Mike Florio: If Patriots don’t sign Antonio Brown, 'somebody else will’

Mike Florio: If Patriots don’t sign Antonio Brown, 'somebody else will’

There’s no better port in an NFL legal storm than Mike Florio’s.

The ProFootballTalk founder and talking head on NBC’s Football Night in America helped us make sense of the countersuit filed by Antonio Brown this week against his alleged victim Britney Taylor when he came on Tom Curran’s Patriots Talk Podcast.

Brown’s situation seems to be building to some kind of crescendo in the past week. He met with NFL investigators last week. Earlier this week he — out of nowhere — apologized to Patriots owner Robert Kraft for the “bad media” he caused when he lit into the owner following his September release. And now, the countersuit which Florio said hinges on a confidentiality agreement. Florio also reported that Brown’s camp is “optimistic” the mercurial wide receiver’s name will be cleared by the league.

If that happens, the specter of Brown being placed on the NFL’s exempt list should disappear and teams will stop treating him as if he’s radioactive.

The crescendo would be Brown rejoining the Patriots.

Discussing that, Florio said, “I’m not so sure the Patriots will bring him back.”

In order for the Patriots to bend, Florio said, “If the NFL were to issue a statement that said, ‘We’ve investigated this situation, no criminal charges were ever filed. No criminal charges will be filed. A lawsuit was filed. We’ve spoken to the alleged victim. We’ve spoken to him. We’ve investigated any of the other leads that are out there and we’ve decided there is no violation of the personal conduct policy,’ that changes everything.

“And then the Patriots could bring him back in theory,” Florio added, “if they were willing to let bygones be bygones over the dumb things that he said on social media about Robert Kraft.”

When weighing the possibility of Brown being available, Florio said it’s not just about whether or not the receiver can help New England.

“Here’s the other side of it, and this is a very important dynamic,” Florio pointed out. “It comes down to how badly you want to win Super Bowl No. 7 for the Patriots. Because if you don’t sign him, it’s not an up-or-down, binary choice where it’s either, ‘We have him or we don’t.’

“There’s a much more important net loss here. And that’s if you don’t sign him, somebody else will,” Florio warned. “Somebody else may be the Ravens or the Chiefs. Or some other team you’ll have to deal with in early February. Maybe you see him in the Super Bowl. Maybe he’ll be playing for the Seahawks then. So that’s where the Patriots really need to think long and hard about whether they want to deal with Antonio Brown on another team. Because it’s not, ‘We either use him or we don’t use him.’ It’s, ‘Either we use him or somebody else is gonna use him and make it harder for us to try and do what we’re trying to do.’ ”

Listen to the whole conversation with Florio here. We also spoke on the pod to Mark Leibovich, who wrote "Big Game: The NFL in Dangerous Times," a book which highlighted the fascinating rivalry between Cowboys owner Jerry Jones and Patriots owner Robert Kraft.

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NFL conference championships see ratings drop without Patriots

NFL conference championships see ratings drop without Patriots

Love 'em or hate 'em, the New England Patriots garner the attention of the masses.

That was evident during last year's AFC Championship game vs. the Kansas City Chiefs, when an average crowd of 53.9 million people tuned in to watch the Patriots win in an overtime thriller and advance to Super Bowl 53.

To put that into perspective, this year's late-window matchup between the Green Bay Packers and San Francisco 49ers drew only 42.7 million viewers, per Austin Karp of Sports Business Daily.

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Of course, much of that discrepancy has to do with Pats-Chiefs being far more competitive than Packers-Niners. Plenty of viewers likely tuned out of the latter matchup when San Francisco led Green Bay 27-0 at halftime.

Even so, it just goes to show how much more attention is paid to the NFL playoffs when Tom Brady, Bill Belichick, and the rest of New England is involved. This year's AFC Championship featuring the Tennessee Titans and Kansas City Chiefs marked the first without the Patriots since 2011, and it was the smallest audience (41.1 million) for an AFC title game in 11 years.

In comparison, the early game in 2019 (Los Angeles Rams vs. New Orleans Saints) averaged roughly 44 million.

The Chiefs and 49ers will meet in Miami for Super Bowl 54. It'll be interesting to see how those ratings compare to last year's Patriots-Rams matchup.

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George Kittle celebrated Super Bowl berth with hilarious Jimmy Garoppolo shirt

George Kittle celebrated Super Bowl berth with hilarious Jimmy Garoppolo shirt

George Kittle had a little fun with his quarterback after the San Francisco 49ers beat the Green Bay Packers in Sunday night's NFC Championship Game to clinch a berth in Super Bowl LIV.

The All-Pro tight end showed up to his postgame press conference with a custom t-shirt that included a shirtless photo and autograph of 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo.

Check it out in the tweet below:

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Garoppolo was asked by reporters about Kittle's shirt, and he couldn't hold back his laughter.

“I got him earlier in the week with a shirt, showed it to the media and everything, so he had to get me back a little bit," a smiling Garoppolo said, per 95.7 The Game. "I thought it was a nice shirt he had on. Maybe we’ll get them in the team store soon.”

Garoppolo is no stranger to the Super Bowl. He made two Super Bowl appearances with the New England Patriots as Tom Brady's backup, and in two weeks he'll make his first start on that stage.

The 49ers quarterback hasn't had to play at an elite level for his team to reach the Super Bowl, but that should change in Miami on Feb. 2. The AFC champion Kansas City Chiefs have an offense that looks unstoppable right now, so Garoppolo likely will need to play one of his best games as a pro to give San Francisco a strong chance to win its sixth Lombardi Trophy in franchise history.

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