Patriots QB Tom Brady, as the closer, continues to impress teammates – New England Patriots Blog


FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — Matthew Slater was telling a story in the New England Patriots’ locker room earlier this week that summed up how playing with quarterback Tom Brady can be an uplifting experience, especially in pressure situations with the game on the line.

The story was from Sunday night’s 43-40 victory over the Kansas City Chiefs. Slater was dejected as he made his way to the sideline, his kickoff coverage unit having surrendered a 97-yard return that led to a quick Chiefs touchdown.

The score gave the Chiefs a 33-30 lead midway through the final quarter when Brady came up to Slater, knocked his fist, and said, “We’re good.”

To which Slater initially thought, “We are? It sure doesn’t feel that way.”

As Slater retold the story, he shrugged his shoulders and laughed. “I guess we were good,” he chuckled.

Then he turned a bit more serious, highlighting how Brady’s confidence in the face of adversity galvanized him and others.

“You can look in a man’s eyes and know, in pressure situations, this guy is not going to be able to handle this, he’s not going to be ready. You look into that guy’s eyes and it’s a laser-like focus,” said Slater, a team captain now in his 11th season with the club. “They haven’t always worked out for us, but you see extreme confidence in his eyes, and that’s because he’s prepared, he’s done it, and he believes in the guys around him.”

At 41 years old, Brady remains one of the game’s best closers, something that means a lot to him.

Two weeks ago, when asked during his weekly interview on sports radio WEEI if he gets better when there is more pressure (such as the playoffs), Brady said, “I don’t think I get worse.”

His teammates have happily taken notice of that.

“He’s always clutch in big moments,” tight end Rob Gronkowski said.

“There are guys that flinch and there are guys that don’t flinch. He doesn’t flinch,” added Slater. “He’s just focused on the situation and executing every play, as its own play, and not worrying about what happened the last play or what’s going to happen the next play. He has a unique ability to do that.”

At the same time, Brady is often the first to point out that any success he’s had is more of a team accomplishment. That often starts in practice.

“Preparation is a big part of that and Coach [Bill] Belichick goes over those situations ad nauseam,” Slater said. “Sometimes it’s like, ‘Man, we’re going over this again?’ And then it always comes up. It’s like he has a crystal ball.”

Brady has thrived in that ultra-detailed setting, with Sunday night’s victory over the Chiefs a shining example of it. This was highlighted in a video posted on Patriots.com, as an on-field conversation between Brady and Belichick is heard after a 39-yard catch by Gronkowski that set up the game-winning field goal.

In the video, Belichick explains that there are 17 seconds remaining in the game, and he wants Brady to center the ball to make the final 28-yard field goal easier for kicker Stephen Gostkowski. That’s when Brady asks Belichick, “Do you want to call the timeout [after that], or me?”

He’s always thinking. Always locked in.

“He obviously embraces the moment and the opportunity to go out there and attempt to do his job under pressure in those types of situations, which I think is the first thing you have to be able to do if you’re going to go out there and have some success,” offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels said, after noting it takes a complete team effort.

“He’s a great leader under pressure like that because he stays calm, he has great poise, he’s very situationally aware. He knows the situation having gone through it a number of times — understanding the difference between having a minute and 10 seconds and no timeouts versus two minutes and 50 seconds and three timeouts. There’s a huge difference in those types of situations, and I think his experience under pressure in those scenarios, he understands what needs to be done and how long we have to do it.”

Offensive tackle Trent Brown, who is in his first year with the Patriots, said Brady’s presence has stood out to him.

“So even-keeled and cool,” he said.

But there’s plenty of fire with that as well — especially in crunch time.

“His overall competitive nature and desire to really be on the field in those situations, those are the things you hope for from your group on offense,” McDaniels said. “And he certainly does a great job of that as one of our captains.”



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Chiefs’ Breeland Speaks says he let Tom Brady go on TD


Kansas City Chiefs linebacker Breeland Speaks admitted he was worried about being called for a roughing the passer penalty on Tom Brady when he appeared to let the quarterback out of his grasp on a key play late in the fourth quarter Sunday.

Brady gave the Patriots the lead with a rare touchdown run with 5:25 remaining when he escaped a would-be sack by Speaks on third down and scored on a 4-yard scramble.

Speaks had his left arm around Brady’s midsection behind the line of scrimmage, but the rookie said he wanted to avoid a penalty because he thought Brady had already thrown the ball.



