|Thinking Out Loud: NFL allows Patriots’ opponents to play by own set of rules||09.25.15 at 6:21 pm ET|
— “You can observe a lot by watching.” One of my all-time favorite Yogi-isms. We’ll share a few here this week. RIP Yogi.
— Yogi Berra certainly had a wonderful life. Yes, he was a New York Yankee, a three-time MVP and 15-year All-Star, but how could any Red Sox fan — any baseball fan — really “hate” him? Yes, good player. Yes, good teammate. Yes, funny guy, even if he didn’t really mean to be. Heaven got another good one this week, I think. He passed on the same date, Sept. 22, as his big league debut 69 years ago.
— Funny, though, that The Associated Press wire story that broke news of Berra’s passing actually said that “New York Yankees Hall of Fame catcher Yogi Bear has died.” Somewhere, Boo-Boo and Ranger Rick are very upset over this.
— But I loved this from the AP story: His wife once asked Berra where he wanted to be buried, in St. Louis, New York or Montclair, New Jersey. “I don’t know,” he said. “Why don’t you surprise me?”
— It’s becoming clearer by the minute, and certainly more so by the game: Teams losing at Gillette can blame whatever they wish, and teams losing at home to the Patriots can do whatever they want to the Patriots and get away with it. Like the Bills blaring of a horn on third downs well past the team breaking the huddle — a distinct rule violation.
— The Patriots have been threatened with fines previously for blaring a ship’s foghorn at opponents inside Gillette, and a memo came out as recently as a week ago saying teams could not play any audio once the play clock reaches 20 seconds. Guess Buffalo didn’t get the memo. Other teams probably won’t either. Get used to it.
— Yogi-ism II: “It ain’t over ’til it’s over.”
|Thinking Out Loud: NFL’s feud with Patriots far from over||09.11.15 at 6:55 pm ET|
— OK, Roger. Good job. Call off the Code Red.
— Not for nuthin’, but no one is going to feel much like a winner in this back-and-forth between the Patriots and the NFL. Certainly the fans won’t. And we’re never going to get back the last eight months of our lives, mostly over ball deflation. So I’m crying “Uncle” here!
— It was petty. It was dumb. But it was poignant. Tom Brady was left out of an NFL tweet this past week picturing the league’s top QBs as part of the NFL’s celebration of 50 years of Super Bowls. The tweet was later deleted. But the point was made. League execs don’t like the Patriots, or TB12, or the fact that they’ve been made out to be the bad guys here.
— All of the new Spygate stuff released this week in exposes by ESPN and Sports Illustrated? Does anyone think the NFL, burned by its own incompetence in Deflategate, didn’t feed some additional information to ESPN The Magazine’s crew? If you don’t think this happened to some extent — that the NFL information machine intends to continue to spin things its way — then you haven’t been paying attention. Seems to me to be the league’s modus operandi — act stupidly, get burned, feed more trash to its “partners.”
— That ESPN.com’s editors decided to clip a couple of salient yet non-confrontational points from ESPNBoston reporter Mike Reiss’ opinion piece this week, concerning the ESPN and Sports Illustrated Spygate diatribe — is an absolute disgrace. Reiss questioned the Outside the Lines report alleging that Patriots underlings could sneak into a locker room and steal game plans. It’s preposterous, given the amount of security around the place. I know, I work there. But that bit of his opinion, based on fact and personal experience, was edited OUT of his original story. Smh.
— Hardly a week goes by when journalistic integrity doesn’t take a beating from the Bristol Spin Doctors. Do they even care how they’re perceived? It’s the height of arrogance.
|Friday’s Morning Mashup: Patriots fans taunt commissioner with chant of ‘Where is Roger?’||at 7:50 am ET|
FRIDAY’S BROADCAST HIGHLIGHTS:
MLB: Red Sox at Rays, 7:10 p.m. (NESN; WEEI-FM)
MLB: Blue Jays at Yankees, 7:05 p.m. (MLB Network)
College football: Miami at Florida Atlantic, 8 p.m. (FS1)
College football: Utah State at Utah, 9 p.m. (ESPN2)
Tennis: U.S. Open, 3 p.m. (ESPN)
AROUND THE WEB:
— The NFL explained last week that commissioner Roger Goodell, fresh off his loss to Tom Brady and the NFL Players Association in federal court, would not attend Thursday night’s season-opening game at Gillette Stadium. As league spokesman Brian McCarthy told Fox Sports, “The focus should be on the game on the field and the festivities celebrating the Patriots’ Super Bowl championship.”
