Written by: Ian Logue
Posted August 4, 2015 at 1:46 pm
We’ve already seen in recent years how important a player like Rob Gronkowski is to this football team, and it appears the Patriots are taking steps to ensure he stays in New England.
ESPN’s Field Yates reported on Tuesday that the Patriots made a move to try and keep Gronkowski in a Patriots’ uniform through at least the end of the decade.
According to Yates, New England accelerated Gronkowski’s year-end roster bonus, paying him $4-million of his $10-million bonus as a show of good faith. Since Gronkowski has a four-year option that can be exercised at the end of the season and included that bonus, it appears it’s now just a formality that he’ll be sticking around for the foreseeable future.
He’ll reportedly receive the balance of the bonus after the season.
Gronkowski has already done so much in such a short period of time that its hard to believe he’s just 26 years old and still has so much football still ahead of him. Fortunately it looks like he’ll be playing much of it in New England, which is definitely good news.
Written by: Ian Logue
Posted August 3, 2015 at 8:00 am
The Patriots get to enjoy a day off on Monday after four strong days of practice, and here’s a quick rundown with some news and notes from this morning.
Dobson off to a strong start:
After returning an already talented receiving core in 2015, the Patriots have seen noticeable improvement from Aaron Dobson, who has impressed so far during training camp. He’s been one of the players who have stood out early on, including a play on Sunday where he out-leaped Malcolm Butler on a deep pass play when it appeared that Butler might have a shot at picking it off.
Those are the types of plays New England needs out of their third year receiver, and Dobson sounds like he’s starting to gain some confidence, which if he continues to shine could give Tom Brady another strong option in the offense.
“It’s always fun just to make plays like that,” Dobson told the Boston Herald. “He threw the ball up for me, and I’ve got to make a play. He’s trusting me to be consistent.”
At 6’3″, Dobson joins Brandon LaFell and Brian Tyms as the biggest receivers on the team. LaFell obviously had a strong performance last season and is expected to be a big contributor again this season, and Dobson working his way back into the mix will only make this group better.
“I owe it to myself,” Dobson said. “I’m just trying to come out here and make every single play I can. Every ball that comes my way, I’m just trying to grab it. However it is, bad throw, good throw, uncatchable, catchable. I’m just trying to make plays.”
Butler Looking Good So Far:
Patriots’ cornerback Malcolm Butler has looked good so far during camp, although he’s had some tough battles that have included some one-on-one match-ups against Julian Edelman. On Sunday the two went at it on several occasions, and while Butler got the best of him at times, the veteran receiver had moments of his own including one where he made a terrific catch over Butler, spinning the ball at his feet as Tom Brady came over to celebrate.
Those are the types of battles that are fun to see, and Butler has enjoyed the in-team rivalry that goes along with his role at this time of year.
“When we’re at practice, I tell Tom, ‘Throw the ball, throw the ball, throw at me,’ ” Butler told the Boston Globe. “But when he gets me, he’s going to let me know he threw it. So he let me know he threw it.”
One interesting tidbit pointed out by the Herald was the fact that Butler practiced one day earlier in camp iwth his fingers taped together. The apparent reason was to work on trying to avoid drawing a penalty. “Holding, it hurts you,” Butler said. “Trying to prevent that from happening.”
He and Brady have gone back and forth, adding a little intensity to the workouts. Butler enjoys the competitive banter, and enjoys the fire the veteran quarterback brings to the team.
“It makes us feel good,” Butler said. “He lets us know he wants to come after us and get us better. At the same time he’s getting his players better.”
Edelman also had some encouraging words about his teammate, telling the newspaper of Butler, “Most people talk and can’t back it up. That’s one of the guys that can back it up. That’s all I’ve got to say about that.”
Mason and Jackson Getting Some Important Reps:
One interesting note is the fact that the Patriots obviously have confidence in rookie guards Shaq Mason and Tre’ Jackson, with the two getting a lot of reps with the first team offensive line. Mason has been at left guard, while Jackson has been at right guard.
Ryan Wendell remains on PUP while Dan Connolly has retired, and that’s allowed the two to earn an opportunity for themselves so far during camp, and so far it appears they’re both playing well. It’s early, but definitely something to keep an eye on if they continue to improve.
Rookie long-snapper Joe Cardona is settling in well so far.
