Malcolm Butler

Curran: So what's the endgame in the Foxboro Cold War?

Curran: So what's the endgame in the Foxboro Cold War?

With Tom Brady in Qatar having his family’s April vacation chronicled by Tom vs. Time producer Gotham Chopra, you know we’re going to get a much more intimate and revealing look at what his April mindset really is. 

With Rob Gronkowski in Texas acting as a human water ski you know we’re going to get . . . more enigmatic and entertaining social media posts. 

Meanwhile, the rest of the Patriots are beginning preparations for 2018 still without knowing whether both or either will be back this season. 

ESPN’s Adam Schefter mentioned on Wednesday what we’ve noted often this offseason: We all expect Brady to play, but he hasn’t since the offseason began, really committed. 

His last on-the-record comment uttered during the season that he’d be back has been followed by ambiguous statements since about fun, appreciation and a nagging question of “why” he does all this

And I wouldn’t rule out the possibility that this is an attempt -- one week before the draft -- to smoke Brady out. It’s one thing for us to report locally that it’s been impossible to “ferret out an answer that Tom Brady is going to play in 2018” as we did last week on Quick Slants The Podcast:

It’s another thing entirely for Schefter -- owner of the biggest bugle in the business  -- to wafflingly report that Brady hasn’t committed to playing. That’s going to cause pearl-clutching from Anaheim to Augusta, Maine. It ratchets up the heat a bit on Brady. OTAs started this week and the team has no indication? The draft is in a week and they don’t know? They traded Jimmy Garoppolo and there’s no hard answer? For one of the NFL’s most committed players, ambivalence does nothing for him in the court of public opinion (fleeting as that jury is). Worse, it doesn’t help his off-field brand with TB12 Sports Therapy. It’s also bad for the franchise to not know whether its figurehead is returning. Observe that when Schefter’s source catalogs the reasons Brady might be wavering, there’s no mention of a Brady-Bill Belichick rift and the very real power struggle that’s ongoing. 

As this continues to play out, we continue to not only wonder what the endgame is but why? And who’s winning or deserves “blame?”

Our podcast this week went deep on a number of items with Jerod Mayo and the ongoing Foxboro Cold War:

Two main items of note:

-- First, if Danny Amendola feels somewhat betrayed by the still-unexplained benching of Malcolm Butler, what of Brady? And the rest of the team that is now returning?

“There are only two people that know what happened: Bill and Malcolm,” said Mayo. “I’ve had conversations with multiple guys on the team and no one knows."

Is this the biggest hurdle Belichick’s faced?

“I think so. Being able to rally the troops around this one common goal of getting to the Super Bowl while (players are thinking), ‘If we get there, how do we know you’re not going to pull this again?' that’s always going to be back of the players' minds as well. For the most part, players don’t play for the coaches. You play for the guy -- corny as it sounds -- you play for the guys next to you. And those guys will find a common ground to rally around. This can be terrible for the franchise for the foreseeable future, or they can just plow through it.”  

-- Meanwhile, here’s Mayo on the importance of OTAs to the team. 

“I remember when Bill, every offseason, the first thing he would say to the team was, ‘Hey guys, we’re not doing this, ‘I’m here this week, I’m gone next week . . . ’ Either you’re here or you’re not here. we’re not doing the back and forth.’

"So someone’s gotta bend here. Either Bill has to bend and say, ‘Guys, come on back home, you can come in.’ Or he can all of a sudden, iron fist drops and a nuclear bomb goes off. Either you’re in or you’re out. Timing doesn’t matter as far (what the team is doing). If Tom and Gronk aren’t here next week, they’re done for the whole offseason. Or, Bill has changed his ways a little bit. There’s been a little compromise."

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What Danny Amendola thinks about Malcolm Butler's Super Bowl benching

What Danny Amendola thinks about Malcolm Butler's Super Bowl benching

Danny Amendola, a newly-minted Miami Dolphin, opened up about Bill Belichick's decision to bench Malcolm Butler in Super Bowl LII.

In an exclusive interview with ESPN's Mike Reiss, Amendola weighed in on the puzzling situation.

"I have my thoughts about it because I was out there putting my blood, sweat and tears out on the field that night, and one of our best players wasn't on the field," Amendola told ESPN. "To tell you the truth, I don't know why. I did ask, but I didn't get any answers. I can't make decisions like that, so I don't necessarily worry about it, but I know Malcolm is a great player and he could have helped us win. For whatever reason, he wasn't out there. He's going to play more football in his career, and he's going to be a great player for a long time."

MORE PATRIOTS:

Butler spent the entire season as the team's No. 1 or No. 2 cornerback, and logged 97 percent of New England's defensive snaps. But he didn't get a single defensive snap in Super Bowl LII, and got just one snap on special teams. The reason for the benching was a football decision, according to Belichick and Butler.

In a game where the winner was determined on the final possession, it's fair to wonder whether Butler might have changed the outcome of the game. Butler seemed to think he could have. Amendola was asked if he sensed Butler's benching hurt his Patriots teammates.

"Yeah, I did, honestly," Amendola told ESPN. "Nobody really got an explanation for it. He's a brother of ours. He was a brother of ours that year. And I hate to see a guy who worked so hard throughout the season not get a chance to play in the biggest game of the year and really get no explanation for it. With that said, I don't know how the business aspect went into that decision. I don't know how the personal aspect went into that decision between him and Bill. But as a friend, I would have loved to see him on the field that day."

NBC SPORTS BOSTON SCHEDULE

NBCSB BREAKFAST POD: Price spins a gem, Sox grab first win of 2018

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NBCSB BREAKFAST POD: Price spins a gem, Sox grab first win of 2018

1:19 - The Red Sox picked up their first win of the season last night behind a strong performance from David Price. Lou Merloni, DJ Bean, Michael Holley and Phil Perry break down Price’s outing and continue the discussion about the bullpen.

6:51 - In an interview with Sports Illustrated TV, Malcolm Butler made a few comments about wanted to speak up during the Super Bowl about his benching. On Early Edition Trenni, Lou and Mike Giardi discuss how this brings us closer to understanding Bill Belichick’s decision.

10:39 - Chris Forsberg, Michael Holley and DJ Bean debate how much credit Danny Ainge should be getting for the ascendance of impressive young talent on the Celtics.

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