Patriots fans took note, and they made sure to rub it in the commissioner’s face as their team was marching to a 28-21 victory over the Steelers.
A chant of “Where is Roger?” broke out midway the fourth quarter, when the Patriots had a two-touchdown lead.
The league said Goodell would be watching the game on television, so it’s likely he was aware of the taunt, as NBC announcers Al Michaels and Cris Collinsworth acknowledged it.
Said Collinsworth: “I tend to say I agree with them.”
Goodell is scheduled to attend Sunday’s Packers-Bears game in Chicago.
Meanwhile, according to Bob Costas, Brady denied a request to be interviewed by NBC after the game, in which he completed 25-of-32 passes for 288 yards and four touchdowns and set a team record with 19 consecutive completions. The network replaced him with Rob Gronkowski, who caught three of Brady’s TD tosses.
Brady did hold his usual postgame press conference, calling Thursday “a pretty special night” and insisting he holds no resentment toward the league for its aggressive stance against him in the Deflategate case.
“No, not at all,” Brady said. “And I think that would be just as harmful to me as it would be to anybody else. Carrying those feelings and emotions with me are very destructive. I understand everybody has a job to do and everyone is trying to do what they feel may be in the best interests of their own particular position, and I respect that.
“I may disagree with some things, but at the same time I understand they have a perspective on what their decision may be, also. So I don’t think I’m resentful at all.”
— New York City Police Commissioner Bill Bratton reached out to former tennis star James Blake on Thursday and apologized for his treatment a day earlier, when Blake was tackled and handcuffed in a case of mistaken identity.
“I spoke to Mr. Blake a short time ago and personally apologized for yesterday’s incident,” Bratton said in a statement Thursday afternoon. “Mr. Blake indicated he would be willing to meet with the Internal Affairs Bureau as our investigation continues. Additionally, he said he would be returning the Mayor’s earlier phone call to speak to him. Mr. Blake said he would like to meet with the Mayor [Bill de Blasio] and me at a future date, which we would be agreeable to.”
|Wednesday’s Morning Mashup: Jets WR Brandon Marshall plays ‘race card’ in Tom Brady’s suspension reversal||09.09.15 at 7:51 am ET|
WEDNESDAY’S BROADCAST HIGHLIGHTS:
MLB: Blue Jays at Red Sox, 7:10 p.m. (NESN; WEEI-FM)
MLB: Cubs at Cardinals, 1:30 p.m. (MLB Network)
MLB: Mets at Nationals, 7:05 p.m. (ESPN)
MLB: Dodgers at Angels, 10:05 p.m. (ESPN)
Tennis: U.S. Open, 11 a.m. (ESPN), 8 p.m. (ESPN2)
AROUND THE WEB:
— Early in the Deflategate drama, there were rumors that Tom Brady was being punished in part because to appease minority NFL players who felt that white stars got preferential treatment.
On Tuesday, controversial Jets receiver Brandon Marshall added some validity to that suggestion during a panel discussion on Showtime’s “Inside the NFL” when he voiced his opinion on why Brady’s suspension was lifted.
“The race card,” Marshall said. “There are a lot of players out there that believe that white players — specifically, at the quarterback position — are treated differently.”
Using prepared notes, Marshall explained that he has had conversations with players across the league — “This is not just from our locker room, this is from locker rooms across the States,” he said, adding: “This is how guys are feeling, this is not just my opinion” — and detailed their viewpoints.
“I think that there are three different types of players’ views in this thing,” Marshall said. “No. 1 is the fighter. I think there are guys in the fight with Tom. When one player’s rights are upheld, then all players’ rights are upheld. It’s not about what he did, if he’s right or wrong. It’s more about the process. Is it fair?
“The second is cowards — I call them cowards. That’s the guys that are afraid to face Tom Brady. They want him suspended; I don’t believe in that.”
The third view, Marshall said, is the “race card.” And he said he believe black players are held to a different standard.
“Absolutely,” he said. “At times, yes.”
— The two high school football players in Texas who slammed into a referee from behind during a game Friday claim the referee used racial slurs against them, according to officials in the students’ school district.
