Patriots

Matt Light: Better ways to protest than kneeling during national anthem

Matt Light: Better ways to protest than kneeling during national anthem

Matt Light told the Boston Herald that watching the dozen-and-a-half or so New England players who kneeled during Sunday's national anthem was "the first time I’ve ever been ashamed to be a Patriot," and he expounded on that during a Monday appearance on Toucher & Rich.

"As a country, we face a lot of issues," he said. "We have a lot of things we have to do better. There are mistakes that get made, there's bad people, there's a lot of things out there, right? And as an NFL player, as a guy who spent 11 years in that locker room, I know the power that that platform creates . . . It gives you an amazing ability, if you want to try to help a situation or raise awareness, you can do it.

"But shouldn't there be some consideration as to how you do it? Shouldn't we ask of the leaders in that locker room, and the men that represent the Patriot brand, shouldn't we hold them . . . accountable for their own actions? And shouldn't we at least beg of them to consider what it is they're doing and the impact that it'll have in the greater community?"

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Light told the Herald he was at the game with a 91-year old veteran and the wife of a slain SEAL Team 6 member who was at her first NFL game. He said on Toucher & Rich:

"Now, again, I would just encourage people to say to themselves, 'Is there a better way to handle this?' And had they done that, they wouldn't have disrespected a guy like Dom Rasso, who is a SEAL Team 6 member, who I was standing next to, and also the widow of a SEAL Team 6 member who was there for her first game, and she literally cried.

"I mean, that's a shame. Because men decided that their way was more important than the other men and women in this country. And if you have something that you want to get a point across on, speak to it. Put your time and energy into it. Put your resources towards it. Do something. To take a knee during our national anthem sends a very clear message to many, many millions of Americans and it's not the right one. And they know that. Yet they chose to do it anyway. That's what I have a problem with."

Light didn't accept the arguments of former teammate Devin McCourty, and others, that the protest was against incidents of police mistreatment of minorities, and the disrespect many players -- particularly black players -- felt from President Donald Trump's remarks and Tweets over the weekend. Nor those of Patriot receiver Brandin Cooks, who stressed: "A lot of people think we're disrespecting the flag or the military, but my father was a Marine. My uncle was a Marine. My family fought in the Vietnam War. I have the utmost respect for the men and women that are fighting for our freedom . . . The message is more respect and unity and there's only so many ways that you can do it."

"This is so black-and-white and so simple. Right?" said Light. "So very 'x equals 8,' because that's the kind of a guy I am.

"The President of the United States . . . the way he does things, I don't agree with. But we all know what he was saying. We all know that he was saying that we should respect the national anthem. He never said that 'I don't like black people.' He never said, you know, 'I'm a racist.' Right? Which is what these guys are alluding to, that he must be a racist because he's saying that we should stand for the national anthem and he's trying to keep us down. Or whatever it is, right?"

That statement drew pushback from co-host Rich Shertenlieb:

RICH: What [Trump] did do, was he said that somebody who kneeled because they believed that there were black people who have been abused by the police system (as Colin Kaepernick did), that somebody like that should be fired because he did a silent protest.

LIGHT: I'm not sure how you got that.

RICH: Easily!

LIGHT: If he said that they should be fired . . .

RICH: He did!

LIGHT: . . . for taking a knee, which he did say, I'm not sure that you . . . all the other stuff you implied in that is something that . . .

RICH: Well, why did Kaepernick take a knee? Why did Kaepernick take a knee?

LIGHT: Listen, I don't know. Because Kapernick didn't go much further than taking a knee. He talks about racism and police violence and all these things, right?

RICH: He spoke at length about why he took a knee.

LIGHT: Right, right, right. So, and he took a knee for those things, right? And that was his decision to do that. I don't know why Devin McCourty and the rest of the guys took a knee, because I haven't seen them take the time to really articulate . . . As a matter of fact, only a few of them talked about it after the game. Again, I just encourage people to understand what's really at heart here. The President wasn't trying to subdue or keep people from taking some kind of a stand on what they believe in. Nobody does that. America stands for that. That's what we are as a nation. To have to say it's about free speech is a little ludicrous because we understand that we have free speech.

