Maybe, somewhere in the bowels of Gillette Stadium or below deck on the good ship VII Rings, Bill Belichick is secretly checking in on the Internet and quietly chuckling over the offseason drama surrounding the New England Patriots.
If so, he’s a very busy man. The latest hit comes from San Francisco 49ers defensive end Cassius Marsh, who described his time with the Patriots as “nothing fun” and said that he considered “not playing football because I hated it that much.” Against that backdrop came photos of quarterback Tom Brady living the good life, perhaps the best life, on a yacht in Monaco, rather than sweating it up during voluntary workouts with the team.
Let’s begin with Marsh, who made nine appearances and one start for New England last season. He told the San Francisco Chronicle about his displeasure with the Patriot Way.
“They asked me to do a bunch of stuff that I had never done: covering running backs and receivers and basically almost never rushing the passer, which is what I did in playing defensive line,’’ Marsh said in the interview. “They don’t have fun there. There’s nothing fun about it. There’s nothing happy about it. I didn’t enjoy any of my time there, you know what I’m saying? It made me for the first time in my life think about not playing football because I hated it that much.’’
Marsh, 25, a fourth-round pick by Seattle out of UCLA in 2014, was traded to the Patriots in September for fifth- and seventh-round draft picks. He had a sack, a forced fumble and 16 tackles in nine games with New England before being waived.
“I was kind of left with a coach who it was almost like he was almost fighting to keep me off the field,” Marsh said. “I had to really fight and scratch and claw for any opportunities I had. Obviously, we had a very deep defensive line, especially at the defensive end position. It was just constantly being told that [I was] kind of like a backup type of guy. But I knew and believed in myself: That’s not who I am.”
Marsh said he took his complaints to Belichick and, two days later, was waived. “I won’t get into detail, but it was BS things they were doing. I just wasn’t a fan. And so I, basically, without asking to get cut, I kind of asked to get cut. … I had confidence that I would have an opportunity elsewhere and I would take advantage of it.’’
In six games with San Francisco, he had 10 tackles, two forced fumbles and two sacks. Marsh, who signed a two-year, $7.7 million contract extension with the Niners in the offseason, faced criticism from Patriots fans; he responded with a video post on Reddit that has since been deleted.
“I just want to address all you Patriots fans who don’t like this new article. I’m sorry to hurt your feelings. Seems to be breaking your heart. But if you can’t handle the truth, stay off my page,” he said (via Pro Football Talk). “Don’t read articles. That’s how I felt. That’s how I still feel and I’m grateful to be away from there, grateful to be where I’m at.”
Brady looked pretty grateful, too, making an appearance for Tag Heuer at the Monaco Grand Prix and hanging out with the beautiful people. He also participated in a voluntary workout with Monaco Grand Prix champion Daniel Ricciardo.
As Patriots owner Robert Kraft said when he downplayed Brady’s absence from organized team activities, the quarterback now has business and family obligations that demand his attention, but Kraft fully expects Brady to attend next month’s mandatory minicamp. Still, the league’s 31 other starting quarterbacks are going through OTAs. Perhaps, with his 41st birthday looming in August and coming off an MVP season that included a Super Bowl appearance, he feels adequately prepared for the season, no matter how many unaddressed questions remain over the controversial presence of his personal trainer and business partner in the locker room last season. According to an ESPN report, the resulting schism in the Belichick-Brady-Kraft collaboration was serious enough to require a postseason sit-down. In a conversation earlier this month with Jim Gray, Brady sounded a little hurt and said he’d “plead the Fifth [Amendment]” when asked whether he feels appreciated by Kraft, Belichick and the Patriots.
“Man, that is a tough question. I think everybody in general wants to be appreciated at work and in their professional life. There are a lot of people that appreciate me more than — way more than I ever would have thought was possible as part of my life,” he told Gray. “You have different influences in your life, and I think the people that I work with are trying to get the best out of me. They are trying to treat me in a way that is going to get the best out of me, and I have to get the best out of myself.
“What I am learning as I get older is it comes from within — the joy, the happiness — those things come from within the inside. To seek that from others, from outside influences, people you work with, people that cheer against you or cheer with you, I feel like it comes from within for me. I am trying to build up what is within me so I can be the best for me so that I can be the best for other people.”
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