Northside Independent School District superintendent Brian T. Woods also said an assistant coach who is accused of encouraging the players to attack the referee was placed on leave.
|Thinking Out Loud: Misguided NFL gets its due in Deflategate embarrassment||09.04.15 at 6:49 pm ET|
— When it comes to the National Football League, power corrupts. Absolute power, Mr. Goodell, corrupts absolutely. It’s a basic, life lesson we learned once upon a time in civics class, and we often forget occurs in all walks of life. Oh, and the arrogance thing? Not a good look. Keep this in mind as you pursue your appeal.
— Inquiring minds need to know. When does the bastion of truth and information, ESPN, decide that its legal analysts now are worthless as teats on a bull?
— If you’ve followed along for any amount of time, you know Tom Brady‘s eventual exoneration was predicted right here. But not because of any special inside knowledge or information gained, really. The legal system had to work, to play itself out. Common sense had to prevail, eventually. The bullies and wannabes within the NFL had to be flushed out, and these things take time. That, and a little faith and persistence from the public. Patriots fans deserve big kudos for keeping this story alive and growing, much like fungus grows on a locker room shower floor.
— And of course, even Patriots haters have caught onto the absolute lunacy of the punishment the league attempted to stick onto TB12’s backside. If Brady’s penalty had been one game for “failure to cooperate”? This would have ended months ago, methinks. Just because Roger Goodell decided he would make an example of the Patriots — and Brady — by doing the bidding of a scorned few within the NFL, tired of getting pasted by the Pats and their ways, he now has opened up a Pandora’s box of litigation anytime he tries to discipline anyone else.
— Um, Rog? Try leading and making your own decisions, rather than following the revenge-fueled mindset of those dopes in Indianapolis, Baltimore and New York. If you had actually done that when this charade began, you wouldn’t necessarily be persona non grata in New England right now and viewed as a toothless shark by everyone else. Stupid is as stupid does.
— Tweet of the Week I, from @ArmandoSalguero: NFL Commissioner’s salary at an all-time high at a time his power may be at an all-time low.
— Biggest winners right now? Maybe those who took the Patriots by just three points over the Steelers in the season opener. Vegas books had that spread just before Judge Richard Berman’s decision came down Thursday. Just after it? New England moved to a 6.5-point favorite. Over/under grew from 48.5 to 51.
— Jonathan Kraft said the team might have raised a Brady-themed banner instead of the Super Bowl XLIX banner next Thursday night if his suspension hadn’t been overturned. I almost — almost — wish we could see what that would have said. #FreeBrady?
— Kraft also told the audience it isn’t likely the team will make an attempt to recoup any of the fine or the draft picks deducted by the league. But the banner that read “16-0″ for the 2007 regular season? It’s gone, replaced by a new super box in Gillette Stadium‘s northwest corner. They may send that to Don Shula. Now that’s actually a great idea.
— #FreeBrady? Yes. #VindicateBrady? Nope. Not entirely. The end result is what Patriots fans have hoped for over the past seven-plus months. It is not, however, the truth. As I’ve said before, we’ll probably never know the whole truth. Sure, Brady has always steadfastly maintained his innocence, and the “nice guy” in all of us wants to believe him. But know this: The NFL bungled this so badly, it stretched the boundaries of reality, common sense and fairness. That is, ultimately, why TB12 is free.
— The NFL will appeal the decision, and while it isn’t likely Brady’s court win will be overturned, don’t be shocked if the league tries to “re-punish” him. Since the Patriots haven’t punished Tom for anything, technically speaking, the NFL could go after him again under the collective bargaining agreement’s “one-penalty” clause. No one is accusing Mensa of residing on Park Avenue in New York. But we’ll find out the meaning of the word “vindictive” if the league travels this road. Just sayin’.
— So, how come there isn’t a bigger deal being made over “Orsillogate”? Sorry, kids, but The Boston Globe said it couldn’t “independently verify” that signs mentioning Don Orsillo were actually confiscated at Fenway Park? Did anyone actually attempt to speak with fans holding signs? The Sporting News had the story, and it’s not IN Boston. Social media (admittedly, not always the best source) was rife with stories on placards being removed from the park. Why not check it out?
— Three words: conflict of interest. Yes, a few positive signs have been spotted over the past couple of games. Does anyone really believe they haven’t been screened first? Any mention of NESN or the Boston Red Sox screwing up this entire escapade, and those cardboard-carrying truths undoubtedly are whisked off to the dumpster. And NESN’s apparent attempt to get Orsillo to agree to say his departure was a “mutual” decision is a poor attempt to cover up a bad move.
