FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — Since leaving the Buffalo Bills, cornerback Stephon Gilmore has roused the rabble with comments about how much he enjoys the way his new team operates.
In praising the New England Patriots for the traits that have made them a dynasty or at the very least relevant, Bills fans have taken Gilmore's words as insults toward them.
To wit, he tweeted: "My People finally going to get to see me play on tv."
My People finally going to get to see me play on tv. #Patsnation#aboutthattime
— The Gilly Lock (@BumpNrunGilm0re) July 17, 2017
After last week's victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers to clinch the AFC East title, Gilmore said the Patriots "have been beating me my whole career. So I'm glad I'm on this side now because these guys, man, they play together as a team. Everybody is out to win. That's one thing I love about this team."
I stopped Gilmore in the Patriots' locker room in Gillette Stadium to talk about whether Sunday's game should be considered the next chapter in a budding rivalry, two competitive teams with some bad blood freshly stirred in after Rob Gronkowski's cheap shot of Gilmore's replacement, rookie cornerback Tre'Davious White, three weeks ago.
Gilmore was robotic, his interesting-o-meter toggled to a low level.
"This is a big game," Gilmore said. "They got a good football team. We got a good football team. They played us tough the first time. It's a big game, you know?"
A big game, you say?
"I talked to a lot of the guys in the offseason," Gilmore said. "Some of the guys are not there anymore that I played, but it's definitely a big game."
A lot of former Bills have emerged to say Rex Ryan's defenses were too complicated and the environment too lax. Current Bills have suggested the same by mentioning Sean McDermott's refreshingly organized approach.
I asked what Gilmore thought.
"It's a different organization," Gilmore said. "I'm thankful for my time in Buffalo. I played five years there. This is a new team, different players, different philosophies, different calls. It's definitely a different team."
To summarize, the overarching point here is that the Bills are different.
So what makes the Patriots the NFL standard where other teams can't seem to galvanize philosophies?
"There's no magic about it, really," Gilmore said. "It's just hard work and everybody trusting each other and playing together as a team. Everybody have each other's back. It's teamwork. That's how you get the best team, coming together.
"In Buffalo, we did that sometimes. As long as you play together as a team you win games."
And within seconds a technician escorted Gilmore by the arm into a side room, where a circuitry panel was removed from the back of the cornerback's neck and the next Bill Belichick-approved microchip implanted.