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Archive for the ‘ Commentary ’ Category

Gronkowski Proves He’s Smart On and Off the Field


Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski has already become an elite player on the gridiron since being drafted by New England, but despite his success, it hasn’t changed who he is off the field.

The veteran tight end may have taken some grief for his fun-loving lifestyle outside of football, but he’s spent much of this offseason at various charity events and football camps while also enjoying being able to workout and prepare for the upcoming season, something he hasn’t been able to do over the last couple of years due to a couple of significant injuries he’s been forced to deal with.

He’s grown up quite a bit since he got here, and he doesn’t get quite enough credit for the type of person he really is. In fact, Peter King of MMQB pointed out a couple of interesting excerpts from his upcoming autobiography “It’s Good to be Gronk”, which shows how smart Gronkowski really is in terms of how he lives his life and how he spends his money.

“To this day, I still haven’t touched one dime of my signing bonus or NFL contract money. I live off my marketing money and haven’t blown it on any big-money expensive cars, expensive jewelry or tattoos and still wear my favorite pair of jeans from high school… I don’t hurt anyone (except Gord with the occasional kick to the groin), I don’t do drugs, I don’t drive drunk, I don’t break the law… I’m a 23-year-old guy just looking to have a fun time.”

It was a nice look at a guy who despite some of the criticism has remained someone who has stayed true to himself while doing things the right way, and at just 26-years old hopefully still has plenty of great years in a Patriots uniform still ahead of him.


A suspension seems to be looming for Brady next week. (USA TODAY Images)

It appears we’re getting closer to finding out how far the NFL is willing to go over the Wells report, and for now it sounds like they’re ready to hand out punishment as soon as next week.

According to the New York Daily News, the NFL is planning on doling out a suspension to quarterback Tom Brady in the coming week, with the only apparent question hinging on the length of games he’ll be sidelined for.

Leaking the information before the weekend is an interesting move by the league office, which one would believe is being done to gauge the reaction as the speculation begins over the punishment he’ll receive.  There have already been several scenarios floated, including a Dolphins beat writer in Miami speculating he could miss all of 2015, while others, including Mike Giardi of CSNNE, think he could miss as many as 6-8 games.  Others seem to feel 2-4 is more realistic.

The fact there will be one at all is mind-boggling considering the league looks ready to damage a legacy of a player over what’s essentially a “maybe”.   The Wells report uses the term “more probable than not”, which the NFL is saying is the equivalent of guilty, and that’s what they’re going with.   The inexplicable part is the evidence they’re basing it on comes thanks to the texts between two nitwits, one of which complained about Brady constantly being on him to alert the refs to make sure the footballs weren’t over inflated during the season, and his 100 second bathroom break on the way to the field with the bag of footballs in tow. That’s the damning evidence that they’re using to suspend one of the greatest quarterbacks to ever play the game.

One could challenge Wells to prove “it’s more probable than not” that Jim McNally, the Patriots employee whose failure to not use the facilities earlier might see Brady suffer a suspension over it, actually washed his hands.  The report can’t prove McNally’s hygiene any more than it can prove definitively that anything was done to that bag of footballs.

Yet the NFL appears ready to move forward and suspend Brady.  Now the next question will be how far they can go in their punishment.

More than one game is unacceptable, simply because of the fact that Ray Rice got just two for knocking out his girlfriend in an elevator.  Granted, Roger Goodell didn’t know the extent of how bad that incident was when it initially happened prior to the release of the video, but that doesn’t change the fact that his punishment essentially set a precedent.   Does Brady’s supposed “being generally aware” of the loss of 1 psi in a football meet the equivalent of assaulting a woman?  Because if he’s suspended for the same length as Rice, or even longer, that’s essentially what the league would be saying.

Brady’s agent, Don Yee, and the veteran’s father have already both come out swinging in the wake of the report, with Yee already making it clear that he and his client aren’t going to take this one lying down.  Brady was very calculated Thursday night during his appearance at Salem State and said that he’ll respond, “hopefully soon” because he wants to be “comfortable” in what he says.  Meanwhile, Yee sounds livid over the report and it’s going to be interesting to see how far he’s willing to go in this battle when it finally unfolds.

It seems we’ll find out this week what he’ll be up against.  Yee seems poised to try and make sure the NFL doesn’t damage his client’s legacy over a report full of assumptions and without any concrete facts.  As it stands right now the league’s case against Brady has more craters than the moon, and how it plays out will likely be watched by the NFLPA since they could see one of their own get punished without any real proof of any wrongdoing.

