This week former all-pro running back LaDainian Tomlinson stated that he would rather be elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame than win a Super Bowl ring. On Friday former New England Patriots linebacker Tedy Bruschi disagreed with Tomlinson saying that winning a Super Bowl is more important.
The statements by Tomlinson and Bruschi show a fundamental difference in thought based on player experience. Under Bill Belichick, the Patriots have always been a very team oriented group. For the Patriots players both current and former, no personal accolade supersedes the overall team’s success. Bruschi’s comments Friday just confirm what is seen as the Patriots way of thinking.
To be fair, these two players are on two separate post-career paths. While Bruschi was a solid linebacker and team leader, he was no more than a quality NFL player. Tomlinson on the other hand finished his career with 13,684 yards which places him fifth all-time in career rushing yards and will likely be a first ballot hall of famer. So Tomlinson does have a choice that Bruschi doesn’t.
But Tomlinson’s view is one that is shared with others in the league and many of which never spent much if any time on Belichick’s team. Patriots starting quarterback Tom Brady embodies that team’s mindset expressed by Bruschi. With three Super Bowl MVPs and two NFL MVPs thus far, Brady is a sure-fire first ballot hall of famer but has always given the impression that records mean little compared to winning. He made that clear after a record setting performance against the Denver Broncos in last year’s playoffs after which he stated that nothing is more important than winning.
In an era where most professional athletes are seen as more concerned with personal performance than winning championships the Patriots over the past decade have been a team that has always put winning championships first. Whether it’s team comments or personnel moves, Bruschi’s opinion is in line with what is seen as a Patriots view of success.