Bennett's recycled barbs about Witten don't get return fire

Bennett's recycled barbs about Witten don't get return fire

The oft-exhumed, multi-platform ESPN interview with Martellus and Michael Bennett was hauled out of its crypt once again this week. 

It's hard to divine exactly what prompts the Worldwide Leader to decide that it's time to repurpose an offseason conversation with the Patriots tight end and the Seahawks defensive lineman and present it as if it just happened, but if the aim is creating new buzz with old quotes, it works.

This week, ESPN produced a feature for one of its shows using the months-old, on-camera footage then sent its reporters into the field to ask players and coaches for their reactions to the repackaged, repurposed, recycled quotes. 

One of the targets was Jason Witten. Martellus Bennett said that he "hated" Witten when the two were teammates in Dallas. 

Witten was asked this week about Bennett's review. 

"Busy schedule,” Witten said. “I’ll make sure to get around to that real quick to see it. I did hear about it. Marty is a good player. He really is. He enjoys entertaining, but I’m glad he’s in a good place now and he’s having a good year so far. He is. He’s a good football player.” 

Bill Belichick was similarly asked this week about comments Martellus Bennett made about the Bears roster. The comments may have been made in August as well and publicized or they may have just been brought to light this week. Tough to keep track. Anyway, Belichick wasn't up to talk about them.

If this seems like a criticism of ESPN's approach to creating new waves of news based on earlier reporting, it is. And I probably wouldn't be so attuned to it it weren't for the fact ESPN got in on the ground floor with blatantly incorrect reporting on Deflategate then remained in cahoots with the NFL to allow that incorrect report to stand even when the NFL gathered information that would have rebutted it. More than a year later, ESPN continued to falsely feed perception that the Patriots purported actions were definitely sinister as opposed to possibly eyebrow-raising.
All the while, ESPN leveraged that original report and the perception it created to feed the content maw on radio, TV, digitally and in its magazine up to and through Tom Brady's return last week when it shamelessly turned the countdown to the Browns game into Brady Week on all platforms. 

The line between reporting the news and manufacturing the news isn't blurry at all. It's been obliterated. 

Actually, as I think about it, is one guy hating a former co-worker even "news" in the first place? Or is his saying so publicly "news"? I can't deny it's good gossip and illuminating information and that all of us - me, CSN New England, NBC as well - toggle between personality "news" and entertainment and actual news affecting related to the football product. But the appearance of creating news that should have seemed like a bridge too far is now one we stand ready to cross while ESPN is already waving to us from the other side. 

Patriots QB Tom Brady 'never would have imagined' playing 20 NFL seasons

Patriots QB Tom Brady 'never would have imagined' playing 20 NFL seasons

New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady has accomplished so much in his NFL career, and the six Super Bowl rings he owns probably are his greatest achievement. Given the physical nature of pro football, and how hard it is to play for five, 10 or even 15 seasons, Brady's longevity should also go down as one of the most impressive bullet points on his Hall of Fame resumé.

Brady is in the midst of his 20th (!) NFL season. He's still one of the league's top-tier quarterbacks, too. The 42-year-old veteran has completed 65.4 percent of his passes for 1,743 yards with 10 touchdowns and three interceptions to help New England start the season 6-0 for the first time since 2015.

When you watch Brady play in 2019, it's clear he still loves the game very much.

"I love playing football, so those three hours and being on the practice field, I really love," Brady said Wednesday on SiriusXM NFL Radio. "To play 20 years in the NFL, I mean, I never would have imagined, and I'm sure nobody else would have ever imagined that. I love being out there. Every year has its challenges. To get to go play on 'Thursday Night Football', 'Monday Night Football' -- we've got a Sunday night game coming up -- when you're the only team playing, it's always a great feeling. 

"Again, it's been -- to just play a sport I dreamed of playing has been a dream come true. And everyone always asks, 'What are you going to do when you're done? What are you going to do when you're done?' The reality is that I never thought of doing anything else. I never had to think about doing anything else. I've just thought about playing football. Part of it was being very naive that, 'Oh man, I'm going to make a roster and I'm going to play for as long as I want to play.' My life has had a very weird way of working out that way. 

"I'm going to keep going and keep trying to be the best I could be for my team, and try to play at a championship level. Just continue to have fun and support my teammates and do my job as best as I possibly can."

Brady has talked in the past about playing into his mid-40s, and with he and the Patriots continuing to perform at a high level, there's no reason for him to leave the game barring some sort of injury.

The veteran QB still has things to accomplish despite all the success he's enjoyed. Brady has a few records in his sights, including Drew Brees' record for the most career passing yards, and Peyton Manning's mark for the most career passing touchdowns. Brady needs just 13 touchdown passes to claim Manning's record, so we should see that one broken later this season. Another Super Bowl title for the Patriots would be their seventh in team history and set a record for the most championships in the Super Bowl era.

Brady always has done a great job motivating himself, even after winning so many individual awards and championships, and you can bet that competitive fire will burn brightly all the way until the end of his career.

Darrelle Revis praises Tom Brady as 'the ultimate competitor'>>>

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Why have Patriots started fast in 2019? Tom Brady gives fitting answer

Why have Patriots started fast in 2019? Tom Brady gives fitting answer

The New England Patriots have not won fewer than 11 games in any season this decade, and that trend is very unlikely to end in 2019.

The defending Super Bowl champions are 6-0 entering their Week 7 road game against the rival New York Jets on "Monday Night Football." New England is undefeated at this juncture of the season for the first time since 2015.

The Patriots have struggled to start fast several times in recent seasons. Here's a look at the their record through the first four games of the last eight campaigns (including 2019):

2019: 4-0
2018: 2-2
2017: 2-2
2016: 3-1
2015: 4-0
2014: 2-2
2013: 4-0
2012: 2-2

Patriots quarterback Tom Brady was asked Wednesday during an appearance on SiriusXM NFL Radio if there's anything different about the team this season that's leading to the fast start. 

"Our defense has given us, I think, that ability (to start fast this season), because the way they've been playing," Brady said. "They've been playing that way all the way back into the spring. They're just doing a great job. They have a lot of great continuity. The secondary -- look how long they've played together. The group of linebackers -- look how long they've played together. What they're doing to get to the quarterback, and they have such a good mix of players who can rush and cover.

"We've been gettng ahead of teams. Our defense has really been thriving -- leading the league in turnovers, leading the league in sacks, what they've been doing on third downs has been incredible. I think they've just been playing so spectacular that it's given our team a huge boost."

The Patriots defense is off to a historic start. The unit has allowed the fewest points per game (8.0) and yards per game (234.7) of any team through the first six weeks. The pass rush also has been tremendous, and as Brady noted, the defense leads the league in sacks and turnovers (including a league-high 14 interceptions). The Patriots' point differential of plus-142 is the best in the league, and well ahead of the San Francisco 49ers (plus-83) in second place.

New England's fast start has allowed it to build an early lead in the race for the No. 1 seed in the AFC playoffs. The Patriots fell short of this goal last season, even though it ultimately didn't matter after they beat the Kansas City Chiefs on the road in the AFC Championship Game. But the Patriots should absolutely chase that seed this season because they are almost unbeatable at home. In fact, they've won 19 consecutive games at Gillette Stadium, including the playoffs.

The Patriots' fast start in 2019 should go a long way in ensuring the road to Super Bowl LIV in Miami goes down Route 1 in Foxboro. 

Phillip Dorsett gives encouraging update on his Week 7 status>>>

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