Patriots

Devin McCourty has bigger concerns than NFL shortening preseason

Devin McCourty has bigger concerns than NFL shortening preseason

The NFL reportedly is taking action in the face of the coronavirus pandemic by shortening the preseason from four games to two.

But Devin McCourty and his brother Jason know the league still has more pressing issues to tackle.

Here's how the New England Patriots defensive backs reacted to the preseason news Sunday night on their "Double Coverage" podcast.

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"Does it matter?" Devin said, via ESPN's Mike Reiss. "We have to figure out, 'How do we get back in the locker room?' When we go back, are we straight to training camp? What is that procedure? ... For us as players, we still want to know, 'How is everything going to function and work?'

"Don't get me wrong, everybody is working towards that and building. There's calls and everything. But I think that is more important than whether there's four preseason games, two preseason games, no preseason games.

"All that stuff will work itself out. All that stuff matters if the first phase of us being back in training camp is going well. If that doesn't go well, then there is no anything. For me that has been more my focus. I haven’t really cared what the preseason games look like."

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The NFL has stuck to its 2020 timetable, with training camps still set to begin in late July and the regular season set to start in early September. But the McCourtys aren't alone in wondering whether players can safely practice and play amid the coronavirus pandemic.

"At this point, it's just like, 'What is the safest way to get back on the field and to actually have a season?' " Jason said. "If that means we're reducing preseason, whatever the case is, obviously we have to do what we need to do."

The NFL has had the benefit of time compared to the NBA, Major League Baseball, NHL and MLS, which have implemented rigorous safety protocols as they attempt to restart their seasons.

But with training camp rapidly approaching, the NFL will need to come up with its own plan quickly if it wants to safely hold the 2020 season.

Lamar Miller, agent Drew Rosenhaus confirm RB's signing with Patriots

Lamar Miller, agent Drew Rosenhaus confirm RB's signing with Patriots

Lamar Miller officially is a member of the New England Patriots, it appears.

The Patriots still haven't announced Miller's signing after a report Monday that the free-agent running back had agreed to a one-year contract with the team.

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But Miller's agent, Drew Rosenhaus, confirmed his client put pen to paper Wednesday to join the Patriots.

Miller also confirmed the news by sharing Rosenhaus' announcement on his Instagram story.

 

Miller has topped 1,000 rushing yards in two of his eight NFL seasons and made the Pro Bowl with the Houston Texans in 2018. He missed the entire 2019 season due to a torn ACL, however, and his days as a workhorse running back might be behind him at age 29.

Still, the Patriots could use Miller's services with reports that Sony Michel may not be ready for Week 1 as he recovers from ankle surgery. Miller could fill Michel's role as an early-down rusher to complement James White, Rex Burkhead and Damien Harris.

Miller wasn't spotted at Patriots training camp Wednesday, but expect him to show up at Gillette Stadium soon now that his deal is official.

Agent Don Yee takes aim at the 'collegiate sports industrial complex'

Agent Don Yee takes aim at the 'collegiate sports industrial complex'

Don Yee is well known as the agent for Tom Brady, Julian Edelman, Sean Payton and others.

But his longstanding effort to shine a light on the inequities of what he calls the “collegiate sports industrial complex” may wind up being as impactful on the game of football as the work he’s done with those greats.

This week, I spoke at length to Yee on our podcast about college football at a crossroads in this summer of COVID-19.

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In Yee’s view, the awakening that’s gone on among athletes as they’ve been strung along for months by the Dumb and Dumber coalition of coaches, college presidents and administrators has been building.

“It’s a situation that’s been gaining steam in my view for at least the last 10 to 12 years,” Yee said. “There’s been such a dramatic influx of money into the collegiate sports industrial complex that when you’ve got that kind of money coming in there’s just been a single-minded focus on generating more and more money and that focus unfortunately has taken over … college administrators, college presidents, athletic directors and coaches.

“They’ve actually taken their eye off the ball in that they have completely overlooked the fact that they have a labor force that isn’t being compensated,” Yee added. “In their single-minded pursuit of every single dollar they’ve forgotten about the care and concern of the athletes.”

Patriots Talk Podcast: Don Yee and the remedy for college football’s ‘industrial complex’ | Listen & subscribe | Watch on YouTube

Everyone knows big-time college sports drips with hypocrisy and greed. It’s a shell game in which literally thousands of people wind up splitting the billions of dollars generated every year and the only ones that never see a legal buck of it are the players.

The pretzel logic used to justify it is laughable. The best way to enjoy the product and the games is, literally, to ignore the reality.

Yee has, over the past decade, forced people to look at it.

“Over the decades we’ve created a unique system that doesn’t exist anywhere in the developed world,” he said. “Nowhere in the developed world does this exist. Where you have a system, a small group of football players every year – there’s 130 Division I schools and among those 130 schools let’s say 50 to 60 are the most critical players to that enterprise for that particular season.

"So it’s a few thousand young men and what they do is strap on the equipment and roll out there for an increasingly long season – now as many as 14 games – and go out there and put their bodies on the line to generate substantial amounts of revenue to support the lifestyles of the administrators, the coaches, the coaches in the non-revenue sports, all the non-revenue sports programs and athletes which then – by extension – helps support the U.S. Olympic program (as a breeding ground for the athletes before becoming Olympians).

“The success of the football program also supports the very existence of the university because if the football program has success, the university can then initiate a piggybacking off the excitement and success of the football team and begin multi-billion capital campaigns to build new buildings on campus etc. So all of this is due to the efforts of a very small group of young men every single year. We tolerate it. Ultimately, we get distracted by the pom-poms and the bands.”

Yee and I discussed so much more, including whether he thinks there will be an NFL equivalent to the NBA’s G-League (yes), details on his new venture which will help teams easily find the players they now have to kick over rocks to discover (like Malcolm Butler) and how the change in college will be shepherded in by the players.

Check out the latest episode of the Patriots Talk Podcast on the NBC Sports Boston Podcast Network or on YouTube.