Patriots

Eli Manning debacle shows Giant difference in philosophy from Patriots

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Eli Manning debacle shows Giant difference in philosophy from Patriots

It’s almost impossible to dislike Eli Manning.

Even though he’s the ultimate child of NFL privilege, even though his daddy pulled strings in 2004 to game a system every other player in the league has to bow to, the mop-topped, Halibut-mouthed Eli is beloved and respected.

There are good reasons for that. He’s a pleasant guy who doesn’t bitch out teammates or coaches, he shoulders blame, plays through pain and has been a big-game assassin. Forty-four of these United States will forever adore him for what he did to the Patriots in Super Bowls 42 and 46. The other six here in New England will always give him grudging respect for those games. New England also keeps its Eli hostility holstered because Eli isn’t Peyton.

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As the Patriots march methodically, expectedly to the AFC’s No. 1 seed and a likely appearance in another Super Bowl, the Giants sideshow is a terrific little diversion.

Especially because of the wailing and gnashing of teeth going on among Giants fans. They love Eli because he was the one that made their greatest days as Giants fans happen. Twice. And because of that they treat a once-good (but never great) quarterback like a deity. Eli’s been in the league for 14 years. The Giants made the playoffs six times. Four times they were one-and-done. The other two appearances, they had eight combined wins and a Super Bowl each time.

Eli is the human equivalent of a ticket stub from the greatest concert you ever went to. Just a keepsake from better days.

Know who he reminds me of? Drew Bledsoe with better jewelry.

There wasn’t anything to dislike about Bledsoe -- a tough, productive, reserved, polite leader who was a beacon of dignity on a crumbling franchise.

He also became -- after a flurry of coordinator changes and three years with scatter-brained Pete Carroll -- complacent, average and ripe for the picking.

Too few people realized Bledsoe was part of the problem so -- when he got hurt and his backup played better than Drew ever would have -- the fact Bledsoe was being put out to pasture caused much gnashing of teeth.

This Eli thing is similar but -- if you’re a Giants fan -- there’s no Brady, no Belichick, no hope.

The Giants are quitting on their season. (Don’t believe the John Mara BS about that being a BS allegation -- opting for Geno Smith and Davis Webb is announcing: “We are not trying to win games, everyone!!”) 

They are plunging into the abyss and Eli is being taken behind the barn by a pomade-addicted junior-executive level head coach who will be cramming his personal effects in a cardboard box in less than two months and leaving the Giants forever.

And Ben McAdoo is acting as executioner for Mara, who just keeps reaping karmic rewards for shanking the Patriots throughout Deflategate (as have the Ravens, Colts, Roger Goodell and others who behaved like rodents). What’s amusing is that Mara has so snookered the NY/NJ media with his firm handshake, and look-you-in-the-eye, call-you-by-your-first-name manners that he was at first seen as merely having signed off on test-driving the other quarterbacks. It actually was his idea.

And it’s deliciously backfired to the point where Giants fans want a parade for Eli down the Canyon of Heroes and Mara will probably try to make it happen.

Meanwhile, 200 miles to the north, the Giants' former defensive coordinator could part with a quarterback like Tom Brady -- who would make better decisions after downing a fifth of gin than Eli often did -- and a wide swath of the region would grudgingly say, “OK . . . ” when Belichick says he’s “Trying to do what’s best for the football team.”

We are by now conditioned to Belichick throwing cold water on the masses with outrageous personnel moves that work. We just nod and shuffle forward en masse toward another postseason that ends with the Patriots in position to raise a Lombardi Trophy.

Down in New York, they are rending garments because of two February Sundays in the past decade. Sentimental fools.

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Ex-Patriot Chris Long rips NFL's new National Anthem policy

Ex-Patriot Chris Long rips NFL's new National Anthem policy

On Wednesday, the NFL announced a new policy on players protesting during the National Anthem.

The new policy permits players to stay in the locker room while the anthem plays, but requires them to stand if they come on to the field.

Former Patriots defensive end Chris Long, now with the Eagles, shared his thoughts on the controversial change via Twitter:

His teammate, Malcolm Jenkins, ripped the new policy on Twitter as well.

Devin and Jason McCourty showed their support for Long and Jenkins' statements by reposting them on their Twitter account:

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Source: Tom Brady not at TB12 while teammates next door at OTAs

Source: Tom Brady not at TB12 while teammates next door at OTAs

A source confirms that Tom Brady was not working out at his TB12 sports medicine facility at Patriot Place in Foxboro while his teammates were on the field at OTAs as was previously reported by the Boston Herald.

Tight end Rob Gronkowski, the other notable absence from OTAs, has been at the TB12 facility on the days his teammates were on the field practicing and wide receiver Malcolm Mitchell, who participated in the first day of OTAs, has also been at TB12, according to the source.

The Herald's Karen Guregian reported on Tuesday that both Brady and Gronkowski were at TB12 on Monday, which is right next to Gillette Stadium, where the Patriots were practicing. 

Former Patriots quarterback Scott Zolak of 98.5 The Sports Hub's "Zolak and Bertrand" show said Brady likely wasn't even in the country this week.

Patriots owner Robert Kraft said Wednesday that Brady and Gronk are expected to participate in the mandatory mini-camp at Gillette June 5-7.

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