If you thought Spygate was bad, this will be far worse since there’s far more at stake.  Pray that Yee’s legal prowess and any other lawyers brought in are able to slay the NFL giant that seems ready to slaughter one of their own.  Let the fight begin.

If Brady Gets Suspended, He’ll Become Fall Guy For NFL QB’s


Brady’s future to start 2015 is in question. (USA TODAY Images)

The Patriots are no stranger to being martyrs for the rest of the league.

Wednesday’s release of the Wells report puts an end to three months of uncertainty after all the allegations and speculation, which started following the Colts’ claim that New England illegally deflated footballs before the AFC Championship game.

It’s become a fiasco, and now it seems like the Patriots may potentially be without Tom Brady to start this season if the league decides to make an example out of the team that vehemently fought the NFL and the entire investigation.

It’s frustrating to say the least.  Most of the report centers around a couple of nitwits complaining via text with each other about Brady’s dislike for too much air pressure in the footballs, which apparently is enough to come to the conclusion that “it’s more probable than not” (that’s the new catch phrase BTW, try it out yourself and use it often) that the air pressure fell below the acceptable threshold because the veteran quarterback wanted it that way.  From there, his two supposed stooges allegedly put together an elaborate scheme to elude the officials on the way out to the field after seemingly letting the air out of the footballs after they were inspected.


This fiasco may cost Brady the start of the 2015 season if the NFL decides to suspend him.
(USA TODAY Images)

Without getting into a debate over the accuracy of the report, the bigger issue is the fact that how quarterbacks feel about the footballs they use is a big deal, and the methods around how they do it is well documented.  If you’ve followed the stories surrounding Peyton Manning, Brad Johnson, Aaron Rodgers, and others during this investigation, quarterbacks go through great lengths to prep the footballs heading into each week.  Some prefer more air pressure, some prefer less.  It’s not exactly a big secret.

But Wednesday’s exciting conclusion is probably going to change all that.  No more will quarterbacks likely have as much freedom over how the balls are prepped as they do right now. If the NFL decides to end their ability to doctor the footballs, guys will quietly grumble, although the “better him than me” thought process will come into play as they reflect on whatever little tricks and things they did that might have pushed the envelope never came to light.  Meanwhile, if Brady is a spectator in week one, he’ll be the one to suffer a punishment over a practice that isn’t exactly new.

Ask Bill Belichick.  He ripped into a reporter during his Saturday press conference when he first fought back about this whole mess.  The reporter tried to use spygate as a previous transgression of the Patriots breaking the rules, but the point Belichick made was that it was a practice happening league-wide and it happened out in the open in front of over 60,000 people.  Fans from the 31 other teams love to gloat but don’t realize it probably also forced the remaining coaches to have to get creative about how they’re watching signals being sent into the field.

He just happened to take the fall, and it cost the Patriots a draft pick and a fine.

Now it seems Brady might ultimately be the guy who takes the hit over a practice that is well known and certainly didn’t stop the Patriots from hanging a massive second half against the Colts after the air pressure was corrected.  Other quarterbacks around the league might have to just play with the footballs they’re given out of the box from now on because of this.  But there will be other guys who won’t be made examples of who had intentionally been doing worse.

Unfortunately, those transgressions will never be made public.   Success has been a staple here in New England and the only explanation many come up with is the fact that it can’t just be skill and talent, there has to be something more.

Either way, suspension or no suspension, rule change or no rule change, this is a football team that has big shoulders and they’ve proven they’ll be O.K.  The fact it might happen without definitive proof will be the most frustrating part, but the phrase “it is what it is” more or less sums it up, even if it just isn’t right. Either way, if he does get penalized, you can bet the other quarterbacks around the league will likely be taking note and being thankful it’s Brady, and not them, taking the hit.


Brady and the Patriots should be looking forward to their next meeting against Indy.

After the release of the Wells report on Wednesday, it’s now in writing that the Colts did, in fact, contact the league regarding their concerns about the air pressure as it related to the Patriots footballs.

According to the report, it was Colts General Manager Ryan Grigson who kicked this whole thing off, having sent an email to the league to raise their concerns about the air pressure of game balls used by the Patriots the day before the AFC Championship Game.

The report states that Grigson sent the email to David Gardi and Mike Kensil, who are each senior members of the NFL Football Operations Department were asked to keep an eye on the footballs.

