By Matt Dolloff, 985TheSportsHub.com
Lane Johnson is really hearing it from New England. In the wake of the Patriots' win over the Rams in Super Bowl LIII, the Philadelphia Eagles right tackle's comeuppance shall commence.
Quick reset: Johnson first drew the ire of New England last season when he went on the Barstool Sports podcast Pardon My Take and said, out loud, "I'd rather have fun and win one Super Bowl than be miserable and .... win five Super Bowls." He also described the Patriots as a "fear-based organization" that forces players to act like "[expletive] robots."
The Eagles went on to beat the Patriots 41-33 in Super Bowl LII, so it took another calendar year for Johnson's words to finally burn him back. The struggling Eagles surged in the second half of 2018 and made the playoffs, but ultimately fell to the Saints in the NFC divisional round. The Patriots, of course, won it all.
Now that the Patriots notched their third Super Bowl win in four appearances over the last five seasons, they're letting Johnson know that playing in New England is, in fact, fun. No more directly than safety Duron Harmon, who you can watch in the above Instagram video. Devin McCourty starts it off with "Somebody said it wasn't fun to play in New England." Then Harmon, who has played in four Super Bowls in six seasons with the Pats, delivered his own message as he called out Johnson by name.
Jason McCourty also alluded to Johnson's comments in a postgame interview after the Super Bowl.
J. McCourty to WBZ TV: “They said it wasn’t fun here. They said it wasn’t fun here. This seems pretty fun to me.”
— Ty Anderson (@_TyAnderson) February 4, 2019
And center David Andrews appeared to take a more subtle shot on Twitter. It's unclear if he really meant it that way, but using the word "fun" is some coincidence considering what's being said around him. I took it as a perfect mix of highlighting the fun and showing Bill Belichick some respect.
Football is fun SIR
— David Andrews (@dandrews61) February 5, 2019
Belichick took a lighter approach to the offseason ahead of the 2018 season, canceling their final OTAs in favor of other team-building activities, like a trip to Fenway Park to play Cornhole. He also didn't appear to have much of an issue with Tom Brady or Rob Gronkowski sitting out the offseason until mandatory minicamp. Linebacker Kyle Van Noy and cornerback Stephon Gilmore certainly didn't sound like robots in their consistently entertaining interviews on Zolak & Bertrand.
The looser feel to this Patriots team ultimately resulted in a Super Bowl championship and one of the single most impressive playoff runs of the Belichick-Tom Brady era. Harmon made two hugely impactful plays in the game, a pass breakup on a potential touchdown for Brandin Cooks and a blitz on Rams quarterback Jared Goff that hurried him into the throw that Gilmore intercepted late in the fourth quarter.
Those plays, and the ensuing celebrations after the 13-3 Super Bowl win, were definitely pretty fun.
Matt Dolloff is a digital producer for 985TheSportsHub.com. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Have a news tip, question, or comment for Matt? Follow him on Twitter @mattdolloff or email him at [email protected].