Matt Cassel: Making sense of Michael Bennett's 'philosophical disagreement'

Matt Cassel: Making sense of Michael Bennett's 'philosophical disagreement'

I’ve been in a lot of philosophical debates over the years, but I’ve never had one that’s resulted in a suspension for conduct detrimental. 

So, I would be interested to hear what philosophical conversation took place with Michael Bennett and Brett Bielema. To what extent did that conversation go outside the box? What words were said? Who was there? Was it something in front of the whole team? 

We’ve all been there as players. In a high-intensity environment -- an environment where there’s a lot of stress on both you and your coaching staff every week -- you have moments where there’s an explosion. You yell at your coach or you and your coach have a disagreement, and you guys get after each other a little bit. 

But usually after that takes place and everything settles, there’s a conversation that establishes, "I was wrong. I shouldn’t have handled it that way," and you move forward. And everybody recognizes that it’s somewhat part of the game.

There's another way to handle it, which is maybe more appropriate: You close the door and get a 1-on-1 with your coach. You can yell, you can talk it out, you can do whatever you need to do.

Sometimes that really is the best way to handle it: You’re showing respect for your coach and not disrespecting him by doing it in front of everybody. 

Again, I don’t know the exact situation with Bennett, but it sounds like something that was a bit more than just a philosophical disagreement.

In terms of playing time, I think Bill Belichick makes that clear to everybody who comes to the New England Patriots. 

I remember when the team got together my first time. He told us, "I want to make it very clear: You guys establish your playing time. I’m going to play the guys who I think put us in the best position and give us the best chance to win week in and week out. Regardless of who you are, regardless of how many Pro Bowls you’ve been in, it doesn’t matter. 

"If a rookie free agent is outplaying the guy who’s been here for five years and has all the awards, then we’re going to play the rookie free agent. Because guess what? That guy is giving us the best opportunity to win."

He lets you know that. It’s not something that’s shocking to anybody in the building. It’s very evident to everyone there that Bill lays out the law.

If you don’t address a situation like Bennett’s, then it sends a message to your team that other guys might be able to do it. 

So, I don’t think anything good can come out of it unless you do what you need to do in terms of a suspension or docking someone’s pay. Because you can’t have a team where people think they’re above the rules.

But when Bennett comes back, as you’ve seen Bill do time and time again, it’s business as usual. There won't be anything like, "Bennett’s coming back this week and we’re happy to have him." 

No. It’s going to be right onto the next game, and he’s either going to fall in line or he’s not. That’s just how it goes.


Editor's note: Matt Cassel had a 14-year NFL career that included four seasons with the New England Patriots (2005-2008). He's joining the NBC Sports Boston team for this season. You can find him on game days as part of our Pregame Live and Postgame Live coverage, as well as every week on Tom E. Curran’s Patriots Talk podcast and

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Why Tom Brady picks 45 as the age he wants to play until

Why Tom Brady picks 45 as the age he wants to play until

Whenever Tom Brady is asked about when he plans on calling it a career, it comes back to one number: 45.

The New England Patriots quarterback, now 42, has mentioned on multiple occasions 45 as the age he'd like to play until. But why 45 and not, say, 44 or 46?

Brady explained Wednesday on WEEI's "Ordway, Merloni & Fauria" why he's always going with that specific number.

“I think I have always said 45 just because that’s a good goal to set because that is one that has been pretty hard to get to for most guys. I think you have to have goals — you have daily goals, you have yearly goals and you have long-term goals," Brady said. "I think for me it’s really just the love of football. I don’t know if or when I will ever not love it. That’s the thing.

"I don’t know, it’s just some people are maybe great guitarists, there’s great chefs, there’s great lawyers, there’s great artists, actors, you name it. I think if you really love it, why should you stop? You just love it. I don’t know how to explain it other than I love doing it and that is enough for me.”

At this stage of Brady's career, even as he continues to play at a high level, the six-time Super Bowl champion is constantly faced with questions about his future. Brady, who can become a free agent for the first time after this season, understands why it remains such a popular topic, and he isn't taking his ability to step onto the gridiron at age 42 for granted.

“I think it is a natural question for most athletes that are getting older," Brady said. "It’s not going to last forever, so at some point, it comes to an end and everyone wants to be the first one to predict it. I feel like I am just being honest with myself that I am going to do the best I can do. I feel like everything at this point is just gravy.

"The fact I get to go out and play professional football at 42 is pretty cool. I still love doing it and I still love the competition. I don’t know when that will ever leave. I don’t know if it will ever leave. I don’t know what factors will contribute, but I am trying to be in the moment and the thing about football is it is a contact sport. It’s not basketball, it’s not baseball — really any game could be your last game. I think it is good to have that perspective, too.”

Brady has the Patriots in a position to make yet another Super Bowl run as they enter Week 11 with an 8-1 record. They'll aim to come out of the bye week strong when they take on the Philadelphia Eagles in a Super Bowl 52 rematch on Sunday.

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Chris Long explains differences between 2016 Patriots and 2017 Eagles

Chris Long explains differences between 2016 Patriots and 2017 Eagles

Chris Long had spent most of his NFL career on losing teams. Then, he went and won back-to-back Super Bowl titles with the 2016 Patriots and the 2017 Eagles.

While the final result for both teams was the same, Long saw plenty of differences with the way Philadelphia went about their business compared to the Patriots. The former defensive end discussed in detail with Tom E. Curran in the latest Patriots Talk Podcast.

"The difference between New England and Philly was like, that was the first time [the Eagles have won the Super Bowl]," Long told Curran. "So whatever it was like when the Patriots won for the first time, that's what I walked into in Philly."

Long also touched on Lane Johnson's comments about Pats players "not having fun" in New England.

"In New England, they tend to do things a different way and it's the Patriot Way, but you also have had 'the GOAT [Tom Brady]' for 20 years and you've got 'The Hoodie' [Bill Belichick]," Long said. "So that continuity... and of course part of that is the way Bill does things and the way they've designed that organization.

"Every organization is different and some are more 'fun' than others. I also consider having a bunch of awesome teammates in New England a lot of fun and I thought winning was a lot of fun because for eight years, I was on crap teams."

You can hear everything Long had to say by listening to the Patriots Talk Podcast below.

Other topics on the show include Long's upcoming media company, "Chalk Media," how athletes deal with social anxiety, Colin Kaepernick's upcoming NFL workout, and Long's new NBA "side team."

Listen to the full episode below (Patriots/Eagles discussion begins at 24:31):


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