Cardona Adjusting Well:
As a member of the Navy long-snapper Joe Cardona has had an interesting offseason, with Shalise Manza Young of the Boston Globe writing a good piece about him this morning. Cardona has had a tough road to get to this point, having to balance his responsibilities and the military during this offseason, which was difficult. However, Cardona said that the team has been flexibile and they’ve been supportive, which has made the transition easier and so far things are going well.
“As of right now, there’s a lot of people supporting me. My command in Newport is super supportive of me, the Patriots are supportive of being flexible, and it’s been evident through OTAs and everything,” Cardona said. “So as far as I can tell, everything seems smooth and I just have to show up and do what I’m told, do my job, and we’ll see what comes of it.”
Cardona has also earned the respect of teammate Steve Gostkowski and so far the chemistry has been great, which is good news as the two are certainly two key components that need to work well together heading into 2015.
“He’s come in and worked hard and done well with us, and that’s what training camp is for, to go through the ups and downs, the bumps,” Gostkowski said. “They try to tire you out and wear you out mentally and the coaches are doing a good job of doing that to him. He’s handling it well so far and we’re just excited to form a lot of chemistry and make a lot of kicks and keep special teams doing really well.”
Manza-Young Gives an Inside Look:
Speaking of Manza-Young, there was an interesting article on SI.com about women in sports, and she was highlighted for what it’s been like to be a pregnant female reporter covering the team.
The Boston Globe reporter spent the 2015 season pregnant with their third daughter and she’s just a couple of weeks away from her due date. She was also pregnant for the entire 2013 season, which is a challenge for a female reporter but one that brought some fun moments.
She provided some insight into what it’s been like for her, and pointed out some encounters with players that have made it enjoyable.
“Two moments stick out from that season: in September, when I wasn’t quite to the halfway point but starting to show, defensive end Chandler Jones says to me, “Hey, Shalise—you’re starting to look big. Can I say that?” I assured him that yes, in that situation, I was OK with him saying that.”
“In December, Tom Brady remarked that I looked good. Now, when you’re around 30 weeks pregnant, you don’t always feel like you look great. But to have a man who’s married to Gisele Bundchen, one of the most beautiful women in the world, remark that I looked good, well, I gladly put that little feather in my cap!”
Manza-Young said that Jones has had some additional fun with her this time around.
“Chandler is having even more fun with my pregnancy this time. Twice over the opening days of training camp he’s mocked my waddle, spreading his feet, pushing his belly out and trying to imitate my walk. Running backs coach Ivan Fears has offered to come to my aid if I go into labor while I’m at practice sometime in the coming days.”
Patriots Make A Couple of Roster Moves:
New England released defensive backs Justin Green and Derek Cox on Saturday night, with Green opting for retirement and that ultimately lead to his release.
According to ESPN’s Field Yates the team claimed offensive lineman Harland Gunn off waivers from the Atlanta Falcons on Sunday. With Gunn listed as a guard, he’ll add some additional depth as the team continues evaluating that position. They currently have two open roster spots to start the week.
Written by: Ian Logue
Posted at 7:53 am
Four AFC East websites get together each week to discuss the AFC East. This week we discuss one player on offense and defense for each team to watch in training camp. See what Matt Barbato of New York Jet Fuel, Ian Logue of PatsFans.com, Steve Saslow of Bills Daily, and Luis Sung of Phin Maniacs has to say right here.
Matt Barbato (@NewYorkJetFuel): Offensively, I’m going with Eric Decker. This may not be exactly a breakout candidate, since he led the Jets in receptions last season, but I think Decker could exceed expectations this season. People may have been disappointed by Decker’s inaugural season in New York. He caught 74 passes for 962 yards and five touchdowns. Many people doubt his ability as a number-one receiver, but he doesn’t have to be that anymore.
Brandon Marshall will draw the best coverage, which allows Decker to settle back into his number-two role, a role he thrived in with the Denver Broncos. In two seasons alongside Demaryius Thomas, Decker caught 172 passes for 2,352 yards and 24 touchdowns. Also, keep in mind that Decker is a 6-foot-3 target who should always posed as a red zone threat with the Broncos. He didn’t cash in as much with the Jets simply because teams keyed on him in the passing game. With Marshall in town, Decker should be able to get a couple more scores.