— Our worst fears, people, are coming to fruition. The era of an actual, independent press continues to dwindle right before our eyes. The Globe, owned by Red Sox owner John Henry, has some ‘splainin’ to do. Or some actual reporting, if the boss lets the employees do it.
— Tweet of the Week II, from @GlobeKPD: Don Orsillo’s trademark, IMO, is his ease of manner and humor. His legacy: the dignity he has shown in recent days.
— Now, on to “Schillinggate.” ESPN, you’ve outdone yourself. A now season-long suspension for Schilling’s comparison of ISIS “extremist” Muslims to Nazis? While Hall of Famer Cris Carter goes free for his unconscionable words of wisdom to NFL rookies that they should have a “fall guy” for their actions? It’s so terribly obvious who the four-letter network is in bed with. Walter Cronkite and Edward R. Murrow must be turning in their graves from the conflict of interest.
— Most right-minded Red Sox fans realized early on that Hanley Ramirez could not play in the outfield, and a move to first base — if he stayed in the organization — had to happen. That John Farrell and Ben Cherington downplayed or dismissed this should be all you need to know about why change at the top has been made. Now that Ramirez is beginning his voyage on the other side of the diamond, this decision has Dealer Dave Dombrowski all over it.
— Providence basketball forward Rodney Bullock tweeted out this past week he’s been given medical clearance to play, after missing most of the past two seasons with a suspension and a knee injury. If Bullock is actually healthy and close to regaining his pre-injury form, he’ll play a major role for the Friars this season. He looks like he’s on a pogo stick when he heads to the boards.
— And if you need to know just exactly what a pogo stick is, Google it. And try to jump on one.
— Good move by the Big East Conference to launch what it’s calling the Freshman Fundamentals Program, which is designed to help student-athletes transition from high school sports to the demands of intercollegiate athletics. The event will be held in New York next weekend, with all 10 league teams sending selected scholarship athletes to learn about things like media demands, time accountability and balancing life with school and sports. Hope they don’t let Cris Carter in the building.
— If you’re wondering about the Big East hoop schedule, it was released about this time a year ago. Expect the 2015-16 version to be announced in the next week.
— It looks as if the Friars have caught a couple of unfortunate breaks before the season gets started. First, Illinois star guard Tracy Abrams went down with an Achilles injury, putting him out for the year. Now, Harvard senior point guard Siyani Chambers is out for the season with an ACL tear. Chambers also has to actually leave school for the year because of Ivy League rules against athletic redshirts. He’ll apparently attempt to re-enroll for 2016-17 and finish his eligibility. Along with his degree.
— URI’s schedule is complete, with the Atlantic-10 releasing the conference portion of the schedule this week. It was buried in the wake of the TB12 court decision (great timing and awareness, A-10), but nevertheless there will be at least 107 conference games on national TV of some kind. That’s a big step up.
— Valparaiso, Providence, Houston in non-league play for the Rams at home, but for an expected A-10 preseason favorite, road trips (with no return game to the Ryan Center) to VCU, George Washington and Davidson should prove to be challenging. Home-and-home with Dayton will be fun to watch.
— Back to the business of football: ICYMI, four Patriots were named in the NFL Top 100 player rankings, compiled by ESPN through voting from a panel of more than 70 analysts, reporters and stat geeks. To me, anything done by ESPN now is branded with the smell of “agenda,” much like the same burning stench you get when a cowboys’ brand is applied to a cow’s backside. Trust me, something stinks. Nevertheless, Tom Brady ranked No. 3, Rob Gronkowski No. 5, Devin McCourty 56 and Jamie Collins 97.
— Houston’s J.J. Watt was No. 1, Green Bay’s Aaron Rodgers was No. 2 in the poll. Hard to argue with those findings, no matter the agenda.
— Preseason football games in the NFL are a modern-day fraud perpetrated on a willing, gullible society. We want — need — football after the offseason. We get it in name only. Because what we witnessed Thursday night in Foxboro was not football. Whatever it was, it was a gross misrepresentation of actual competition. On a night when emotions were running high over TB12’s court victory, the game against the Giants sucked the intensity right out of Gillette Stadium, faster than a Usain Bolt 100-meter sprint to a finish line.
