Patriots

Patrick Chung, Patriots players raise obvious concern about NFL season

Patrick Chung, Patriots players raise obvious concern about NFL season

The NFL is still operating as if the 2020 season will go on as scheduled.

But players are skeptical -- and that might be an understatement.

New England Patriots defensive backs and twin brothers Devin and Jason McCourty wrote a guest column Monday for Sports Illustrated's "The MMQB" expressing safety concerns about playing football amid the coronavirus pandemic.

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On Tuesday, their teammates chimed in on Twitter to address the elephant in the room about football in the era of COVID-19.

That's Patriots cornerback Jonathan Jones, linebacker Dont'a Hightower and safety Patrick Chung, who apparently believes the NFL is "trippin'" about the 2020 season going off without a hitch.

This trio has a point: Football is built on contact, with players hitting each other on literally every play and lineman spending entire games face-to-face in the trenches. (Six feet between the offensive and defensive lines? Try six inches.)

Next Pats Podcast: Will we see NFL in 2020? Infectious disease expert weighs in | Listen & subscribe | Watch on YouTube

The NFL is attempting to implement some on-field safety measures -- the league unveiled a new helmet with a face shield and is banning postgame jersey swaps -- but many players clearly think those attempts are futile.

NFL training camps (supposedly) begin in about two weeks, so we'll find out very soon if players' concerns are realized.

Patriots' Dont'a Hightower used Super Bowl LI to support fiancée during labor

Patriots' Dont'a Hightower used Super Bowl LI to support fiancée during labor

The greatest comeback in Super Bowl history is three and a half years old, but it certainly isn't forgotten.

Just ask Patriots linebacker Dont'a Hightower, who brought up New England's miraculous Super Bowl LI victory over the Atlanta Falcons while his fiancée, Morgan Hart, was delivering their baby. Seriously.

Hightower told The Boston Globe's Stan Grossfeld he started chanting "28-3, 28-3" and "Never give up" while Hart entered her 17th hour of labor with their first child last month.

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Apparently the motivational tactic worked, as Hart said Hightower's words helped her push through and deliver their baby boy, Grayson, on July 16.

"It was surreal," Hart told Grossfeld. “It was a long night and a long day, and he kept reminding me, ‘28-3, 28-3,′ meaning you can be behind and come back. Never, never give up."

That's a reference to the deficit New England faced in the third quarter of Super Bowl LI before rallying to win in overtime -- thanks in large part to Hightower's strip sack of Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan early in the fourth quarter.

Hightower still uses the 28-3 reference "all the time," per Grossfeld, but his focus won't be on football in 2020. The 30-year-old linebacker is one of eight Patriots players who have decided to opt out of the 2020 season.

"Not knowing too much about the COVID thing, I don’t want to jeopardize the health of my family," Hightower told Grossfeld. "I understand you can still catch it by going to the grocery store, but I’m not going to put my family’s health at risk for money.

"It’s family first. I want to take all the opportunity that I can to be a great father."

Patriots Talk Podcast: Measuring the toll that opt-outs took around the NFL | Listen & subscribe | Watch on YouTube

Donald Trump says he'd ask Patriots' Bill Belichick for military advice

Donald Trump says he'd ask Patriots' Bill Belichick for military advice

You wouldn't seek out a military general for tips on NFL roster building, but Donald Trump apparently believes there's some transferrable wisdom between the battlefield and gridiron.

During an interview Tuesday on The Hugh Hewitt Show, President Trump was asked whether he believes Bill Belichick has a better chance of winning a Super Bowl with the New England Patriots this year than Tom Brady does with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Trump responded with a diplomatic answer -- that included some eye-opening praise for Belichick.

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"I think they’re both going to do great. They’re both friends of mine," Trump told Hewitt. "I’ll tell you, Belichick is an incredible coach, and I think he’s going to do really well. This guy just knows how to win. And he’s a very good friend of mine. He’s a winner.

"You know, if I ever had a military battle, I’d call up Belichick and say, 'What do you think? ... Give me a couple of ideas.' And he'd be as good as any general out there."

Belichick is a master strategist who relies on knowledge, adaptability and thorough preparation to put the Patriots in the best position to succeed. Those are all qualities of a successful military general, and perhaps Belichick could have been one in another life.

Alas, Belichick is a football coach with zero military credentials (aside from his father coaching at Navy), so we're not sure he's the best person to call about battle strategy.

Trump has touted his friendship with Belichick and Brady over the years, reading a letter of support from the Patriots coach on the eve of his election in 2016 and bringing up the former Patriots quarterback in various public appearances.

The President clearly still enjoys referencing both Patriots icons, even if his understanding of Belichick's talents is a bit off.