FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- The Patriots have a response to former members of the organization who have been critical of the culture in New England: Losing is no fun, so we'd rather be here.
Defensive end Cassius Marsh, who was picked up by the San Francisco 49ers last season after being waived by the Pats, said recently that there was nothing "fun" or "happy" about playing for New England.
The Patriots aren't buying it.
"I'm always having fun, but I get it. Cassius had a frustrating time here. I didn't think he would get released here and say New England was the time of his life. He can't wait to try to come back some day," Patriots captain Devin McCourty said after Thursday's organized team activities.
"I think every experience for everyone, no matter what, is different. ... You look at it, a team that beat us in the Super Bowl and you have guys [on their team] who are talking about it, so it's front-page news. Cassius leaves, he played here, so that's another one.
"But I think if you ask any guys on this team, the fun we have comes from hanging with each other, the relationships between the guys. A lot of our fun happens right in the locker room even before we come out here and have fun winning football games. Obviously, we work for a living, so in this business, you have to win. When you lose, that's not fun. People get fired. That's not fun."
McCourty, entering his ninth season with the Patriots, added, "We got a couple guys from Cleveland that went 0-16, and they told me that wasn't fun. I'm going to try to stay on this side."
Coach Bill Belichick echoed that point when asked if he views it as important to make things fun for players.
"We feel what's important to us is to win, so that's really what we're trying to do," he said.
Another captain, Dont'a Hightower, entering his seventh year with the Patriots, acknowledged that the team's culture is demanding, and because of that, "it's not for everybody."
"It's definitely harder than most places, but I mean, that's part of it. A lot of guys know that when they come here," he said. "But in the locker room, it's not Bill's job to make this fun and this atmosphere fun; it's the guys around it. Every guy in that locker room, I love like a brother. We have fun, whether it's out here struggling together -- blood, sweat and tears -- or we're back in the locker room or we're hanging out outside of football.
"So, there's a time and place for everything, but we know whenever we walk through the building, it's time to work."