“As far as the gameballs are concerned it is well known around the league that after the Patriots gameballs are checked by the officials and brought out for game usage the ballboys for the patriots will let out some air with a ball needle because their quarterback likes a smaller football so he can grip it better,” read the email.  “it would be great if someone would be able to check the air in the game balls as the game goes on so that they don’t get an illegal advantage.”

It apparently stemmed from their Week 11 battle against New England after Brady threw two interceptions, both of which, were handed to Brian Seabrooks, an Assistant Equipment Manager for the Colts.  After getting them in his possession, Seabrooks said they “appeared to be coated in a tacky substance and seemed spongy or soft when squeezed.”

Those two footballs apparently weren’t tested by officials at the time, but the Colts claim there was “unspecified chatter throughout the League that the Patriots prefer their footballs softer than other teams and that visiting teams should be on guard when playing at Gillette Stadium.”

So that’s apparently where the rumors and whispers started.  After this fiasco, one would have to think that the Colts shouldn’t feel too great when Brady and the Patriots visit on October 18th in a Sunday night, nationally televised contest later this year.  The best way to get even would be to blowout the team they’ve beaten handily recently.  That seems likely, since, including both the regular and postseason, New England has scored over 40 points in each of the last four games.

Following today’s news, that total may skyrocket.


Wilfork had some great moments during his career in New England. (USA TODAY Images)

The news about Vince Wilfork on Thursday proves that the NFL rolls on no matter who you are, and sometimes it happens at the expense of guys that are loved by their team and their fans and it’s hard when the business side of football gets in the way of keeping that story going.

In Wilfork’s case, he’s a player who has been a key component to the Patriots defensive line since being drafted 21st overall in 2004, and he’s been an incredible teammate, leader, and friend to a lot of players in that locker room.

Looking back to the day he was drafted, his story was an interesting one and he’s a player who was already at a maturity level well above and beyond what most players his age tend to be at.  Having lost both his parents two years prior in 2002 over a six month span, it caused him to have to grow up in a hurry.  At just the age of 20 he was married to his current wife, Bianca, and had two children.  After being drafted, Wilfork didn’t care about his big contract or buying a new car, or all the crazy things young players tend to do with it.

“I already have a car,” said Wilfork back in 2004. “A house is my main concern right now. Getting familiar with the area and that is it.”

He’s had plenty of great seasons here as a Patriot, playing a key role in New England’s championship run in his rookie season as well as helping be a part of a decade where they’ve continually won ten or more games. Despite coming off of his Achilles injury in 2013, he had solid year for the Patriots after finishing with 47 tackles as well as an interception and a pass defensed. He also played in 68% or more snaps in 10 games last season.

It’s been quite a run, and it’s one that you could almost see coming back when he first got the news.  The former University of Miami standout told the media the day he was drafted that the fact this was an organization that cared about winning was why he was so excited to be a part of it.

“I loved [being picked by the Patriots] because New England loves to win, they love to play the game and they know a lot about winning,” Wilfork told the New England media in a conference call that day. “[When it was announced I was a New England Patriot] I just fell in love right there.”

Wilfork said in a statement yesterday that he still believes he has plenty of gas left in the tank one year removed from his Achilles injury.

They won a lot of games thanks to him, and it will be tough not seeing the number 75 on the field for this team next season.  Unfortunately everything comes to an end eventually, and now the Patriots will head into 2015 having closed a chapter with a player who was just as good off the field with all of the charity work he’s done with he and his wife.  Guys like him don’t come around very often, and it was quite a run.  

He’ll definitely be missed.

SCHEFTER TALKS REVIS, MCCOURTY:

ESPN’s Adam Schefter was on Mad Dog Sports Radio on Thursday and gave his thoughts on where Darrelle Revis may end up, and he believes it may come down to a bidding war between the Patriots and Jets.

“I believe that it will come down to the Patriots and the Jets,” said Schefter via WEEI.com. “I think the Jets are going to pay him short of whatever he wants to bring him back there because not only could they use him, it would be a huge moral, emotional victory for that franchise to bring him back there, get him to finish his career there.

“I don’t know what New England is going to offer him, I really don’t. Say it’s $10 million, $11 million a year, $12 million and you’re the Jets and offer $15-16 million a year. Worth it to go back to New York to finish your career for a few million dollars more where you would be saluted as a king? I don’t know. It’s a question of what you find most important, what you value most in your life and what you want to do with your career.”

Schefter also went on to say that he was surprised that Devin McCourty wasn’t given the franchise tag designation instead of Stephen Gostkowski.

