Patriots

Brady takes multiple issues with ESPN story

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Brady takes multiple issues with ESPN story

ESPN put a lot of eggs into Seth Wickersham’s piece on dysfunction on the Patriots. In the story, it was speculated that the end could be near for the ruling triumvirate of Bob Kraft, Bill Belichick and Tom Brady. Since that story was posted Friday, the team and the individual pieces have gone out of their way to deny parts of the story with great vigor.

It was Tom Brady’s turn Tuesday morning during his weekly appearance with Kirk and Callahan on WEEI.

Though he claimed not to have read the entire story, Brady apparently had someone do it for him, saying he’s well educated on the more pointed details of what was -- at its core -- a less than flattering look at the quarterback. It portrayed him as petty and jealous and believing he is beyond reproach. 

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“I have been a part of a lot of articles over the years that I disagree with,” said Brady.  "People can write whatever they want to write. This is a free country. You can say what you want to say. I am evaluated on my job, I am sure other people are evaluated on their jobs. I think it is just being in my position and I understand there’s 31 other cities where people aren’t Patriots fans or Tom Brady fans. Here there’s a lot competition within our media. I have been a part of that for a long time, too.

"I think you just have to take the good with the bad. It’s probably harder on the people who care about me . . . They read it, probably like a lot of other people, you read it and when we grew up, what you read in the paper was the truth. I think now you just have to take everything -- it’s just a little bit different now.”

At the heart of the piece was a power struggle between the three egos: Kraft, Belichick and Brady. It was written that Kraft mandated a Jimmy Garoppolo trade despite the coach’s desire to keep the player and eventually transition from the 40-year-old Brady to the 25-year-old Jimmy G. Belichick wouldn’t discuss the allegation, but Brady had no problem shooting down the notion that he was “liberated” when the trade happened.

“I think that is such a poor characterization," he said. "In 18 years I have never celebrated when someone has been traded or been cut. I would say that is disappointing to hear that someone would express that, or a writer would express that because it is so far from what my beliefs are about my teammates and I think I am very empathetic about other people’s experiences. I know those situations aren’t easy.

"I have never been traded or released, but I can imagine how that might feel. I would never feel that way when Jimmy got traded, or Jacoby [Brissett] got traded. I have kept in touch with all those guys. When Matt Cassel was gone -- all these guys I’ve worked with. I feel like I have had such great relationships with all the quarterbacks I have worked with. I have kept him touch with basically everybody. To characterize that as a certain way is just completely wrong.”

There was also the story of Garoppolo being turned away from the TB12 Sports Therapy Center at Patriot Place in the immediate aftermath on his shoulder injury last season. It was said that Garoppolo was locked out of the facility and ended up not being seen by Brady’s business partner/body coach Alex Guerrero until two weeks after the fact. Multiple attempts by this reporter to confirm that story have failed, though I was told and reported multiple times that there were clear lines for when Garoppolo could and couldn’t use Guerrero. As for the alleged lockout, Brady scoffed.

“Again, it’s hard to even answer those questions," he said. "It is so far from any truth that I know, or any characterization of my relationship with my teammates. I have never denied anybody anything in regards to TB12. I have always found it very flattering when teammates go there. Again, I think this speaks to someone whether it is the writer himself, or whoever he spoke to, what agenda they might have in painting some type of picture.

"I think [Belichick] always says speak for yourselves and I have always tried to go by that. Like I said, I have a great relationship with all my teammates. I certainly did with Jimmy. I loved working with Jimmy. We had a great time together. I wish him nothing but the best, like always. Just like all my teammates, really. I think that is just how I feel about him.”

Guerrero has also been a hot topic of conversation this year, with his access reduced at the stadium and on the road, much to the quarterback’s dismay. Brady is a devout follower of Guerrero’s methods and in the story it was stated that Brady would tell his teammates, “Bill’s answer to everything is to lift more weights,” which certainly runs counter to Guerrero’s teachings. Brady claims that part of the story to be false as well.

“Again, I am not a divisive person," he said. "I don’t speak about things like that, and again, I think we’ve talked for a long time about how I feel about training and my preparation. Again, people come up to me whether it is my teammates, or other guys and say, ‘Hey, what are the things that you do? What are the things that have worked for you?’ I can just convey that certain message. Whether that is how I train, or how I eat, or sleep, or drink, all those things. I just try and give them the answer that works for me. It certainly doesn’t have to work for everybody. Every player, it is up to them to either listen to what I am saying and either use it or not use it. It’s their career. It’s not that I couldn’t care less. I want everyone to experience the things I have experienced as I have gotten older. That is just what I try and convey.”

Finally, as for tiring of Belichick’s harsh critiques and unwillingness to throw verbal bouquets at the quarterback regularly, Brady said he wouldn’t change the last 18 years for anything.

“Coach Belichick has been such a great coach and mentor and I certainly could never accomplish anything in this sport without everything that he has taught me," Brady said. "I have been so lucky to play for this team. There’s been so many great coaches here, players, staff members, Mr. Kraft and Jonathan [Kraft]. I have had such great support here. I think again, to characterize it any differently than how I say it, and again, I could say it a million times and then someone could write one thing. It is really up to whoever is listening that wants to believe it and maybe they want to believe it because that’s what they want to believe. They want to believe things are maybe different, or maybe they want to believe -- I don’t know.”

Wickersham has repeatedly stated that he stands by his story.

