Patriots

Brady's agent: NFL mischaracterized cell-phone issue

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Brady's agent: NFL mischaracterized cell-phone issue

FOXBORO -- Don Yee, the agent for Patriots quarterback Tom Brady went on the record this afternoon with CSNNE.com, calling out the National Football League for the way it characterized the phone the league said Brady destroyed. 

“They shifted from PSI to the new shiny object, the cell phone,” said Yee. “We expected this. Because this was the easy way to pivot off the junk science and get off the PSI issue. And we knew that from a newsworthiness standpoint, the general public might be easily fooled. But in the coming days -- just like the Wells Report being picked apart after its issuance -- the same thing happens with this.”

Speaking for more than 30 minutes, Yee detailed the decision-making process and attempts at transparency the Brady camp went through when the appeal landed on the desk of Roger Goodell and was out of the hands of Ted Wells.

“What happened is this,” Yee began. “After Goodell decided to take the appeal and publicly asked for new information, we were under the authority of the actual commissioner, not private investigators with dubious authority. We decided to provide him with the new information. This was in June. The information that Wells requested covered September 2014 to February 28, 2015. The first thing we did in June was say, ‘Holy cow, do we have a cell phone left from that time period?’ because Tom regularly cycles through phones. We happened to find one and we tested that phone and found it covered the period October through November.

“In a letter to Goodell, we told him that we don’t have any other phones that cover November through March. We believe Tom may have cycled through a phone. We were the ones that disclosed this issue. Meaning that if Tom Brady was trying to hide something, why would we voluntarily disclose that fact?

I asked Yee why Brady would discard or recycle a phone when he knew Wells was seeking the phone in his investigation.

“It wasn’t until February 28 that Ted Wells’ team sent us an e-mail asking for contents off Tom’s phone,” said Yee. “They never asked for the actual device. Ted Wells, in his May 12 press conference actually said that -- he emphasized that. They didn’t want the actual device. On March 2, we wrote back to Ted Wells and told him we considered his request for information off the phone and we declined his request. On March 3, they said they hoped we would reconsider. They knew going into the March 6 hearing that they were not going to get the actual device. They knew that.

“Why did Tom cycle through a phone that week?” Yee continued. “It turns out he just got back to the country after taking a trip. Why did he cycle through the phone that week? The iPhone 6 was coming out. [Brady] happened to want a new phone and knew Ted Wells’ team didn’t want the actual device, they only wanted information from the device.”

Yee then detailed the effort to gather the “additional information” Goodell sought during the appeal.

“We compiled all of Tom’s personal cell phone billing records from his vendor from September through the end of February 2015. The records detail every incoming and outgoing phone call. Every incoming and outgoing text,” Yee explains. “We submitted that to the commissioner. They would then be able to determine were there any other communications with Patriots personnel that were not outlined in the Wells Report. Everything matched up perfectly with the Wells Report with the exception of three texts between Tom and [John] Jastrzemski on February 7, and that was only because Wells had given Jastrzemski’s phone back [on] February 7. As far as any texts prior to the AFC Championship Game, where any alleged scheming would have taken place, Ted Wells would have had any communications between Tom, Jastrzemski and [Jim] McNally. This personal phone billing record compiled by an independent third party shows that he had no communications at all with McNally.

“In an effort to be even more transparent, we decided to offer to the commissioner to disclose the identities of everyone that Tom communicated with. We said that some of these individuals are NFL-related personnel and that the commissioner has the power to compel a search of their phone to see if they have texts remaining on their phone from Tom. The commissioner’s own decision in footnote 11 acknowledges this and says they thought it was impractical to conduct this search. The amount of NFL-related personnel that the league needed to consult, if they so chose, was 28 people. Which is not very many people. And a number of those people they had information from already. Tom texted from December 24 to February 24 these NFL-related personnel. Ten teammates, two current coaches, five former teammates, one NFL Network personnel, five front-office personnel and five other Patriots employees. A number of them, the league had the authority to say, ‘Check your cell phone, we want any text exchanges between you and Tom Brady from that period.’ They chose not to. I don’t know why.”

I asked Yee why those people would feel compelled to furnish information if Brady was known to have not done so. The switch from Wells as the investigator to Goodell as the one hearing the appeal prompted a greater interest in making sure everything was shared.

“Tom regularly deletes his texts,” said Yee. “It’s a privacy safeguard. E-mails and texts in case the phone is ever lost. But we felt, in our effort to try and give the information they wanted, ‘Well, perhaps other people kept text exchanges with Tom.’ I don’t think there’s anything more intimate than sharing your personal phone records as well as disclosing everyone you communicated with. If you had something to hide, why would you offer that?”