— There is no quick fix to the preseason/exhibition game dilemma. As a season-ticket holder, I will point out that ticket prices are reduced by the Patriots for these games, compared to regular-season games. So there is that. But everything evolves over time, and it is well past time for pro football to follow. We’ve had four preseason exhibitions on the schedule every year since 1978. Time to throw a changeup.
— Players don’t need four games to work themselves into shape, but coaches will argue they need time to evaluate 90 guys trying to make a team. Can a compromise ever be reached, and reduce this charade to two games? Only when the owners and players come to an agreement over one thing: money.
— My buddy “Big E” has trouble with understanding money, even though he’s an accountant. He asked his secretary recently for some math help about a bill he had received. “If I gave you $20,000, minus 14 percent, how much would you take off?” Without missing a beat, his secretary replied, “Everything but my jewelry.”
— Tweet of the Week III, from @Gil_Brandt: Bad news for Rams and Saints: Only one team has finished winless in preseason and gone on to win Super Bowl (1982 Redskins).
— Predictions for the regular season? “Pain,” as Clubber Lang once opined before meeting Rocky Balboa in the ring. Emotion can only carry a team so far. But emotion and a good-sized chip on the shoulder can certainly carry you through some tough times. The Patriots have both going for them. The biggest question? Can the secondary play well enough to keep the other guys from scoring almost at will?
— Tough times right now for former Brown defensive end James Develin, the Patriots’ starting fullback. With a break of his right tibia against Carolina a week ago, Develin was put on season-ending injured reserve by the team this week. I dislike preseason games as much as anyone else, but sometimes getting hurt just can’t be avoided. Tough break, indeed.
— For my friend and tennis fanatic Edward in Johnston, Rhode Island: Serena Williams is NOT the greatest female tennis player of all time. She belongs in the top three or four, absolutely. And she probably inches closer to the GOAT moniker (Greatest of all Time) placed in front of her name if she claims the U.S. Open and clinches the Grand Slam of winning all four major tournaments in a calendar year. For my money, right now I’ll still take Martina Navratilova as the GOAT, and Chris Evert as the FOAT (Favorite of all Time).
— Maybe you missed it around here, but the city of New Britain, Connecticut, lost its minor league baseball team to Hartford, and the Double-A Rock Cats (the Minnesota Twins‘ Eastern League affiliate) will be known as the Yard Goats in a brand new stadium starting next year. Sound familiar? This week, just two days after the Rock Cats played their final home game, New Britain announced it will be getting a new team to replace the old one, an expansion team in the independent Atlantic League.
— It sounds crazy right now, but crazier things have happened around here, haven’t they? If the PawSox build their stadium and move to Providence, what will the City of Pawtucket do with McCoy Stadium over the spring and summer? Maybe the city should place a phone call to the Atlantic League.
— Oh, and not for nuthin’, but that new ballpark in Hartford? Dunkin’ Donuts Park. Damn. Missed out on cornering the market on that one.
— Maybe you like his music, and maybe you think it’s a bit crazy. But rap star Chris “Ludacris” Bridges is the latest big name for Providence College to snag for its upcoming Late Night Madness celebration on Oct. 17, signaling the unofficial start to the college basketball season. Hey, it’s great for the kids and a potential boon for recruiting, to pull in a rap/rock star. But unless you attend PC, you won’t be able to get into Alumni Hall for the performance — it’s for students only. Last year, it was Big Sean. Before that, Nick Cannon. So when does Lynyrd Skynyrd or ZZ Top get an invite?
— There were some great comments this week via social media on the apparent end to Deflategate, the overwhelming majority from Patriots fans. But there was this note on Facebook from Kurt in Queens, New York: “The league is full of [expletive deleted]. I’m not even the least bit surprised. Still [another expletive deleted] the Patriots ALL DAY AND TWICE ON SUNDAYS.” Kurt: Good use of all caps. Appreciate the support, bro. And glad to see you’ve come around to the conclusion that yes, indeed, the NFL is having difficulty in the departments of arrogance and attitude. Thanks for the biology and anatomy lesson, too, by the way. You New Yorkers are so smart.
— Interested in having your questions on local Rhode Island sports (and yes, that includes the Patriots, Red Sox, Bruins and Celtics) answered in a somewhat timely fashion? Send ’em to me! It’s your chance to “think out loud,” so send your questions, comments and local stories to email@example.com. We’ll share mailbag comments/Facebook posts/tweets right here! Follow me on Twitter, @JRbroadcaster, and on Facebook, www.facebook.com/john.rooke.
