All posts by Patrick R. Diggins

Revenge: Best when Served Healthy


On Sunday September 27th, the New England Patriots defeated the Jacksonville Jaguars 51-17, in what can be considered an unmitigated blow out. Quarterback Tom Brady showed that even at the age of 38 he can do what most young gunslingers can only dream about. Brady amassed a respectable 358 passing yards with a passer rating of 119.6, at the age of 38 that is ridiculously impressive, even against a team as lowly as the Jacksonville Jaguars. In fact even when the game was well in hand and there was absolutely no chance of a Jaguar uprising, Tom Brady, the Patriot’s star quarterback and face of the franchise, remained in the game.

Recently, a rash of injuries have befallen a number of the league’s franchise quarterbacks. Dallas’ Tony Romo, Chicago’s Jay Cutler, New Orleans’ Drew Brees, Cleveland’s Josh McCown and most recently Pittsburgh’s Ben Roethlisberger have all missed or are missing considerable time under center due to on the field injuries. The 2015 season now more than ever has shown that despite the many rules placed to keep the teams chief signal callers out of harm’s way they just aren’t enough to guarantee the safety of all those under center. A great deal of the a fore mentioned Quarterbacks are over the age of 30 years old and it’s safe to say their ability to bounce back from injury is not what it once was. So, with all these injuries plaguing quarterbacks one must ask, why in the blue hell was Tom Brady allowed to finish a game that was decided by the end of the first half?

Tom Brady is not new to the overall consequence an injury can deliver to one’s season. New England fans remember the beginning of the 2007-08 Patriot’s campaign very well as it led to what is affectionately known as the Matt Cassel era. That of course was the year that Tom Brady coming off of a record breaking 18-1 season was injured in the first quarter of a 17-10 victory over the Kansas City Chiefs, by then-Chiefs safety Bernard Pollard. It was an era that kept New England out of the playoffs and away from the AFC east divisional championship for the first time since 2002. It was something no fan or Brady himself wanted and it’s safe to say no New England fan ever wishes to see again as long as Brady can play.

Coach Bill Belichick often expresses to his players that the game of football is a full sixty minutes. Belichick expects his players to give him and the team everything they have for the full sixty minutes with no excuses provided. Let’s be clear, in the game of football working as a unit is important, and each teammate should be expected to give the same amount of effort as the person next to them. Let’s take into consideration a few facts before we play the game of there is no “I” in team. Both Tight End Rob Gronkowski and Slot-Receiver Julian Edelman were taken out of the game early in order to keep them safe and undamaged. Super star Rob Gronkowski has had his share of injuries; there is absolutely no denying that, in fact it’s feasible the Patriot’s would be willing to place him in bubble wrap in order to preserve him for a possible Super Bowl run. Julian Edelman is a play maker, but someone with a history of injuries that can hamper the team’s overall productivity. The New England Patriots were wise to conserve two of their more prolific, game changing playmakers in Gronkowski and Edelman but what about their biggest game changer, Tom Brady?

Many have said that Tom likes to set an example that Tom likes to play every down and every minute of every game. That may be true, as Tom Brady as known for being one of the more competitive people on the planet. When does pride step in the way of common sense? The answer to that question in this situation is abundantly clear; when the motive is REVENGE. Tom Brady never speaks about Spygate or has even uttered more than a few prepared statements about Deflategate. Tom Brady does his talking on the field and his last three games show a man who has never played better in his life. if you include last post season, Tom Brady has been virtually unstoppable. As wonderful and spectacular as Brady has been it is clear that he may in fact be his own biggest adversary.

Tom Brady needs to see the forest through the trees and place revenge to the side. When the New England Patriots sat Edelman and Gronkowski on Sunday, the game was well in hand. The Jaguars were not going to rally back and defeat the reigning Super Bowl Champions. To be brutally honest, Tom Brady never should have been on the field in the fourth quarter. Fans clamoring for a repeat of 2007’s Scorched Earth tour need to remember that Tom was eight years younger and hadn’t yet suffered a season ending knee injury. The Jacksonville Jaguars are not this year’s Buffalo Bills, they weren’t going to take advantage of Patriot mistakes and rally themselves back into the game. The game was over, all the Patriots needed to do was allow backup Quarterback Jimmy Garappolo and LaGarrette Blount the opportunity to run the ball and allow time to slowly run out. This plan of course never came to fruition.

Call it pride, call it revenge, or call it being accountable as the team’s franchise quarterback. In the end, the choice to stay in the game was daring and undoubtedly a risk not worth taking. This game was not played against the despised Indianapolis Colts, the slimy Baltimore Ravens or even the annoying New York Jets, this was just the pathetic, unimportant Jaguars. A Jacksonville team that did not need a message sent to them about how angry Tom Brady and the New England Patriots are about Deflategate. After spending an entire career doing what is good for the New England Patriots and their fans, Brady must recognize that staying healthy is what is right for both HE and the team. Besides, revenge is sweeter when you are actually there to administer the punishment.