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Georgia the new Rutgers? Contingent of Bulldogs growing in New England

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Georgia the new Rutgers? Contingent of Bulldogs growing in New England

FOXBORO -- David Andrews was excited. He just had a hard time showing it.

The Patriots center stayed up long enough to see his team pick at No. 23 in the first round of the NFL Draft, long enough to see his Georgia teammate Isaiah Wynn have his name called.

But the Thursday night prime time event isn't for everyone, and so Andrews wasn't fully conscious by the time the Patriots picked a second Bulldog, Sony Michel, at No. 31.

"I was in bed. My wife stayed up and watched it," Andrews said last week. "I was in bed and I saw Isaiah get drafted, and then I passed out. She came busting in th'.;e room about Sony getting drafted, and at that point, I really didn’t care. I was just trying to get to sleep, but . . . No, I was very happy for them. It was awesome to talk to them. They were here the next day. I didn’t really get to see them, but it’s good to see them around, see some familiar faces"

Suddenly, with five Georgia players on the roster -- Andrews, Wynn, Michel, Malcolm Mitchell and undrafted free agent John Atkins -- they now make up one of the largest contingents of players from one school in Bill Belichick's locker room.

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Iowa is right there with Georgia at five players (Aidrian Clayborn, Cole Croston, James Ferentz, Riley McCarron, Matt Tobin). Vanderbilt is next on the list with four (Adam Butler, Andrew Jelks, Jordan Matthews, Ralph Webb), even with Rutgers (Devin and Jason McCourty, Duron Harmon, Kenny Britt). Arkansas follows closely behind with three (Trey Flowers, Dietrich Wise, Cody Hollister).

If you look at the coaches involved in helping certain groups of players develop, the Patriots connections become even a little more clear.

At Iowa, it's Kirk Ferentz, who served as a Belichick assistant in Cleveland back in the 90s. At Vanderbilt, Belichick thinks highly enough of Derek Mason that he gave Mason and the Vandy coaching staff a behind-the-scenes look at spring workouts in New England last year. At Rutgers, Belichick's relationship with former Scarlet Knights coach Greg Schiano has been well-documented.

Then there are the coaches who've bounced around a bit and impacted multiple players on the Patriots roster at different spots.

Bret Bielema, who's been helping the Patriots this offseason (and was spotted with Belichick at The Preakness this weekend), coached all three Arkansas products as well as James White during his time at Wisconsin. Bo Pellini has coached three Patriots (Vincent Valentine and Rex Burkhead at Nebraska, Derek Rivers at Youngstown State).

Then there's that Georgia connection. Kirby Smart coached all three Bulldog rookies as well as the two Alabama products on the Patriots roster (Dont'a Hightower, Cyrus Jones) when Smart was coaching defense for the Crimson Tide. Former Georgia coach and current Miami sideline boss Mark Richt recruited all five Georgia players currently on the Patriots roster, and he coached both Miami rookies now in New England (Braxton Berrios, Trent Harris).

Asked why Belichick and the Patriots front office would be so interested in acquiring so many players from the same school, Andrews replied, "That’s a psychology question. Man, I don’t know . . .  

"You know, no, I don’t think there’s really like one thing. I think those are some great guys. They all work really hard. They’ve been great teammates to me, so that’s something you can always respect, and it’s guys like that you love having in your locker room and playing with.

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No matter how you look at it, the Georgia connection in New England is as strong as ever.

"Georgia the new Rutgers? Oh, I’m going to have to talk to Dev and Du about that and all those guys," Andrews said with a smile. "We might be now. We’ll have to see."

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Johnny Manziel signing with Hamilton of the CFL

Johnny Manziel signing with Hamilton of the CFL

Johnny Manziel won't be in the Patriots' plans at quarterback anytime soon.

The former Browns QB, Heisman winner in 2012 and first-round pick in 2014 announced on Saturday morning that he had decided to sign a contract to play in the CFL in order to "further my football career after a long break."

"I believe this is the best opportunity for me moving forward and I'm eager for what the future holds," Manziel tweeted. 

Manziel also announced that he'll be co-hosting the "Comeback Szn" podcast for Barstool Sports alongside his agent Erik Burkhardt and our buddy, former "Boston Sports Tonight" and "Football Fix" co-host, Kayce Smith.

"It's just a really good fit," Burkhardt said on "Comeback Szn." "Good offense. It's a really good league. It's been around forever, we vetted it well, and at the end of the day, like Johnny said, he wants to play ball."

Manziel, who's been out of football the past two years because of substance abuse and emotional problems, has battled bipolar disorder. He will play for the Hamilton Tiger-Cats under head coach June Jones, who has also coached in the NCAA and NFL ranks. Jones served as offensive coordinator of the Falcons (1991-93) before becoming their head coach (1994-96). He was also quarterbacks coach and interim head coach for the Chargers in 1998 before heading to the college ranks. Jones coached at Hawaii then at SMU, where he was the first person to offer Manziel a college scholarship. 

CFL rookie contracts are for two years, meaning the Tiger-Cats will have his rights through the end of the 2019 CFL season. 

Earlier this year, CFL commissioner Randy Ambrosie reiterated the league's stance that they're not in the business of letting players break their contracts to pursue NFL opportunities.

The Patriots took a look at him this spring, but even if they had interest, the possibility of which we discussed on Quick Slants the Podcast last month, any marriage will have to wait. 

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