There’s no doubt Decker can get back to 80 catches and 1,000 yards even with Marshall getting more targets. Of course, this all depends on whether Geno Smith can finally develop into a competent starting quarterback.
Defensively, Quinton Coples is a prime candidate to surprise some people. He goes unmentioned when discussing the vaunted Jets defense because of bigger names such as Darrelle Revis, Muhammad Wilkerson, Sheldon Richardson.
Originally drafted as a defensive end, Coples plays primarily as an outside rusher in the 3-4 defense. He recorded 6.5 sacks in his second season at his new position.
The Jets have the defensive line and secondary to wreak havoc, but with Calvin Pace entering his 13th season, the onus will be on Coples to keep improving. The situation is perfect for Coples, he just has to continue his development.
Patriots WR Aaron Dobson has already stood out early on in training camp.
Ian Logue (@PatsFans): Heading into 2015, there are a couple of Patriots players that fans outside of New England may want to be concerned with this season.
This is a team that on the offensive side of the football may surprise people this year, and one of the main reasons could ultimately end up coming from wide receiver Aaron Dobson. Dobson, who was a second-round pick in 2013, had a productive rookie year two seasons ago but a foot injury ended his first season early. Offseason surgery set him back and kept him from really ever getting started in 2014, which saw the second-year wideout end up on injured reserve following an apparent hamstring injury against Green Bay that made him a spectator during the team’s championship run.
But Dobson showed a lot of promise in his first year, catching 37 passes for 519 yards, the second-most catches of any rookie wide receiver in Bill Belichick’s tenure behind Deion Branch’s 43 in 2002. The former Marshall standout is a player that has the physical tools. He’s a big receiver at 6’3″, which is something the Patriots have been lacking in past years. In an offense that has two big targets for Tom Brady with a 6’5″ Rob Gronkowski and a 6’7″ Scott Chandler, Dobson potentially provides another big target down in the red area. With Julian Edelman, Brandon LaFell and Danny Amendola, they’re already returning their entire receiving core from their championship season. If Dobson can return to form, Brady and the offense could be even more dangerous this season.
On defense, Logan Ryan is a player that was a forgotten man playing behind a secondary that featured Darrelle Revis and Brandon Browner last season. With both players now with new teams, Ryan will have an opportunity to have a bigger role in New England’s defense in 2015 and that could work out pretty well. Ryan’s a solid player, and one of the things that has really stood out about him since the Patriots took him out of Rutgers in 2013 are his terrific instincts. He has a tendency to be around the football, with Ryan even leading the Patriots in his rookie season with 5 interceptions.
He wasn’t as productive last year after getting less playing time, but for those who have watched Ryan, the more he played in his rookie year, the better he looked. He was a little shaky in a limited role in 2014, but having more reps should allow him to hopefully settle back in and become a playmaker in 2015. If that’s the case, it will be great news for a team that lost two of them this offseason. But overall, Ryan does a lot of things well and while he’s not a big name player, there’s a good chance that by the end of this season opposing teams might end up knowing who he is.
Luis Sung (@PhinManiacs): The Dolphins have a lot of young talent on both sides of the ball, but there isn’t a lot of respect being given to these kids from the national media, and even some of the fans are wary about putting faith in these young people due to the fact that the Dolphins have broken the hearts of fans over the past three years by falling apart at the end of the season.
With that said, I see a lot of potential for certain players on both sides of the ball to be great, and here’s who I have in mind for a serious breakout season.
Offense: RB Damien Williams
While the Miami Dolphins drafted running back Jay Ajayi, and his potential has a lot of fans excited. But not many remember that there was a surprise player out of training camp named Damien Williams, who as the year went on showed potential to be a very good player. He showed ability to be an excellent rusher as he fought to stay on his feet and never give up on a play, as well as his prowess as a receiver.
Most fans have already written off Williams in favor of the rookie Ajayi, but I for one am not willing to write off Williams just yet. I’ve often compared Damien Williams to Darren Sproles, in the sense that he would be more valuable to the Dolphins as a receiver coming out of the backfield than as an actual rusher. A weapon like Williams could be very valuable to the Dolphins, and I expect him to make a strong case this year that he deserves the number two spot behind Lamar Miller.