Brady and the Patriots Teach the Bills: The Sounds of Silence


As the New England Patriots headed towards their showdown with Rex Ryan and the Buffalo Bills last Sunday many in Buffalo felt their time had come for success. In the early 90’s the Buffalo Bills headed to four straight Super Bowls with quarterback Jim Kelly under center and four straight times they came out with the losers share of the purse. The drama and storylines leading up to last Sunday’s match up had an aggressive and motivated Buffalo juggernaut ready and willing to treat the Super Bowl champions much the same as the Bills had treated AFC finalists, the Indianapolis Colts.

Fans filed into Orchard Park ready to cheer on the new and improved Buffalo Bills. Rex had been fanning the flames all week and the Buffalo faithful were  engulfed in the inferno. Coach Ryan, not new to feeding into his own bluster, even contacted the Guinness Book of World Records in anticipation for breaking the stadium sound record currently held by the Kansas City Chiefs. The Buffalo fans known collectively as the “Bills Mafia” waited with baited breath for the opening kickoff, the Bills to their credit did not disappoint…. initially.

Led by Lesean McCoy’s feet, the Bills made a statement blowing through New England’s defense in 7 plays and scoring a touchdown in their opening drive. The crowd in Orchard Park we’re ecstatic and as Brady and the New England offense took the field they allowed them no reprieve forcing New England to take a time out as the noise level was too overbearing. After a fairly quick three and out by the Patriots both the fans and the Bills themselves were overcome with joy and jubulation. All the speculation, all the heavy talk from Ryan and the Buffalo Bills was bringing victory to their doorstep. Sadly for Buffalo, football games are rarely won on the opening drive.

The New England Patriots spent the rest of the game doing whatever they could to not only quiet the masses but send a very distinct message to Rex Ryan,the Buffalo Bills and possibly the entire league.
That message was Brady throwing on the vaunted Buffalo defense 59 times for a total of 466 yards and three touchdowns. Bill Belichick’s offense attempted more 4th down conversions than they ever should have allowing Buffalo to get back into the game by the fourth quarter. New England’s willingness to attempt 4th down plays  aside, the game was never as close as the final score of 40 – 32 indicated.

Rex Ryan and the Buffalo Bills lost to New England due to superior coaching and an offense looking to make a point. New England’s point is that they do their talking on the field. Rex’s team spent the week leading up to Sunday’s game flapping their gums and wearing their emotions on their sleeves. Emotions can be a positive in the game of football but these particular emotions left unfiltered earned the Buffalo Bills a grand total of 14 penalties.

Amongst accusations that the “Bills Mafia” have brought whistles to the game in order to distract the Patriots when on the field, it looks as though the Bills themselves may have been doing something their opponents are often accused of: cheating. The Buffalo Bills often use a loud train horn because, well they are the Bills and when you think Buffalo you naturally think trains. Regardless of why Buffalo uses this very loud horn they may have done so illegally during multiple moments when New England was engaged in there hurry up offense. All game tapes are turned in by Wednesday so that matter and the Bills’ consequent punishment, if found guilty, will be dealt with then. It’s interesting to point out that the loud horn was just one more noisy situation to affect Buffalo adversely.

Ultimately, the Bills lost a lot of their swagger and eventually the game on Sunday. Is this the continuation of the Tom Brady Revenge tour or have the Bills finally learned what the Jets have known for years: Rex Ryan just needs to keep his mouth shut and coach some damn football.

New England Patriots vs. Buffalo Bills: It Will Be A Game of Gronk


The Buffalo Bills thrashed, embarrassed and eviscerated the Indianapolis Colts on September 13th, 2015. Andrew Luck looked like a shell of the potential Hall Of Famer so many in the media have anointed him as. Luck tried desperately to turn the tide but his last ditch efforts in the latter part of the game were to no avail. The Buffalo Bills are no longer a joke and if they have their way, the Indianapolis Colts will be just one of many to fall by their sword.

Rex Ryan is exactly the hero Buffalo needs right now. After years of being a bottom dweller in the often considered weakest division in the NFL, the Buffalo Bills have a swagger about them that some say is necessary if undeserved.  With the likes of Percy Harvin, Lesean McCoy and a top rated defense, the Bills look to be a legitimate force. Rex Ryan, an outcast in his own right, is doing all he can to build his team up and allow them to echo his sentiments. Rex wants revenge for being ousted by New York and embarrassed year in and year out by not just his division, but many teams in the league. Next step on Ryan’s agenda, the decimation of his chief rival, the “hated” New England Patriots.