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New England Patriots QB Tom Brady favored for record 56th straight game


Tom Brady has set plenty of records in his illustrious career. He’ll add one more on Sunday night, courtesy of Las Vegas oddsmakers.



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New England Patriots WR Josh Gordon building bond with Tom Brady


FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — New England Patriots wide receiver Josh Gordon described his growing bond with quarterback Tom Brady as a “real natural type of relationship,” while adding Friday that he is settling in nicely in the move from Cleveland to the suburbs of Boston.

Gordon was acquired in a Sept. 17 trade and assigned a locker directly next to Brady’s.

“Most of the day, we end up talking football, whether it be in the locker room here briefly or in most of the meeting rooms or time after practice. We carve out time, and we make it happen,” Gordon said after practice, as the Patriots put the finishing touches on preparations for Sunday night’s home game against the Kansas City Chiefs. “We make sure if there’s something that might be a concern for him or me, or he wants to know how I like to do something, or I want to know how he wants to do something, I just ask and he’s open about it. It makes it easy for me to communicate with him and makes it a real natural type of relationship.”

Gordon has played 18 snaps apiece over the past two games and caught a 34-yard touchdown on Oct. 4 against the Indianapolis Colts, a play Brady said reflects the evolving trust between them.

“It hasn’t been too tough,” Gordon said of learning the playbook. “I think that’s greatly due in part to the amount of help I receive from teammates here — definitely Tom, all the receivers help bring me along on a daily basis, the coaches, just giving me all the resources I need and me taking advantage of it, going home and studying it daily.

“I think having a certain amount of experience in the league already and seeing so many different offenses and stuff, I think the language of it is somewhat familiar.”

As for how he is managing off the field, Gordon credited Patriots character coach Jack Easterby for a “very hands-on” approach that has helped him acclimate to his new surroundings.

“It’s been an awesome transition. I appreciate the love and support,” Gordon said. “Foxborough is a real nice town, nice and quiet and peaceful. Me and my girlfriend are making it home. My family is here now. I consider the people in this community and around it, you know, family. They treat us nice everywhere we go. It’s been a great experience.”

Gordon also explained a recent tweet that he sent out to his followers.

“I just love reading inspirational quotes and sharing them with people,” he said. “People send me stuff all the time to read, and I just like to spread the good knowledge, good health and goodwill.”





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Hispanic pioneer Tom Flores still waiting for spot in Canton – Oakland Raiders Blog


ALAMEDA, Calif. — The family story is nearing its 100th birthday now, but to Tom Flores, the Oakland Raiders’ two-time Super Bowl-winning coach, it never gets old.

Not when it’s such a point of pride for Flores and his familia.

Flores’ father, Tom Sr., was 12 years old in 1919, one of seven children whose family worked in the hills of the pueblo of Dynamite in the Mexican state of Durango. There, they mined for materials to make explosives — when they were not ducking for cover with marauders claiming loyalty to Pancho Villa ransacking the village.

“They didn’t fight them off, but they had to avoid them,” Flores said of his forebears. “My dad and his brothers had to lay on the floor as the bullets came flying through the windows. My grandma and my dad’s two sisters went down the hill and hid because they were afraid of the bandits.”

Nearly a century later, many think Flores has been robbed of his place in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.


Flores, known as “The Iceman” as a player for his cool demeanor, was the first Latino quarterback in pro football history, the first QB in Raiders franchise history when the AFL began in 1960.

And until 2007, when Tom Brady tied him, Flores held the record for most touchdown passes in consecutive games with 11 in 1963 (Ben Roethlisberger passed them with 12 TDs in 2014).

“I wasn’t a great quarterback, but I was one of the better ones,” said Flores, the fifth-leading passer in AFL history with 11,959 yards, despite missing all of the 1962 season with tuberculosis. “I was one of the few to play all 10 years in the AFL.”

Traded to the Buffalo Bills with Art Powell in 1967 for Daryle Lamonica and Glenn Bass, Flores ended up with the Kansas City Chiefs as Len Dawson’s backup for the Super Bowl IV champs in 1969. That’s when Flores won his first Super Bowl ring.

But Flores truly made his bones as a coach. He was the Raiders’ receivers coach in the press box when he noticed the Baltimore Colts showing a certain defensive tendency in a 1977 playoff game and called down to John Madden what would become the “Ghost to the Post” play. Flores added a second ring on Madden’s Super Bowl XI-winning staff.

