Final Deflategate thoughts!

Because we are all ultimately sick of hearing about Deflategate, I will respond to the top 10 myths and opinions from this abominable episode for the NFL, for the Patriots and for Tom Brady.

10. Everybody does it so it’s okay! See the following quotes below from Jeff Blake, Brad Johnson, Aaron Rodgers, Matt Leinart, Rich Gannon, Boomer Esiason and Charlie Whitehurst respectively:

“I’m just going to let the cat of the bag, every team does it, every game, it has been since I played. Cause when you take the balls out of the bag, they are rock hard. And you can’t feel the ball as well. It’s too hard. Everybody puts the pin in and takes just enough air out of the ball that you can feel it a little better. But it’s not the point to where it’s flat. So I don’t know what the big deal is. It’s not something that’s not been done for 20 years.” “Well, I would say [to a ball boy], ‘Take a little bit of air out of it. It’s a little bit hard,’” Blake said. “And then he’d take a little bit out and I’d squeeze it and I’d be like, ‘OK, it’s perfect.’ That’s it.”

In 2012 Brad Johnson paid 7,500 for ball handlers to scuff and wear in the balls before Super Bowl XXXVII, per Johnson’s preference. “I paid some guys off to get the balls right,” Johnson told the Tampa Bay Times in 2012. “I went and got all 100 footballs, and they took care of all of them.”

 “‘I like to push the limit to how much air we can put in the football, even go over what they allow you to do and see if the officials take air out of it,’”

Every team tampers with the footballs, Ask any Qb In the league, this is ridiculous!!”

 “Ask any quarterback, and this is a non-issue. Everybody does something to them. It’s like a pitcher, he wants the ball a certain way.

– “It really does seem totally ridiculous that this story has been blown so far out of proportion,” If you look at the footballs that the quarterbacks are playing with and throwing for the last six or seven years, just realize that everybody is doing the same thing.”

 “It’s us, We go in and take the air out of them because they’re more fun to throw.

Yes everybody does it and yes Eli and Peyton Manning are both jealous cowards for not sticking up for Brady, but the bottom line is the Pats got caught and when you push the envelope like the Pats so often do and when you have become a franchise dynasty, than you make a lot of enemies. Every time I used that excuse with my parents, they always said I dont care what everybody else does, just you!

9. The NFL had an agenda to punish the Patriots and tear down this dynasty!

This is simply not true as the NFL has had more bad publicity this season than Alex Rodriguez usually has in one week. What is true however is that once Bill Belichick allegedly went back on his word about taking accountability for Spygate, Goodell used this layup of an opportunity to hammer the Patriots knowing the majority of owners, players and fans would be thrilled.

8. The deflation of the footballs had no effect on the outcome of the game!

Even the most ardent Patriot haters would have to admit that but that hasn’t been the issue since day one. The Patriots were punished plain and simple because of their unwillingness to cooperate in the investigation and because Tom Brady didn’t come clean in the first place.

7. Bill Belichick hung his QB out to dry.

Belichick most certainly did hang his QB out to dry and what no one is talking about is it remains to be seen, how this impacts their relationship going forward. Belichick could have handled this so many different ways, but he chose to proactively distance himself from Brady. Even if he said, you need to talk to Tom, but if there are minor PSI issues, than that would be consistent with what every QB does in the NFL. Belichick is an evil genius and an amazing coach, but he has no success without Brady and owed him more.

When Tom Brady elected to not address this when it first came up and play dumb, he was mirroring lessons taught by his mentor Bill Belichick. Brady got bad advice and he now has to pay for it.

6. This will affect Brady’s legacy!

It would be ridiculous for this to affect Brady’s legacy. Brady’s playoff accomplishments are unmatched and he does the most important thing, win! Four Superbowls, six appearances and in first in virtually every playoff statistical category speaks for itself. All the Brady haters out there are kidding themselves if they say they would rather have anyone else.

5. Every dynasty must come to an end!

Not so. The way Belichick and upper management have navigated the salary cap in the last 13 years shows that there is no reason this has to end. However, history has proven that people hate long-time winners. It is interesting though what a 180 degree turn the franchise has done since they beat the Rams back in 2001 and were beloved by the entire country. Whether it be the Yankees, Cowboys, 49’ers, Celtics or UCLA Bruins, no one likes teams that always win.

4. Robert Kraft didn’t know what was going on!

This is absurd as people who believe Tom Brady wasn’t texting orders on football preparation. Whether it was after his wife Myra’s death or just because he has become so used to and addicted to winning, Kraft couldn’t be as successful as he is in business today without realizing who Bill Belichick really is. Kraft has signed off on whatever Belichick wants and he is willing to let his team’s reputation suffer as a result. He isn’t about to look a gifthorse in the mouth and as long as his team keeps winning, then he is okay with it. Or maybe it’s that 20-something girlfriend that has him preoccupied.

