Patriots

In Tom Brady's case, are NFL tampering rules made to be broken?

In Tom Brady's case, are NFL tampering rules made to be broken?

If Robert Kraft ever commissioned a sculptor to carve “10 Patriots Commandments” you’d be sure to find, “Thou Shalt Not Tamper With Our Employees” somewhere on that stone tablet.

Throughout Kraft’s ownership and Bill Belichick’s stewardship of the football operations, loyalty has been rewarded and betrayal punished.

From January 1997, when the Jets were monkeying around with Bill Parcells when the Patriots were getting ready for Super Bowl 31 against the Packers, through June 2019, when the Texans made their overtures to Nick Caserio, the Patriots have made one thing very clear: they aren’t going to be patsies when it comes to other teams trying to lure their people away.

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Which brings us to Tom Brady. As everything does. Do the Patriots care that a stealth parade of suitors is probably all up on him already?

Is this uber-protective organization fine with half of the league’s teams sniffing under the tail of the most important player in franchise history before they’re supposed to?

Rampant tampering with prospective free agents isn’t the NFL’s dirty little secret.

It’s not dirty since it’s somewhat necessary.

It’s not little since every team does it.

And it’s not even treated as a secret.

This week, the estimable and honorable Tedy Bruschi was asked about Brady on ESPN.
 

“I think he’s gonna see what’s out there for himself,” said Bruschi. “Matter of fact, I know he will. But I don’t think he’s going to have to wait until March 16 because you’ve got agents, you’ve got talk going on behind the scenes and I think he has an idea on the teams that are highly interested in him ... He will explore his options and he has the right to do so.”

The question then becomes what’s the league office going to do about it?

We all know the NFL’s penchant for selective rules enforcement. We all know they’ll happily string the Patriots up for transgressions real or imagined and let them twist in the wind. We all know the so-called Spygate II investigation that could have been cleared up in 20 minutes is still ongoing.

So, even if everybody’s doing it, isn’t it a little (a lot) hypocritical for the league to turn a blind eye to teams crawling up the trellis to slip in Brady’s window after dark?

Yes, it is. But a little hypocrisy never slowed the league down from doing anything.

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Besides, they might say, tampering with Tom Brady is actually a victimless crime. It actually does the Patriots a favor.

If Brady and his agent Don Yee have a sense of what’s out there before they start negotiating with New England, then the need for Brady to go on a free-agent tour is eliminated.

If Team Brady has no clue, then Yee starts from scratch when the legal tampering period begins March 16 at noon. 

There’s no way to vet each of the opportunities -- a source close to the situation figures there will be 10 teams expressing interest -- before free agency starts March 18 at 4 p.m.

Meanwhile, how are the Patriots supposed to convince free-agent tight ends or wideouts to come aboard if those players don’t know whether or not Tom Brady will be a Patriot? It’s easily argued that outside teams tampering with Brady is in the Patriots’ best interests.

Besides, if this really isn’t about the money -- and I’ve been told often enough that it isn’t -- it won’t matter if some crap-ass team is offering $70 million over two years.

The persuasion in the Patriots pitch has to revolve around "who" and not "how much." The team that Brady plays for in 2020 won’t be the winner of a bidding war, it will be the one that provides the best ready-made landing spot to compete for a championship and have a shitload of fun while doing it.

All that said, it will still seem odd to me if the Patriots -- whether it be Kraft or Belichick -- don’t somehow have their sense of honor offended by all the predicted sneaking around.

It’s always offended their sensibilities going back to January 1997 when it came to light that Bill Parcells spent the week leading up to Super Bowl 31 ringing up the Jets from his New Orleans hotel room instead of getting the Patriots ready to play the Packers.

The Krafts were apoplectic. Belichick, an assistant on that 1996 Patriots team, was pissed too.

"Yeah, I'd say it was a little bit of a distraction all the way around," Belichick told our Michael Holley for Holley’s book Patriot Reign. "I can tell you first hand, there was a lot of stuff going on prior to the game. I mean, him talking to other teams. He was trying to make up his mind about what he was going to do. Which, honestly, I felt [was] totally inappropriate. How many chances do you get to play for the Super Bowl? Tell them to get back to you in a couple of days. I'm not saying it was disrespectful to me, but it was in terms of the overall commitment to the team."

Every situation’s different, I guess. In this case, the tampering rules were made to be broken.

Remarkable stat shows Patriots' dominance in games decided by 10 or more points

Remarkable stat shows Patriots' dominance in games decided by 10 or more points

The New England Patriots have won a lot of games over the course of the past two decades. Under Bill Belichick, they've been as well-coached as they come and they simply do a lot of the little things right.

With that said, one of the big reasons that they've avoided losing? Typically, if a team wins the game by double digits, it's going to be the Patriots.

According to Boston Sports Info (@BostonSportsInf), the Patriots have been far and away the league's best in games decided by 10+ points since 2001.

That's wildly impressive. Officially, they've won 83 percent of their games that are decided by double figures. To further contextualize how crazy this stat is, the team with the second-most double-digit wins, the Pittsburgh Steelers, has 104, a full 38 less than the Patriots.

That's absolutely mind-blowing.

Some will argue that part of the Patriots' success in this area is related to playing in the AFC East; the Buffalo Bills, Miami Dolphins, and New York Jets rank in the bottom 11 in this category. But even still, the Patriots' consistency in this category is remarkable, and it's just another feather in the cap of Belichick from his two decades in charge of this team.

It will be interesting to see if Belichick can replicate this success without Tom Brady at the helm. Their performance in such affairs will surely be something to watch as they start a new quarterback -- perhaps Jarrett Stidham -- permanently for the first time since Brady took over as the starter back in 2001.

Tom Brady's heartfelt goodbye video is sure to give Patriots fans chills

Tom Brady's heartfelt goodbye video is sure to give Patriots fans chills

It appears that Tom Brady has finally found the words to officially say goodbye to the New England Patriots and their fans.

Brady signed with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers earlier in the offseason, ending a 20-year run with the Patriots that saw the team make it to nine Super Bowls and win six. But as Brady explained in a piece on The Players' Tribune, he's ready for a new challenge. And there were rumors that after the magnificent two-decade run, he was simply "Belichick'd out".

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And in addition to all this buzz, Brady was finally able to put together a video goodbye addressed to the Patriots and their fans. Here's a look at the heartfelt farewell, per his official Twitter account.

Surely, that will give fans chills and afford them a chance to relive some of the best moments of Brady's time with the team. And it was nice that Brady officially gave credit and thanks to Bill Belichick and Robert Kraft as well, including a clip saying the following:

It's really just about the relationships, you know? It's about the people that I play for. The people that I play with. I think I came into a great situation here. I think there's been a great coach, a great owner, and great teammates.

And not to mention, great success. The Patriots put together one of the greatest dynasties of all time with Brady and Belichick at the helm. And Brady's video brings back the amazing memories and championships that came over the course of those 20 years.

But now, they'll go their separate ways. Belichick will try to rebuild without Brady. And Brady will give Tampa Bay his all as the 42-year-old continues to provide further evidence that he's the greatest player to ever play the game of football.