“It was a little surprising to me that McCourty wasn’t tagged and they went with Gostkowski,” Schefter said. “I think once McCourty gets to market he’s going to get a lot of interest from a lot of different teams — Philadelphia, both New York teams. Look, what team in the league doesn’t need a safety? If you’re in that position, I think he is going to command big dollars.

“I think it is going to be a big enough offer that compels him to leave New England, a place he’d like to stay. He wants to be there. He’d like to stay there. This is going to be a business decision and I think there are going to be some teams out there that make it a hard enough business decision for him to leave.”

ADDITIONAL NOTES:

– As we get closer to free agency it appears the rumors are starting for players the Patriots may have on their radar as they start kicking the tires for some new players for next season.  According to the Miami Herald’s Armando Salguero, Dolphins receiver Brian Hartline is a player the Patriots have expressed interest in.  He was cut by Miami last week.

– Patriots owner Robert Kraft has been a person who has taken an interest in many different issues over the years, and the latest one appears to be trying to do his part to help in the battle of marriage equality.  According to the Huffington Post the New England Patriots organization was one of 379 corporations and employer organizations to sign a friend-of-the-court, or amicus brief, urging the Supreme Court to legalize same-sex marriage.  Other pro teams included the San Francisco Giants and the Tampa Bay Rays.  You can read the full list here.

– According to WHDH Tom Brady is about to play a round of golf with a former major champion.  The Super Bowl XLIX quarterback will reportedly play a round of golf at Augusta National with four-time major champion Rory Mcllroy next week.  Augusta National is the home of the Masters Tournament, with the 79th edition scheduled to be played from April 9th-12th.

– Bill Belichick was on hand for Clemson’s pro day on Thursday, with TigerNet.com reporting that Belichick watched defensive tackle DeShawn Williams while he was there, keeping an eye on him during his foot drills. Williams told the website he hoped he made an impression. “Yeah, I saw him give me a look during the foot drills,” Williams told the website. “He was like, ‘Who is this guy?’ But I got his attention, and that is a good thing. But whoever picks me is going to get a hard-working guy. I am not a guy what will be showboating but I will get the job done.” Sounds like a Patriot.

– Patriots running back Shane Vereen is going to be honored on March 26th. According to SCVNews.com Vereen will be honored at the Hyatt Regency form 11:30 a.m.-1 p.m. The City of Santa Clarita Mayor Marsha McLean is expected to present a key to the city and honor Vereen at the event. Vereen will also reportedly speak to the attendees about his career path and will answer questions.

10 Questions With Patriots Running Back Shane Vereen

Patriots running back Shane Vereen took some time with us on Twitter this afternoon for a quick fan Q&A, and here’s a quick recap of our interview with the veteran free agent back:

QUESTION 1

QUESTION 2:

QUESTION 3:

QUESTION 4:

QUESTION 5:

QUESTION 6:

QUESTION 7:

QUESTION 8:

QUESTION 9:

QUESTION 10:

Great stuff.

Franchise Tag Gives Patriots More Time For an Extension For Gostkowski


The Patriots gave Gostkowski the franchise tag designation Monday. (USA TODAY Images)

When Patriots kicker Adam Vinatieri headed off to Indianapolis back in 2006, New England was left with quite the dilemma after losing one of the most clutch kickers in franchise history.

Given how much of an inexact science the NFL draft is, they were fortunate that year to grab Stephen Gostkowski in the fourth round in April and he’s quietly been better than the Patriots could have ever hoped for given the man whose shoes he ended up filling.

He had a decent start to his career after finishing 20-of-26 (76.9) during his rookie season, including a perfect 1-of-1 from 50+ yards. He finished the 2014 season with a career high kicking percentage of 94.6%, which was also a single-season record for the Patriots while becoming the team’s all-time leading scorer during their victory over Miami on December 14th. He currently has 1,179 career points.

On Monday as he approached free agency, New England made sure they didn’t let him get away after giving him the franchise designation.  The deal, if he signs it, is reportedly worth $4.5 million in 2015, although according to the team it sounds like the goal is to get a long-term deal done with the veteran out of the University of Memphis.

“Stephen has been extremely productive and a vital component to our success since joining our team in 2006,” said the team via the statement they released. “Utilizing the franchise designation allows both sides more time to try to reach an agreement, which is the goal.”

