Tag: patriots

Trouble In Paradise

From ESPN’s Seth Wickersham’s hit piece on the whole dynamic between Tom Brady, Bill Belichick, and owner Robert Kraft:

Those who know Belichick and Brady well are amazed that they’ve co-existed this long, two ruthless and proud self-made men, both secure though still unfinished in their legacies, both loved and hated, both having received stiff penalties for cheating, both motivated by ego, humility and — as much as anything — doubt. Belichick is famously secretive, creating an entire system in which knowledge flows directly to him and only he decides how to deploy and exploit it. And Brady is famously unhelpful toward his backups — or, at least, a threat like Garoppolo. The two quarterbacks were friendly, but Brady — like Joe Montana to Steve Young and Brett Favre to Aaron Rodgers — didn’t see it as his role to advise Garoppolo, even on matters as trivial as footwork, as nobody had helped him during his climb. Garoppolo played well in 2016, starting in place of the suspended Brady, and Belichick began to see Garoppolo as the final piece of his legacy, to walk away in a few years with the Patriots secure at quarterback. But after Garoppolo was knocked out of his second start because of a shoulder injury, he set up a visit at TB12. As he later told Patriots staffers, when he arrived, the door was locked. He knocked; nobody was there. He called TB12 trainers but nobody answered. He couldn’t believe it, Garoppolo told the staffers, and that night ended up visiting team trainers instead. Guerrero vehemently denies ever refusing to see any player, and Garoppolo was eventually treated at TB12 — but it was two weeks after he showed up for his original appointment, and only after a high-ranking Patriots staffer called TB12 to inquire why Garoppolo hadn’t been admitted.

Several times this past October, Brady met with Kraft to discuss playing longer. That same month, he also met with Belichick, who was skeptical of a long-term contract extension but was content to start Brady as long as he was the best quarterback. Belichick understood how much Brady had meant to the franchise, and had always insisted privately that he wouldn’t move on from Brady unless he could convince the coaching staff of it. But the reality was that no quarterback has ever played at a championship level into his 40s. The meeting ended in a “little blowup,” according to a source. Complicating matters was that Garoppolo would be a free agent at the end of this season. Complicating matters more was that Brady and Garoppolo share Yee as an agent.

And complicating matters even more was that Belichick didn’t want to trade Garoppolo. He had passed on dealing him last spring, when Garoppolo was in high demand. In early September, Belichick did trade third-string quarterback Jacoby Brissett to the Colts for wide receiver Phillip Dorsett. “If we trade Jimmy, we’re the Cleveland Browns, with no succession plan,” one person inside the organization said earlier in the year. The Patriots repeatedly offered Garoppolo four-year contract extensions, in the $17 million to $18 million range annually that would go higher if and when he succeeded Brady. Garoppolo and Yee rejected the offers out of hand, for reasons that remain unclear, and the Patriots knew they couldn’t make any promises to Garoppolo about the timing of a transition at quarterback without it getting back to Brady.

Two weeks before the Nov. 1 trading deadline, Belichick met with Kraft to discuss the quarterback situation. According to staffers, the meeting ran long, lasting half the day and pushing back Belichick’s other meetings. The office was buzzing. The meeting ended with a clear mandate to Belichick: trade Garoppolo because he would not be in the team’s long-term plans, and then, once again, find the best quarterback in the draft and develop him. Belichick was furious and demoralized, according to friends. But in the end, he did what he asks of his players and coaches: He did his job. One morning in late October, Belichick texted San Francisco 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan and asked him to call. Belichick had long admired Kyle’s father, Mike, who not only had been one of the NFL’s smartest tacticians but had also personally defended Belichick to commissioner Roger Goodell during the Spygate scandal. At the combine this past February, Kyle, weeks into the 49ers job after being the offensive coordinator for the Falcons, met with Belichick for hours to learn from his team’s humiliating Super Bowl loss. Belichick believed that Garoppolo would excel under Shanahan, and when he and Shanahan connected on the phone, Belichick offered the quarterback for a second-rounder.

I’ll make no secret that I have been a life long New England Patriots fan. I have been with them through thick and thin. They humored us and made the 1986 Super Bowl, only to get embarrassed by one of the great teams in NFL history – the 1986 Chicago Bears. They also made it to the 1996 Super Bowl and were in the game until the Desmond Howard kickoff return broke their spirit.

