Patriots

Former Patriots player defends the team’s often criticized culture

"We did have fun," Chris Long said, contrasting with comments a former Eagles teammate of his made.

Chris Long won a Super Bowl in his one season with the Patriots. Jim Davis/Globe staff

Former Patriots defensive end Chris Long was put in an uncomfortable spot in the days after his Eagles team defeated the Patriots in Super Bowl LII.

Eagles offensive lineman Lane Johnson said at the time that “‘The Patriot Way’ is a fear-based organization” and the players “act like [expletive] robots.”

Due to the fact that Long was on the Patriots a season prior when they won Super Bowl LI, several people speculated that he told Johnson that playing in New England under Bill Belichick wasn’t fun. However, Long took exception to that notion when asked about it in a recent interview with NBC Sports Boston’s Tom E. Curran on the “Patriots Talk Podcast.”

“Lane opened his mouth,” Long told Curran. “… Lane got walked into that, and it just stuck. And, of course, everybody was like, ‘Oh, Lane is best buddies with Chris. Chris is the one who said it.’ That always bothered the hell out of me, because all I’ve ever said is positives about New England and my teammates there.

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“We did have fun. I put on a Jules (Julian Edelman) mask. We were drunk as hell at the parade. We would enjoy the plane rides. Bill would let us sit in first class, which was awesome. Other coaches never did that and always complained about that.

“We had a tight-knit group. It was awesome man, the locker room was great. So I hated being misrepresented by association with that thing, because I did have fun up there.”

New England ended up avenging its Super Bowl loss to Philadelphia a year later, defeating the Los Angeles Rams in Super Bowl LIII. Even though the win didn’t come over the Eagles, that didn’t stop multiple Patriots players from trash talking Johnson following the franchise’s sixth title.

“Somebody said it wasn’t fun to play in New England,” Patriots safety Devin McCourty said in a video during the Patriots’ Super Bowl parade in February 2019.

“Lane Johnson, when you go to four Super Bowls in six years, that’s fun baby,” fellow Patriots safety Duron Harmon said.

“How many rings you got?” McCourty asked Harmon.

“I got three Super Bowls. What’s wrong with you, Lane Johnson?” Harmon replied.

Johnson stood by his remarks when asked about them ahead of the Patriots-Eagles regular season matchup in November 2019.

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“I have no regrets. No regrets,” Johnson said then. “I don’t care about fans talking to me. None of those guys are coming off the edge or bull rushing me so none of that really concerns me.”

As for Long, he retired following the 2018 season, leaving the game as a two-time Super Bowl winner. While he only spent one of his 11 NFL seasons in New England, Long said that “learning football from Bill Belichick was such a blessing,” adding that Belichick “didn’t hold a grudge or nothing like that when he left” and that they still text from time to time.

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