The Patriots tagged Vinatieri twice, locking up him up in 2002 which later lead to a 3-year extension. “Both the Patriots and Adam are excited,” his agent, Neil Cornrich told the AP at the time. “Adam is looking forward to having the opportunity to remain a Patriot the rest of his career.” When the deal ran out they tagged him again in 2005, but it only ended up being for one year. He left for good at the end of the season.

For Gostkowski, the question will be whether or not New England will get a deal done long-term with the veteran, who turned 31 back in January.  Obviously at this point no deal has been reached nor has he signed the tender, but our own Miguel Benzan recently proposed a potential 5-year deal, with $19 million as a value that might make sense along with a $5 million signing bonus.  As Benzan points out, such a deal would make Stephen the highest paid kicker with an APY of $3.8 million and give New England a salary cap figure that would work for the team.

For now that’s all just speculation, but we’ll have to wait and see what the two sides eventually agree to.

 


Looking back, it’s hard not to make the case that the Patriots don’t win the Super Bowl without Danny Amendola. (USA TODAY Images)

The Patriots have some interesting personnel moves to make this offseason and for the first time in a while the wide receiver position is no longer as big of a priority as it’s been in past years.

New England got some terrific production for the second straight year from Julian Edelman, who once again went out and put up some impressive numbers.  Edelman caught 92 passes for 972 yards and four touchdowns during the regular season in 2014, missing the thousand yard mark primarily because he was a healthy scratch during the final game while the team rested some of their key players.  Newly acquired Brandon LaFell started off slow but ultimately settled in and became a key possession receiver for the Patriots, hauling in 74 passes and 50 first downs along with seven touchdowns.  He also had the second-longest reception of the season, which was a 56 yard fourth quarter touchdown against the Bills in Week 6.

Meanwhile, Danny Amendola was also a player who while he didn’t have a big regular season was big in the playoffs, finishing with 11 catches for 137 yards.  He also ended up with the team lead in touchdowns with Rob Gronkowski with 3.

Amendola’s a player who although things haven’t gone quite his way ended up being an important piece of the Patriots championship season.  He signed a five year, $31 million deal back on March 14, 2013, but production-wise he caught 54 passes in 2013 and then saw his playing time diminish this season while catching just 27.

But during the year Amendola stepped up and became a big contributor on special teams, returning 20 kickoffs for 482 yards and averaging 24.1 yards per return.  His postseason performance was ultimately one of the bigger stories because he did what hadn’t been done by an aging Deion Branch back in 2012 and Donte Stallworth in 2007, which was be able to consistently win one-on-one match-ups and get open during the playoffs.  His fourth quarter touchdown helped erase a 10 point deficit against the Seahawks and at the time pulled the Patriots to within three points at 24-21, while Julian Edelman caught a scoring strike one possession later that ended up being the game-winner.

However, while the Patriots didn’t get their money’s worth out of Amendola during his first two regular seasons, they got exactly what they needed from him in the playoffs this year and it’s hard not to make the argument that without him, they may not have won their fourth championship.  Granted his salary will likely be a topic of discussion but as our resident cap expert, Miguel Benzan, points out, it’s far more cap-friendly to reduce Amendola’s salary than it is to release him.

With a lower salary and his familiarity with the system Amendola already provides more than a free agent or a draft pick having become a viable threat offensively.  Granted he’s not in the higher-tier of the depth chart given where Edelman and LaFell come into play, but he’s good enough to give them depth and gives them a viable kick-returner.  The bigger question will likely be who takes over the fourth receiving slot next season, which will potentially be a battle between third-year player Aaron Dobson and whoever else they potentially bring in this offseason.

But for now if Amendola accepts the fact that he’s finally carved out a role with this team, even though he’s not “the guy” and will have to adjust his salary to reflect that, he’ll be headed into 2015 with an opportunity to get back to where he was before being signed here. After all, as much as fans praised Wes Welker for what he did in the regular season, the knock on Welker will be the plays he didn’t make in the postseason that cost the Patriots an opportunity to potentially win a couple additional titles. Amendola made them, and that’s about all Patriots fans could have hoped for.

“Hard work pays off,” said Amendola after the team won it all just one month ago. “All the work pays off.”

That it did, and although he wasn’t perfect, it paid off enough to win a Super Bowl.

DOBSON HARD AT WORK FOR 2015:

Speaking of the wide receiver position, Aaron Dobson has quietly been hard at work behind the scenes to try and rebound from what has been a frustrating year for the former standout from Marshall.