Defense: LB Chris McCain
Patriots fans will remember McCain as the one who blocked the punt and sacked Tom Brady in the first game of the 2014 season where the Dolphins upset the Patriots and gave the Dolphins fans worldwide a spark of hope. Of course, after that game, McCain’s playing time was severely limited despite the bright flashes he exhibited in that first game. Whether that was merely a choice of the coaching staff or a result of McCain’s self-admitted failure to fully understand the playbook is debatable.
However, with the departure of linebacker Philip Wheeler, McCain instantly became the favorite to win the starting job at SLB, and truth be told, the majority of Dolphins fans felt that McCain would’ve been an upgrade over Wheeler in his rookie year. Now he has a year of experience under his belt, and he has said that he now understands the playbook fully. His ability as a pass-rusher is excellent, and if his coverage skills improve as well, I believe McCain will be a star in the NFL, and with Suh and Wake and Vernon on the defensive line, anytime the Dolphins send a blitz, teams should be prepared for the battle of their lives.
Steve Saslow (@BillsDaily):
Offense: Tyrod Taylor: Rex Ryan loved the kid so much he tried to trade for him when he coached the Jets. Taylor spent four years behind Joe Flacco in Baltimore and has only 35 NFL passes under his belt to show for it. He got to learn from a solid quarterback and is considered one of the fastest quarterbacks in the league with an arm. Ryan says he has Russell Wilson type qualities.
Ryan has made it clear that the battle for the starting QB job is a three man competition with Taylor firmly in the discussion. He left a more lucrative offer from the Broncos on the table to sign with the Bills because he was promised he will have a chance to earn the starting spot. He said recently so far that has been the case.
While EJ Manuel was drafted by the former regime (with input from current GM Doug Whaley and current team President Russ Brandon), Ryan isn’t tied to him. This regime did bring in Matt Cassel in a trade with Minnesota for two low round picks. He would be the perfect choice for a game manager to get the ball in the hands of the abundant playmakers on offense while controlling the ball to allow the defense to win games for them. This was the formula Rex Ryan used to get to two straight AFC Championship games with Mark Sanchez at QB.
Cassel struggled in OTAs and isn’t a shoe-in to make the roster if he doesn’t win the starting job because of a high cap figure. This opens the door for Taylor who Ryan may favor and is likely the only one with a spot on the final 53 all but sewn up. If he performs well in camp people may be wondering who the new kid is leading the Bills offense on opening day.
Defense: Nickell Robey: Many people haven’t heard of the undersized nickel corner that packs a big punch. He has been the team’s slot corner for most of the two years he has been in the league after signing as an undrafted free agent in 2013. He played much better in his rookie year than last year but that is because the defense used by former Ryan protégé Mike Pettine suited his skill set much better than the less aggressive Jim Schwartz defense of 2014.
Robey is the type of player Ryan loves and even though they drafted Ronald Darby in the 2nd round he will backup the outside starters of Stephon Gilmore and Leodis McKelvin. Robey will be the slot corner once again in 2015.
Written by: Ian Logue
Posted July 31, 2015 at 7:14 am
The Patriots will be back at work this morning, with their second public practice scheduled for 9:15am at Gillette Stadium. They received quite the turnout on Thursday for their first public session, taking the field in front of a packed house on the practice fields behind Gillette Stadium as they began preparations for the 2015 Regular Season.
As we get set for another busy day, here’s a quick rundown with some notes from yesterday and some additional tidbits for this morning.
– So far after one day both quarterbacks were solid and Tom Brady was all business. He looked focused and sharp Thursday, which had him taking all the first team reps. According to Jeff Howe of the Boston Herald, he was pinpoint accurate on the day, finishing 27-of-30, with two of those incompletions being drops by the receivers. Jimmy Garoppolo also had a decent outing but did get picked off by second-round pick Jordan Richards, although he had several good plays to wideout Brian Tyms.
– For those who were in attendance, it was tough for fans and media to follow the action as Bill Belichick had his players in numberless jerseys and helmets, making it tough to tell many of the players apart. Guys like Julian Edelman, Rob Gronkowski, and Scott Chandler were easy to spot (and Chandler is massive), but it was a little tougher with some of the other players considering the distance from the sideline to where they were.
