Championship glory is fleeting. The Patriots won three Super Bowls in four years, then didn’t win another for 10 years. Banner 17 took the Celtics 21. The Bruins and Red Sox, far longer. When you get the chance to gloat, be you a fan or a player, you best take it.
No one need tell Kyle Van Noy twice.
Joining with Sony Michel and the McCourty twins for a day at ESPN’s Bristol, Conn., campus, Van Noy got his chance to thank Max Kellerman for all the motivation he delivered the Patriots, doubting Tom Brady throughout the run to a sixth Super Bowl victory.
“We won the Super Bowl. You can’t say nothing,” said Van Noy, a second-round pick of the Lions now with two championships to his name. “You can sit here and argue with me all you want. At the end of the day, he’s the GOAT and we won another Super Bowl.”
Patriots fans, @maxkellerman humbly accepts this honor 😂
— First Take (@FirstTake) February 5, 2019
The idea of the Columbia-educated Kellerman, whose punditry career started with a Gotham cable-access boxing show when he was a teenager, having nothing to say is cute. His spot on the keystone of ESPN’s debate programming, airing two hours every weekday morning and then replayed across the family of networks, gives him a megaphone he’s quite well versed in using.
Best known for his declaration during the summer of 2016 that Brady would hit a “cliff” and “continue balling until one day, before age 41, he won’t,” a declaration he attempted to slam in fans faces both early in the Super Bowl against the Falcons and in September of Brady’s MVP 2017 season, Kellerman’s become a frequent punching bag as the Patriots keep winning. Not that he doesn’t gleefully bring it on himself, again and again.
He’s declared the Patriots dynasty ended the moment Brady “undermined” Bill Belichick by forcing the Jimmy Garoppolo trade. That people believe Brady is greater than his stats, much as people did about Derek Jeter and Kobe Bryant, and that Andrew Luck had a better regular season in 2018. That Belichick plays a big role in all his success.
Kellerman doubled down during the latter half of this season. Brady wasn’t a top-10 NFL quarterback after the loss to the Steelers, and the worst of the final four quarterbacks in the AFC playoffs. He admitted to Van Noy he was wrong about Philip Rivers, though in the immediate aftermath of the Chargers win quipped “a lot of guys could’ve thrown to receivers who, every receiver was open by like 10 yards.”
Kellerman still believes Brady was “lucky” to beat the Chiefs, citing the phantom roughing-the-passer penalty and Dee Ford’s neutral zone infraction erasing a game-losing interception. And when the Patriots won on Sunday? Kellerman reiterated he believes Brady is the greatest quarterback who ever lived — a point he’s maintained despite all the years of cliff talk — but wanted Van Noy to admit Brady was reliant on the Patriots defense and running game to win another title.
“In the big moments, you’ve got to give it to him. He’s clutch,” Kellerman said. “But throughout a lot of that game, not the same guy. Are you telling me I’m wrong about Brady being in decline?”
“Yeah, I’ll take his wet noodle arm any day,” Van Noy said.
— First Take (@FirstTake) February 7, 2019
“He’s good at what he does. He is an excellent communicator. He’s excellent at what he does. He gets everybody orchestrated and runs the offense to the best of his ability with Josh McDaniels. And for him to have on the other side with Sony and the other weapons we have at receiver, as a defense, we just have to keep giving him the ball. … We knew if we kept getting stops, we knew they were gonna score and they eventually did. And we won the game. Again.
“He’s so mad,” Van Noy noted to Michel with a smile.
The conversation was reasonably lighthearted, Van Noy making sure all knew the Patriots hadn’t forgotten about FS1’s Rob Parker or that Kellerman’s partner Stephen A. Smith — a vocal Brady supporter — picked the Chiefs over the Patriots as well. Michel didn’t say much, crediting the Patriots veterans for helping him keep the faith as the team struggled at times in the regular season.
“I know these guys have been through this before, and they told me, ‘We’ve been in this position before,'” he said. “In the locker room, you can feel that. Guys are just believing in each other and we just kept working.”
Van Noy, however, was just as good on Thursday as he was in the postseason.
“Enjoy another year of talking about Tom again. … You don’t even deserve that Hater award,” he told Kellerman. “We just enjoy everybody that doubted us.”
— Kyle Van Noy (@KVN_03) February 4, 2019