Dobson suffered a broken bone in his foot at the end of the 2013 that didn’t heal properly and offseason surgery last March forced him to miss the ensuing minicamps as well as the first two weeks of training camp.  He was never able to get completely healthy and an injured hamstring in Week 13 on a deep route against Green Bay ended what was obviously a frustrating season for him, and he was a spectator as the team went on to win a championship.

According to the Boston Herald’s Jeff Howe Dobson seems motivated heading into this season, spending his time at Fischer Institute in Pheonix.  It’s a facility where some big names have hosted players in past years, including fellow Patriots Darrelle Revis and Devin McCourty, while other NFL players this year reportedly include quarterback Carson Palmer.

Brett Fischer, who runs the facility, told the Herald that Dobson is “hungry” and has been doing all the right things.

“He is doing great,” Fischer said. “I’m really excited for him. He has put the time and effort into it, comes in early, gets all his work in and he is hungry. There are a few specific things we found, minor little things we’re working on, that make his program a little bit unique to everybody else’s. Nothing major.

“It’s a matter of him developing some areas that were just a little weak and get him back on the field.”

Dobson was a pretty dynamic player in college and is a player that at 6’3″ potentially gives New England a taller threat in their offense.  He kicked off his rookie season with a 39-yard touchdown to start his NFL career, and finished with the longest reception for the Patriots that season, which was an 81-yard touchdown against the Steelers in Week 9.

Needless to say the potential is there, now he just needs to get back out there.   Hopefully if he does, the Patriots could have a pretty formidable group once again next season.

ADDITIONAL NOTES: 

Lost in the mix after his massive performance against the Colts in 2014 was Jonas Gray who went from hero to zero and became irrelevant after oversleeping just in time for the team to grab LeGarrette Blount after the veteran was released by Pittsburgh.  That transaction left Gray as nothing more than a spectator for much of the regular season, costing him an opportunity to capitalize on Stevan Ridley’s season-ending knee injury.  He finished the regular season as the team’s leading rusher with 89 carries for 412 yards, 201 of which came in the game against Indianapolis that will hopefully not be the only game he’s remembered for.

Gray told the Herald that this season was a learning experience for him.  “I’ve learned a lot,” Gray told the newspaper. “As a pro, you go through things in an NFL season that you wouldn’t have the year before, Look at Tom (Brady). He never thought he’d be talking about his job security in Week 4 of the season. So you go through things as a pro, you learn from them, you experience it, and you do absolutely everything in your power to make sure it doesn’t happen again. At the end of the day, that’s all you can do.” …

Today ends the two-week period teams are allowed to designate a player with either the franchise tag or transition tag, which will likely result in something happening as the day goes on.  At this point Devin McCourty and Stephen Gostkowski are two players who are about to become free agents and it’s going to be interesting to see how it plays out and it could be somewhat telling about how the negotiations are going.

McCourty has already called the franchise tag “player-friendly” and something he doesn’t have an issue with, but if the designation is given to Gostkowski it could obviously be a big indication about how the negotiations are going.  The tough part is, given how sometimes things break down, the franchise tag is sometimes used to extend negotiations to hammer out a deal much like we’ve seen with Vince Wilfork and even going back to when they did it to get a deal done with Adam Vinatieri way back when.  But either way it’s going to be critical to lock up either Darrelle Revis or McCourty, although as has been mentioned in this space, both are a big key to this team’s success moving forward. …

The Patriots auditioned 300 cheerleaders over the weekend as they try and put together a group that will fill the 28 allotted spots for next season.  It’s a part time job that sees many of women who are still in school or are recent college graduates and many of them came a long way for this year’s tryouts.  At the end of this week’s audition judges will narrow the field to 40, who will then be invited back in two weeks for the next round of cuts. …

And finally, Rob Gronkowski was spotted with his brothers in Las Vegas over the weekend (pictured), spending some time at the Wynn Las Vegas’ club called Andrea’s.  Apparently Gronk spiked the cake on his brother Chris’ head.  Good times.

When it Comes to Deflate Gate, NFL Should Have Nothing Left to Say But ‘Sorry’

From the beginning there’s been something fishy about the whole “Deflate-Gate” debacle, and the longer it’s dragged on the more it’s apparent that the NFL is going to have a big problem.

They’re not going to be able to penalize the Patriots, and if anyone is going to be owed anything it’s going to be the organization who had their reputation sullied unnecessarily while the NFL fumbled through an investigation that forced the Patriots to defend themselves far more voraciously than we’ve ever seen during Robert Kraft’s entire tenure as owner.

