxboro during the run of three championships early in the dynasty, said that the 31-year-old Newton is in a great spot to revive his career.
“Cam is very smart. Cam now has a huge chip on his shoulder. And he is in a position to go to a great organization and prove that he still can be Cam Newton, the MVP that we saw a couple years ago,” McGinest said.
As for his own rooting interests, McGinest said it would be tough picking a side if his former team went up against his great friend, Tom Brady, in the Super Bowl.
“That’s tough, man. That’s tough,” McGinest said. “You know, the Patriots, New England’s my home. Tom is my brother. I don’t know, man. Whenever I watch these games I got brothers on each team. I’ve gotta be unbiased because of my job. But that’s a tough one, man, because you want to see them both have success.”
McGinest can relate to Brady, too, as the former linebacker left Belichick and the Patriots as a free agent in 2006. While it’s obviously a different situation when the greatest quarterback of all time leaves the franchise for which he won six Super Bowls, McGinest said it just always comes down to business when Belichick and the Patriots are involved.
“I can’t say that I was surprised, but what I can say is I know that both sides wanted to work it out. It just didn’t happen that way,” McGinest said of Brady’s departure for Tampa Bay. “And I think the fact that Tom wanted some long-term insurance, he felt like he had a lot left in the tank, that he was still playing at a high level, and the fact that the Patriots probably offered something that he wasn’t comfortable with, and he had to make a decision. I left New England, too, and went to Cleveland. That’s one of the toughest things for a player to do after a number of years, calling some place home, this is where he’s had all his success, all his friends, family, he’s helped build that organization, all his ties. That’s the toughest thing to do in the world. But at the end of the day, you gotta do what’s best for you and your family, and I think both parties understood that. It’s a tough conversation that he had to go in and talk to Mr. Kraft, he had to have that conversation with Bill Belichick, and I guess they agreed to disagree and go their separate ways.
“I think Tom has been feeling some kind of way for the last couple of years, that he’s been wanting to get that reassurance from the organization,” McGinest continued. “And maybe he didn’t feel that way when his deal came up, when he was a free agent. And you know sometimes with the Patriots, they move a certain way, and you can’t be disrespected by it, and you can’t feel a certain way. And I certainly went through that myself. You’ve got to understand that with them, it’s business. And I know you’ve got the GOAT right here and you’ve got the best player at that position ever, but it was emotional and it came down to two sides just not agreeing going forward.”