Tag Archives: New England Patriots

Deflategate: Should Tom Brady Be Suspended?

7 May
Tom Brady

New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady might face a suspension after his role in the “Deflategate” scandal.
Photo Credit: si.com

We didn’t need a 243-page report to tell us Tom Brady probably cheated during the New England Patriots’ 45-7 playoff victory over the Indianapolis Colts in last season’s AFC Championship Game.

But that’s what we received Wednesday.

Ted Wells, the architect behind the recent Wells Report, stated it was “more probable than not” that Brady was “at least generally aware of the inappropriate activities involving the release of air from Patriots game balls.”

Four months of investigating has led us to “more probable than not.” I could have told you that. But we already knew.

The less-than-definitive report simply confirmed Brady might have, potentially, probably had something to do with the footballs being deflated. That’s all the confirmation we need.

The report states locker room attendant Jim McNally and equipment assistant John Jastremski “participated in a deliberate effort to release air from Patriots game balls after the balls were examined by the referee.”

Am I supposed to believe these were a couple of rogue employees who decided to deflate footballs on their own? Of course not. Why would they without their star quarterback knowing about it?

Now that’s the million dollar question. It also supports the notion that Brady did, in fact, have something – if not everything – to do with it.

Brady handles the ball on every offensive snap. A 37-year-old quarterback of his tenure would undoubtedly notice if a ball was underinflated. Yet he never mentioned anything.

Additionally, Brady refused to hand over his cell phone to aid in the investigation after exchanging phone calls with one of the equipment assistants just days after news broke of ball-tampering suspicions. This suggests he had something to hide.

Intentionally deflating footballs might seem like a petty violation at face value, but it’s all about the principle. In the grand scheme of things, I care a lot more about players taking HGH or other illegal substances to gain an unfair advantage over their competition, as it’s a more prominent league-changing issue. But that remains a conversation to be had another day.

Brady cheated. That’s a fact. You can’t deny it. You can’t defend it. He and his accomplices altered the centerpiece of the game: the football. In doing so, even by the slightest margin, he gained a competitive advantage over his opponent.

Forget about the final score of the Patriots’ 45-7 shellacking of the Colts. Forget about the fact that the Patriots actually scored more points after the deflated balls were replaced at halftime. These points are rendered moot. They don’t condone cheating.

And that’s exactly what Brady did, thus corrupting the integrity of the game. I’m not suggesting the Patriots would have lost to the Colts – not by any stretch. Brady’s indiscretion wasn’t worth a 38-point difference on the scoreboard. But if the Patriots were the better team, why would Brady feel the need to cheat?

Brady likely will, and should, be suspended – a small price to pay for a quarterback with four Super Bowl rings and a spot waiting for him in the Hall of Fame.

If Brady’s actions are any indication, he doesn’t care about his legacy, nor do the Patriots. New England is no stranger to rule infringements.

Back in 2007, the team was punished after a staff member was caught videotaping the New York Jets’ defensive signals, known as “Spygate.” There’s a great deal of irony that eight years later, surveillance videos showed McNally had taken footballs into a bathroom, where he remained for 100 seconds, before taking them back to the field before the game.

There’s an easy solution: have the NFL provide a set of league-mandated footballs rather than allow each team to use its own.

I don’t care whether it’s one game, two games, four games or even an entire season; Brady needs to be suspended. Commissioner Roger Goodell must take action and send a message that cheating, no matter the severity, will not be tolerated in the NFL.

I’d be in favor of further punishment to the Patriots’ organization as well. It starts from the top. Owner Robert Kraft and head coach Bill Belichick may not have had any knowledge of Brady’s transgressions. But Goodell once said, “ignorance is not an excuse,” regarding the New Orleans Saints bounty scandal in 2012. That resulted in major suspensions for Saints head coach Sean Payton and General Manager Mickey Loomis.

A similar ruling could apply here. Just because Kraft and Belichick were unaware doesn’t mean they should be exempt from punishment. After all, the Patriots have been involved in controversy before.

At this point, the Patriots’ integrity is difficult to question. Why?

Because there’s no integrity left – at least more probable than not.

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Introducing the Green Bay Packers’ 2015 Draft Class

5 May

Damarious Randall – Safety, Arizona State (30th overall)

Demarious Randall

Damarious Randall
Photo Credit: bleacherreport.com

Technically listed as a safety, Randall was a virtual unknown in Packerland for obvious reasons. The Packers didn’t need a safety. They needed a cornerback. So when the Packers selected Randall with their first-round pick in the draft, eyebrows were understandably raised throughout Wisconsin. But fear not. Randall has experience playing man-to-man coverage as a slot corner, his most likely landing spot given Casey Hayward’s impending transition to the outside.

Randall was highly regarded by many as the best cover man in the entire draft. With the NFL’s pass-happy reputation and an increasing number of teams running the spread offense, players who can cover come at a premium. Randall should be able to step in and compete right away. The Packers’ pick was in almost immediately after they were on the clock, further proving Ted Thompson got his man.