Patriots' Phillip Dorsett remembers former Colts QB Andrew Luck as an 'amazing teammate'

Patriots' Phillip Dorsett remembers former Colts QB Andrew Luck as an 'amazing teammate'

FOXBORO – Phillip Dorsett spent his first two NFL seasons with Andrew Luck in Indianapolis.

He, like the rest of the football-watching world, was left wide-eyed Saturday night when he learned Luck was retiring at 29.

“I was shocked,” said Dorsett, who said he fell asleep watching football then woke up to see the news on social media. “I thought it was a joke. But then I saw it come on the ticker and I said, ‘Wow, it’s serious.’ ”

The reverberations around the league from Luck’s retirement will be felt everywhere from the balance of power in the AFC to the fact that it’s another young player who’s been laid low by the mental and physical toll the game exacts. 

Beyond the timing of the announcement and the talent of the player is the fact that a smart, earnest and admirable person is leaving the game at an age we would all consider too young.

“He was an amazing teammate,” said Dorsett. “Great guy to be around. Always full of joy. Nothing but respect for Andrew. I love him. He’s a good dude. But it is what it is. It’s football. I can’t sit here and say I know what he was going through because nobody does. But I know it’s tough on him, I know he didn’t want to walk away but he had to do what he had to do for himself."

There are unmistakable parallels to be drawn between Luck and Rob Gronkowski. Both talked of the mental fatigue of trying to get their bodies tuned up just to be betrayed by them.

With both men, the conversation about whether or not they’ll stay retired quickly followed. There’s a presumption they’ll change their minds at some point when their bodies feel better.

Maybe they will. But in order for either player to come back, both will have to get to a point where they feel the competition, camaraderie, financial reward and everything else are worth the cost of playing again.

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Demaryius Thomas confident he can produce at a high level: "I still can go"

Demaryius Thomas confident he can produce at a high level: "I still can go"

FOXBORO – Demaryius Thomas and Tom Brady seem to have become fast friends, at least judging by the amount of time they were seen on the sidelines last week talking and laughing during the team’s preseason game with the Panthers.

To hear Thomas talk on Sunday, you can appreciate why Brady might be a fan.

Speaking for the first time since joining the Patriots as a free agent in April, Thomas stressed again and again that Job No. 1 is being someone Brady can trust.  

“Being dependable and consistent,” said Thomas when asked what he needed to provide the quarterback. “Those two things are the biggest things you can do for a quarterback. Being consistent and dependable.”

Which is precisely what Brady is looking for as a revamped fleet of receivers and tight ends keep trying to get up to speed with the Patriots before the opener September 8.

Thomas, who’s coming back from an Achilles tear suffered at the end of 2018, sounded very confident in his ability to play at the same level he always has.

“I still can go,” said Thomas, who took part in his first full practice last Tuesday. “I still can go. Like I said, knock a little rust off and just keep hitting the days.”

So the explosion is there?

“I can feel it,” he said. “I can feel it certain days and certain days I can’t. It’s a thing that I feel when I play and I still got it. I touched it here and there but some days some stuff it bothers (me).

“I don’t think it’s a crazy challenge (to get back to a high level),” he said. “I think it’s a challenge to me to keep going out and doing what I’ve done my whole career. It’s a tougher challenge because here they expect more and it’s a little different than where I’ve been but I’ll be all right.”

The 31-year-old Thomas said he still “getting the hang of” the Patriots offense but said his time with the Houston Texans and former Patriots offensive coordinator Bill O’Brien last season helped him get a grasp on some of the concepts New England uses.

There’s still a couple of things I have to pick up but so far so good,” he said. “I’m just trying to fit in where I can and ask as many questions as I can.”

Thomas said he consults everyone – from Julian Edelman to the running backs to defensive players – for assistance on the little things that will help him be ready to contribute.

The essence of his job, he said, is “being in the right spot and catching the ball.”

“I still got some work to do but it’s getting better and better, I’m learning a lot,” he said. “Everything (Brady) tells me I’m taking in and same with Coach McDaniels. Everything they tell me I try to take the field.”

The Patriots wide receiver depth chart is a little murky. Edelman is at the top of it but rookie N’Keal Harry has been down for nearly two weeks. Undrafted rookie Jakobi Meyers has had an outstanding camp and preseason but still has a ways to go before he’s got full command. Phillip Dorsett is dependable but is more a complementary piece. And Josh Gordon just took part in his first full practice Sunday.

Thomas appreciates what Brady needs and also the work the quarterback puts in.  Asked what surprised him about Brady, Thomas said, “Just being able to be around him and learn the game. Sit beside him and see him go through the things he does before practice and see him be able to do it at the age he is. He’s still got zip on the ball and still the best in the game at what he does.”

As for being in New England, Thomas said, “It’s different. The way they go about it, I see why they win so much. Everybody do their job. Nobody try to do too much.”

If Thomas can do the two things he mentioned – be in the right spot and catch the ball – that will be plenty for Brady.

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