— Don’t forget to join Scott Cordischi and me on Providence’s 103.7 FM every Saturday from 7-9 a.m. for Southern New England Sports Saturday! Call in at 401-737-1287 or text us at 37937.
|Friday’s Morning Mashup: Packers QB Aaron Rodgers calls Deflategate dismissal ‘a good day for the players’||at 7:53 am ET|
FRIDAY’S BROADCAST HIGHLIGHTS:
MLB: Phillies at Red Sox, 7:10 p.m. (NESN; WEEI-FM)
MLB: Diamondback at Cubs, 2:20 p.m. (MLB Network)
MLB: Twins at Astros, 8:10 p.m. (MLB Network)
MLB: Pirates at Cardinals, 8:15 p.m. (MLB Network)
College football: Charlotte at Georgia State, 3:30 p.m. (ESPNU)
College football: Baylor at SMU, 7 p.m. (ESPN)
College football: Fordham at Army, 7 p.m. (CBSSN)
College football: Michigan State at Western Michigan, 7 p.m. (ESPNU)
College football: Kent State at Illinois, 9 p.m. (BTN)
College football: Washington at Boise State, 10:15 p.m. (ESPN)
Soccer: Exhibition, Peru at United States, 7:30 p.m. (FS1)
Soccer: Euro 2016 qualifying, Germany vs. Poland, 2:30 p.m. (FS1)
Tennis: U.S. Open, 1 p.m. (ESPN), 6 p.m. (ESPN2)
AROUND THE WEB:
Rodgers, who has said he likes his football inflated on the higher end, spoke in general terms about Brady’s case and what it means in terms of taking some power back from the commissioner.
“I think it’s a good day for the players,” Rodgers told the Packers TV network from the sideline during his team’s preseason finale Thursday night. “I think that anytime we can get one of own back, that’s a good win for us. I think there is maybe a little bit of the, too much absolute power that frankly the players, we had a chance in 2011 to really make a difference in the CBA, and we didn’t. We left the commissioner in charge of a lot of those things, but our unions did a good job of appealing and helping our guys out.”
Meanwhile, Falcons owner Arthur Blank acknowledged that it might be time for the league to consider reworking the way it doles out discipline, implying that commissioner Roger Goodell might have to surrender some of his power.
“It’s not healthy for the NFL to be in the kind of litigious position that it’s been for last several years,” Blank told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “I think that the commissioner is working hard to hold up the respect and integrity of the game, the competitive balance of the game and the shield. Having said that, I think we have to find ways to get to a better place sooner with the NFLPA than the process that we’ve gone through.”
Added Blank: “This Deflategate thing — which isn’t about Deflategate any longer, it’s about what has been collectively negotiated for decades in terms of the commissioner’s responsibility in terms of disciplining players. If we have to look at that differently in today’s light, in today’s environment, as an ownership group we should be prepared to do that. The commissioner should be prepared to do that. … I think the commissioner and the ownership around the league have to be prepared to look at things, look at change, and change may be appropriate.”
— On the same day the NFL was getting its hat handed to it in the Deflategate ruling, the league suspended Broncos safety T.J. Ward one game for an incident last year, and the player is none too happy about it.
Ward was charged with misdemeanor assault and disturbing the peace for a May 2014 incident at a Denver strip club in which he allegedly threw a glass mug at a female bartender who told him he could not bring alcohol into the club. The charges eventually were dropped.
“I feel it’s really unfair,” Ward said. “I’m getting punished for being accused of doing something, not for doing something but being accused, and I’ve got to pay the consequences for it. And I just don’t feel the whole process is very fair.”
|Thinking Out Loud: Patriots no Saints, but feeling toward NFL is mutual||08.21.15 at 10:05 pm ET|
— And it may be only preseason, but Patriots fans love their football — Deflategate notwithstanding, and a meaningless exhibition seems to matter little. Ratings for the preseason opener were the highest for local TV since just after the Super Bowl in February for the Grammy Awards. Higher than the NBA and NHL finals. Higher than the Republican debates, too — which means a Pats game is one show around here that Donald Trump can’t take over. I hope.
— Deflategate vs. Bountygate. Or Spygate. In effect, that’s what we had this week in White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia. Some in the media tried to play that angle but didn’t have a lot of success with it. The Patriots and New Orleans Saints stayed and practiced at The Greenbrier resort, where some of the Friars basketball teams in the ’90s stayed when facing the Mountaineers during Pete Gillen’s tenure. There’s not much out there, and it’s darn near perfect if you like seclusion.