3. Roger Goodell is a dictator addicted to power!

The fact that the NFL owners are okay with one person having unilateral power to the point where he can hear an appeal of how own rulings and judgment is beyond belief. This is why we have HR people in the corporate world and why we have principals in schools and why we have a court of law, Roger Goodell’s inconsistent handling of discipline among other things has been a black eye to the league. The NFL will continue to make money hand over fist, but Goodell himself inspires no confidence and the owners know it, the players know it and he is one more scandal away from losing his job.

2. Kraft elected not to appeal the decision because he made a closed-door deal with Goodell so Brady’s suspension gets reduced or eliminated!

If Brady’s suspension gets overturned by appeal, than this in my mind is 100 percent true. If the suspension gets altered by two games or less, than Kraft knew the Pats didn’t have a leg to stand on and didn’t want this to drag on any longer.

1. Pats fans can’t enjoy the success in the same way in light of all that has happened during the Belichick era!

I think this is 100 percent true. Even if the NFL had excused the Pats of wrongdoing, the stigma would have been there, the Pats suspicious track record was already there and haters would have used anything to tear down the Patriots’ accomplishments. 

I admire leaders who exploit loopholes and weaknesses in regards to rules and strategy. But I also admire accountability and honesty and the Patriots want it both ways. They say they did nothing wrong but they insult our intelligence by hiding information and making up phony stories.

If anybody sees Bill Clinton, maybe he can let us know the meaning of “is”. 

Part of being a Bostonian is to gloat about living in the City of Champions and having four successful sports teams, but nobody wants to be labeled a cheater whether it is justified or not.

Meanwhile, all of this overshadows the fact that Brady has had perfect attendance at offseason workouts and whether the Patriots can survive with no Revis and a who’s who of a secondary this season. 

Would love to be a fly on the wall when Brady was playing golf with Michael Jordan this past weekend. I’m sure Jordan made Brady feel better by recounting all of his gambling transgressions.


“Revis”ionist History

So Darelle Revis is a New York Jet again. Is it really a surprise? Revis has never really disguised who he was and that was never more evident than before he signed with the Patriots last season.

Revis received credit for taking a discount affording him a chance to win a Superbowl, but the truth is, even last season he wanted the most money, to go to the city and home he loved most and to become a member of the Jets.  The first thing he did when he became a free agent was to have his agents reach out to…guess who… the New York Jets. Revis even commented last year prior to signing with the Patriots that he had a hard time envisioning playing for the Patriots after previously playing for the Jets. The Jets foolishly rebuffed his advances in an Idina Menzel – John Travolta kind of way and so Revis was left with Plan B. At that point, why not bet on yourself (two years removed from major surgery) and go to a Superbowl contender and build up your market value while proving you are the best or one of the best again. Both the Patriots and Revis used each other.

Revis could have received more money this year if he was willing to entertain offers from the Raiders or other downtrodden teams, but ultimately, the fully guaranteed money, his ego and the new challenge dictated the decision. This was about the Jets commitment to fully guaranteeing 39 million where apparently the Pats wouldn’t do the full guarantee or match the  money according to a Boston Globe report. It was about going back to New York and being the face of the franchise, the savior and avail himself to the loads of endorsement opportunites to boot.

And lastly, I believe it was about the challenge of dethroning the big fish or champion. Many athletes want to join a team that is on the verge of a championship but for some, it is very enticing to knock the king off the mountain. Revis now has the opportunity to be an icon in New York and dethrone the very team that gave him his only Superbowl ring even if it conceivably will take a few years to accomplish. As much as I don’t like to give LeBron James credit, when he opted to return to Cleveland, he accepted the challenge in a city that hasn’t won a championship since 1964 and really had the option to go anywhere.

As for the Patriots and the fan base, I am baffled by the blind faith and loyalty to Bill Belichick and “The Patriots Way”. This notion that regardless of what decision the Patriots make, it has to be right because Belichick knows best is naïve and troubling. By the way, I happen to like Belichick, feel fortunate that he is the coach for the team I root for, and think he might be the best of all time. With that said, any great leader makes mistakes and bad decisions at times and Belichick frankly has a laundry list of them especially on the GM side of his job. But those bad decisions are always discounted because the Patriots are always in the hunt for a Superbowl.

