This is how it’s going to be. Every week, the smallest thing will be blown into the newest controversy surrounding the New England Patriots. On Thursday night, it was problems the Pittsburgh Steelers coaching staff had with its headsets. Head coach Mike Tomlin said they picked up the Patriots radio broadcast for much of the first half. The thought of Pittsburgh coaches listening to color commentator Scott Zolak call Rob Gronkowski’s first touchdown as it happened brings me 100 kinds of joy.

Never mind the facts that NBC failed to present in its broadcast, such as the Patriots also had problems with their headsets, and it’s a problem in stadiums around the league, and the NFL is in charge of in-game team communications. NBC didn’t mention any of that, because none of it fit the preconceived narrative.

That incident, along with Pittsburgh quarterback Ben Roethlisberger’s complaints that the Patriots broke an unwritten rule that in his mind requires opponents to lie down and stop playing when the Steelers are inside the 2-yard line, are enough to make you scream. The Patriots can’t win just by being the better team anymore. No matter what, opponents are convinced something is up, despite the ever-present lack of evidence.

The Patriots have crawled so deep into opponents’ heads, it’s like they’ve been their all along. Like Lombardi Trophy clutching earwax, the Patriots are in the heads of every team they play.

It will at least happen seven more times, with each of New England’s remaining home games. Here’s how I expect it to all go down.

Sept. 27: After a crushing loss to the Patriots, Jacksonville head coach Gus Bradley opens his postgame press conference by tossing a voodoo doll dressed to look like Jaguars quarterback Blake Bortles onto the podium. “Found this is the locker room an hour before kickoff,” Bradley says. “I’m not saying who put it there, but this stuff always happens up here.”

Oct. 25: Like the Steelers earlier in the season, the New York Jets complain of headset problems. Only this time, it’s with the radio in quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick’s helmet. Fitzpatrick complains that he never hears the play called in from the coaches. A Harvard graduate, Fitzpatrick says all he heard was the Yale fight song, over and over again. “This never happens anyplace else,” Fitzpatrick says.

Oct. 29: After losing on Thursday night, Miami head coach Joe Philbin accuses the Gillette Stadium grounds crew of allowing the grass on the field to grow too long, slowing down his team’s offense. When told the playing surface is artificial turf, Philbin scoffs. “Is it? Is it really? That’s what they want you to think,” Philbin says.

Nov. 8: Searching for answers following a devestating loss to the Patriots, Washington owner Dan Snyder says that everything started to go wrong for his team when Bill Belichick convinced him to trade up in the 2012 draft to acquire quarterback Robert Griffin III. When reminded that Washington made that trade with the St. Louis Rams, Snyder shakes his head. “I’m not here to debate history,” he says, “but I know what I know.”

Nov. 23: Hours after his team loses in New England, Buffalo Bills head coach Rex Ryan holds a press conference to discuss what he calls a “very serious” concern. Ryan plays backwards a tape of Tom Brady making signal calls at the line of scrimmage. “See, there’s clearly a subliminal message here,” Ryan says. “If you listen closely, you hear the words ‘Miss the tackle. Don’t cover Gronk.’ I’ve been in this league a long time, and I’ve never seen this before.”

The Today Show devotes an entire show to trying to find subliminal messages in every press conference Bill Belichick has ever given.

Dec. 6: When a Nor’easter hits, the Philadelphia Eagles have trouble getting from their hotel to Gillette Stadium. Philadelphia media theorize the Kraft family must have paid off road crews to make the route from Providence to Foxborough as slick as possible. “All I know is, this didn’t happen when we played at Dallas a couple weeks ago,” Eagles coach Chip Kelly says.

A few days later, ESPN’s Chris Mortensen reports that according to league officials, 11 of 12 Massachusetts state snow plows were spotted in Tom Brady’s neighborhood.

Dec. 20: Tennessee Titans coach Ken Whisenhunt blames his team’s loss to the Patriots on a mysterious visitor to the locker room at halftime. “As we were going over second-half adjustments, a man disguised as Santa Claus came in. Next thing we know, all our Gatorade had been replaced with egg nog. It was warm egg nog, too,” Whisenhunt says.

Within days, NFL commisioner Roger Goodell assigns special investigator Ted Wells to look into the alleged egg nog incident. Lawyer Jeffrey Kessler sends Goodell a fruit cake.

Travis Lazarczyk — 861-9242

[email protected]

Twitter: @TLazarczykMTM

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