To me, the Patriots are playing with house money at this point.  Heading into the 2001 season, the prospect of the New England Patriots ever winning one Super Bowl, much less 5 (and counting) was a pipe dream.  The prospect of winning 5 (and counting) Super Bowls with a coach that was run out of Cleveland and a 6th round draft pick who played all of one season at Michigan?  Off the charts. 

I’m not saying I fully buy into the whole tone and narrative of Wickersham’s piece – I would really have liked a LOT more on-the-record quotes – but I do think that he is hitting on a festering dynamic within the walls of Foxborough.  Eighteen years on from that first Super Bowl victory, the Patriots are now a model franchise and they have the opportunity to set things up for future success once Belichick and Brady walk away.  Belichick was moving his chess pieces to ensure that the team will be set up with both the infrastructure and the talent – centered around the backup QB Jimmy Garoppolo –  to continue its string of success for many years to come.  But Brady seems to be putting his own priorities ahead of all else.  Where I think Wickersham exposes an interesting element is around the notion that Kraft meddling in football decisions does not sit well with Belichick.

I honestly wonder if Belichick did in fact get the directive to trade Garoppolo from Kraft, that he basically said “F it, if you want me to trade Jimmy G, and leave us exposed at the most important position on the field, fine.” and then went to the 49ers and put a “Don Corleone” offer (aka – one they could not refuse) on the table. 

The next few weeks will be very interesting in terms of how history will look on at this incredible run of the Patriots.

Superb Owl

Not much to say other than just an incredible game and an amazing play by Malcolm Butler at the goal line in the final seconds. Everything leading up to that play was bringing back bad memories of the last two Super Bowls that the Patriots had played in and lost. The late score by the Pats to take the lead, the other team driving, the Pats having them down to a 3rd down, a circus catch (!!!). Russell Wilson and Eli Manning have very similar ‘pull horseshoes out of their butt’ tendencies to win big games and appeared to be going to a bad place we have seen before. I was just praying something would break for the Patriots and thankfully, the Seattle coaching staff over thought the situation and made an epic-ly bad decision.

I happened to see this photo below of Richard Sherman and Tom Brady seconds after the game concluded. Not sure who took it but it’s an amazing shot.

NFL: Super Bowl XLIX-New England Patriots vs Seattle Seahawks

Curses

I downloaded this week’s copy of Sports Illustrated to my iPad (I also found a paper version of it in my mailbox too…very strange concept, this magazine thing.) and to my intense horror, saw that Tom Brady and my Patriots were gracing their cover. How could they?

For those of you uninitiated into the ways of sports superstition and Sports Illustrated, it is well documented that sports teams and athletes appearing on the cover of SI have subsequently suffered athletic failure and injury of all shapes and sizes. For those of you naysayers, read through the list on the Wikipedia page…its too frequent an occurrence to be a fluke.

And beyond the Wikipedia page, just take a look at the image above from my SI iPad app library. Four of the past six covers (including this week’s with the Pats on it) have featured NFL teams in the Playoffs. And what do you know…every NFL team featured on the cover (before this week) have been promptly dispatched from the playoffs – Tebow and the Broncos, Rodgers and the Packers, and Alex Smith and the 49ers.

My only hope that the Patriots don’t end up suffering this same indignity is that SI does the noble and right thing and put the Giants on next week’s cover which comes out ahead of the Super Bowl. Maybe having the Giants on the cover next week will “out-jinx” having the Patriots on the cover this week. I can only hope!

UPDATE 2.1.12: Well, it looks like SI has it out for the Patriots. Coming off of last week’s cover shot of Tom Brady, they went ahead and pulled a double doozy on the Patriots by putting owner Bob Kraft on its cover. That’s two weeks in a row of bad SI cover karma.

Bruins Win Stanley Cup!

OK, I admit it. I am the epitome of a ‘front runner’/bandwagon/show up late to the party Bruins fan. I don’t think I watched a Bruins game all year until the playoffs. I’m the first to admit that I lost interest in the team and the sport of hockey.

Growing up in New England, I actually watched the Bruins as much as the Red Sox – Bruins teams that included Rick Middleton, Wayne Cashman, Ray Bourque, Terry O’Reilly, Peter McNab, Stan Jonathan, and on and on. So seeing them compete for the Cup and actually win it for the first time in almost 40 years just brought back a flood of childhood memories. Beyond that, watching this Stanley Cup Final series was just an amazing spectacle of hockey by both teams. Hockey gets a bad rap for being the “4th sport” in the US, but the athleticism and speed at which hockey players can do things on the ice is just amazing.