— Maybe that’s why there weren’t any notable skirmishes between players, whereas in other scrimmages teams seem to be duking it out with regularity? Pats and Saints players were lulled to sleep, or rather, they may have feared for their professional well-being if they were tossed from practice for fighting.
— There are similarities between the organizations, and not just because of the infamous violations for which they’ve been accused. Sean Payton loves to wear hoodies cut off at the sleeves, as does Bill Belichick. Payton is very guarded and doesn’t talk about injuries, just like BB. And both teams appear to have an organizational chip on their shoulders, when it comes to alleged “fair treatment” by the NFL. Right or wrong, that can be useful.
— The Brady-Goodell Peace Accord goes back to the bargaining table on Aug. 31. When does this charade end? Neither side really cares about budging, although rumors of Tom Brady‘s willingness to compromise (one-game suspension, no admission of guilt) at least SOUNDS magnanimous compared to The League. I don’t see him compromising, but then again, I’m not TB12 with this big, fat albatross hanging around my neck, either.
— No, this goes down to the bitter end. Commissioner Bad-ell (how can anyone really call him Goodell?) loses what’s left of his disciplinary authority if he caves and compromises. Brady is branded a cheater if he caves and compromises — if that hasn’t happened already in 31 other NFL fandoms. Both are standing at the craps table, hoping that Judge Berman rolls a seven or 11 for ’em.
|Thinking Out Loud: NFL on power play in Tom Brady case||08.14.15 at 7:40 pm ET|
— Is there any doubt that Deflategate won’t snake its way through the Federal Court system in New York? But here’s the concern you should have, Pats fans. The issue the NFL is attacking is the collective bargaining agreement with the NFLPA — that says the commish has the authority to be stupid. Or something close to that.
— The NFL is a cartel. The NFL is socialistic. The NFL is Mother Russia. Say whatever you want, but the NFL is most decidedly not democratic. It doesn’t have to be, based on the CBA. That’s what the league is arguing, and it will be up to Judge Berman to decide if the Brady-Goodell Peace Accord is about actual justice, or about injustice being forced down the throats of league denizens.
— Denizens? That’s you, me, the Patriots, the Jets, Ravens, Colts and all other creatures who live in and around Planet NFL.
— Not for nuthin’, but the players now largely feel this thing is way overblown. ESPN.com recently conducted a poll and had 100 players respond to the questions of cheating, guilt and innocence in Deflategate. Bottom line — 60 percent feel there’s nothing to see here, move along. They know all teams look for “advantages.” I think I said that about six months ago.
— I’ve heard the word “integrity” used so many times in the last few months by so many people who have little or no clue what the term means, I’m beginning to doubt what it really means myself.
— Ego is the reason we are where we are. Not Brady’s, but Roger Goodell’s. Had the commish simply imposed a fine on TB12, this would be over with. But because the commish insists upon holding a heavy-handed hammer, he’s pounding his own head (and respectability, integrity, etc.) into the turf, again. One poor decision after another. Precisely WHY he shouldn’t be commish. But he is, and he will be for a while, unless somehow he’s shamed out of it.
— Shoot, if anything, Goodell should be gone because he’s nothing more than a lemming, doing the dirty work for a few greedy, jealous and not-very-smart-or-savvy owners. I mean, here’s a guy that would probably jump off a bridge if Woody Johnson asked him to do it.
|Thinking Out Loud: Deflategate finally nears conclusion, with NFL looking bad right to end||08.07.15 at 7:26 pm ET|
— I’d like to say, “I told you so.” So I will. Told ya’ so.
— It’s not over yet, but the fat lady is warming up her vocal chords when it comes to singing the final stanza of the Deflategate song. The release this past week of testimony and documents from Tom Brady‘s appeal hearing with Roger Goodell is damning for the NFL. How can it not be?
— Anyone with an ounce of common sense — whether a hater or not — can detect logic. And there is none of that contained within the NFL’s argument over whether or not TB12 had plausible knowledge of football deflation. Do the Patriots still own some of this? Of course they do. There very well may have been something going on, as has been documented. But the league’s “investigation” was a poorly run, mismanaged attempt at control and pumping air back into its own office hubris, thanks to its bungling of other disciplinary matters.