If you ever read a document from a representative pertaining to the NFL, the letter presents itself as representing the “National Football League and each one of its 32 member clubs.”  They’re under one umbrella, although each team operates their businesses independently.  But at the end of the day any bad publicity for an individual team hurts the entire league, so it makes sense to make sure that if there is an investigation done into any wrongdoing, the team should at least be supported publicly by the league until all the facts are explored and no stone is left unturned before it escalates beyond that.

What transpired over the course of the weeks leading up to the Super Bowl was beyond egregious, and if I’m Kraft I’m less than pleased with how the whole situation was handled.  Regardless of the outcome, deflate gate will live on in the minds of the entire football world outside of New England who will pin this incident to them forever.  This may quietly go away from the standpoint that there was no wrongdoing by the Patriots, but that won’t get any near the amount of air time that the initial accusations did.

And that’s completely unfair.

Especially given the fact that each report that came out was so ridiculous. Following the initial report by Bob Kravitz out of Indianapolis about the Patriots footballs potentially being under-inflated, Chris Mortensen followed it up with a report from a source within the league’s office that 11 of 12 footballs were “significantly” below the required level. The league then leaked another to Ian Rapoport that essentially debunked it by saying the balls were just “a tick” below. Also mixed in was the report by Fox Sports that said the league was zeroing in on a locker room attendant who took the balls somewhere on his way to the field, which we later learned ended up being the bathroom. Factor in that he was only in there for 90 seconds and the only rule seemingly broken may be the unspoken one that if he used the facilities, he might not have washed his hands.

Now a report by Adam Schefter on Wednesday further muddied the situation. Schefter revealed that an employee by the league gave a different football to Jim McNally, who is an employee of the Patriots that works the officials’ locker room at the team’s home games. An initial report by ESPN Tuesday night had said that McNally “tried to introduce an unapproved ball into the game”, but Schefter reported Wednesday that McNally had been handed the ball from someone else. According to Schefter, the league’s employee has also been fired for taking the football and selling it for personal gain.  The NFL normally allocates those balls for charity.


Kraft’s team may have won a Lombardi Trophy, but he didn’t get to enjoy the road to getting there after the Patriots won the AFC Championship.
(USA TODAY Images)

That comes on the heels of the revelation by the officials during their press conference prior to the Super Bowl where they essentially admitted that they don’t actually log the psi of the footballs before each game, which makes it difficult to prove the Patriots had anything to do with the balls being below the minimum requirements by the league. Bill Belichick already dispelled any notion the Patriots did anything wrong after he came out firing on a Saturday afternoon and was visibly upset, leading off his statement by saying the team felt they “needed to say something” in response to the allegations.  He conducted his own tests to get to the bottom of how the footballs could have fallen below the required level, with their findings revealing that the difference in temperature outside was the culprit given how aggressively they work on the exterior of each football to get the texture to where Tom Brady prefers it.

The fact that we’re now finding out a football was swapped out by one of the NFL’s own, that should only further infuriate those who saw what should have been able to enjoy the culmination of an incredible playoff run go down in flames after the allegations were made against them.

Roger Goodell deserves a lot of the blame after not coming out during the process and downplaying it while the investigation was going on. Instead the mishandling of the whole process subjected the team to further abuse in the media following repeated leaks from within his office, which left the Patriots in a tough situation as it played out through the national media and in many of the other markets. It’s inexcusable, and it’s not like this couldn’t have been figured out long before it ever reached this point. After all, for a league that has massive resources, there is absolutely no reason that any investigation, no matter how big or how small, can’t be conducted thoroughly and correctly.

Most fans in New England have seen all the articles calling for Bill Belichick to be fired, Tom Brady to be suspended, with some even going so far as saying the Patriots should have been forced to forfeit their appearance in Arizona. Everyone was waiting for the Patriots to be caught red-handed and for the evidence to come out that they did, in fact, break the rules. The vultures circled overhead jumping on each leak that came out, with one tipping it one way against them, while another tipped it back. It was completely ridiculous, and it really made this more of a mess than it needed to be and many seemed like they were done in an effort to wipe some of the egg off the NFL’s face throughout this entire debacle.

Fortunately for the Patriots, they got the last laugh with their championship win, and now the icing on the cake will be for the NFL being forced to admit they screwed up.  Some believe the Patriots will receive a minor penalty and a slap on the wrist, but if I’m Kraft, any penalty should be deemed unacceptable.  Accepting a penalty is an admission of guilt, and it’s pretty clear given how adamantly the Patriots have been about the accusations that they believe they did nothing wrong and didn’t intentionally break any rules.