So now, as I look back at the past 10 years from a personal sports fan perspective, every single one of my teams that I regularly follow – Syracuse basketball (2003), the Red Sox (2004, 2007), the Patriots (2001, 2003, 2004), the Celtics (2008), and a certain hockey team that I irregularly follow – have won championships. Good times, good times!

Toe The Line

With all the trash talking coming out of the NY Jets camp this week in advance of the big Jets – Patriots NFL Playoff game, Wes Welker (New England WR) may have had the most fun with the situation.

As you may have heard, videos leaked online that supposedly depict Rex Ryan sharing a fetish for his wife’s feet. He all but implicated himself by saying that the videos were “a personal issue”.

So this week, in a hilariously subtle set of tweaks, Welker made no less than 11 references to feet during his press briefing.

Q} How do you approach the young guys about what to expect in the postseason?
A.) You just talk to them. It’s a playoff atmosphere and you can’t just stick your toe in the water, you’ve got to jump right in and make sure you’re ready to go and make things happen. In a playoff atmosphere that’s what you have to do

Q) How valuable is it to have a guy like Tom Brady standing in the huddle, especially in the intense situations of the playoff atmosphere?
A.)Having Tom in there, it goes without saying, the guy is who he is and he does a great job of making sure everyone is on the same page and putting their best foot forward going out there and playing well and doing what they can out there.

Q) What makes Revis as good as he is?
A.) I think he is very patient. He has good feet. He moves around really well. He understands the game. He gets his hands on you pretty well. [He] understands what you’re trying to do to him, so he definitely is a tough guy to really set up and get open against. You’ve got to be on top of your game and make sure that you’re doing everything possible to get open.

And so on. Ah, Rex Ryan…the loudmouth that keeps on giving.

A State of Denial

So I’ve been in a state of denial since Week 1 of the NFL season. I’ve just not accepted that Tom Brady got his knee ruined 8 minutes into the 2008-09 NFL season and is out for the year. It took watching Matt Cassell QB the Pats to a victory of the Jets this past weekend to have it fully sink in. When you compound this with the painful loss to the Giants last season, you just realize that you should take full advantage of every opportunity. Maybe Rodney Harrison should have tried just that much harder to get the ball off of David Tyree’s helmet. Or maybe Asante Samuel (who probably does not care since he’s playing in Philly these days) should have tried that much harder to catch that ball that Eli threw. As has been said so many times in so many media outlets, the Pats have quite a season in front of them. It will test Coach Belichick and the rest of the team. Thankfully, we have a pretty easy schedule. I’ll consider making the playoffs a success this year. Anything else is gravy.

Bad Omens For the Perfect Season?

pats_afc

OK, so I’m not one who’s into curses or bad karma, but a couple of things have happened this week that have made me a little concerned for this week’s game between the undefeated Patriots and the Chargers.

First, the news that broke yesterday that some desperate female “friend” of Randy Moss’s is accusing him of assault and issued a restraining order to boot. Then, today, I open up my Gmail Inbox and what do I find but an email from NFL.com with an offer to “pre-order” Patriots AFC Champions attire and gear (see image). Who is the idiot who sent this out?!? Who is the fool?!? Don’t they know better?!? Must be a Chargers (or a Colts) fan working at NFL.com.

People are thinking that getting the Chargers in the AFC Championship equates to a free pass for the Patriots to the Super Bowl. I agree with Bill Simmons who said that not having the Colts in the AFC Championship denies the Patriots and us fans the opportunity to go through their biggest rival on their way to history. (as the Red Sox did in 2004). The Chargers are playing a very good brand of football right now and while I’m anticipating a Patriots win, I’m starting to get a little concerned.

Well, we all know what happened to the Patriots perfect season in Super Bowl 42

Sports Life Is Good

The Red Sox are in the World Series for the second time in four years, the Patriots are undefeated at 7-0 and looking like they are well on their way to a very special season, and (shudder) the Celtics are looking like a formidable team to beat in the NBA Eastern Conference. In fact, William C. Rhoden of the NY Times wrote a piece about how its such a good time to be a New England/Boston sports fan.