Promoted by Al Davis to replace Madden in 1979, Flores coached the Raiders to Super Bowl victories after the 1980 and 1983 seasons, the former making him the first minority coach to win a title — 26 years before Tony Dungy, who was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2016. Rings Nos. 3 and 4 made Flores the first person in NFL history to win Super Bowl championships as a player, an assistant and head coach (Mike Ditka would join him later).

“People are always giving guys credit for their X’s and O’s,” Marcus Allen told NFL Network in 2006. “But being a head coach is just much more than that; it’s managing people. The thing that really created closeness was that he trusted us — ‘I taught you all you need to know, now go out there and play.’ ”

“How could that not endear you to a head coach?” the late Todd Christensen added in the same show. “As opposed to the usual, ‘Get out of here, I’m in charge.’ It was never anything like that. I can’t emphasize this enough — I think that what he contributed as a head coach is understated.”

And this from Howie Long: “Tom was the perfect fit.”

Flores was a combined 69-31 (.690) from 1980 to 1985, including the postseason, and was the 1982 NFL Coach of the Year.

“Tom Flores isn’t just a great coach in our league,” Davis said after the Raiders thumped defending champion Washington 38-9 in Super Bowl XVIII, “he’s one of the great coaches of all time.”

Flores’ record against Don Coryell, the architect of the “Air Coryell” passing game, was 11-5. With the Raiders, Flores went 6-0 against Don Shula, the winningest coach in NFL history.

Perhaps the way Flores’ coaching career ended, rather than the pioneering manner in which he broke so many barriers, is what has kept him from sporting a gold jacket.

The Raiders went a combined 13-18 in 1986 and strike-shortened 1987 and, fearing burnout, Flores resigned. He did resurface as the first Latino president and general manager in league history with the Seahawks in 1989 and returned to the sidelines in Seattle three years later. After going 14-34 in three seasons, he was fired.

Or maybe the domineering personality of Davis turns off voters who believe the former iconoclast owner was the Raiders’ true coach, even if Madden dealt with the same perception, and was inducted in 2006.

Flores spoke of his relationship with Davis and the game plan with Sports Illustrated in 1984.

“Sometimes he doesn’t even want to see it,” Flores said. “He says, ‘I want to be surprised.’ But we do discuss general concepts — this tackle doesn’t match up well, we can work on this cornerback. And the overall Raiders’ concept is his. He just wants me to coach the hell out of it. I always have the last word on game-to-game strategy. I’d be lying if I said I wouldn’t like to be a household name, like Al is. But I figure if I keep winning, sooner or later someone’s gonna say, ‘Hey, Flores must be doing a hell of a job.’ ”

That Flores is, for the ninth time, among the now-102 Modern-era nominees for the Pro Football Hall of Fame Class of 2019 is commendable, though he has yet to make it to the semifinal list, which is 25 deep. A momentum seems to be growing; the Raiders honored the 81-year-old Flores with a Hispanic Heritage Game halftime ceremony that included an artist painting a portrait and video tribute on Sept. 30. He, Jimmy Johnson and George Seifert are the only eligible coaches with two Super Bowl titles not in the HOF.

“I’m trying to keep my emotions low-key because that’s the kind of person I am,” Flores said. “But down deep inside, it grinds on me because I haven’t even made the first cut yet in all the nine times. I see some of the people that have and gone further and, you know, I’m envious of them. I don’t degrade their situation; I’m just envious that they’ve gone that far. And I think I’ve done as much, if not more, than some of them, but I’m looking at it through my eyes.”

Indeed, can you write the definitive book on the NFL without mentioning Flores?


Dick Enberg waxed poetic as the cameras zoomed in on Flores in the closing minutes of Super Bowl XV on Jan. 25, 1981.

“You have to be happy for that man,” Enberg said on the NBC broadcast. “Talk about Cinderella stories — Chicano, worked at 6, 7 years old in the fields, became a fine athlete, on to Pacific, had a fine pro career and now, maybe the most important moment in his life.”

Flores’ father came to central California to work in the fields and met Nellie Padilla, who was born near Fresno, though her family was from Jalisco, Mexico. They would marry and have two boys. Tom Jr. was the baby, born on March 21, 1937, as the family lived on the “Courtney” family ranch for which they worked in the Fresno county town of Del Rey.

