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Thursday, February 6, 2014

Looks like Robert Kraft’s Patriots are content to simply contend

Joe Marchilena

Everyone wants to win.

We talk all day about the lessons learned and the experiences gained from defeat, but the bottom line is, no one does anything with the intention to lose. That’s especially true at the highest levels of athletics. ...

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Everyone wants to win.

We talk all day about the lessons learned and the experiences gained from defeat, but the bottom line is, no one does anything with the intention to lose. That’s especially true at the highest levels of athletics.

There might be athletes who are happy to be there. I bet there are plenty of them who are excited to just be making the trip to this year’s Olympics in Sochi, Russia. Of course when they actually get to Sochi, they might change their minds.

It’s no surprise then that Patriots owner Robert Kraft had the following to say last Friday when he sat down for an interview with The Sports Hub’s Felger and Mazz.

“Nothing is more important to me personally than winning as many championships as we can win while the good Lord lets me be on this planet,” Kraft said, which is what you want to hear from the owner.

But take a closer look at some of Kraft’s other comments, where he mentions “managing our resources” to make sure that year in and year out “we are putting ourselves in the best position to win.”

When asked if he’d ever consider having the Patriots “load up” to win a championship before quarterback Tom Brady retires, Kraft said it was better to “be solid and be able to compete year in and year out.”

The Patriots tried to load up once, or at least loaded up in the most Patriots’ way possible. In 2007, they loaded up by adding Adalius Thomas and Donte Stallworth as free agents, and traded for Wes Welker and Randy Moss.

It may not have seemed like it at the time, but that turned out to be loading up, and as fate would have it, it lasted for a year. Thomas became a malcontent and Moss returned to being one. The rest of the defense got old and Brady got hurt, but instead of rebuilding, the Patriots, well, as Kraft said, they didn’t reload.

I’m not sure there is a word or phrase for what New England did. Maybe get smart?

It doesn’t take a genius to figure out how bad the AFC East was and continues to be. And with one of the greatest coaches in NFL history (Bill Belichick) and one of the greatest quarterbacks (Brady), it doesn’t take much else to beat out the Bills, Jets and Dolphins.

What it sounds like is that Kraft is fully prepared for his Patriots to settle for AFC East championships – they’ve won the last five and 10 of 11 – and have a shot at winning the AFC and maybe a Super Bowl.

I don’t need to remind you it’s going on 10 years since that’s happened, do I?

You’ve seen this story before, or have you forgotten what the Jeremy Jacobs-owned Boston Bruins looked like before 2011? Remember how the Bruins made the postseason for the first 21 years Jacobs owned the team – with nine division titles, I might add – and only got a faint whiff of a Stanley Cup?

If people keep showing up at games and the Patriots keep winning – and continue to make money – why change?

And that’s too bad, because it certainly sounds like Kraft, and presumably Belichick, is fully prepared to waste the final 10-plus years of the career of one of the best quarterbacks in NFL history.

I hope you’ve still got space left in the closet for more “AFC East Champions” gear.

Joe Marchilena can be reached at 594-6478 or jmarchilena@nashuatelegraph.com. Also, follow Marchilena on Twitter (@Telegraph_JoeM).