Oh Hell Yeah: Johnson Takes Aim at Patriots
PHILADELPHIA (973espn.com) - "Stone Cold" Steve Austin is known for opening a can of whoop-ass on his hapless opponents as perhaps the greatest drawing card in WWE history.
These days the former wrestling superstar spends his time as an actor, reality-TV star and podcast host, the latter of which had Austin talking with fellow Lone Star State native Lane Johnson.
Johnson, the Eagles' All-Pro right tackle, used the platform to continue cutting "promos" on the team that Philadelphia beat in Super Bowl LII, the New England Patriots.
Johnson first criticized the so-called "Patriot Way" after the big game, calling it a fear-based culture where players were not allowed to have any fun.
Johnson stepped up his game while chatting with one of the best mic men in the history of pro wrestling on Tuesday.
"What's the biggest difference between Philadelphia and the Patriots?" "Stone Cold" asked L.J.
"Here's what pissed me off," Johnson began. "The Patriots, obviously, I respect their coach, I respect Bill [Belichick], I respect Tom Brady, but just because they won Super Bowls the Patriot Way, is that supposed to be how everybody else is supposed to do the same thing?
"No, it's not. And that's what I got mad at, the arrogance of them. There was obviously some stuff behind closed doors. Their owner talking s@#$ to our owner. Bill talking s@#$ to our head coach before the game. I'm not going to say it, but a lot of s@#$ built up to that and I just got tired of hearing about it, man, to be honest."
Johnson then took aim at the talent the Pats brought to Minneapolis.
"I saw a defense that wasn't overly talented," the veteran explained. "It was all really about containing Tom Brady. We had a hard time doing that -- he had 505 yards. But that was really it, man. Going into the game, I'm not going to be shell-shocked by it. That was kind of our thing going in. I think we had the upper hand on that."
Johnson believes far too many opponents are beaten before they take the field about New England, cowering in the shadow of reputation.
"The way I try to approach the game, I try to approach it fearless," Johnson said. "We talk about the Patriots, I got in a lot of trouble running my mouth. But my thinking was they give too much respect to these f!@#$%^ guys. Everybody is half-assed scared of them and they're beat before they get on the field. I ain't playing Tom Brady -- I don't give a f@#$ about him.
"I know that defensive line ain't going to do s@#$ against us and that was kind of my approach. I'm out there talking s@#$ to them, but our meeting rooms, I'm telling our guys that and I think a lot of times before games, a lot of guys are beat mentally."
One of the greatest rivalries in wrestling history was Austin vs. Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson, now arguably the biggest star in Hollywood.
Austin and The Rock had a trilogy of high-profile Wrestlemania matches, the first taking place at WM XV in Philadelphia and the others being fought at the Astrodome in Houston (Wrestlemania X-7) and Safeco Field in Seattle at WM XIX, Austin's last match before retirement.
Perhaps the Patriots and Eagles will have a similar rivalry in the NFL. If so Johnson is doing his best to hype the potential rematch but he also admitted that his team could learn at least one thing from the "Patriot Way."
"I think we can learn from the Patriots, even though I don't like them," Johnson admitted. "I think you can learn from them. They've had that consistency year in and year out for a long time and it's hard. People want to pat you on the back and tell you how good you are. And that's the worst thing you can do, to have that relief factor, kind of pause and think everything's made for you."
-John McMullen covers the Eagles and the NFL for 973espn.com. You can reach him at email@example.com or on Twitter @JFMcMullen
Want more NFL? Check out John's piece on the Matt Patricia mess in Detroit over at GetMoreSports.com.