But one moment that was kind of fun was a red zone play that saw Tom Brady go out for a pass, with the veteran quarterback making a one-handed grab on a pass from Julian Edelman before taking off for the endzone, reaching over the pylon as he scored. Overall he had a good outing, with Jeff Howe of the Boston Herald reporting Brady finished practice 17-of-20 in 11-on-11 drills, including a perfect 10-of-10 on 7-on-7s.
– With Brandon LaFell sidelined and on the physically unable to perform list, the 6’3″ Aaron Dobson was noticeable and got a lot of work in, including hauling in a touchdown during practice. He remains one of the key players to watch in the weeks ahead, as he has the capability of adding quality depth to an already talented and deep group of receivers.
– According to the Herald, Chandler Jones, Dont’a Hightower, Jamie Collins and Sebastian Vollmer were limited, while Jerod Mayo and Sealver Siliga participated in full, with Mayo’s return a pleasant surprise after being lost for the season in 2014.
Offensive lineman Ryan Wendell missed the session, which opened up some opportunities for Tre’ Jackson and Shaq Mason.
Garoppolo Staying Grounded:
Jimmy Garoppolo wouldn’t get into his potential role as a starter if Brady doesn’t start the season, saying he’s got a lot of work still ahead of him.
“There’s an endless amount of things that I have to work on,” Garoppolo said via Patriots.com. “We’re all out here just trying to get better every day; take it one day at a time. There are little things every day that you focus on. You’ve just got to take it day by day, really.”
After spending this offseason recovering from shoulder surgery, Dont’a Hightower sounded pretty upbeat and having avoided PUP, the veteran said everything looks good with his health so far.
“Not where I want to be,” Hightower told reporters Thursday, “but everything’s going in the right direction. It’s another good day in the books.”
“I’ve had surgery before. That’s just part of it. There’s good days, there’s bad days. There’s days you do really well and days where you take a few steps back. It’s just all about how you come back when challenged with adversity and just keep your head down and do it. Right now I feel good where I’m at. I’m making strides in the right direction. I’m out there with those guys, we’re in the meeting rooms and stuff. It just feels good to get back to football, talk and communicate and stuff.”
OBSERVATION LINKS FROM DAY ONE:
– Patriots practice observations: Tom Brady comes out firing – Boston Herald
– Patriots Day 1 training camp blogservations – Patriots.com
– All eyes on Garoppolo; 7/30 camp notes – Patriots.com
– Patriots Training Camp Observations: Tom Brady, Jimmy Garoppolo Shine – NESN
– Training camp observations: Fans show support as Tom Brady stands out – Providence Journal
– Tom Brady’s one-handed catch highlights action at first day of Patriots camp – ESPN Boston
– Patriots Training Camp Report: Super Bowl Champs Open 2015 – PatsFans.com
– Thursday Patriots Training Camp Observations: 7/30/15 – PatsFans.com
Written by: Ian Logue
Posted July 30, 2015 at 6:00 am
Coming off of the controversial 2007 season where the Patriots were caught for not adhering to the league’s policy that pertained to the use of video equipment on the sidelines, Roger Goodell went into that offseason fired up when it came to trying “to preserve the competitive integrity of the game.”
It came after the NFL Commissioner, heading into just his third season, was obviously reacting to what had happened with the Patriots. However, looking closer, there were some things in his plans then that are hurting Tom Brady seven years later.
One of the things that stands out in a report by the Washington Post in from March of 2008 was that one person familiar Goodell’s plans revealed that the Commissioner was trying to put in place a threshold for imposing punishment for a rule violation, and looking closer, it’s something that fits perfectly with what’s transpired over the past few months.
According to the report, that threshold only need to be “closer to a preponderance of the evidence than beyond a reasonable doubt.”
“Too often, competitive violations have gone unpunished because conclusive proof of the violation was lacking,” Goodell wrote via the Washington Post. “I believe we should reconsider the standard of proof to be applied in such cases, and make it easier for a competitive violation to be established. And where a violation is shown, I intend to impose more stringent penalties on both the club and the responsible individual(s). I will also be prepared to make greater use of draft choice forfeiture in appropriate cases. I believe this will have the effect of deterring violations and making people more willing to report violations on a timely basis.”
So there you go. That laid the groundwork for where we are now, with the commissioner trying to prevent any obstacles in establishing guilt while being able to drop the hammer.
