By Ron Borges
Sportswriters and fans never cease to amaze me. Troy Brown’s visit to the New York Jets last week reminded me of that once again.
Apparently based on nothing but air, some media folks in these parts assumed that, as one person put it, Brown “would not ever consider teams that would be slated to play the Patriots this season.’’ What was that based on?
A week later Troy Brown had run a down and out to Long Island to meet with the Jets, a logical choice actually based on his knowledge of Eric Mangini and many of his assistant coaches and the team’s proximity to his home in Massachusetts. Obviously, Brown would rather finish his career in New England but if he has been told to look elsewhere, as has been widely reported, why would he exclude anyone?
More to the point, why should he?
Loyalty anywhere but in professional sports is a two-way street. Brown has played admirably and courageously for 15 years in New England. He has done everything and anything he was asked and been well paid to do it. Fair deal. Loyalty had nothing to do with it.
But was it really necessary for Bill Belichick to leave him in street clothes for what may well have been the final two games of his career in New England? If Belichick had any thought that he would not bring Brown back in 2008 – and since he thinks of everything months ahead of everyone else on the planet except for the proper use of a video camera one has to assume he at least had an inkling of what was coming for Troy Brown. So would it really have been too much to ask to dress the guy for the Super Bowl?
Spare me the nonsensical “doing what’s best for the team’’ jive. There is nothing Troy Brown would do on a football field, or in the locker room or on the practice field, which would not be good for his team. Anyone who tries to argue otherwise is an idiot in all capital letters.
Belichick has the right to make whatever personnel decisions he wants but after not being allowed to dress for what likely was to be his final game as a Patriot just why should Brown then exclude any potential future employer? Out of past kindnesses? What past kindnesses?
Having not spoken with Brown for a while I have no idea if he will end up with the Jets, or Bill Parcells’ Miami Dolphins (who could surely use his character and locker room presence as well as his still evident, though slipping, abilities) or elsewhere or back in Foxborough or out of football all together. If he’s not going to play for the Patriots the Jets certainly would seem a smart choice because it’s a short train ride or car ride from home and he knows well what they are trying to do offensively.
Seeing Brown in Jets’ colors would be stomach curdling for Patriots’ fans and understandably so except for one thing – his team not only has told him it has no use for him but chose to deny him one last chance to wear their uniform in the biggest game of the year. If you think that’s sentimental, it’s because it is. So what? It’s not like one is advocating benching Randy Moss (not that it would have mattered the way he disappeared in the playoffs) in favor of Troy Brown. What we’re talking about is letting the guy stand with his teammates for one more National Anthem in the nation’s biggest football game of the year.
The message from all this should be clear to fans, media types and players alike. It’s the same message that has been coming out of Foxborough for over seven years now and it’s simple to understand: You want to find loyalty buy a dog or a dictionary because that’s the only place you’re going to find it these parts.
All sides of the sporting equation should understand this by now, which only makes reports speculating that a long-time fan favorite like Brown would not consider playing for one of his former employer’s rivals is absurd and nonsensical. Any athlete unwilling to explore all his options in this day and age will soon find himself out of them.
And out of the league.