Now about that Syracuse University football program.

Nice Weekend

What a nice weekend from a sports perspective. The Red Sox took two of three from the Yankees at Yankee Stadium, and have beaten them five out of six times and we’re only a month into the 2007 baseball season.

And then, during the NFL draft, the Patriots went and grabbed Randy Moss from the Raiders for a song (a 4th round draft pick). Sure picking up Moss is a risk, and it flys against the Patriots philosophy of their recent success. But for the low cost for such a premium talent, the Pats would have been fools not to give it a shot. Plus, he completely overhauled his contract, making the financial commitment very reasonable.

Yes, it was a good weekend.

Super Bowl

Some random thoughts while watching the Super Bowl:

  • Weren’t you just waiting for Joe Namath to “stop by” to pay Suzy Kolber a visit on the sideline and just plant one smack on her lips?
  • The kicker from Seattle should be fired. He cost me winning the halftime score.
  • Could the Rolling Stones have looked any older?
  • I don’t understand why the Motown artists were not the Halftime feature. Poor decision by the NFL and the organizers.
  • What’s the deal with people boo-ing Tom Brady? Just a bunch of bitter Pittsburgh fans.
  • Congrats to the Steelers. You’re just lucky the Patriots lost in Denver and you didn’t have to go through Foxborough. :)

Patriots At It Again

New England Patriots
New England Patriots

I’ve been trying not to post too much about sports this year, just to try to diversify the content on the site a bit. However, with it being NFL Playoff time, I’m can’t help myself. Yes, its that time of year again. My New England Patriots just polished off a first round playoff game victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars. This has been an interesting and challenging year for the Patriots because they have had to manage through a great deal of injuries and adversity, including losing two of the best coaches around in Charlie Weis and Romeo Crennel. But over the past month or so, they have had some key players return and have started to play effectively.

Will the Patriots win an unprecedented 3rd Super Bowl in a row and 4th in the past 5 years? My instinct says it’s going to be very, very hard. But time will tell. Bring on Denver or Indy (I think I’d prefer Denver).

Patriots World Champs!!

New England Patriots

New England Patriots – Super Bowl XXXVIII Champions What an amazing and thrilling game! I was impressed at the amount of points that each team produced, especially after the slow start that the game had in the scoring column and the quality of both Defenses. You have to give Carolina some credit as they really played a great game, although I also think that the Patrots’ Defense was not nearly as sharp as when they played the Colts for the AFC Championship. But in typical style, Tom Brady led the Patriots down the field and did what needed to be done to win the game. It was just an great game, and that’s even without the additional exposure that Janet Jackson got at halftime along with that streaker.

Update – You can purchase Patriots Super Bowl Champions t-shirts online. The Patriots pro shop has all sorts of nice stuff.

Go Patriots!

On the eve of the Patriot’s second trip to the Super Bowl in three years, I am amazingly calm. I guess its the fact that they have won it already. But if they win tomorrow, they can really put themselves in some elite company in the history of the NFL. I am confident that they will win but I fear it is going to be a closer game than people anticipate.

SuperBowl XXXVIII

It looks as though my Patriots are headed back to the SuperBowl for the second time in three years. They put up a convincing win this evening against the Indianapolis Colts for their fourteenth win in a row (second longest winning streak in NFL history next to the 1972 Miami Dolphins who ran the table that year). While today’s win was good, I thought there were a few areas of concern, with the most glaring to me being the Patriots’ ineffectiveness in the red zone. They had numerous opportunities for touchdowns with the ball at the 20 yard line, or closer, and they could not capitalize and put the game away. They definitely need to improve that for the Super Bowl.

Of the two NFC teams, I guess I am alright playing the Carolina Panthers. I think I prefer them to the Eagles, although the Patriots beat the Eagles earlier this year. I think the obvious advantage is the fact that the Patriots have been there before and know the drill and hype that comes with the SuperBowl. Here’s to a great two weeks leading up to what I hope will be another Patriots World Championship!!!

Patriots Win…Again, and Again

Don’t look now, but my New England Patriots have “quietly” reeled off seven wins in a row. Next weekend’s game vs. the Indianapolis Colts is going to be a huge game. Both have 9-2 records and any chance of home field throughout the playoffs, should the Chiefs stumble, means the Pats have to win this game.