Hannable: Bill Belichick is still preaching same message, which isn’t a good look for Tom Brady, Rob Gronkowski

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Photo credit Jim O'Connor/USA Today Sports

Fresh off of rookie minicamp last weekend, three players selected by the Patriots in last month’s draft — Duke Dawson, Ja’Whaun Bentley and Christian Sam — addressed the media for the first time on Tuesday and all had the same general message.

“Everything is earned,” Dawson said, summing it up best. “It’s not given. You’ve got to come in and earn everything.” 

All three didn’t want to discuss much about what they did in college, as that doesn’t matter anymore. They are in the NFL and members of the Patriots. They haven’t accomplished anything yet. 

The trio also talked about learning from players and coaches already in the organinzation, taking in as much information as they can.

“You know, we’ve just been, us rookies, getting in, trying to catch up to all the vets and learn as much as we can and be a sponge,” Sam said. “Just get as much information as we can and just work hard and try to find our place in the building with the vets.”

“Just going out and just competing every day, trying to improve myself – like I said, learning from the coaches and the veterans,” Dawson added. “That’s always how I’ve been when I first went into college, just going in and trying to learn everything with open ears.”

Just by listening to the three speak, it was clear Bill Belichick has instilled in them the same message he’s preached for the last 19 seasons. What happened in the past doesn’t really matter and it’s all about the present — what are you doing now. It’s the same culture where the new players look up to the older players, the ones who have been around the longest and been major parts of the winning culture in New England.

This brings us to Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski, who haven’t yet shown up for any of the voluntary offseason workouts even though OTAs are approaching and its the middle of Phase 2.

Belichick hasn’t changed his style following some players (former Patriots and players on other teams) speaking out against it in the offseason, so like in past years the groundwork for the 2018 season is being established now, in May, and not when training camp rolls around in July.

For years we praised Brady for being the first person in the building around 6 a.m. on the first day of these voluntary workouts, but now that he’s not attending them at all we’re supposed to say it’s no big deal and they don’t really matter? What about the last several years when Alan Branch was a no-show for the voluntary workouts along with mandatory minicamp and he was criticized for it -- just because Brady and Gronkowski are much better players it’s OK for them?

For rookies like the three who spoke Tuesday and others who are joining the Patriots for the first time, Brady and Gronkowski are the players they are looking up to most. After all, they are among the best in the history of the game at their respective positions, so of course younger players are going to look up to them.

The two skipping out on these spring sessions doesn’t exactly send the greatest message to these rookies and new players on the roster. Sure, these players know Brady and Gronkowski are on a different level, but over the years it’s these superstar players working just as hard as players trying to earn a spot on the roster that has made the Patriots so successful. 

If a new player sees Brady being the first player in the building, what’s their excuse for not showing up early?

OTAs are set to begin next week with the media getting its first look at players on the field on Tuesday. While knowing Brady and Gronkowski haven’t been participating is a bad look, actual camera footage and photographs of Brian Hoyer throwing passes to Dwayne Allen and Cody Hollister would make it even worse.

While these sessions are voluntary, the same players were praised for their presence in the past, so why is it different now when they aren’t there?