Reading that is definitely frustrating, especially in seeing how it foreshadowed what’s gone down since this whole mess began. In the recent cases we’ve seen in the domestic violence cases with other players, there was concrete evidence that at least established proof of guilt. In this case, all there seems to be is a hunch and some theories.
Unfortunately, what happened in 2008 helped make it possible for Goodell not to need definitive proof in order to punish a player who has been a solid representative of the league for 15-years, and that’s one of the things Brady’s legal team and the NFLPA will have to try and overcome now that this is seemingly headed to federal court.
Written by: Ian Logue
Posted July 29, 2015 at 12:43 pm
Patriots owner Robert Kraft came out firing on Wednesday, expressing his disappointment in the NFL’s handling of Brady’s suspension and apologized for his decision in May where he accepted the league’s penalties. Check out the video above.
Written by: Ian Logue
Posted at 9:06 am
Tom Brady finally spoke out against the allegations against him this morning, releasing a strongly worded statement on his Facebook page where he defended himself and the equipment personnel regarding the accusations against them.
Here’s what Brady had to say:
I am very disappointed by the NFL’s decision to uphold the 4 game suspension against me. I did nothing wrong, and no one in the Patriots organization did either.
Despite submitting to hours of testimony over the past 6 months, it is disappointing that the Commissioner upheld my suspension based upon a standard that it was “probable” that I was “generally aware” of misconduct. The fact is that neither I, nor any equipment person, did anything of which we have been accused. He dismissed my hours of testimony and it is disappointing that he found it unreliable.
I also disagree with yesterdays narrative surrounding my cellphone. I replaced my broken Samsung phone with a new iPhone 6 AFTER my attorneys made it clear to the NFL that my actual phone device would not be subjected to investigation under ANY circumstances. As a member of a union, I was under no obligation to set a new precedent going forward, nor was I made aware at any time during Mr. Wells investigation, that failing to subject my cell phone to investigation would result in ANY discipline.
Most importantly, I have never written, texted, emailed to anybody at anytime, anything related to football air pressure before this issue was raised at the AFC Championship game in January. To suggest that I destroyed a phone to avoid giving the NFL information it requested is completely wrong.
To try and reconcile the record and fully cooperate with the investigation after I was disciplined in May, we turned over detailed pages of cell phone records and all of the emails that Mr. Wells requested. We even contacted the phone company to see if there was any possible way we could retrieve any/all of the actual text messages from my old phone. In short, we exhausted every possibility to give the NFL everything we could and offered to go thru the identity for every text and phone call during the relevant time. Regardless, the NFL knows that Mr. Wells already had ALL relevant communications with Patriots personnel that either Mr. Wells saw or that I was questioned about in my appeal hearing. There is no “smoking gun” and this controversy is manufactured to distract from the fact they have zero evidence of wrongdoing.
I authorized the NFLPA to make a settlement offer to the NFL so that we could avoid going to court and put this inconsequential issue behind us as we move forward into this season. The discipline was upheld without any counter offer. I respect the Commissioners authority, but he also has to respect the CBA and my rights as a private citizen. I will not allow my unfair discipline to become a precedent for other NFL players without a fight.
Lastly, I am overwhelmed and humbled by the support of family, friends and our fans who have supported me since the false accusations were made after the AFC Championship game. I look forward to the opportunity to resume playing with my teammates and winning more games for the New England Patriots.
Written by: Ian Logue
Posted at 8:13 am
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell finally got his man on Tuesday, opting to let Tom Brady’s suspension stand at four games despite Brady’s appeal last month, hanging guilt on the veteran quarterback for reportedly destroying his cell phone shortly after the investigation into this whole entire ridiculous mess began earlier this year.
In Goodell’s ruling, which spans 20 similarly glorious pages filled with all kinds of fun facts just like the Wells Report (and an astonishing amount of footnotes to try and combat almost every argument made against him during this debacle), the NFL commissioner seemingly ignored the 10 hours of testimony and evidence that was given during last month’s appeal on June 23rd, which he said resulted in a transcript that spanned more than 450 pages long. Instead he fixated on what he felt was “the most significant new information that emerged in connection with the appeal evidence.”
