FOXBORO, Mass. – Hey Bill Belichick, wanna rehash that Super Bowl loss?
"I'm not worried about last year anymore."
OK. How about this year, then ... ?
"It's time to have a good practice. I thought we had a good practice this morning. We'll make the corrections this afternoon. Put in some new stuff and practice it tonight."
What about further out, like maybe past tomorrow ... ?
"What do you want me to do, sit here and talk about November? I don't even know who's going to be playing in November. For us or them. Whoever it is. Our deal is what's in front of us. What's behind us we can't do anything about."
Welcome to New England Patriots Training Camp 2008, where the past is passed and tomorrow might as well be a decade away.
At a recent practice, Belichick unveiled his talking points for dealing with lingering questions about the Patriots heart-stopping, dynasty-derailing loss to the Giants in Super Bowl XLII.
He also divulged his long-term plan for exacting revenge on the NFL and restoring luster to the team of the '00s.
Also, see above.
It's football business as usual in Foxboro, a point amplified by Belichick's attire —a cutoff gray sweatshirt with an equally exquisite pair of cutoff gray sweatpants. Those looking to kick through the smoking rubble of 2007 won't find it here. It's all been cleared away. Good as new.
Can it really be that easy though? Can the Patriots just forget they were the best team in NFL history until the final 25 seconds of their 19th game? Can they swallow the fact that – despite all they accomplished – that team is actually the 43rd best team ever? Can they take another season of scrutiny similar to what they endured in 2007 when the franchise went from revered to reviled because of Spygate?
How do they resign themselves to pushing the proverbial rock all the way up the hill again after they got it to the summit last year only to have it roll back over them?
"I'm sure it's what everyone wants to know," said venerable inside linebacker Tedy Bruschi, back for his 13th season. "Every question is, 'How do you move on, how do you move on, how do you move on?' Well, you'll see. You'll see how we move on."
The stunning conclusion to the Patriots 2007 season has caused people to forget how utterly dominant they were.
They had the greatest offensive season in NFL history. Most points scored (589). Most touchdowns scored (75). The single-season record for touchdown passes (Tom Brady's 50) and receptions (Randy Moss' 23). Most wins (18). The first 16-0 regular season. Point spreads over 20 on a regular basis. They scored 38, 38, 38, 34, 34, 48, 49, 52, 24 and 56 in their first 10 games and beat eight of the 12 teams that made the playoffs.
But the punctuation mark at the end of the regular season and the Spygate fallout that carried over into this offseason — changed the way the Patriots are perceived. The Super Bowl left them looking vulnerable. The controversies — Spygate, running up the score, player arrests in this offseason — made their model franchise reputation questionable.
PFT: Jets RB Mike Goodson was charged with five gun and drug counts Friday morning, after New Jersey State Police found the car he was riding in parked in the middle of Route 80 in Denville, N.J.
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