Patriots

NFL seems determined to keep Antonio Brown sidelined

NFL seems determined to keep Antonio Brown sidelined

Antonio Brown was reduced last week to standing in Robert Kraft’s driveway with a boombox over his head, pleading to be welcomed back.

The ending for AB doesn’t figure to be as happy as it was for John Cusack’s “Say Anything” character.

It isn’t Kraft – who was strafed by Brown with embarrassing tweets on the Sunday after his release – that put Brown on ice. It’s the NFL which has quietly put Brown’s playing future in a box on a shelf in a locked closet.

When Brown was released by the Patriots, the NFL released a statement as well.

“Antonio Brown was released today by the New England Patriots and is currently an unrestricted free agent. Our office is presently investigating multiple allegations, some of which are the subject of pending litigation. We have as yet made no findings regarding these issues. The investigation is ongoing and will be pursued vigorously and expeditiously. As long as Mr. Brown is a free agent, placement on the Commissioner’s exempt list is not appropriate. If he is signed by a club, such placement may become appropriate at any time depending on the status of the investigation. Upon the conclusion of the investigation, he may also be subject to discipline if the investigation finds that he has violated the law or league policies.”

In essence, he’s on ice. Any team that looks at its roster and figures this player that’s left destruction in his wake in three cities over nine months is a good fit has to also realize the threat levied by the NFL is real.

In order for Brown to return and hijack everyone’s attention, the NFL has to finish its investigation. And – with Brown having cost three franchises (and their ownership) lotsa money, lotsa headaches and lotsa embarrassment – they will be in no hurry to do so.

The NFL still hasn’t interviewed Brown for his version of events relative to allegations made by Britney Taylor. And it’s not like Brown interviews well anyway.

So they can let him dangle while Brown pleads to be let back in.

It’s ingenious, really. Because if they conclude the investigation and Brown remains unsigned despite the fact every damn head coach, quarterback and personnel man in the league would gladly embrace him, that brings up the C-word owners hate to hear. Collusion.

Soon after Brown’s suspension, Charles Robinson wrote a piece for Yahoo in which a league executive told him this: “That’s [commissioner Roger] Goodell saying, ‘Don’t sign Antonio Brown. And if you do, we’re going to put him on the [exempt] list anyway.’ I don’t know that anyone is really interested in him at this point with all this stuff going on, but that [statement] has got to make you think twice when you might be signing him and taking the heat for it and then he’s not even available to play for you. Why go through that?”

Since the Patriots cut him, Brown’s sporadic screams for attention are still well-chronicled. But they are mere curiosities. They have no more impact than a bird flying into a window. You notice it. Shake your head. And return to what you’re doing.

For Brown to get back in the league in 2019 it’s going to take way more than trying to talk Instagram “sense” to the Patriots.

As SI’s Michael McCann noted, “If Antonio Brown wants to resolve his off-field issues, he'll need to reach financial settlement agreements with everyone who is suing him or who could sue him, and get them to sign non-disclosures so they don't talk to NFL. Had he done so before, he might still be a NE Patriot.”

He’s not going to do that. And that means the NFL will have no urgency to finish its investigation which – almost inevitably – will yield enough for them to conclude Brown belongs on the exempt list at the least, suspended at the most.

We’ll dutifully keep taking the bait every time Brown posts though. Because, just as Brown is standing in Kraft’s driveway with a boombox over his head, so is the media standing in Brown’s driveway in the same posture, just begging him to give us something to cover.

No more "yeah, buts" - the Patriots defense is really this good>>>

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NFL odds: How Patriots' and Ravens' wins impacted latest Super Bowl betting lines

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USA TODAY Sports

NFL odds: How Patriots' and Ravens' wins impacted latest Super Bowl betting lines

The New England Patriots and Baltimore Ravens both won Sunday as the race for the AFC's No. 1 seed intensified, but how did these victories impact the latest Super Bowl LIV odds?

The Patriots, who defeated the Philadelphia Eagles on the road to improve to 9-1 atop the AFC standings, remain the favorite in the updated odds posted Monday at the Westgate SuperBook in Las Vegas. The Ravens' odds have increased after a 41-7 blowout win over a good Houston Texans team. Baltimore is 8-2 and just one game behind New England for first place in the conference.

The NFC is really interesting because five teams have an 8-3 record or better. The New Orleans Saints are the new favorites to win the conference, leapfrogging the San Francisco 49ers. The Saints bounced back in Week 11 with a win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to improve to 8-2. The 49ers also recovered from a Week 10 loss to defeat the Arizona Cardinals. San Francisco is an NFC-best 9-1, but oddsmakers still aren't convinced Jimmy Garoppolo and Co. are the best team in the conference.

Here are the latest Super Bowl betting lines from the Westgate:

The Seattle Seahawks still are a great bet at 16-1. They beat the 49ers on the road in Week 10 and enjoyed a much-needed bye in Week 11. Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson is the leading candidate for NFL MVP, and the defense has steadily improved throughout the season. Let's not forget the Seahawks have a talented and experienced coaching staff, too.

The Green Bay Packers at 12-1 are a nice bet as well. Any team lead by elite quarterback Aaron Rodgers has a chance to win in the playoffs, and Green Bay's defense is much-improved from 2018. The Dallas Cowboys are 20-1 as NFC East leaders, and they have a huge opportunity to send a statement to the rest of the NFL on Sunday with a Week 12 matchup versus the Patriots at Gillette Stadium. An upset victory over the Patriots likely would cause a huge shift in the Cowboys' Super Bowl odds, so grab Dallas now if you like its chances in January.

Updated look at NFL playoff picture entering Week 12>>>

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Tom Brady subtly jabs Eagles fans who continue to hate Patriots QB

Tom Brady subtly jabs Eagles fans who continue to hate Patriots QB

The New England Patriots don't come to Philadelphia very often, so Eagles fans had to get their money's worth in unloading on Tom Brady.

The denizens of Lincoln Financial Field welcomed Brady with a chorus of boos ahead of Sunday's Super Bowl LII rematch, while a few got even more creative: According to WEEI's "The Greg Hill Show," one Eagles fan showed up Sunday wearing a "Breathe If You Hate Tom Brady" T-shirt.

Brady seemed to welcome the hate, though.

"That's amazing. I love that," Brady said on "The Greg Hill Show" on Monday when told about the T-shirt. "We've got to track one of those down. I'm sure that's probably not the only city where they feel that way."

But the 42-year-old was a bit curious as to why Eagles fans directed so much anger toward him.

After all, didn't they get the last laugh when Philly beat New England in Super Bowl LII?

"In Philly, you'd think after that win a few years ago against us they wouldn't have that same animosity," Brady said. "Normally when you beat a team in the Super Bowl, you feel like -- you appreciate it. You're like, 'Oh man, that was cool, we beat you guys.'

"But I guess not."

This was a radio interview, but we're guessing Brady said that last part with a devious smile, as he clearly enjoys the fact that he still has real estate in Eagles fans' heads even after losing to Philly on the game's biggest stage.

Brady is used to everyone hating him at this point in his career, though. When asked if his Patriots, who are 9-1 after Sunday's 17-10 win over the Eagles, have replaced the Dallas Cowboys as "America's Team," Brady responded:

"I think we have six states that cheer for us."

To state the obvious, Pennsylvania isn't on that list -- and never will be as long as Brady is around.

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