The New England Patriots have never particularly shown any weakness in regards to Rex Ryan or the Buffalo Bills for that matter. The Belichick/ Brady era of New England has shown that they are fully capable of taking down whatever Buffalo has thrown their way. Rex Ryan and at the time The New York Jets, showed that when a bag of tricks is used properly success can be had but ultimately the victories were few and far between. In his glory, Rex finally has the assets to combine with his defensive expertise. Are the New England Patriots truly in trouble of losing to this abomination of talent?

There is a popular television show on HBO called “Game of Thrones”. On the program, royalty often appoints a champion, someone to stand in their place in order to uphold their wishes during a fight. The royal family on “Game of Thrones” often employs a giant man known as “The Mountain” to defeat their adversaries. The New England Patriots have such a champion, a man who could be considered a mountain in his own right. His name is Rob Gronkowski, but around these parts we simply call him Gronk.


Gronk is an unstoppable pass catching tight end that excels at blocking as well, a rare beast in today’s NFL.  Gronk is such a mismatch for most offensive coordinators that even when a team attempts double coverage Gronk often eludes his opposition. Future Hall of Fame Quarterback Tom Brady, as talented as he is, cannot be in two places at once, nor should he need to be in order to have success.  Gronk is like a time bomb which allows Brady the opportunity to keep the defense guessing when exactly he will blow up. Such an intricate piece to the New England Patriot puzzle is Gronk, that during past seasons when he was out of action due to injury, the Patriots just were not the same dominant team.


Now, to give the devil his due, Rex Ryan has been one of the few head coaches to have slowed down the Brady/Gronk tandem. Ryan knows the Patriots like no other coach which is what makes him such a dangerous competitor when armed properly. By rushing Tom Brady often and knocking him around a bit, it causes the four-time Super Bowl Champion to feel exceedingly pressured to release the football as quick as possible. Gronk is strong, Gronk is fast but at 6-foot-6, and 265 pounds you can only get so far down the field so fast.  It takes many men to make an offense run at optimal level, the young offensive line need to do their part in keeping Tom Brady safe. If Brady is kept on his feet, the Quarterback can find Gronkowski with ease.

Rex Ryan answered comically but truthfully when asked how he planned to cover Gronk. “We’re not going to ask one guy to cover him,” Ryan said “Yeah, he’d have to look like King Kong.” Rest easy though Pats fans, if Rex does in fact double team Gronkowski, New England has another Tight End that can hopefully fill in admirably in the red zone, Scott Chandler. In no uncertain terms should wide receivers Julian Edelman and Danny Amendola be over looked in this offense, but let’s be realistic, without Rob Gronkowski, their jobs become that much harder to perform.

Sunday will of course be a very interesting tale of football. Will Rex Ryan finally put forth a dominant display of offensive/defensive strategy against the New England Patriots, echoing his week one victory and cementing the Buffalo Bills as a legitimate AFC rival? Or will Bill Belichick’s New England Patriots continue to ride Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski to AFC domination?

Billseye: Is Rex Ryan Buffalo’s White Knight?


Since 2001, the Buffalo Bills have a long history of being the New England Patriots’ two additional Bi-weeks in the AFC East. Occasionally the Bills give The Patriots a challenge and on five separate occasions have actually beaten the Super Bowl Champions during the Tom Brady era. The Bills were even seen celebrating as though they had won the Super Bowl last year when they were able to defeat the Patriots practice squad during the meaningless season finale of 2014. Yes, its typically a safe bet that the Buffalo Bills will always struggle to compete with New England’s gridiron gang.

Last season head coach of the New York Jet’s, Rex Ryan, was finally driven out of Gotham in favor of Todd Bowles.  Ryan had been a fixture in New York for six years with his brash and often boisterous demeanor winning over the Jet’s fan base and the players alike. Rex initially excited many Jet’s fans with his cocky attitude because after the long forgotten Super Bowl winning year of “Broadway” Joe Namath, the Jets never really had anything to ever get excited about. Immediately taking aim at the king pins of the AFC East, Rex was quick to point out that “I am not here to kiss anybody’s rings” when discussing Bill Belichick and the dominant New England Patriots.

Initially, Ryan had quite a bit of success with the New York Jets. Led by an all star defense with the likes of linebacker Bart Scott, center Nick Mangold and superstar cornerback, Darrelle Revis and an offense led by rookie sensation Mark Sanchez, the Jets defeated the Patriots in their first meeting 16-9. What was most impressive by that victory is that the Patriots did not even score a touchdown.
The New York Jets made it all the way to the 2009 AFC Championship that year losing to the Peyton Manning led Indianapolis Colts. In 2010 The New York Jets continued their winning ways splitting wins with Patriots during the season and in the playoffs defeating both Peyton Manning and Tom Brady on their home turf to once again make it to the AFC Championship. Although the Jets once again looked poised to make a run at the Super Bowl, the Pittsburgh Steelers promptly put a stop to those plans. With two straight AFC championship appearances, it looked as those New York had finally had its hero that could end the reign of the New England Patriot dominance of the AFC East.