According to Goodell, Brady instructed his assistant to destroy the cellphone that he had been using since early November 2014, which was “a period that included the AFC Championship Game and the initial weeks of the subsequent investigation.” The report states, “Mr. Brady knew that Mr. Wells and his team had requested information from that cellphone in connection with their investigation,” and the fact that his cellphone was destroyed wasn’t disclosed until months later during the hearing appears to be the deciding factor.
So at the end of the day, much like how this all started, Goodell and Ted Wells were hung up on the contents of what might have been on the quarterback’s phone. This despite the fact they got everything they wanted in the early part of the investigation from both Patriots employees John Jastremski and James McNally and the fact that none of the messages mentioned in the report ever deliberately talked about breaking league rules.
Brady has remained quiet throughout this entire process, only stating during an appearance at Salem State that he would say something “soon.” But following the announcement by the NFL on Tuesday, his agent, Don Yee, had some scathing words about how this has been handled.
“The appeal process was a sham, resulting in the Commissioner rubber-stamping his own decision,” said Yee in his statement via ESPN Boston. “For example, the Wells investigative team was given over 100 days to conduct its investigation. Just days prior to the appeal hearing, we were notified that we would only have four hours to present a defense; therefore, we didn’t have enough time to examine important witnesses. Likewise, it was represented to the public that the Wells team was ‘independent’; however, when we requested documents from Wells, our request was rejected on the basis of privilege. We therefore had no idea as to what Wells found from other witnesses, nor did we know what those other witnesses said. These are just two examples of how the Commissioner failed to ensure a fair process.”
But the other issue of cooperation and being transparent, which seems to be the basket Goodell is placing all his eggs in as he continues working to bring down the guy he handed the Lombardi Trophy to just a few months ago, is what he’s seemingly deeming to be the biggest problem he had with Brady and gives that as his reason in being able to impose the suspension. Yee appears to vehemently disagree, pointing out it’s a fact which seems to make little sense as he said they turned over an “unprecedented amount of electronic data”.
“Finally, as to the issue of cooperation, we presented the Commissioner with an unprecedented amount of electronic data, all of which is incontrovertible,” said Yee. “I do not think that any private citizen would have agreed to provide anyone with the amount of information that Tom was willing to reveal to the Commissioner. Tom was completely transparent. All of the electronic information was ignored; we don’t know why. ”
However, it appears there will be a response coming, with Yee saying, “The extent to which Tom opened up his private life to the Commissioner will become clear in the coming days.”
The fact Brady destroyed his cell phone may appear damning on the outside, but Brady admitted that anytime he gets a new phone it’s a common practice for him to request an assistant to destroy the phone and SIM card. Given what celebrities and public figures can be subjected to, it seems fairly logical.
But if you want to look at it the other way and question the validity of that argument, you can, but given everything that’s already transpired, this was simply a no-win situation. After all, look at the seemingly harmless information and texts that have already been misconstrued to this point that have put Brady in this situation, and the league already had access to those through Jastremski and McNally’s phones. They didn’t need Brady’s phone for that.
Yet that’s what seems to have made up Goodell’s mind when he oversaw the appeal and he wasted no time in making sure the NFLPA will have a rough road ahead in overturning the decision in federal court. According to Scott Soshnick of Bloomberg, the league struck fast after the announcement, filing a preemptive lawsuit in federal court in Manhattan, trying to solidify the outcome of the appeal and effectively slam the door on getting it overturned.
In the ruling Goodell said that his findings “more than satisfy” the “more probable than not” standard needed to suspend the Patriots QB, “especially taking into account the credibility of the witnesses, including Mr. Brady, which I had ample opportunity to evaluate at the hearing.”
So there you go. He thinks Brady is a liar and for now he’s nailed him, unless the NFLPA can overturn it.
“I find that with respect to the game balls used in the AFC Championship Game and the subsequent investigation, Mr. Brady engaged in conduct detrimental to the integrity of, and public confidence in, the game of professional football,” said Goodell in the ruling.
In Goodell’s mind, he views the discipline imposed as “not excessive or without precedent”, comparing it to New Orleans Saints Joe Vitt’s six-game suspension during BountyGate and saying it helps “reinforce my conclusion” when it comes to Brady’s four-game ban.
Somewhere he’s likely sitting there feeling pretty good about how this all played out. After all, he didn’t fare well in those recent appeal cases against players involving domestic violence of women and children or guys within the game who were physically trying to injure other players, so he made sure he didn’t make that same mistake this time.