Quinten Rollins – Cornerback, Miami (OH) (62nd overall)

Quinten Rollins

Quinten Rollins
Photo Credit: gannett-cdn.com

Thompson further addressed the need at cornerback by selecting Rollins in round two. With a basketball background, Rollins played just one year of college football, but that’s all it took to make an impression on the Packers. In his lone season, Rollins had seven interceptions and earned MAC Defensive Player of the Year honors. His ball-hawking tendencies appeal to the Packers, who often thrive when forcing turnovers.

Rollins’ ability is raw; his upside, tremendous. Competition is healthy for any position group, and the additions of Rollins and Randall will certainly add to it in the cornerbacks room. The Packers’ secondary appears to be in good shape after being a serious question mark following the losses of Tramon Williams and Davon House in free agency.

Ty Montgomery – Wide Receiver, Stanford (94th overall)

Ty Montgomery

Ty Montgomery
Photo Credit: stanforddaily.com

It’s difficult not to be sold on a player who has been referred to as a bigger version of Randall Cobb. At 6’0″, 221 pounds, Montgomery is built for strength. But he also has quickness, making him yet another versatile option for the Packers. You can never have too many weapons for Aaron Rodgers.

Montgomery also could become a threat in the backfield – as we’ve seen sparingly from Cobb the past few seasons – and provide a much-needed spark to special teams as a dynamic return man. That would allow Cobb to avoid further injury risk and focus primarily on his duties as a slot receiver. The Packers likely invested a third-round pick in Montgomery to be more than a special teams contributor. In time, he could be a primary fixture in the Packers’ passing attack.

Jake Ryan – Linebacker, Michigan (129th overall)

Jake Ryan

Jake Ryan
Photo Credit: bleacherreport.com

Ryan will inevitably be one of the most popular selections among Packers fans for the sole reason he addresses an immediate need. He also provided solid value in the fourth round. After tearing his ACL during his junior season in 2013, Ryan recovered in just six month’s time and moved from outside to inside linebacker. Ryan’s instincts have been praised, and he tested well at the combine with a sneaky 4.61 40. He has a nose for the football and a nonstop engine, similar to Clay Matthews.

Ryan is decent in coverage but will have to improve that part of his game to become the complete three-down linebacker the Packers need. Expectations must be tempered and lofty comparisons held in check, but Ryan has the potential to become a day-one starter at inside linebacker for the Packers’ defense.

Brett Hundley – Quarterback, UCLA (147th overall)

Brett Hundley

Brett Hundley
Photo Credit: bleacherreport.com

Packers head coach Mike McCarthy has often expressed his desire to get his hands on a developmental quarterback. Enter Hundley. Projected by many to be drafted in the second round, Hundley was scooped up in the fifth round after the Packers traded their original draft pick, plus a seventh-rounder to the New England Patriots – a small price to pay for a talented prospect with as much upside as Hundley possesses.

It’s unlikely that Hundley was brought in to become Rodgers’ future replacement, as Rodgers is just 31 years old and coming off his second MVP season. Nevertheless, the Packers’ have had issues at backup quarterback in recent years, and Rodgers hasn’t exactly been injury-free. Scott Tolzien is currently entrenched in the role as Rodgers’ backup, but given a season under McCarthy’s tutelage, Hundley could overtake Tolzien by season’s end.

Aaron Ripkowski – Fullback, Oklahoma (206th overall)

Aaron Ripkowski

Aaron Ripkowski
Photo Credit: crimsonandcreammachine.com

Ripkowski appears to be the second coming of fan-favorite John Kuhn, who is in the twilight of his career. Effective as a blocker, ball-carrier and receiver out of the backfield, Ripkowski has all the tools to contribute in the Packers’ explosive offense. He also offers an immediate impact on special teams, a primary point of emphasis during the offseason. Chants of “KUUUUUHN” won’t last forever, but Ripkowski can seamlessly fill the void when Kuhn decides to hang up the cleats.

Christian Ringo – Defensive End, Louisiana-Lafayette (210th overall)

Christian Ringo

Christian Ringo
Photo Credit: gannett-cdn.com

Labeled as a long snapper during ESPN’s draft coverage – much to my amusement – Ringo must have had more to offer to the Packers. As a matter of fact, he does. A disruptive pass-rusher in college, with 11.5 sacks last season, Ringo already has drawn comparisons to teammate Mike Daniels, one of the anchors along the Packers’ defensive line. Ringo is effective against the run as well, recording 20.5 tackles for loss in 2014. He’s a sleeper.

Kennard Backman – Tight End, Alabama-Birmingham (213th overall)

Kennard Backman

Kennard Backman
Photo Credit: provationsgroup.org

The UAB football program closed down at the end of last season, but Backman had the urge to continue his career in the NFL. The Packers took a chance on him with their final pick of the draft. With 39 receptions for 399 yards and three touchdowns in his final collegiate season, Backman didn’t have eye-popping numbers. But at 6’3″, 243 pounds, he does have the versatility and athleticism the Packers covet in their tight ends.

The Packers haven’t featured a tight end who can stretch the middle of the field since Jermichael Finley, and current options Richard Rodgers and Andrew Quarless don’t necessarily scare opposing defenses. Rodgers has shown flashes with his great hands, but he isn’t a threat after the catch. And Quarless’ contract is up at the end of next season, meaning if Backman impresses, he might have a shot at a starting job in 2016. Expect nothing more than special teams duty for now, if he makes the team.

Which of the Packers’ draft picks are you most excited about?