“And you will know the truth, and that truth will set you free.”
John 8:32 and etched on the wall in CIA HQs
Good morning, here are Sunday’s Patriots news notes and what’s happening around the division:
Integrity of the Game Wins… after all: After nearly eight months and millions of dollars of legal fees, the truth won out and has been ruled upon by Judge Richard Berman. Tom Brady’s four-game suspension has been vacated.
In what was always much ado about nothing, the judge shot the NFL’s case full of holes questioning their allegation that Brady was “generally aware” of a rules violation.
“Based upon the foregoing and applicable legal authorities, the Court hereby denies the Management Council’s motion to confirm the Award and grants the Players Association’s motion to vacate the Award, thereby vacating the four-game suspension of Tom Brady, effective immediately,” Berman said in his decision.
Brady is now able to partake in all normal practice activities and play in the regular season opener on Thursday night against the Steelers. He would have been banned from the facility starting this weekend had the suspension been upheld.
Berman cited three specific points in determining his outcome:
The Court is fully aware of the deference afforded to arbitral decisions, but, nevertheless, concludes that the Award should be vacated. The Award is premised upon several significant legal deficiencies, including (A) inadequate notice to Brady of both his potential discipline (four-game suspension) and his alleged misconduct; (B) denial of the opportunity for Brady to examine one of two lead investigators, namely NFL Executive Vice President and General Counsel Jeff Pash; and (C) denial of equal access to investigative files, including witness interview notes.
Berman also cited the league’s linking of “general awareness” to steroid use, and the refusal to turn over his telephone as unworthy of facing a four-game suspension, basically calling the punishment arbitrary…which they were.
He also took exception to Commissioner Roger Goodell changing the “generally aware” scenario to one of “involvement in a scheme” where no such evidence was clear for the former and was patently ridiculous for the latter.
Brady’s lawyers were denied the opportunity to question NFL lead attorney Jeff Pash during the appeal which also led to the unfair argument, which was further augmented by the role of “independent” investigator Paul Weiss. Berman cited that Weiss’ involvement changed from independent investigator to NFL retained counsel at Brady’s appeal hearing.
It was a farce from Day 1, in what the NFL said was to be a few weeks “independent” investigation by Ted Wells turned into a four-month fishing expedition where Wells admitted that no proof existed that a rule violation took place but declared Brady guilty anyway.
And that vigorous defender of the integrity of the game? Goodell has decided to skip the opening of the NFL season where the commissioner always attends the home opener for the Super Bowl champions. There is your integrity…or lack of it.
Patriots Cut Down To Initial 53-man Roster, Wayne Asks For Release: The Patriots cut the roster down to the 53-man limit on Saturday afternoon and there were a few surprises. RB Jonas Gray was cut loose, and seemed poised to be the lead back on opening night with LaGarrette Blount serving a one-game suspension.
Robert McClain’s release was a mild surprise; the former Atlanta Falcon cornerback was a physical, presence during the preseason and seemed to have a good handle on the slot.
But perhaps the biggest surprise was that WR Reggie Wayne asked for, and was given his release. It appears Wayne didn’t take well to the Patriots way of practicing. He apparently told someone that the team practiced “too hard” and the workouts were “no fun”.
Well now you know Reggie why this team under Brady and Belichick has been to six Super Bowls and it had zero to do with air in the footballs or a bug in an opponent’s locker room. No magic elixir…just plain old hard work. Bill Belichick took the high road with his comments on Wayne’s release, but inside he can’t be happy about this.
“Obviously, Reggie’s time here was brief but it only confirmed what I already thought – he is a true professional who represents every positive attirbute a player should emulate,” Belichick said. “Our parting was mutually agreed upon and I am personally grateful to have worked with one of the great NFL players of the past two decades.”
Looking at the Roster Today: As the roster now stands, the Patriots will have one big running back (Brandon Bolden), and three third down types in Dion Lewis, James White and Travaris Cadet.
Only four healthy wide receivers are ready to go with Julian Edelman, Danny Amendola, Aaron Dobson and Chris Harper. The team carried four tight ends with Rob Gronkowski, Scott Chandler, Michael Williams and Michael Hoomanawanui. Look for a lot of “12 – personnel” with 1 RB, 2 TEs and 2 WRs sets at least early, although the team did experiment with some 2 RB sets with Cadet split wide during the summer.
The team is loaded at the edge with six DEs (Rob Ninkovich, Chandler Jones, Jabaal Sheard, Geneo Grissom, Trey Flowers and Rufus Johnson), on the roster. This is perhaps with safety (six also), as the deepest unit on the team. The pass rush should have plenty of fresh legs this season.
Look for them to mix and match and get a lot of these guys on the field as much as possible. Coupled with an outstanding trio of linebackers in Jamie Collins, Jerod Mayo and Dont’a Hightower, the team will be able to bring plenty of options this season. Eric Martin who flashed early in camp and was injured, came back in time to make the squad. He was impressive in one-on-one pass rushing drills this summer.
With only four CBs on the roster, (Butler, Brown, Fletcher and Ryan), they’ll probably add two to the practice squad immediately. Justin Coleman and Dax Swanson are two very good candidates for that.
East Bound and Down…Notes Around the AFC East:
Jets trim 19 players, including QB Matt Flynn, DE/LB Jason Babin: The Jets released 19 players to reach the 53-man roster limit on Saturday. Included in the cuts were QBs Matt Flynn, Josh Johnson and DE/LB Jason Babin, LB Joe Mays and TE Arthur Lynch.
The team has two players that will start the season on suspension and don’t count against the 53-man roster, DL Sheldon Richardson and OL Oday Aboushi. Additionally RB Stevan Ridley will start the season on the PUP list.
Bills Axe QB Matt Cassel, E.J. Manuel wins backup QB: In a slightly surprising move, the Buffalo Bills cut QB Matt Cassel as E.J. Manuel turned up his play a notch in the final two preseason games to win the backup QB job to Tyrod Taylor.
But perhaps the biggest issue came down to money; Cassel was set to earn $4.15 million dollars in 2015. With several big names needing to be resigned in 2016, the Bills decided to part ways with both Cassel and RB Fred Jackson. That frees up $6.7 million in salary cap space and now the team may get to work on a new deal for DL Marcel Dareus among others.
Dolphins Cut QB Josh Freeman, both veteran kickers: The Miami Dolphins also trimmed their roster to 53 on Saturday and the biggest moves were the release of former 1st round draft pick QB Josh Freeman as well as both incumbent, punter Brandon Fields and kicker Caleb Sturgis.
Fields was a former Pro Bowl punter but lost his training camp battle with UDFA rookie Matt Darr. Sturgis who has battled inconsistency at times in his tenure with the Dolphins was replaced by rookie Andew Franks. So the Dolphins will begin 2015 with UDFA rookies at both kicker positions.
Posted Under: Patriots Commentary
Tags: 2015 NFL Preseason 2015 NFL Season 2015 Patriots Training Camp 2015 Preseason 53 Man Roster Projection Bill Belichick Brandon Gibson Brandon LaFell Chandler Jones Chris Harper Danny Amendola Deflate Gate DeflateGate Jimmy Garoppolo Jordan Richards Julian Edelman LaGarrette Blount Malcolm Butler New England Patriots NFL Patriots Patriots edge rushers Patriots Training Camp Photos Rob Ninkovich Tom Brady Tre' Jackson Trey Flowers