For the New York Jets and Rex Ryan this story would of course not have a happy ending. After 2010, the Jets were never able to make it back to playoff contention and amidst injuries, Butt Fumbles and Quarterback controversies became the joke of the NFL. Meanwhile, their lowly brethren in Buffalo were slowly stock piling defensive pieces like Defensive end Mario Williams and Defensive tackle Kyle Williams. After drafting promising rookie wide receiver Sammy Watkins in 2014, the Bills were a decent quarterback and coach combo away from being a legitimate threat to the AFC east.
In a perfect storm of convenience, Rex Ryan found himself in need of a team just as Buffalo head coach Doug Marrone vacated his position. At first it was widely believed that Rex was holding out for the Atlanta Falcons head coaching job, but the defensive guru swerved us all and ended up as head coach for the offensively impotent Buffalo Bills.


With the offensive additions of the always disgruntled wide receiver Percy Harvin and star running back LeSean McCoy, the once languishing Buffalo Bills have begun to look like a formidable opponent for the first time in many years. What about a quarterback? Currently Buffalo boasts three; five year NFL journeyman, Tyrod Taylor, 2013 first round draft pick, EJ Manuel and one time Tom Brady back up, Matt Cassel. Let’s be clear, none of these men are in the same category as a Tom Brady, Peyton Manning or Aaron Rodgers but it would be foolish to dismiss the victory Buffalo scored on Sunday by decimating early Super Bowl favorite, Indianapolis Colts, 27 – 14.

With the help of possibly the best defense in the NFL, Tyrod Taylor proved capable during his Buffalo debut under center. With the impressive showing Rex Ryan’s defense displayed it is quite possible he may finally have the Patriots number come this Sunday. Is a stellar defense, a coach with proven past success and and a serviceable quarterback enough to stop the reigning, defending Super Bowl champions? Nobody can say for certain , but let’s just say it is not 2009 anymore.

Steelers Accuse Patriots With: Failure to Communi-gate

at Gillette Stadium on September 10, 2015 in Foxboro, Massachusetts.

The National Football League season has finally returned. New England fans eagerly packed into Gillete Stadium to witness the celebration of a championship season and hopefully the start of another.  The reigning and defending Super Bowl Champion New England Patriots defeated the Pittsburgh Steelers on September 10th and despite a close score of 28-21, it was never really that much of a contest.

First and foremost, Running Back Dion Lewis looked incredible in his official Patriot’s debut. Lewis had such a strong showing that even a late goal line fumble could not deter this burgeoning superstar’s night. Malcolm Butler proved that even though he is not the caliber cornerback that Darrell Revis is, he is definitely no slouch either. Butler covered the NFL’s number one ranked wide receiver Antonio Brown last night quite admirably. The OffenIsive line held up well despite the absences of centers Bryan Stork and Ryan Wendell. Quarterback Tom Brady was terrific, and with the help of tight ends Rob Gronkowski and Scott Chandler scored four touchdowns and earned a passer rating of 143.8. The reigning champs were really cooking on all four burners; they even decided to cheat by placing the radio version of the football broadcast into the Steeler coaches’ headsets.

Wait, what? If you are confused and in total disbelief by the latest allegations that the New England Patriots have cheated then you haven’t been paying attention. In a world where The Patriots admittedly cheated in 2007 and are accused of cheating in the debacle known as Defaltegate in 2015, it should come as no surprise that a loophole has been created for any team willing to leave their dignity at the door. The Pittsburgh Steelers played like absolute garbage juice and it showed on the field but they had an ace up their sleeve (thanks to Roger Goodell, ESPN and Sports Illustrated.

On Tuesday, September 8th, both ESPN and Sports Illustrated coincidentally released horribly defaming articles filled with unsubstantiated circumstances and allegations about the New England Patriots ranging from 2001-2007. Goal Line Gazette columnist Bob Snowdon covered these two articles here in great detail so If you missed it please take a gander. With ESPN focusing on Spygate and the cover up and Sports Illustrated  delving into every urban legend about the Patriots and their supposed cheating ways, it isn’t surprising that the Steelers  took their opportunity to play the cheaters card.

