Outside of the big moves in Philadelphia this offseason, New England might have had the title for biggest news to start the season. The Patriots and their infallible leader, Bill Belichick, brought in two stars known more for their off the field antics than their recent on the field performance.
Chad Ochocinco is known more for his on the field celebrations, VH1 reality shows and Dancing with the Stars than his incredible hands. Albert Haynesworth is known as the guy who couldn't pass a conditioning test after signing a $100 million contract.
In either case, both players are high-risk. Haynesworth has shown up to camp injured and out of shape. Ochocinco after proclaiming to be "in heaven," quickly went back to his news making ways getting in Twitter battles with Skip Bayless and suggesting he will live with a fan for the first part of the year.
Coach Belichick and Tom Brady won't put up with this. They can't. Even as Belichick retools on the fly, the window is closing. Tom Brady won't always be Tom Brady and no one knows for sure if Brian Hoyer or Ryan Mallett can truly lead the team (although, it looked that way Thursday night.)
The Patriots will figure out a way to control them. They have done the same in the past and they will figure this out.
Odds are Chad Ochocinco and Albert Haynesworth are wearing a Patriots' uniform come Week One, but if you had to handicap it, Ochocinco looks like a much better bet at this point.
The one thing the Patriots' did when they brought in Haynesworth was make sure they restructured his contract so nothing is guaranteed until Week One. After that, all bets are off as to how he performs.
Haynesworth was never a practice guy and by all accounts, he doesn't look to be in terrible shape. He is, after all, a defensive lineman, what is he supposed to look like? Standing next to Vince Wilfork though, anyone could look good.
Haynesworth has been out of practice for over a week now but he might come on strong the last three weeks of the offseason to make the team. Haynesworth is driven by money and this might be his last shot to show he can play for money.
With money being Haynesworth's ultimate motivator, he will at least be determined to make the team. They hope.
Think about your job right now or the job you want to have. Would you take less right now to go to a place that views you as a number and only as a number?
Make no mistake about it, outside of Tom Brady, all Bill Belichick sees when he looks at a uniform is a number and some magical hallucinations of stats floating around those players. Players know that there is no loyalty in the NFL, it's a business. Belichick and Robert Kraft take that to a whole other level.
Everyone says they want to play for a winner and work for the best but at what price? Veterans seem to think that getting a one year contract at less money might lead to a bigger paycheck down the line.
The Patriots' don't ever use players motives when making personnel decisions. Someone who signed this offseason looking for a pay bump the season after and maybe a ring might not be around come Week One.
Even though players fully know signing a contract with the Patriots doesn't mean anything, they keep coming in.
If you arguably have the best coach and quarterback in the league, that should lead to a pretty stable locker room.
If Belichick is the brains of the operation, Brady is the voice. There is currently one undisputed leader in the locker room, Mr. Tom Brady.
How does someone dare challenge him when you were booed out of Washington or became a star for your big mouth rather than your on field talent? How do you come to Brady's house and slack off during his declining years?
Brady is a smart guy. His window is closing, he can tell. Maybe it's two years, maybe it's five, but the end is coming sooner rather than later. No one person is going to disrupt his chance to solidify him as the biggest winner in NFL history and maybe the best quarterback of all-time.
Brady gets in anyone's face if they step out of line. The normally mild-mannered Tom Brady changes on the field. It's all about the game and no one is going to keep that from happening. Not a loud mouthed receiver, not a lazy, fat lineman. You either get with the program or get out.
Brady will set these guys straight. Media sessions are one thing. Brady will say all the right things in public but in private, it will be nothing short of get your act together or get out.
The Patriots have instituted a media policy which is unwritten but basically says the following:
Don't say anything controversial. Only talk about yourself.
Ryan Mallett learned this the other day when fed a question about Tom Brady. his response was simple and the question was harmless. "What has Tom Brady done to help mentor you?" His response, a cold "I am really just focused on myself."
And that was for a question that was positive in nature. Imagine how they answer the negative ones.
Chad Ochocinco loves to talk about himself. It's his favorite subject. How great he is, what new exciting activities he is taking up or how he and former Celtic Antoine Walker have so much in common. (Burn!)
But seriously, if Ochocinco sticks to this one rule, which we all know he can, he will be fine in New England and media days will be a lot more interesting.
Not exactly how Hall of Famers are supposed to go out
Look at what happened to Randy Moss last season.
Publicly complained about his contract. Traded to Minnesota. Threw up on the locker room. Waived by Minnesota. Signed by Tennessee. Under performs. Gets no multi-year contract offers in 2011. Retires.
That was a big fall for someone who is considered one of the best receivers in NFL history. That was a Tiger Woods' fall from grace. Nine months. Moss went from the top of the game to out of the league in nine months. Just because he wanted to get paid. Imagine what happens if someone under performs.
Ochocinco and Haynesworth might be talented and Haynesworth has the potential to be the best in the league at his position, but neither are at the level Randy Moss was at when the 2010 season began.
It's a cautionary tale for sure. Don't make it in New England and you might be playing in the UFL.
These might be a little different in scenario but here are the similarities between Randy Moss and Corey Dillon and Chad Ochocinco and Albert Haynesworth:
1. They all needed a change of scenery.
2. All could still contribute.
3. They were all coming from perennial losers.
4. There was no real structure in any of their previous cities.
With the exception of Haynesworth and the last item on that list, those are all things New England can provide.
Randy Moss set records when he came to New England, igniting the most explosive aerial attack the NFL has seen. Corey Dillon won a Super Bowl. The Patriots find players who can make a difference and buy low on them and sell high on them. This is nothing new.
Moss needed a new contract and that is why he ultimately got the boot. Once you don't fit the system, you are out. There is a history here. The new guys know it. That's the biggest reason the Patriots need not worry about their two new "star" players.