Kraft demanded an apology if the investigation finishes and finds they didn’t do anything wrong.  It’s just too bad it won’t undo the damage it did to the Patriots reputation, and even if Kraft gets his wish, at the end of the day it certainly won’t be nearly enough.

Wednesday’s Daily Patriots News Link Digest – 2/11/15


Edelman recently admitted a rookie fumble had him in the doghouse with Bill Belichick. (USA TODAY Images)

BOSTON GLOBE:

Patriots’ offseason likely to be about keeping core players, shifting money – Ben Volin: Volin has his “On Football” column and feels that this offseason won’t be about going on a shopping spree, but instead trying to keep their core players together.

BOSTON.COM:

Brady Wants to Play Forever, but How Long Will the Patriots Want Him? – Jack Andrade: Andrade has an article on Brady and wonders how long it will be before he joins the likes of many standouts such as Ty Law, Willie McGinest, Mike Vrabel,Willie McGinest, Richard Seymour and Logan Mankins who ultimately were forced out.

BOSTON HERALD:

A sweet ride for Super Bowl hero Butler – Prisca Pointdujour: Butler finally picked up his new Chevy truck yesterday and despite all of the accolades he’s been getting he admitted that he’s “not really with all of the attention”.

ESPN BOSTON:

Brandon LaFell looks back on Super Bowl – Mike Reiss: Reiss has quotes from LaFell after the receiver looked back at their Super Bowl victory and also mentions that he chipped Brady’s tooth on their touchdown celebration.

Hightower talks rehab process – Mike Reiss: Reiss has an entry on Dont’a Hightower, who underwent surgery Tuesday to repair a torn labrum.

NESN:

Edelman To Seth Meyers: I Was In Bill Belichick’s Doghouse For Six Years – Doug Kyed: Kyed caught Edelman’s late night appearance on Seth Myers and has some good snippets from the interview, including the fact Edelman’s rookie fumble put him in the doghouse with Belichick.

Malcolm Butler Not Just A Patriots One-Hit Wonder, Has Untapped Potential – Doug Kyed: Kyed has a nice football-related read on Butler, who recalls his his thoughts after seeing the Patriots give Butler a tryout.

WEEI:

Patriots position-by-position breakdown: Tight end – Christopher Price: Price continues his position breakdown, with this latest version focusing on the tight ends.

PROFOOTBALLTALK:

NFLPA suspends agent Vinnie Porter following wire fraud arrest – Curtis Crabtree: Crabtree has an article on the fact that Porter has been suspended by the NFL Players Association after being arrested for wire fraud.  He represents a couple of Patriots, including Jonas Gray and Brian Tyms.

DAILY RECORD:

“Tremendous contributor” McDaniels takes the handoff – Jerry Carino: Carino has a good article on Josh McDaniel’s brother, Ben, who has made his way from receivers coach to becoming offensive coordinator for Rutgers.

WASHINGTON TIMES:

Vicksburg schedules parade for Patriots DB Butler – AP: A nice article on Butler, who will receive a parade in his honor in the town of his high school and will also receive a key to the city.

CSNNE:

Tanguay: Should Patriots pick up Revis’ option?: In this video Gary Tanguay discusses on “Early Edition” whether or not the team should opt to pick up Darrelle Revis’ option.

TMZ:

Super Bowl Champ Browner — RIPS Kanye West – The website highlights comments from Browner, who wasn’t pleased with the rapper’s reaction to Beck winning Album of the Year.

PATRIOTS.COM:

Patriots Quotes 2/10: LeGarrette Blount on NFL AM –  There are quotes from the Patriots running back, who talked about a variety of topics during his appearance.

MASSLIVE:

Report: Former Patriots wide receiver Wes Welker considering retirement – Kevin Duffy: Duffy highlights a report on the former Patriot, who is apparently considering hanging up his cleats after “after several years of head injuries and declining production.”

New England Patriots wide receivers breakdown: Edelman, LaFell became productive tandem – Kevin Duffy: Duffy has a good read on the receivers, and writes that Brandon LaFell and Julian Edelman becoming a solid group during their Super Bowl run.

New England Patriots tight ends breakdown: Gronkowski was at his best in 2014 – Kevin Duffy: Duffy also looks at the tight end position, which was highlighted by quite a season for Rob Gronkowski.