Let the excitement commence, after nearly a whole week we have new “gate”, call it Radio-gate, Headset-gate, Communi-gate or more accurately Sour Grapes-gate.  Now legitimately there was interference on the coach’s headsets but there are two major factors that are being ignored in order to perpetuate the dishonest folklore thrown on New England’s football team. To start, both coaches received interference on their headphone sets as Gillette Stadium is known to do, putting both teams at a disadvantage. In full disclosure, The Pittsburgh Steelers have insisted VIA their website that their head sets cleared up once the officials went to check the Patriots head sets.  The Steelers want us to believe The Patriots stopped fiddling with their feed once the “authorities” were called to investigate.  The Steelers accusation would be plausible if The Patriots were responsible for the head set communications at Gillette Stadium. Sorry conspiracy theorists, the National Football League is responsible for all headset communications.  In the League’s defense they did come forth and validated that they and they alone, are responsible for headset transmissions. When questioned about the headsets after the game by reporters, Coach Mike Tomlin made it very clear that he was upset and this type of thing always happens in New England.

at Gillette Stadium on September 10, 2015 in Foxboro, Massachusetts.

To make matters worse, later in the evening the Patriots conducted a legal goal line shift which caused the Steelers offense to jump off sides. Pittsburgh Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger was very upset and  was seen pleading with officials, later during an interview he implied that it was something he knew New England had used before but was unsure if it was legal.  So both Coach Tomlin and his Quarterback are blatantly calling the Patriots out for cheating in two circumstances in which they had done nothing wrong. In essence, this is the work of a cowardly team that didn’t have the guts to say that they played poorly but instead took a ride on “easy way out” train. The Indianapolis Colts may have started this whole mess but at least they owned up to the fact that the Patriots were the better team during the AFC championship.  The Pittsburgh Steelers will unfortunately have to play fifteen other teams this season who are not in the middle of cheating controversy, so it will be interesting to see what excuses they decide to use for their overall ineptitude.

Deflategate Hangover: It could be worse

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Generated by IJG JPEG Library

It happened the moment the duck boats went away and the final piece of confetti was placed in the trash receptacle. The 2014 NFL season was over and fans of the product were about to face the time of year they fear the most: off season.

It goes without saying, this off season was a bit different in New England. The Patriots won the Super Bowl and the farce known simply as deflategate dominated the airwaves, however, despite the wall to wall Pat’s coverage, it was still the dreaded offseason. For the rabid NFL fans who crave football, actual gridiron football, September was many months away.

This upcoming Thursday, the Pittsburgh Steelers will play the defending Super Bowl champion New England Patriots in the 2015 season opener. Suddenly all the petty league issues which have flooded the collective consciousness of all NFL fans can dissolve and those fans can embrace what they clamor for the most, the game of football.
Does this mean there isn’t room for some dramatic narrative? Of course not. Football is fun to watch but it never hurts to add a little sizzle to that steak.

Two teams in the NFC have had their share of problems which will no doubt influence their on-field product in the coming season. Admittedly, neither NFC team has had to endure their quarterback’s integrity being questioned in front of a courtroom but Tom Brady isn’t the only pigskin gunslinger to be placed in tumultuous circumstances.
New England fans are not used to quarterback controversies, well not since 2001. In our nation’s capital there is a great deal of debate among fans as to whom deserves to be under center; 2012 Rookie of the Year Robert Griffin the third or his one time backup Kirk Cousins.


The past two years have been a fall from grace for RG III. The man whom Washington traded their 6th and 39th draft picks in 2012, as well as their first round picks in 2013 and 2014 to the St. Louis Rams for the rights to his services, was injured late in his rookie campaign and never was able to fully come back from it. For the past few years Griffin and Cousins have been involved in a rigorous game of quarterback musical chairs. Recently after stating the opposite, coach Jay Gruden handed RG3 the clipboard in favor of now starting quarterback Kirk Cousins. Nothing like paying a king’s ransom for a backup quarterback.


Elsewhere, the San Francisco 49ers are about to start their 2015 season after losing a great deal of talent. First and foremost, bombastic but result garnering coach Jim Harbaugh was all but pushed out an open hatch as a plane flew over Michigan. 49ers owner Jed York was not a fan of Harbaugh’s eccentric coaching tactics and was thrilled to hire new head coach Jim Tomsula.

The 49ers lost a great of group talent with notable names like running back Frank Gore, who headed to the Indianapolis Colts and star wide receiver Michael Crabtree who sought work with the Oakland Raiders. San Francisco was fortunate enough to pick up wide receiver Torrey Smith and running back Reggie Bush to attempt to lessen some of the loss. Sadly, five 49ers retired this past off season, with linebacker Patrick Willis being the most notable. The often heralded but constant criminal, linebacker Aldon Smith was finally released after yet another run in with the law. Needless to say, Colin Kaepernick will not be working with a squad remotely similar to the team he took to the Super Bowl in 2013.