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Tom Brady on pace for huge numbers, so why is he down on his play of late?

Tom Brady on pace for huge numbers, so why is he down on his play of late?

FOXBORO -- Tom Brady is on pace for 5,224 yards passing in 2017, just a shade under his total from his career-high in 2011. He's on track to have 34 touchdowns and just five picks. Barring a continued run of ridiculous efficiency from Kansas City's Alex Smith, those numbers would be MVP-caliber in all likelihood.

But Brady's not thrilled with the way he's played of late. What gives? 

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In his past two games, he hasn't thrown the football as consistently as he would have liked. After starting the season with a 10-to-0 touchdown-to-interception ratio, he's 3-to-2 in the last couple of weeks. His accuracy has been at times pinpoint (as it was on his 42-yard completion to Brandin Cooks to help set up a Rob Gronkowski score against the Jets), but it has also been uncharacteristically erratic.

He was picked deep down the middle of the field by Buster Skrine last week, but the more concerning throw may have been the quick out-route to Gronkowski that Skrine dropped for what should have been an easy interception. Brady missed Phillip Dorsett on what looked like it could have been a long touchdown with Dorsett running free behind the defense. He threw behind Chris Hogan twice in the game, one of which opened up Hogan to a rib-shot that landed him on the injury report this week.

Against the Jets, Brady was not sacked and he was hit only four times -- a light day for him compared to other weeks this season when he's been battered. Yet he still completed just under 53 percent of his passes for 257 yards and a season-low 6.76 yards per attempt. 

"Well, I've got to hit the open . . . If the throws are there I've got to be able to make them," he said on Friday. "It's disappointing when I don't. To me, it just comes back to technique and fundamentals and making sure everything is working and that's the consistent daily thing that you're working on. I'm always working on my accuracy.

"I wish I hit them all. I'm capable of hitting them all and I need to be able to do that. I said last week that some of these games wouldn't be as close if I was playing better in the red area. I think some of those missed opportunities in the pass game with me hitting guys would really help our team. Hopefully, I can do a better job for this team."

Brady is no longer listed on the Patriots injury report, but he dealt with a left shoulder injury against both the Bucs and the Jets, and it's worth wondering if that somehow impacted how his passes traveled in those games. Balance is key in Brady's world, and even though he can make flat-footed throws look easy, perhaps an injury to his front side limited his ability to place the ball where he wanted. 

Keeping Brady upright could go a long way in helping the 40-year-old regain his form from Weeks 2-4 when he didn't dip below a 104 quarterback rating. Bill Belichick said earlier this week that part of the reason the Jets pass-rush wasn't quite as effective as others they'd faced this year was his team's ability to run the ball. Productive rushing attempts on first and second down mean manageable third downs, which mean shorter pass attempts. Those of course, in theory, lead to less time standing in the pocket and a healthier quarterback.

"It's great," Brady said of his team's recent surge running the football. "I mean, to be able to run the ball consistently in the NFL is important for every offense. It does take a lot of . . . I wouldn't say pressure, it's just production. If 400 yards of offense is what you're looking for and you can get 150 from your running game, the 250 has got to come in the passing game. If you're getting 50 yards in the rushing game then it means you've got to throw for more.

"I don't think it's pressure it's just overall you're going to get production in different areas and the backs are a big part of our offense and handing the ball off to them is an easy way for us to gain yards if we're all coordinated and doing the right thing. But those guys are running hard. The line is doing a great job up front finishing blocks and so forth."

Against the Falcons and their talented -- though underperforming -- offense this weekend, the running game could be key. First, it could help the Patriots defense by controlling possession and keeping Matt Ryan, Julio Jones, Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman off the field. Next are the obvious advantages for the signal-caller who could use a stress-free day in the pocket to help him solve his recent accuracy issues. 

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