Here are some things to consider when evaluating the Patriots and their decision:

A questionable personnel decision last season. How about signing Darelle Revis last year instead of Aqib Talib? Talib was signed for six years but only three years and 27 million not fully guaranteed. Byron Maxwell, a decent cornerback from Seattle was just signed for six years but three years and 25 million not fully guaranteed. Talib was tremendous for Denver this past year and stayed healthy. Do the Patriots not win a Superbowl if they had Talib over Revis this past season? More important, how would the Patriots be sitting the next two years with Talib on the roster and owed 15 million and being an elite corner versus Kyle Arrington being your number one corner right now? Is Revis seven million per year in cap space and 12 million more in guaranteed money better than Talib? Not quite sure about that. Would you trade Revis for Talib and a player that earns seven million annually in the NFL? I think you would. The Pats knew the risk and what they were getting into when they signed a guy like Revis and the second year of the contract he signed last year shouted that.

All four Superbowls the Patriots have won, they have had a great secondary with Lawyer Milloy, Ty Law, Rodney Harrison and Revis anchoring those teams. Without dominant secondary play, zero Superbowls.

There are certain positions/people that can be irreplaceable in sports. In baseball, ace pitchers and leadoff hitters are difficult to come by (see Jon Lester) and (see Jacoby Ellsbury) although I agree with both decisions to not re-sign them. In football, you have quarterback and cornerback. In basketball, you have point guard and more likely the center position. In hockey, you have goalie or a six foot nine defenseman named Zdeno Chara.

When juggling salary caps and personnel decisions, the cost of replacement, available alternatives and intangible team value just can’t be ignored. Revis for example impacted the whole defense by covering up shortcomings in certain areas. How much is that worth to a football team? I would say significantly more than market value. In this case, the Pats look to have no available alternatives, didn’t effectively evaluate the cost of replacement all to stick with a rigid and stubborn approach to negotiating contracts and stubborn management. Part of me thinks that the reason the Patriots didn’t fully guarantee the money or go above 35 million is out of ego and pride because they feel that to have the “privilege” of playing for the Patriots, one should have to take a discount. I get not setting precedents and how it impacts the rest of your roster, but Revis was a rare breed. 

When I evaluate elite level players and coaches, I often envision them in different situations or environments and predict how successful they would be. For example, when comparing Brady and Peyton Manning  over the years, I ask myself if they switched teams, how would each have fared? If Brady was the quarterback of the Colts and Broncos and had Manning’s  weapons at his disposal, there is no doubt he would have won more than one Superbowl and Manning never would have won four with the Pats. I look at Pat Riley who has proven to be a championship coach with the Lakers and then recreated his success as an executive with the Miami Heat. Lastly, I look at Phil Jackson who had the ridiculously good fortune to work with Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen with the Chicago Bulls and Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O’Neal with the Los Angeles Lakers. Eleven championships are hard to debate, however, he has had the two most dominant tandems to coach in this generation. Now Jackson is an executive for the New York Knicks and it has only been one year, but I think we can all attest to how that’s going so far. By the way, isn’t it great how far I can stretch in a blog to put down the Knicks.

That leaves us with Belichick. When we look back at Belichick’s legacy, how much of it is due to having Tom Brady at his disposal? Could Belichick’s personnel moves and coaching strategy succeed anywhere? He wasn’t successful in Cleveland and he will probably finish his coaching career in New England so I don’t think we will ever see a third opportunity for him.

One thing is for certain however with Revis gone, the Pats are now on an island by themselves.


Thoughts on the Morning of Superbowl Sunday

So when will Richard Sherman’s wife go into labor and where will Sherman be when he does? “The Legion of Womb” is anxious this morning. This topic of course brings back the story from last April when New York Mets infielder Daniel Murphy opted to take three days off and missed the first two games of the season to be with his wife. Murphy’s decision prompted a sensitive and comical quote from WFAN’s Michael Francesa “You’re a major league baseball player. You can hire a nurse,” Francesa reportedly said of Murphy. “What are you gonna do, sit there and look at your wife in the hospital bed for two days?” Paternity leave is an evolving issue in society and sports simply brings it to the forefront. My problem is that athlete’s decisions seem to be rationalized by sport and the importance of the game. A lot of people argued that no big deal for Murphy because it was early in the regular season so give the guy his time. It would seem unfathomable for Sherman to miss the game if his wife did go into labor today.

In football, you only have sixteen regular season games and potentially 20 total. Missing one game even in the regular season especially at the quarterback or cornerback position could be the difference in your team making the playoffs or not or winning the game or not. In baseball, Murphy missed two of 162 and potentially 183. Here is the question. Is it okay for players to take leave based on certain times of year, what position they play and level of game importance? Regardless of what athletes want to do or feel there priorities should be, the pressure of fan backlash and letting your teammates and organization down will be too powerful to overcome. 