“The house was almost a shack, which wasn’t much housing, but still it was a place to sleep and live and work,” Flores said. “My dad followed the crops when the season was over there.”

But when World War II began, the Flores family moved into a “real” house outside of Sanger, “with real floors, indoor plumbing, mainly because [my father] and my grandfather sharecropped the farm.

“The people that lived there before were Japanese and they were put in internment camps. So [we] were able to take over and live there throughout the war and did well farming. Everything was cash in those days. And then when the war was over, they had to move out because the owner had promised the Japanese, ‘When this is over, you can come back.’

“And he honored his commitment. What an honorable thing.”

Flores, who was 4 years old when his family moved into the “real house,” was in the fourth grade when they moved to Sanger and he was already, as Enberg noted, doing his part.

“I remember growing up working, playing and sleeping in the fields,” Flores said. “Because that’s what you did when you’re 1, and 2 and 3 years old — you go with your parents while they work, and you pretend to work, and then you eat and you run around the fields and then you take a nap under the vines and then you get up and you pretend to work again and you pick maybe a half a tray of grapes and then you go home at night and do it all again the next day.”

When he was older, though, it was all work and some play. The work ethic he got from his parents, who also operated a tienda, a family store, seemingly all hours of the day, seven days a week, all while Tom Sr. became a U.S. citizen. The athletic skill came naturally and surprisingly. Flores and his older brother, Bob, did not discover football until junior high school — the family knew next to nothing of the game, as they did not have a television — and then starred at Sanger High (the football stadium there is named after him) before playing his college ball at Pacific.

Both Tom Sr. and Nellie lived into the 21st century, “So they were able to go on this journey with me,” Flores said. “They were fans, but they were quiet fans.”

In 2017, the League of United Latin American Citizens honored Flores with the National Trailblazer Award for his “advocacy for Latino representation” in the NFL and a Lifetime Service Award for his “support for comprehensive immigration reform and work for inclusion and diversity in government,” while Flores, along with Plunkett, is seen as having made the Raiders popular in Mexico.. There, they’re known as Los Malosos , the Bad Boys.

“Anytime a Hispanic is doing well, I feel like we always pull for each other,” said Eddy Piñeiro, the Raiders’ Nicaraguan/Cuban kicker, who is on injured reserve. “I always pull for any Latino — Mexican, Nicaragüense, Cuban, Puerto Rican — I always pull for anybody. It’s hard. It’s hard to make it when you’re Hispanic.”

It was at the LULAC awards where Flores told the story of Pancho Villa’s raiders having a lasting effect on an Oakland Raiders icon, and the sense of orgullo, pride or self-worth, that enveloped him from generations ago.

“It gives me a feeling of pride, in a way, because they survived,” said Flores, whose family story has been passed down from him and his wife of 57 years, Barbara, to their children, Mark, Scott and Kim, all of whom are in their 50s. Five grandchildren can also expect to hear the tales of the Flores familia surviving Pancho Villa’s bandits. “Gives me a feeling of gratitude because they came to California.”

Now if only Flores can get to Canton.





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Tom Brady third QB to reach 500 career touchdown passes


FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady became the third player in NFL history to throw 500 touchdown passes, reaching the mark in the fourth quarter of Thursday night’s game against the Indianapolis Colts.

Brady connected with wide receiver Josh Gordon on a 39-yard pass with 9:19 left to join Peyton Manning (539) and Brett Favre (508) as the only quarterbacks to throw for 500 touchdowns. New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees is on the cusp of becoming the fourth.

“Things like that, milestones and so forth, there’s so many people who contribute,” Brady said after the team’s 38-24 victory. “I just think of all the people who have really worked hard. A quarterback doesn’t throw them to himself. He needs people to catch, and block, and the defense to make plays, and coaches to coach. These are all great team awards. Pretty cool.”

In joining that exclusive club, Brady became the first player to do so while playing for only one team.

“It’s tremendous. It’s a lot of touchdown passes to a lot of different guys, too. … No quarterback I’d rather have than Tom Brady,” coach Bill Belichick said.

Brady also set an NFL record by throwing at least one touchdown pass to 71 different players, breaking a tie with Vinny Testaverde for the most in NFL history.

Gordon, who was playing in only his second game with the Patriots, said he was honored to be the 71st different player to catch a touchdown pass from Brady.