Instead, he was thorough, took over a month to make sure he got everything absolutely perfect, and then showed the world how in charge he is by nailing a guy he thinks might have “been generally aware” of someone potentially letting 1 psi out of a football without any concrete evidence that it actually occurred.
Well done, Commissioner.
So for now, he got his man, while proving even further that it’s “more probable than not” his priorities are too far gone to try and make sense of any of anything he does any more.
And for Brady, it looks like it’s on to federal court.
Written by: Ian Logue
Posted July 28, 2015 at 3:01 pm
The NFL announced that they’re upholding Tom Brady’s suspension, pointing to an apparent “destruction of the cell phone” of Brady as their reasoning behind the decision.
Here’s the press release from the league:
“NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell upheld today the four-game suspension imposed on New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady on May 11. Brady’s appeal from that discipline was heard for more than ten hours on June 23.
In the opinion informing Brady that his appeal had been denied, Commissioner Goodell emphasized important new information disclosed by Brady and his representatives in connection with the hearing.
On or shortly before March 6, the day that Tom Brady met with independent investigator Ted Wells and his colleagues, Brady directed that the cell phone he had used for the prior four months be destroyed. He did so even though he was aware that the investigators had requested access to text messages and other electronic information that had been stored on that phone. During the four months that the cell phone was in use, Brady had exchanged nearly 10,000 text messages, none of which can now be retrieved from that device. The destruction of the cell phone was not disclosed until June 18, almost four months after the investigators had first sought electronic information from Brady.
Based on the Wells Report and the evidence presented at the hearing, Commissioner Goodell concluded in his decision that Brady was aware of, and took steps to support, the actions of other team employees to deflate game footballs below the levels called for by the NFL’s Official Playing Rules. The commissioner found that Brady’s deliberate destruction of potentially relevant evidence went beyond a mere failure to cooperate in the investigation and supported a finding that he had sought to hide evidence of his own participation in the underlying scheme to alter the footballs. ”
The league has the full decision here.
Brady has maintained his innocence throughout the process and it took a while for the league to make this call, with his appeal having been filed back on June 23rd, over a month before today’s decision.
With camp coming up in just two days, the timing of the decision is curious, but nevertheless, the ball is back in his court.
Written by: Ian Logue
Posted at 5:00 am
The Patriots appear to be exercising a little caution heading into training camp, and it appears that Dominique Easley will be a player who won’t be a full participant when the team gets back to work this week.
According to ESPN’s Mike Reiss, after missing all of the team’s offseason workouts, Easley will start the year on the PUP list for New England.
The Boston Herald reports that there were eight players total who were placed on PUP, with Brandon LaFell, Ryan Wendell, Matthew Slater, Dane Fletcher, Vince Taylor, Chris Jones, and Chris White among players who will Easley to start camp. Quarterback Matt Flynn is reportedly on the non-football injury list, meaning that whatever ailment he’s dealing with isn’t related to anything pertaining to the club.
Most critics believed Easley was a risky selection when the Patriots took him last year, but the return could be huge for a team that could use another big presence inside. The former Florida Gator had previously torn both ACLs before New England took him with the 29th overall pick and it ended up being a knee injury that ended his rookie season. However, the fact they took a chance on him wasn’t a complete surprise given Easley’s potential and the team obviously felt strongly enough to exercise the risk.
After opting to part ways with veteran Vince Wilfork this offseason, it’s obvious the Patriots are trying to start getting younger at the position, especially after following up his pick by selecting Malcom Brown in the first round with the 32nd overall pick this year.
For now it will be a little longer before we get to see him in action. But under that designation, players who are on the active/PUP list can come off of it at any time.
The surprising news is Dont’a Hightower isn’t among this group, which after undergoing offseason shoulder surgery is encouraging heading into camp. Hightower had said last month that things were going well and he was ahead of schedule.
“Honestly, I don’t have a target date,” said Hightower at the time. “I’ve seen doc, and everything is going great right now. I’m right on track, if not a little ahead of schedule. It’s something that’s going to take time. I can’t say ‘three weeks’ or whatever. It feels great. I’m doing good. Doc loved everything. He said I’m ahead of schedule, so I’ll just keep doing what I’m doing.”
Looks like it worked out, because at this point it seems he’ll be out there later this week.