These two aforementioned trainwrecks may be facing more turmoil than the promise of a new season may afford their anguished fan bases. Times of chaos are usually only a few stone throws away for any team in the National Football League. Fans in New England hope the Patriots have already paid their misery dues this offseason and I’d wager to say the same could be said for both the San Francisco 49ers and the Washington Redskins.

NFL: The Aftermath of Arrogance

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Generated by IJG JPEG Library

New England Patriot fans will forever entomb Thursday September 3rd, 2015 as the day that Tom Brady’s four game suspension due to the never ending spectacle known as Deflategate, was overturned by New York Judge, Richard Berman. Deflategate , began on January 18th when several footballs were found to be under inflated during  the AFC title game. What ensued in the next six months following Deflategate brought the collective six regions of New England to new depths of misery and redundancy.

The NFL launched an investigation with enough venom, bias and arrogance to destroy all the good will brought forth by this year’s winning Super Bowl season.  In fact the NFL’s punishments and insistance on cheating led many in New England to speculate whether the Patriots were being treated so viscerally due to other league owners whom were unsatisfied with how Spygate was handled in 2007. In essence, the fans, owner Bob Kraft and Tom Brady were essentially placed on a proverbial island with the other 31 teams happily laying fire to their escape raft.

From the standpoint of the NFLPA (National Football Players Association) and New England Patriots fans it was a phenomenal thing that Tom Brady was exonerated by Judge Berman. The NFL took this farther than they should have in order to prove a point and save face in the aftermath of the Ray Rice spousal abuse scandal. Were the New England Patriots responsible for deflating footballs? Whether you believe that to be true or a ridiculous falsehood is irrelevant.  This appeal was never about Brady’s innocence but more about abuse of power. The fact is the NFL went too far in their punishment and Judge Berman recognized it. The NFL should’ve absolutely allowed the punishment to fit the crime, rather than use Tom Brady and the Patriots as scapegoats for their own misgivings. It was an overreach on something that should have been a fine for an equipment violation.

On the other side of this transgression, although Sept. 3rd was a victory that should be held in high esteem all over New England, it does come with a rather large grain of salt. The New England Patriots’ owner Robert Kraft accepted a $1 million dollar fine, the loss of 2016’s 1st round draft pick and 2017’s 4th round draft pick. As great as having Tom Brady under center during the first four games of the season, the previously mentioned penalties are still an unprecedented punishment and something that New England fans will be unable to ignore.

With all things being equal, had the NFL and Roger Goodell gone about this correctly, they would have massacred the New England Patriots in every conceivable way by merely sticking to the punishment and leaving what little they thought they had on Brady off the table. Had they not been so shortsighted, the NFL could have come out of this looking incredible. The NFL could have simply stuck it to the hated, “cheaters” and restored some semblance of order after the ridiculous year they had suffered through. Instead the NFL decided to gamble with a lack of concrete evidence which led to their downfall.

Ultimately, the world has focused its attention on Tom Brady’s involvement and subsequent suspension rather than the fact that the Patriots were again punished for apparent cheating.  With Tom Brady exonerated, the story is about Tom Brady beating the NFL, not the Patriots and the shenanigans surrounding underinflated footballs and the consequences which followed.  In the end, the NFL had the chance to come out of this looking proficient but now must live with yet another loss in judicial, as well as public court. New England Patriot fans may have to live with what is arguably an unprecedented fine, but their quarterback, Tom Brady,  is where he should be and the NFL was fed a great deal of humble pie.


Cautiously Optimistic

Optimism exists in the heart of every fan regardless of what team they root for at the start of each and every NFL season. In some cases it would be ludicrous to think your team wasn’t a front-runner, such as the case with the Seattle Seahawks, Denver Broncos, or Green Bay Packers. For a Minnesota Vikings fan, Jacksonville Jaguar fan and especially a New York Jets fan, the beginning of the season is really the only time that you are allowed to be so assured of your team’s potential abilities.

The New England Patriots are used to being heavy favorites to compete for a Super Bowl title and this year in theory should be no different. Oddly enough, coming off a Lombardi Trophy win, the Patriots are a bit more of a wild card than one would typically expect. In the shadow of Deflategate many things have changed since the beginning of February. Under center we have a scenario like no other in Patriot’s history. Backup quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo probably pictured that he would gain the starting position job a bit differently than by a trumped up suspension of Tom Brady over a loss of air pressure. Garoppolo for better or for worse is currently the starting quarterback for the New England Patriots for the first four games of the 2015 season. If the suspension holds up this could either be a chance to shine or an unmitigated disaster.

