Ever since a late-season ESPN report detailed alleged tension within the organization, the New England Patriots have spent the past six months denying that there is rift in the working relationship between coach Bill Belichick and his players, specifically quarterback Tom Brady.
Outside interest in the team's dynamics only increased when starting cornerback Malcolm Butler was bizarrely benched during the Pats' Super Bowl LII loss. When Brady and All Pro tight end Rob Gronkowski opted to skip a portion of offseason practices, the football cognoscenti assumed the schism between players and management was widening.
That certainly wasn't the case in January and early February, James Harrison insists.
After joining New England in time for the team's annual playoff run, the former Steelers pass rusher was surprised to discover no internal issues whatsoever.
"All these stories that come out of all this friction and stuff, I honestly believe that it is made up," Harrison told FS1's Undisputed, via WEEI in Boston. "I came in there looking, I was like, 'I am going to see what is going on. They have trouble too, just like everyone else, right?'
"I get in there and I see nothing. They were interacting. They were talking. I don't see any friction. I believe they just make up these stories to pull the team tighter and closer together and that is really all it does."
That wasn't Harrison's lone revelation during his short New England stint. As a natural byproduct of the Steelers-Patriots rivalry for AFC hegemony, the behemoth linebacker arrived in the locker room prepared to unmask the greatest quarterback of all time.
"To be honest with you, I wanted to hate this dude," Harrison confided. "The whole time I am playing in Pittsburgh, I am like, 'I hate Brady.' Everyone is like, 'He's such a nice guy; he's such a nice guy.' We had LeGarrette [Blount], he came over and I was like, 'What's up with Tom Brady?' He was like, 'He's such a great guy' and I was like, 'Stop lying to me.'
"As soon as I get there, who is the first person I see happy with a smile on his face? I was like, 'He's just doing this because he has to do this, right? He's just faking.' You watch how he acts in the locker room, how he communicates with different guys, guys who have been there forever, guys who are just getting there, and dude, he's a great guy."
The Patriots' streak of Super Bowl appearances is in jeopardy due to several factors including Brady's advanced age, Gronkowski's injury history and the lack of star power on defense -- not to mention the ever-present sports bugaboo known as randomness. But there's little valid reason to believe football's 21st century dynasty is crumbling from within.