Patriots

Trump says NFL should fire players who kneel during anthem

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Trump says NFL should fire players who kneel during anthem

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. — President Donald Trump says National Football League owners should fire players who kneel during the national anthem. And he’s encouraging spectators to walk out in protest.

In an extended riff during a freewheeling rally speech in Alabama Friday night, Trump also bemoaned that football games have become less violent.

“They’re ruining the game,” he complained.

Several athletes, including NFL players, have refused to stand during “The Star-Spangled Banner” to protest of the treatment of blacks by police.

Trump says those players are disrespecting the flag and deserve to lose their jobs.

“That’s a total disrespect of our heritage. That’s a total disrespect of everything that we stand for,” he said, encouraging owners to act.

“Wouldn’t you love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, you’d say, ’Get that son of a bitch off the field right now. Out! He’s fired,” Trump said to loud applause.

Trump also predicted that any owner who went through with his encouragement would become “the most popular person in this country” — at least for a week.

Trump, who was in Alabama campaigning for Sen. Luther Strange, also blamed a decline in NFL ratings on the nation’s interest in “yours truly” as well as what he described as a decline in violence in the game.

He said players are being thrown out for aggressive tackles, and it’s “not the same game.”

The NFL has made several efforts to reduce violence in the sport, particularly hits that may cause damage to the head. A July report on 202 former football players found evidence of a debilitating brain disease linked to repeated head blows in nearly all of them. The league has agreed to pay $1 billion to retired players who claimed it misled them about the concussion dangers of playing football.

During his campaign, Trump often expressed nostalgia for the “old days” — claiming, for example, that protesters at his rallies would have been carried out on stretchers back then. He recently suggested police officers should be rougher with criminals and shouldn’t protect their heads when pushing them into quad cars.

It’s also not the first time he’s raised the kneeling issue. Earlier this year he took credit for the fact that former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who started the trend of kneeling during the anthem, hadn’t been signed by an NFL team.

Trump said the protest was the top reason NFL viewership had waned this season.

“You know what’s hurting the game more than that? When people like yourselves turn on television and you see those people taking the knee when they’re playing our great national anthem,” he said.

Trump encouraged his supporters to pick up and leave the stadium next time they spot a player failing to stand.

“I guarantee things will stop,” he said.

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Lions place ex-Patriot Trey Flowers on PUP list entering training camp

Lions place ex-Patriot Trey Flowers on PUP list entering training camp

Trey Flowers' on-field unveiling with his new team will have to wait.

The Detroit Lions have placed their star defensive end on the physically unable to perform (PUP) list ahead of training camp, the team announced Monday.

Flowers is dealing with a shoulder injury, according to Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press, although NFL Media's Ian Rapoport reports his ailment is "minor." The 25-year-old underwent a minor shoulder procedure after Super Bowl LIII,

Flowers blossomed into a solid defensive end over four seasons with the Patriots, recording a career-high 7.5 sacks last season while helping New England win a Super Bowl title.

Flowers' efforts earned him a massive five-year, $90 million deal in free agency with Detroit, where he'll be reunited with former Patriots defensive coordinator Matt Patricia.

But it appears Flowers isn't quite ready for action, although he can be activated from the PUP list at any time during training camp, which begins Thursday for the Lions.

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Julian Edelman injury makes training camp even tougher for Tom Brady

Julian Edelman injury makes training camp even tougher for Tom Brady

The steady stream of social media posts from Tom Brady this offseason were just loaded with lovable whimsy. Upbeat, self-deprecating with an undercurrent of “Let’s f****** go!”

It’s all so relentlessly optimistic that people forget that Tom Brady is one of the most ruthless, relentless, perfection-driven players in the history of American professional sports.

He isn’t in his 20th year and chasing a seventh Super Bowl ring because he’s wicked, wicked nice. He’s doing those things because he’s maniacally competitive with a drive that leaves teammates with a choice: get on board or get run over.

And what vehicle has Brady been provided with to drive in pursuit of No. 7? A bike. With training wheels.

Julian Edelman’s injured left thumb is going to be fine. It’s been a couple of weeks healing already.

But look what Brady is surrounded by as camp begins. Or not surrounded by. No Edelman. No Rob Gronkowski. No Sony Michel. A left tackle to be named later.

Brady in Year 20, isn’t in some 700-level college class. He’s on the rug playing blocks with wide receivers Braxton Berrios, N’Keal Harry, Jakobi Myers, Ryan Davis, Gunner Olszewski and Damoun Patterson.

He’s providing orientation to newly-arrived veterans with “meh” resumes like Dontrelle Inman and Maurice Harris. Tight end? A position the team’s leaned on for a decade? It’s Ben Watson and Matt LaCosse. Running back?

Thank God for James White and — I will reluctantly add, Rex Burkhead.

The way the team looks on July 22 doesn’t portend what they’ll look like on January 22. Everybody knows that.

But training camp isn’t all about teaching and helping your players to learn to walk and then run in the NFL so that they’ll be good by Halloween.

It’s about competition and figuring out what works. It’s about fine-tuning. It’s about beating your own defense in practice so that you can do the same when the season starts.

Unfortunately for Brady, he’s going to be fighting one-handed in practice against a defense that was built without the same corner-cutting the Patriots annually do on offense.

I don’t think Stephon Gilmore is going to lose very often to N’Keal Harry this summer. Nor will Jason McCourty be abused by Phillip Dorsett or Patrick Chung/Jamie Collins be undressed by Watson.

It’s going to be tough sledding for the meticulous Brady, and when failed reps pile up, he’s going to enter a state of high agitation.

But despite that agitation, he’ll make it work.

Forget, “Do Your Job” or “Ignore the Noise” or “We’re Still Here,” the most apt slogan for Brady and offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels should be, “We’ll Figure It Out.”

Last year was a perfect example of that. With Edelman suspended for a quarter of the season and Gronk diminished by injury, Brady was trying to make it work with Dorsett, Chris Hogan and Cordarrelle Patterson. In a panic move that worked for 11 weeks, the team traded for Josh Gordon. But they morphed the offense, threw it a million times to James White and embraced a power-running game. You know the rest.

You think if Aaron Rodgers or Ben Roethlisberger were playing for the Patriots last year they would have made it through weekly dissections of their decline without saying through tears, “Look what they gave me?!”

No. But Brady did.

And now — eight months from having his contract expire — he’s going to suck it up and try to do it again with a lesser cast and still at big, big savings. Because that’s what he always does.

Saying the brief loss of Edelman is actually good news is putting whipped cream on a turd. Would it have been good for Peter McNeeley to fight Mike Tyson with a broken right hand so he could work on his left?

I already believed we were going to see a training camp bloodbath when the Patriots starting offense and defense squared off. Now, without Edelman, it’s going to be even harder for productive work to get done.

This whole “figure it out as we go, September is an extended training camp” approach is a nice luxury for the Patriots to enjoy, but everyone really needs to remember that the reason it works is because Tom Brady is a steel-reinforced safety net for Bill Belichick.

And that becomes more apparent every year.

Great Patriots Debate: Does Brady or Belichick deserve more credit?

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