During free agency the Patriots lost several key components to last year’s winning formula. The secondary was stripped clean with the losses of superstar cornerback Darrelle Revis, Brandon Browner and Kyle Arrington. Vince Wilfork, the veteran run stopper on defense, now plays for the Houston Texans. Shane Vereen, a dynamic third down back, is now the New York Giants’ shiny new toy. Dan Connolly, stablizing offensive lineman, retired. Like with any team these are parts that can and have been replaced but the current mix of players lacks the former’s track record.

The injury bug has crept its way into the New England Patriots locker room as well. Popular slot receiver Julian Edelman and wide receiver Brandon LaFell have both been battling nagging injuries which have kept them off the field. Newly acquired wide receiver Brandon Gibson and dynamic receiver Brian Tyms Have both suffered season-ending injuries. Offensive line Center Bryan Stork has missed quite a bit of action due to injury, which has been hindering the offensive line during much of the preseason. As recent as Saturday night, the Patriots lost fullback James Devlin for an extended length of time. Granted, these are the more notable injuries but they do play a large part in the New England Patriots’ chances to repeat as champions.
Still there is room for plenty of optimism. The preseason football games are hardly a barometer for how well a squad will perform during the actual season. That being said, the Patriots defense has shown that the absences of top cornerbacks doesn’t mean they won’t go down fighting. Super Bowl hero, cornerback Malcolm Butler has looked exceptionally strong. Defensive end Jabaal Sheard looks as though he may have been the perfect free-agent pickup for this defense. Sheard’s fight and tenacity help make the defensive front seven a force to be reckoned with. The offense, once healthy and stable, has the potential to be world class. An angry and focused Tom Brady throwing to the likes of Julian Edelman, Brandon LaFell, superstar tight end Rob Gronkowski, slot receiver Danny Amendola, tight end Scott Chandler and future Hall of Famer, Reggie Wayne could make an awful bit of trouble for most NFL defenses.

Do the 2015 New England Patriots have their share of doubters, when it comes to the burgeoning success of back to back championship seasons? Of  course, but like the other 31 clubs you can’t tell their rabid fan base that this season doesn’t belong to them. Lest we forget, the month of September 2014 which at the time did not look so promising for the Patriots either. How did that season end again? So, let’s all just agree to be cautiously optimistic.

“Save Roger”: What The NFL is Trying to do at any Expense

A confident Roger Goodell (Photo:
A confident Roger Goodell (Photo:

Corruption. Power breeds it, no matter how good one’s intentions are when push comes to shove power destroys ideals. It doesn’t have to be malicious, it rarely is at first but when absolute influence goes unchecked the results are no less poisonous.

Article 46 of the collective bargaining agreement has given Roger Goodell absolute autonomy to rule the NFL. What exactly is article 46 of the CBA? In a nutshell, it allows the commissioner to impose the discipline and to designate the hearing officer (this can also be the Commissioner himself) to handle all appeals in regards to matters relating to conduct detrimental to the integrity of and public confidence in, the game of professional football. This effectively makes him Roger GODell.

Why would the National Football League’s Player’s Association agree to such a grand deliverance of power? To be honest, article 46 has been around since the very first CBA was drafted back in 1968. In a game of give and take the NFLPA for whatever the reason, they always felt this was a car that was better left on the showroom floor. If the past few years abuse of power are any indication, it would seem that the next time the NFL and the Union meet, this will be a point of contention.

The year 2014 is more than likely a year Roger Goodell would like to forget. The Ray Rice scandal was devastating to his tenure as commissioner. In the interest of protecting “the Shield”, Goodell and the NFL thought it best to ignore and deflect rather than hold Ray Rice responsible for assaulting his then fiance. The Commissioner lied about seeing a crucial piece of evidence (elevator video), the world reacted with disgust and Goodell has been over compensating ever since.
It’s safe to say that at the start of the “Save Roger” reclamation project, much of the public was thrilled when he rescinded Ray Rice’s mere two game suspension and changed it to indefinite. Never mind that this act showed that  he was inconsistent but it reeked of desperation. Roger mishandled an important case and tried to cover his tracks ultimately leading to the case being overturned and making his power seem less omnipotent.

Roger hid behind his stature and tried desperately to find a scapegoat to get him out of this mess. Star running back Adrian Peterson’s child abuse case and defensemen Greg Hardy’s assault case weren’t enough to scrub the perceived ineptitude from Goodell’s hands.
The NFL Commissioner needed to deflect all this bad publicity, much to his delight the Baltimore Ravens and Indianapolis Colts were about the hand him a gift. Deflategate arrived like a proverbial wrecking ball and suddenly the world was now focusing on the fall from grace of Tom Brady the cheater.

It's been a headache for both Roger Goodell & Tom Brady
It’s been a headache for both Roger Goodell & Tom Brady

Roger got his diversion.

