Column: Patriot of the future

In this Feb. 4, 2018, photo, New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski (87) warms up before the NFL Super Bowl 52 football game against the Philadelphia Eagles in Minneapolis. Gronkowski has paid a visit to a hospital in Maine, where he made a donation and met with kids. Hospital chief operating officer Jeffrey Sanders said Tuesday, Feb. 13, the hospital is grateful and added, "Gronk will always be a champion" to people there. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara)

The most popular sports are team sports. Sports are entertainment and entertainment is a celebrity-driven world. Personas are established, stars are cultivated and role models are made. In a community, especially in a rabid one like Boston, being a standout athlete can earn you an undying legacy. More often than not, that legacy is bestowed upon players that fans can call their own—players that started with an organization and endured with that organization, performing spectacularly all the while.

Right now in Boston, there are new heroes being made, yet one key team is missing out on the fun. The Boston Red Sox have a young core of Xander Bogaerts, Mookie Betts and most recently Andrew Benintendi—a horde of potential future All-Stars. Throw in, to a lesser extent, Jackie Bradley Jr., the Killer B’s moniker, outfield dancing and the Sox have a crew set to keep a decade of success rolling into the future with several household names.

In 2016, the Boston Celtics drafted Jaylen Brown No. 3 overall to some chagrin. A year later, they dubiously dumped the No. 1 overall pick for the No. 3 pick in order to Jayson Tatum. Both moves had critics, yet both have worked out sensationally. Brown is a mega athlete with great potential off the court, Tatum a savvy scorer whose incredible shooting was an early season boon. The pair of wings, easily the most important position in the contemporary NBA, have electrified the fanbase and once they are joined in either 2018 or 2019 by another top-five pick, will have a “Big Three” of their own to attack the future with.

The Boston Bruins had three consecutive first round picks in 2015, and while Jake Debrusk has been good this year, they didn’t exactly nail it. They’re doing just fine in the young star department. David Pastrnak was drafted No. 25 in 2014 and became a productive player surprisingly fast. Charlie McAvoy, their first-round pick in 2016, and Brandon Carlo, a second-round pick in 2015, have quickly become stalwarts defensively with potential to anchor the blue line with dominance for years to come. The pipeline is also flush with other young talent with potential to pop as well, like recent Olympic standout Ryan Donato.

Away from the city, down in Foxboro, lies the most successful of them all. The New England Patriots, fresh off wrapping up year 18 under the domain of Tom Brady and Bill Belichick. The duo has been at the forefront for an eternity it seems. They have had great ancillary stars in the past. Moss, Welker, Branch, and Bruschi to name a few. Currently Julian Edelman and Rob Gronkowski are among the best in the NFL at their position. Yet neither are novel. Edelman is coming off an ACL tear and Gronkowski is mulling retirement.

Who’s got next? Besides Josh McDaniels, who knows? They antagonized Malcolm Butler, Brandin Cooks appears to have a ceiling and no first round picks the past two years have hurt internal development. There was this guy, a backup quarterback, Jimmy Garappolo. Maybe you’ve heard of him, he just got the most money in NFL history. He’s young and handsome, but he’s also a quarterback and according to sources, notably in a piece by Seth Wickersham for ESPN, that wasn’t tenable for Brady and his camp. He was shipped out the door and so was the Patriots’ lone chance for succession, not just on the field, but in the lore of fans as well.

It will be interesting to see what is next. Brady is defeating father time, but he won’t forever. Nor will Belichick coach forever. The team has three picks in the top-two rounds this draft. Can they find an heir to the throne? For a fan constituency who currently has host of other phenoms to choose from, they better, and soon.

Matt Barresi is a staff writer for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at