Dy­namic duo

Sam feels drive, am­bi­tion to suc­ceed put Belichick and Brady ahead of NFL curve

Cape Breton Post - - SPORTS - BY DAN RALPH

They’re pro foot­ball’s dy­namic duo, the crusty head coach and age­less quar­ter­back, chas­ing yet an­other Su­per Bowl ti­tle.

But former Patriots re­ceiver P.K. Sam be­lieves it’s a burn­ing de­sire to con­stantly prove them­selves that sets New Eng­land’s Bill Belichick and Tom Brady above the rest in the NFL.

“It’s a rare case of two peo­ple be­ing on the same page,” Sam, also a former CFL player, said via tele­phone. “They both had a lot to prove . . . and I think they just came to­gether and said, ‘No mat­ter what, we’re go­ing to do this.’

“It’s some­thing I don’t think we’ll see again in our life­time.”

Belichick be­came New Eng­land’s head coach in 2000, five years af­ter be­ing fired by the Cleve­land Browns. Brady, now 39, ar­rived months later as a sixth-round draft pick de­spite a 20-5 record as a two-year starter at Michi­gan.

They’ll make a record sev­enth Su­per Bowl ap­pear­ance to­gether Sun­day when New Eng­land faces the At­lanta Fal­cons. A win would be their fifth, the most for a head coach-quar­ter­back tan­dem.

The six-foot-three, 210-pound Sam knows a thing or two about Belichick and Brady. The former Florida State re­ceiver was a 2004 fifth-round pick by New Eng­land and spent two sea­sons there, re­ceiv­ing a Su­per Bowl ring as a 21-year-old rookie.

Since ‘01, New Eng­land has the NFL’s most reg­u­larsea­son (196), play­off (24) and Su­per Bowl wins (four). Belichick and Brady have been a con­stant for a fran­chise for­ever tweak­ing its ros­ter.

Sam, 33, ap­peared in two of New Eng­land’s first five games in 2004 be­fore go­ing on in­jured re­serve with a groin in­jury. Sam said he locked horns with Belichick about the move be­cause it cost him roughly US$70,000 in salary and Sam felt he could’ve re­turned later that sea­son.

Sam went to the re­serve/sus­pended list in Jan­uary 2005 af­ter vi­o­lat­ing team rules. He wasn’t with the Patriots when they beat the Philadel­phia Ea­gles 24-21 in Su­per Bowl XXXIX.

Sam also played for Cincin­nati, Oak­land, Mi­ami and Buf­falo as well as Toronto (2008-09, 2011) and Cal­gary (2010) in the CFL. He re­mained up­set about the New Eng­land sus­pen­sion un­til 2012 when while lis­ten­ing to a ra­dio pro­gram he heard some­one say, ‘Un­til you wish suc­cess for peo­ple, you your­self will never re­ceive it.’

That prompted Sam to write an apol­ogy to Belichick, stat­ing he hoped one day they could meet and shake hands. That hap­pened months later at the Su­per Bowl in In­di­anapo­lis where the Patriots lost 21-17 to the New York Gi­ants.

Sam wrote Belichick again last week but his let­ter was aimed at Patriots play­ers.

“I’m not sure he’ll have time to read it to them,” Sam said. “It’s to the younger guys to just make sure they’re on the same page.

“It doesn’t mat­ter if you’re on IR or the prac­tice squad, you’re still part of the team and your ac­tions can help or hurt the team go­ing into Su­per Bowl Sun­day.”

Time has given Sam a new per­spec­tive on Belichick’s tough-love ap­proach.

“It’s dif­fi­cult when you’re young but as an older guy now what he teaches you lasts be­yond foot­ball,” Sam said. “Ac­count­abil­ity and the slo­gan that’s be­come fa­mous and at­tached to his name: ‘Just do your job.’ That’s life.

“You go in and fo­cus on your job . . . keep your head down, give 100 per cent and life works out. He holds you to a dif­fer­ent stan­dard and if you don’t (meet) those stan­dards he gets rid of you. It’s that sim­ple.”

Sam also got to know Brady while in New Eng­land, shar­ing a locker be­side the star quar­ter­back.

“He’s a great guy and he’s hu­man, I think peo­ple for­get that,” Sam said. “Some­times when we talked he’d tell me sto­ries about how he missed go­ing to places he used to be able to go to be­fore he started win­ning Su­per Bowls.”

AP PHOTO

In this De­cem­ber 2016 photo, New Eng­land Patriots quar­ter­back Tom Brady (12) stands by head coach Bill Belichick dur­ing the first half of an NFL game against the Los An­ge­les Rams in Foxbor­ough, Mass.

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