Tom Brady

Bortles the worst QB in the NFL? Yeah, he doesn't care

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AP

Bortles the worst QB in the NFL? Yeah, he doesn't care

Blake Bortles of America’s Jaguars represents something new and dangerous in American sports, and no, it isn’t because he is the national punch line who punches back.

Rather, the Jacksonville quarterback who is preparing for the AFC Championship Game against the New England Monolith, is dangerous because he seems genuinely not to care at all that he is routinely savaged as the worst quarterback in the National Football League. Not just passive-aggressively so, but actually and completely.

Have you any idea what this does to the smack-talking industry? If this catches on, our generation of semi-malevolent athletic parrots are stuck without a reason to talk that trash.

Of course, Bortles is unusual in this regard, in that he has been mean-mouthed not just by players but by regular citizens. He has been used as a prop for the Why-Isn’t-Colin-Kaepernick-Working movement, he has been compared unkindly to Ty Detmer, the previous low water mark in championship-level quarterbacks, and essentially disparaged almost universally.

Put another way, a case can be made that he has been savaged in his idiom as aggressively as the President.

And what does he do? Well, win, sure, but he has help, as all quarterbacks do. We always seem to forget that in our only-one-position-matters depth of understanding about the sport.

No, what he does is say with all sincerity that he doesn’t care one way or another, and that he never claps back at anyone for their more pointed views re: his skill set. If this is so, he is not only the owner of a rhinoceros hide, but he may be the living embodiment of a movement toward, “Oh, I suck? Yeah, okay, whatever. You’re probably right. You have yourself a good day.”

Andrew Luck does that after receiving a big hit. Bortles seems to do it on command, and if this is the future of sports in America, we are heading for a fascinating new world of relative silence.

But we know better. Bortles is an outlier, again, and this will not catch on. There’s no putting the mess-talk back in the tube. But if it helps, Bortles has another round of grief awaiting him this week as he is compared to Tom Brady . . . as a compost heap is compared to the Taj Mahal.

Only with more F-bombs.

Report: Patriots owner Kraft forced Belichick to trade Garoppolo

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USATSI

Report: Patriots owner Kraft forced Belichick to trade Garoppolo

New England owner Robert Kraft demanded coach Bill Belichick trade quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo in a meeting that lasted half the day, just two weeks before the NFL trade deadline, according to an explosive behind-the-scenes report from ESPN.

Garoppolo was scheduled to be an unrestricted free agent at the end of the season. And Garoppolo and his agent, Don Yee, had repeatedly rejected Patriots offers to retain Garoppolo on a four-year contract extension worth “in the $17 million to $18 million range annually,” reported ESPN’s Seth Wickersham. The Patriots sent Garoppolo to the 49ers because Belichick believed Garoppolo would thrive under 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan, according to the report.

The Patriots could not guarantee a time when Garoppolo would take over as the team’s starting quarterback. Quarterback Tom Brady, who turns 41 in August, has stated he expects to play until he’s 45 years old. He has a close relationship with Kraft.

Belichick was “furious and demoralized” that he was ordered to trade Garoppolo, according to the report, citing friends. On the morning of Oct. 30, he sent a text message to Shanahan asking him to call him back. Belichick asked for a second-round draft pick in exchange for Garoppolo.

General manager John Lynch and Shanahan have said it did not take the 49ers long to get on the same page and accept the trade. But the 49ers have been careful not to talk about the details of how the deal fell into place.

“I do want to thank the New England Patriots,” Lynch said on Oct. 31, shortly after Garoppolo arrived in Santa Clara. “I think it's refreshing to find people where you cannot belabor things. You bring something up and you come to a quick resolution and you don't grind people out. That's what we were able to do. So, I want to thank them, and I have a lot of respect for that organization.

“In talking with the Patriots, one of the things, we're not going to get into a ton of details.”

Even as late as Tuesday, Lynch was evasive when asked whether her has spoken to Belichick during Garoppolo’s run of success as a starter.