— Legally speaking — and I’m no lawyer here — but I’d say the NFL is backpedaling faster than a defensive back in one-on-one coverage of Rob Gronkowski. Now, how to save face — if not jobs? Expect a settlement over the next week. or two, to include NO suspension for TB12. And NFL people will merely say, in the face of utter embarrassment, they only were doing their jobs to protect “The Shield.” This is precisely why other players — and other teams, and their fans — should be very concerned. No one is immune to league incompetency.
— This is precisely why 32 NFL owners should take note. These people didn’t become billionaires through mismanagement. But this is what they currently are supporting. Wise up, fellas, and find competent management for your fortunes, unless you like looking the part of old fools. Gentlemen, your emperor ain’t wearing any clothes.
— In the circus that is sports radio, I happened to hear John Dennis, Gary Tanguay and Kirk Minihane engaged in a little shouting on WEEI’s D&C this week, with Tanguay’s attempt at playing the contrarian a little over the top. His argument — completely unfounded — was that there must be something sinister going on because we haven’t heard from John Jastremski or Jim McNally. Gary, they’re in witness protection. On lockdown. They’d like to resume their jobs, if possible. And probably a little scared and shaken by all of this mess, too.
— And Gare, while we’re at it, sports talk bluster without facts to back up your argument is nothing more than bloviating. Google it. If you want to be taken seriously in anything you do, try having a “take” with evidence to support your claim first. If I want hot air, I’ll roll down my car window. Nice try at playing the bad guy, though. Except, you’re not believable.
|Thinking Out Loud: How did Patriots become so despised by everyone?||07.31.15 at 7:27 pm ET|
Thinking out loud … while wondering what Jose Canseco has been up to lately?
— How did we arrive at this point? How did a championship-caliber franchise and Hall of Fame-to-be QB become the hated and the hunted — by the NFL and all of its teams? It began with an inaccurate report from ESPN that was never corrected, either through ignorance or arrogance or perhaps an edict — allegedly (Mike Kensil?) from the league itself.
— I don’t believe Deflategate was a “sting” so much as it was a simple, “You’re too high and mighty; we’re gonna get you, eventually,” by the NFL, or more specifically, NFL VP of game operations Kensil (a former Jets employee) and NFL executive VP and general counsel Jeff Pash. Colts GM Ryan Grigson figures into this as well. It’s odd that there has been this near-scurrilous fervor with which these men have displayed at times in this entire fiasco. You have to ask the question, “Why do they do what they do?” It’s a fair point. Are they under direct orders, or do they have grudges to settle?
— In an era of alleged parity, New England has managed six Super Bowl appearances in 15 years, winning four of those. I would maintain the rest of the league, and the league office itself, is trying to decipher how they’ve done it. And the NFL is taking great pains to expose any shred of impropriety, and blow up any inkling of idiosyncrasy as a scarlet letter for the franchise to wear upon its jersey. It’s all about “The Shield,” and no one team can rise above it.
— Why? There are several reasons, all of them plausible — from good ol’ fashioned envy and jealousy to anger and greed. Thirty-one other teams and millions of fans are enjoying every minute of this fiasco, watching the Patriots squirm and TB12 twist in the wind. To the NFL, it’s tremendous theater, and frankly, if I’m looking at it from the outside, I have to agree. It’s a show, all right.
— The NFL has blasted the Patriots in the PR battle, and it has been an artful performance. The league has taken false science, maybes, rumor and innuendo, and slotted words like “destroy” into their press releases, giving the football-crazed country outside of New England reason to believe we’re all cheaters. I’ve spent the past two weeks in football-mad Texas, and the Brady saga is mentioned in the same breath as two state schools (TCU and Baylor) being ranked in the top five of the college preseason poll. A pound of air pressure vs. two college powerhouses. Whoa.
— Do you feel any better about Robert Kraft now that he’s come out and apologized for “trusting” the NFL?Â Kraft’s angst over the league, and over Roger Goodell’s upholding of Brady’s suspension, is a bit misguided. After all, it is HIS team, not the league’s. I understand his wanting to get along for the common good, but this is a perfect example of someone attempting what he thought to be the right thing and then getting steamrolled. It’s past time to revert to the business tactics that have made him a billionaire in the first place. It’s now time to be ruthless and unforgiving, as most of us originally hoped he would be. Goodell played Kraft for a fool here. Just sayin’.
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