Patriots

On the PSI question, just call him Roger The Dodger

roger-goodell-state-of-nfl-20516.jpg

On the PSI question, just call him Roger The Dodger

SAN FRANCISCO – Aren’t you glad we got to the bottom of that PSI thing with White Shoes Goodell?

Brutal.

His 309-word answer when I asked at his Friday press conference what constitutes a ball pressure violation and whether any balls measured under 12.5 PSI in 2015 was a study in deflection.

He didn’t so much answer as he did orally ejaculate syllables for a prescribed length of time before he felt safe to go on to a stuttering query about whether the Pro Bowl will ever be played in Austria.

Before I left the ballroom where Goodell held his press conference at a dais made up like an altar, I realized – with some help – that the NFL doesn’t care about PSI.

They don’t care to know how much air pressure a football will lose on a 28-degree evening with freezing rain or on a crisp 46-degree day under bright sunshine.

They didn’t go into the 2015 season trying to find out if they’d convicted Tom Brady of a crime he didn’t commit.

That would have required collecting atmospheric conditions at the time of inflation, temperature and dew point at the start of the game, temperature and dew point at halftime, how long it took for footballs to go from field to official’s locker room and the possible PSI change over that period. And then they’d need a baseline “legal” drop and anything under that would constitute a violation.

For instance, the NFL itself acknowledged the football from last season’s AFCCG should have been between 11.32 and 11.52 PSI at halftime. You remember how many months it took for them to figure that out?

The NFL is tacitly admitting that they didn’t find a body. That the circumstantial evidence in the form of Jim McNally’s 90-second bathroom break, eyebrow-raising text messages and Brady not giving up a cell phone he was told he didn’t have to turn over was enough to convict him.

In other words, it looked fishy and they acted suspicious. So, the loss of a first and fourth-round pick, a $1 million fine and a four-game suspension was justified.

At this point, I’ll counter that having HGH delivered to your home while returning from significant injury and sending a couple of goons over to scare a source who just happens to recant his story a few days later seems fishy enough to warrant a PED suspension. Even if there never was a positive test for the substance just as there may not be positive proof of deflated footballs.

Peyton Manning doesn’t deserve to be treated reprehensibly and without due process just because Tom Brady was. But it is worth wondering if Manning’s teams had the success that Brady’s did and he played for a coach who wasn’t a league ring-kisser, how differently would be be treated? How many of the league’s “Membership” would have been pushing Goodell in the small of the back to go further, do more. Get him. Get them.

The NFL’s in its endgame now with this and it’s altered its talking points to reflect that.

It’s not PSI, it’s procedure. It’s not about Brady, it’s about labor and the Commissioner’s powers.

“We conduct random checks," Goodell said. "We make sure the clubs understand we will look at that type of procedure and make sure there are no violations. We did that on a very limited basis. We don’t disclose all the specifics on that because it’s meant as a deterrent. If you tell everybody how many times that you’re checking and which games you’re checking, it’s not much of a deterrent. It’s a deterrent when they think that game may be checked.

In other words, it’s like when the cops put out a sign that says “SPEED MEASURED BY RADAR” on some out-of-the-way stretch of road and the radar never gets turned on.

Goodell also added, “It’s also important that the data that was collected was not data for research. It was collected just to see if there was a violation. Our people never found a violation.”

A violation such as……? Like, how low would it have had to go to be a violation.

Damned if Roger knows. Or anyone else with the NFL, which they may tell you on the QT.

“It’s not about PSI, it’s about procedure,” I was told by a high-ranking league official after Goodell’s press conference. “Were the protocols followed? Did the balls follow the chain of supervision they were supposed to throughout the process from pregame, through halftime to the end of the game? Or were there any detours when they went missing? There were not. This is about procedures being followed.”

But aren’t the recorded PSIs of 2015 necessary to prove that the ones gathered last January prove beyond reasonable doubt that the Patriots did something nefarious? Otherwise it’s circumstantial? A murder conviction without a body?

“People have gone to jail for murder without there being a body,” was the response.

Meanwhile, as Goodell obfuscates, the Patriots keep acting like a pack of Buckingham Palace Guards with no outward reaction at all.

In a month, the NFL will have its appeal of the decision suspending Tom Brady heard. Goodell reminded us Friday, “This is not an individual player issue. This is about the rights that we negotiated in our collective bargaining agreement.”

That’s another dodge. This appeal is about Roger Goodell restoring his unfettered right to chase down teams and individuals on rumors, manufacture evidence, smear reputations, doctor testimony and mete out his own brand of industrial justice.

The only positive about his answer RE: PSI and Tom Brady? At least he didn’t say “integrity of the game.” This place is due for the Big Shake and uttering those four words might have made the good Lord decide this was as good a time as any in the last century.

 

 

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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