“We don’t talk about that,” Lynch said with a smile. “We’re onto the offseason.”

According to the report, Belichick has taken pride in the fact Garoppolo played well and led the 49ers to a 5-0 record as the starter. And Brady was described as the winner of the whole struggle, one Patriots staffer told ESPN, because the team’s new backup, former 49ers starter Brian Hoyer, is not a threat and the owner of the team sided with Brady and his plan to play for years to come.

The report states that Brady is “famously unhelpful” to the quarterbacks behind him on the depth chart, especially those he considers a threat. Garoppolo was a threat.

Garoppolo started the first two games of the 2016 season while Brady was serving a four-game suspension for his role in the scandal to deflate footballs below NFL requirements.

In the second game, Garoppolo sustained a shoulder injury and sought treatment at TB12 Sports Therapy Center, which is run by Alex Guerrero, Brady’s trainer and business partner.

But, according to the report, when Garoppolo showed up for his appointment, the doors were locked and none of the TB12 trainers he called answered their phones. Garoppolo went to the team’s athletic trainers instead. Guerrero denied to ESPN that he ever refused to see any player. But according to the report it was two weeks later that Garoppolo was treated at TB12, and that came only after a “high-ranking” member of the Patriots called to ask why Garoppolo had not been treated.

So why did Belichick deliver Garoppolo to the 49ers? Belichick admires Shanahan and his father, Mike Shanahan, the two-time Super Bowl-winning coach of the Denver Broncos.

At the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis, just weeks after Shanahan played a role as the offensive coordinator in the Atlanta Falcons’ meltdown loss to the Patriots in the Super Bowl, he met “for hours” with Belichick to learn from the loss, according to the report.

It has previously been reported that the 49ers asked Belichick about the availability of Garoppolo in a trade as far back as during that time in February. At that point, Belichick told the 49ers that he was not interested in trading Garoppolo.

***

The Patriots issued the following statement on Friday morning. 

Future of 49ers rests in luck, preparation and result of the Patriots' past

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USATSI

Future of 49ers rests in luck, preparation and result of the Patriots' past

When the Jimmy Garoppolo story is finally told, and we clearly don’t know how it ends, we know how it will begin.
 
With palace intrigues.
 
The much-discussed Seth Wickersham piece in ESPN that explains the growing tensions within New England’s Trilateral Commission  guides us through a lot of the internecine resentments between Bob Kraft, Bill Belichick and Tom Brady, and is a classic tale of men who have frankly gotten sick of each other exceeding their once clearly-drawn relationship limits. It’s an age-old story – power, intrigue, moves and countermoves, truths and deceptions, screwings and counterscrewings – you know, influential human beings being influential human beings.
 
And now we know why Garoppolo became a 49er at such a discounted price. He was a sword-and-shield set in New England, and his reward for laying low through all the fragmentation grenades was to be sent by Belichick to a place where both he and Belichick’s friends could be rewarded.
 
Now we don’t yet know how important Garoppolo will be to 49er history; the number of people already out over their skis on him would make for the largest snowball of human wreckage in alpine sports history. He could be the next Joe Montana, the next Steve Young, the next Alex Smith, or even the next Colin Kaepernick (non-political division), and only the events will provide the answer.
 
But he got here only because John Lynch and Kyle Shanahan kept up relationships with the normally aloof Belichick. After all, Belichick could have called anyone on any team, and he could have asked for much more than a lone second-round draft choice.
 
Before you start imagining that I am describing Lynch and Shanahan as merely lucky, well, I am. But luck is good, and luck comes with those who prepare to benefit from it. Luck is a great thing, and I highly recommend it to anyone.
 
But it is good to understand more fully that the future of the 49ers is in significant part the result of the past of the Patriots. Neither Kraft nor Belichick nor Brady are getting any younger, and all dynasties collapse beneath the weight of the baggage they take on.
 
For the moment then, Jimmy Garoppolo’s story is more about the cracks in the New England foundation rather than the cement in Santa Clara. The rest of it remains a matter for tomorrow.