Aaron Rodgers won the MVP which is understandable, but I think a legitimate argument could have been made for JJ Watt. The problem is that typically MVP candidates aren’t strongly considered from losing teams or from the defensive side of the ball. Watt had 20.5 sacks, 78 tackles — 29 for losses — 50 quarterback hits, four forced fumbles and 10 blocked passes. He also had five touchdowns (three offensive and two defensive). He did win defensive player of the year, but Watt’s presence and impact was immeasurable. I find it to be the similar challenge a pitcher has in baseball winning MVP since there is a Cy Young award.

I found it disappointing this week that Joe Montana made some snide remarks about “Deflategate” and subtly detracted from Brady’s accomplishments. Of course he had nice things to say about Brady as well, but I chalk that up to when someone is discriminating against a person and then after they discriminate they say, oh I have friends that are XXX. Then Jerry Rice of course chimed in with negative comments but he of course is still bitter about Randy Moss breaking his single season touchdown record in the 2007-08 season and reminded everybody that he did it in 12 games as opposed to Moss’ 16.  But I digress! And to add icing on the caking, the eternally bitter and jealous Don Shula piped up and pipes up whenever possible to disparage Bill Belichick and referred to him earlier in the month as “Belicheat”. So what is the common thread between all of these NFL greats. The answer is jealousy and bitterness. Montana and Rice know that if the Pats win today, their tag of the 49’ers being the all-time greatest dynasty is in jeopardy. Shula knows that Belichick is passing every record he had and it kills him. Just for curiosity, does the fact that Shula’s undefeated season was only 14 regular season games have an asterisk? I think we should ask Jerry.

By the way, a few stats about Shula. He had Hall of Fame QB Dan Marino to work with for 13 seasons and got to one Superbowl. Belichick is onto his sixth Superbowl with Brady in 14 seasons (I didn’t count the year Brady was out with a torn ACL). In the final 22 seasons Shula coached, he won 0 Superbowls and lost the only two the Dolphins played in and his teams didn’t even make the playoffs in 10 of those seasons.

There is always so much discussion on how much money is wagered in the Superbowl whether it be on straight up wagering or proposition bets. This yesterday from Jason Simbal of CG Technology.

“We’re taking more bets on the Patriots, but the more substantial money has been on the Seahawks,”  Simbal said. “What we’ve been seeing lately is for every two-, three-, four- or five-hundred dollar bet that comes in on New England, we’ll then take a five-figure bet on Seattle.”

Ultimately, by game time, I think the money will be evenly split on both sides which is ultimately what Vegas wants anyway. Only two other Superbowls had the lines this close and that was in 1973 and 1982.

And just in case things don’t go well for the bad guys, they can feel good about the following statistics and aren’t in danger of going broke anytime soon.

David Purdum of ESPN reports that Nevada sports bettors wagered more — and lost more — than ever in 2014. The state’s 187 sportsbooks won $227.04 million off of the $3.9 billion wagered on sports in 2014. Both amounts are all-time records, according to Nevada Gaming Control. The sportsbooks won $113.73 million on college and pro football in 2014. In comparison, the books won $54.2 million on basketball and $21.2 million on baseball in 2014. As usual hockey gets no respect.

Thought I would list my top 8 sports betting propositions for the Superbowl from Bovada in Las Vegas:

  1. Will Idina Menzel forget or omit at least 1 word from the National Anthem? Yes/No
  2. How many times will deflated balls be referred to during the game? Over/Under 2 and ½
  3. Will Marshawn Lynch grab his crotch after scoring at TD? Yes/No
  4. Will Belichick smile during the game? Yes/No
  5. What kind of hoodie will Belichick be wearing? Sleeves cut/sleeves intact
  6. How many times will Gisele Bundchen be shown on TV? Over/Under 1 and ½
  7. Who will have more on Superbowl Sunday? Sidney Crosby points or Russell Wilson touchdown passes?
  8. What color will Katy Perry’s hair be when the halftime show begins?

First Down Markers:

Browns wide receiver Josh Gordon is making formers Yankees pitcher Steve Howe blush.

Golden State Warriors guard Klay Thompson scored 37 points in a quarter last week.

The Atlanta Hawks have won 19 games in a row! I’m serious.

Who won the NFL Pro Bowl?

Colorado prison inmate Terry Hendrix is suing the NFL over the overturned Dez Bryant catch in the Packers-Cowboys playoff game. America’s team is always so well represented.

Superbowl blog coming later!