“To catch any pass from Tom is amazing, let alone some history-making catch,” Gordon said. “I told him, ‘Congratulations’ and I know there are many more from him to come. … So I am looking forward to that and the next history point to make from him. I hope to be a part of it. It was awesome.”

Brady has also thrown 71 touchdown passes in the playoffs, but those don’t count toward NFL record totals. He entered Thursday night with 568 touchdown passes when including the playoffs. Manning threw for an NFL-high 579 total touchdowns when including the playoffs.

Brady has said in the past that the only stat that matters to him is victories, and he tied Colts kicker Adam Vinatieri for most wins by a player Thursday night with 226 (including playoffs).

His teammates marveled at his accomplishments.

“It’s just surreal what he’s doing at his age, how he feels, just the work ethic he has and how he brings it every practice and every game,” tight end Rob Gronkowski said. “He just doesn’t stop. It’s an honor to be out on the field with him.”

Of Brady’s 500 touchdown passes, here are a few notable highlights:

  • His first touchdown pass was to wide receiver Terry Glenn on Oct. 14, 2001.

  • He is one of two players to throw for 50 touchdowns in a season, along with Manning.

  • His longest touchdown pass was 99 yards to Wes Welker, on Sept. 12, 2011, against Miami. There have been only 13 pass plays of 99 yards in league history.

  • He has thrown 76 touchdown passes to tight end Rob Gronkowski, his most to any player. Randy Moss, with 39, is next on the list.

  • He has thrown 68 touchdown passes against the Bills, his highest total against any team.



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New book says Tom Brady long worried about being ‘pushed out’ by Bill Belichick


New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady felt trapped in the offseason and was not sure he wanted to play anymore for the only NFL coach he has ever had, Bill Belichick, according to a new book on Belichick’s life.

“If you’re married 18 years to a grouchy person who gets under your skin and never compliments you, after a while you want to divorce him,” a source with knowledge of the Brady-Belichick relationship told ESPN’s Ian O’Connor, author of “Belichick: The Making of the Greatest Football Coach of All Time,” after the 2017 season.

“Tom knows Bill is the best coach in the league, but he’s had enough of him. If Tom could, I think he would divorce him.”

Based on interviews with 350 people (Belichick did not cooperate), the book, due out Sept. 25, reports Brady was so upset with his coach that he still wasn’t certain in late March if he would return to the Patriots. “But in the end, even if he wanted to, Brady could not walk away from the game, and he could not ask for a trade,” O’Connor wrote. “The moment Belichick moved [Jimmy] Garoppolo to San Francisco, and banked on Brady’s oft-stated desire to play at least into his mid-forties, was the moment Brady was virtually locked into suiting up next season and beyond. Had he retired or requested a trade, he would have risked turning an adoring New England public into an angry mob.”

ESPN’s Seth Wickersham and several Boston outlets had reported on the escalating tension between Brady and Belichick during last season, much of it revolving around the coach’s decision to reduce the team access that had been granted to Alex Guerrero, Brady’s business partner and fitness coach. Belichick was no longer giving his quarterback the most-favored-nation status he’d enjoyed in the past. New York Yankees GM Brian Cashman recalled in the book that Belichick told him years earlier about a disagreement Brady had with a Patriots strength coach over equipment. “Belichick said, ‘If Tom Brady wants it, Tom Brady gets it,'” Cashman said. “If you get a player at that level, you get him what he needs, even if the strength coach says otherwise.”

Brady was the league’s only starting quarterback who didn’t attend voluntary OTAs in the spring; he was also angered by the Malcolm Butler benching in the Super Bowl LII loss to Philadelphia. Asked by broadcaster Jim Gray in late April if he felt appreciated by Belichick and owner Robert Kraft (the quarterback maintains a close relationship with Kraft), Brady responded, “I plead the Fifth! … Man, that is a tough question.”

The transactional relationship between the five-time champs, Brady and Belichick, had been reduced to a stare-down that didn’t surprise those in the quarterback’s camp. According to the book, Brady’s family long felt Belichick would push out his longtime franchise player before he was ready to retire. Brady’s sister Nancy is quoted telling people that her brother believed “Belichick will definitely do to him someday what the Colts did to Peyton [Manning].”