Goodell has made his share of mistakes with Deflategate, the most recent being when he came under fire due to his admittance that (after months of saying otherwise) the entire investigation was never really independent. Remember Article 46? Once again, Roger has been delighted to hide behind his greatest weapon, his  magic wand.
In the eyes of the NFL, it doesn’t matter how Roger has handled any of this, Article 46 states he can conduct himself in any manner he sees fit when protecting the integrity of the product. “Save Roger” is in full effect, leaving many players in the NFL to ask who will save them?

New England Patriots: A Return To Tight End City?

GLENDALE, AZ - FEBRUARY 01 : Ron Gronkowski #87 of the New England Patriots celebrates after catching a touchdown pass over K.J. Wright #50 of the Seattle Seahawks during Super Bowl XLIX February 1, 2015 at the University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Arizona. The Patriots won the game 28-24. (Photo by Focus on Sport/Getty Images) *** Local Caption *** Ron Gronkowski; K.J. Wright
GLENDALE, AZ – FEBRUARY 01 : Ron Gronkowski #87 of the New England Patriots celebrates after catching a touchdown pass over K.J. Wright #50 of the Seattle Seahawks during Super Bowl XLIX February 1, 2015 at the University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Arizona. The Patriots won the game 28-24. (Photo by Focus on Sport/Getty Images) *** Local Caption *** Ron Gronkowski; K.J. Wright

In the very beginning of the 2013 Patriots off season, Patriots fans were absolutely delighted with their dual tight ends of terror, Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez. Few in the league can match up with Rob Gronkowski’s versatility at tight end. Gronkowski is able to block and catch, a rarity in this day and age. Aaron Hernandez was lauded for his speed and pass catching ability. Hernandez could still block well while exhibiting the traits of a starwideout.

Hernandez and Gronk presented such a match up nightmare that many in New England figured that it would only be a matter of time before the famed tight ends led the Patriots back to Super Bowl glory. Aaron Hernandez of course, chose a different path in 2013. Rather than a Super Bowl berth, Aaron took to murdering his friend Odin Lloyd and spending his life in prison. The New England Patriots of course won a fourth Lombardi Trophy but the once lauded tight end duo did not arrive to Arizona intact.


The shock of losing Hernandez, especially in New England’s first days of a Wes Welker-less  season, was intolerable. Left in Hernandez’s stead were several untested rookies, an ailing Rob Gronkowski and a seemingly promising young tight end named Zach Sudfeld. As the season began, Sudfeld’s promise never materialized and before you could say “practice squad” the Jets scooped him up off the waiver wire and all but confirmed his doomed fate.

In 2014 the Patriots in a shocking move traded offensive lineman Logan Mankins for a fourth round draft pick and tight end from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Tim Wright. Although many fans lamented the loss of Mankins there was still a considerable buzz in the air for the prospect of having another viable pass-catching tight end. As the season progressed Wright did a serviceable job but was hardly as dynamic as Hernandez had been during his pre incarceration days on the Patriots team.

Tim Wright would show that he was worth picking up, pulling in six touchdowns for the New England Patriots during the 2014 season enroute to an eventual Super Bowl victory. Sadly, Wright was released by the Patriots in June of this year and was resigned, oddly enough, by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
It’s now the start of a new football year and fans are once again clamoring for the now defending New England Patriots to take the field. In an off season filled with deflated footballs, corner back departures and the very real possibility of four games without future Hall of Fame quarterback Tom Brady, did a very real solution to an almost forgotten problem slip under the radar? During free agency the New England Patriots signed what could eventually be the perfect compliment to star tight end Rob Gronkowski. He is now known as No. 88, Scott Chandler and is New England’s best offseason value pickup.

At a height of 6 feet 7 inches and weighing in at roughly 260 pounds, Scott Chandler could very well be the answer all Patriots nation has been waiting for. Chandler brings power and pass catching ability and another wild card to the offense. With both he and Rob Gronkowski on field defenses will constantly be guessing, who is blocking and who is catching? When Scott was with the Buffalo Bills he was often referred to as a “Patriot killer”, routinely making plays and scoring touchdowns over New England’s defense. Coach Bill Belichick is clearly familiar with his upside and was eager to add him to the Patriot’s roster.

Scott Chandler isn’t all roses and confetti. Scott isn’t known for his speed and when compared to Hernandez he lacks the overall versatility the once acclaimed murderer was known for. Chandler is currently nursing a minor knee injury which has unfortunately kept him off the field for much of the preseason, giving the fans very little to see.
Ultimately, time will tell if Scott Chandler will become the missing link to a problem yet to be solved. If injuries do not keep him from reaching his full potential, the New England Patriots may very well once again be living in the high-rise section of Tight End City.