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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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.

Joe Montana: Tom Brady hinted at displeasure with Patriots at Super Bowl LIV

Joe Montana: Tom Brady hinted at displeasure with Patriots at Super Bowl LIV

Joe Montana has wondered aloud how the New England Patriots could let Tom Brady get away to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Based on the conversation he had with Brady in February, though, maybe he should have seen the QB's exit coming.

During an interview Wednesday on ESPN 97.5 Houston's "Jake Asman Show," Montana revealed he talked with Brady at Super Bowl LIV and got the sense the 20-year veteran didn't like his situation.

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"I spoke to Tom while we were back at the Super Bowl," Montana said. "I don't think he was happy with the way things were progressing there and his ability to have input, and I think that was a big decision for him to make to leave there."

Our Tom E. Curran and others have reported that Brady wasn't thrilled about having less of a say in the Patriots' offensive game plan last season, especially after New England mustered just 13 points in a Wild Card Round loss to the Tennessee Titans.

Montana's recollection of his conversation with Brady -- the two QBs were part of an "NFL 100" pregame ceremony at Super Bowl LIV -- certainly lends credence to those reports and suggests Brady was ready to move on from the Patriots after 20 seasons.

It sounds like the 43-year-old quarterback picked the right destination, too: Bucs offensive coordinator Byron Leftwich apparently joked that all he has to do with Brady under center is "get out of the way."