For those who believe the conspiracy theory that ESPN hates the Patriots, I offer two words: Tedy Bruschi.
Bruschi, the former Patriots linebacker and current NFL analyst for ESPN, spent the better part of Monday defending his former team and ripping everything about the Eagles' Super Bowl win, from Doug Pederson's coaching style to the end-zone celebrations that came to be identified with the Birds' championship run. And he's no fan of Eagles lineman Lane Johnson.
The bad blood started before the Super Bowl, when Johnson called Patriots quarterback Tom Brady a "pretty boy" and said there's "nothing I'd like to do more than dethrone that guy." Johnson's criticism continued after the Eagles' Super Bowl win, when he called the Patriots a "fear-based organization" on Barstool Sports' Pardon My Take podcast.
"You only get to do this job one time, so let's have fun while we're doing it," Johnson said. "Not to be reckless, but I'd much rather have fun and win a Super Bowl than be miserable and win five Super Bowls."
Enter Bruschi. On Monday, the ESPN analyst jumped on First Take to blast Johnson's comments and defend his former team, assuring host Max Kellerman that he and his Patriots teammates "had so much fun" during meetings, practices and on the team plane during their Super Bowl runs.
"Here's the problem: The game's over. It's been a week. We're going on … over a week now and he's still talking about the team … he beat. Why are you bringing up the Patriots when all you should be talking about is the celebration of your championship?" Bruschi said. "This is the first time you've won one, and this is a sign when people just don't know how to regularly win football games."
Bruschi has a point, but he doesn't appear to understand that part of the motivation for Eagles players such as Johnson was their underdog status throughout the playoffs. But the former Patriots linebacker wasn't done; he also appeared to insult Pederson's reputation as a players' coach in defending the managerial style of Bill Belichick.
"If you want a relationship, and you want to double-date with your coach, I mean, go play with those guys," Bruschi said. "Unless you want to learn how to win games and consistently win games throughout your career, you play for Bill Belichick."
OK, score settled, right? Hardly. Bruschi then jumped on The Will Cain Show on ESPN Radio to blast the Eagles for everything from end-zone celebrations to the rubber dog masks that symbolized the team's underdog status.
"I'll tell you what. Coming from a guy that failed going back-to-back [as Super Bowl champions] once, and then succeeded going back-to-back once, it takes a lot more than planned end-zone celebrations, dog masks, and trick plays to go back-to-back," Bruschi said. "So if you think it's going to be all fun to win another championship next year, you got it all wrong. It takes serious men, it takes serious conversations, it takes serious practices, goal-setting, all of that stuff. So he's going to see how hard it is."
So, sorry, Philadelphia. Apparently, you're allowed to have fun while winning the Super Bowl, but not too much fun.
After Bruschi's comments, Johnson offered a succinctly savage response.
"Once a company man always a company man, Tedy," Johnson wrote on Twitter.