Brady started worrying for his job almost immediately after Belichick cited his age and contract status — and the coach’s own desire to be “early rather than late at that position” — when the Patriots drafted Garoppolo in 2014. One New England assistant said the general feeling among staff members around that time wasn’t that Belichick’s system could make Super Bowl quarterbacks out of all 32 NFL starters. “But if you gave us any of the top 15, we could do it,” the assistant said. “I don’t think the coaches view Tom as special as everyone else in football does. Mr. Kraft thinks Tom is the greatest gift ever, but the coaches don’t.”

Other notable material in the book includes:

Deflategate

  • In the early days of the case, Belichick was among the Patriots officials who had “serious doubts” about Brady’s claim he had no involvement in the potential deflation of footballs used in the January 2015 AFC Championship Game victory over the Colts.

  • One person close to Brady said his entire family was “miffed” at Belichick for telling reporters to ask the quarterback about his preferences on game balls, and “very miffed” at Kraft for reluctantly announcing in 2015 that he wouldn’t fight Brady’s four-game ban. Of the notion Belichick had initially dumped Deflategate in his quarterback’s lap, one close friend of Brady’s said, “I thought Bill handled it terribly, especially when it involved a guy who’d done everything to help your career as a coach, and you hung him out to dry.”

  • Brady told friends that his weak answer to the news conference question about whether he was a cheater — “I don’t believe so” — didn’t betray a consciousness of Deflategate guilt, but rather thoughts of the earlier Spygate conviction and his belief that at least some of the suspicions over the years about alleged Patriots black-ops tactics were likely true.

Spygate

  • During the Patriots-Jets season opener in 2007, after a Patriots staffer had his camera confiscated for illegally filming Jets coaches from the sideline, three law enforcement officers refereed a heated debate in a Giants Stadium office over control of the camera and tape. FBI agent Bob Bukowski and longtime New Jersey state troopers and Meadowlands security officials Jim Crann and Pat Aramini, who had worked undercover to infiltrate the Genovese crime family, listened as Patriots security chief Mark Briggs and two Jets officials made what Crann called “cross allegations” of wrongdoing. Crann said Briggs kept accusing the Meadowlands officers of stealing New England’s camera. Said Bukowski of the Patriots and the Spygate tape: “They knew what was on it, and they wanted it back. They were trying any reason, but there was no way.”

Urban Meyer/Aaron Hernandez

  • While coaching the University of Florida, Urban Meyer warned at least one NFL team that it should not draft his talented but troubled tight end, Aaron Hernandez. Meyer told that team, “Look, this guy’s a hell of a football player, but he f—ing lies to beat the system and teaches all our other guys to beat the system. With the marijuana stuff, we’ve never caught this guy, but we know he’s doing it. … Don’t f—ing touch that guy.” An official with that NFL team said he was taken aback when Meyer’s friend, Belichick, drafted Hernandez in the fourth round. “I never understood that,” the official said.

Bill Parcells

  • Parcells and Belichick had repaired much of the damage to their relationship caused by Belichick’s stormy departure from the Jets after 1999, but Parcells is quoted in the book questioning why his former defensive coordinator’s game plan in the Giants‘ Super Bowl XXV upset of Buffalo ended up in Canton. “I don’t know whose idea that was to put it in the Hall of Fame,” Parcells said. “If anything should be in the Hall of Fame, it should be [offensive coordinator] Ron Erhardt’s game plan. We had the ball for 40 minutes and some seconds. That takes work, consistent play. We were only on defense for 19 minutes. To me, we had a good game plan against them. It was well thought out, a couple of things we did, the two-man lines in that game. But I’m not diminishing anything. I’m just telling you. I don’t know how that happened. I’m not knocking anyone here.”

Nick Saban

  • Though the longtime friends formed a devastating tandem in 1994, when their Browns defense allowed a league-low 204 points, Belichick and Saban had their moments in Cleveland. Saban had little use for Belichick’s restrictions on his assistants’ access to reporters, and for Belichick’s conservative philosophy on defense. “Nick was so pissed with Bill,” recalled Pro Bowl defensive end Rob Burnett. “He wanted to do so many things and he was hamstrung by Bill. I used to meet with Nick all the time, and Bill would not bend as far as changing defenses. He stayed as vanilla as ice cream. … To Nick I was like ‘Oh, man, remember in training camp when they couldn’t block us on this blitz?’ He goes, ‘I know, I know. But sometimes I put it in the game plan and Bill won’t run it on Sundays.’ … At the end, it wasn’t the best relationship.”

Giants

  • George Young, longtime Giants general manager, made it clear the team’s defensive coordinator, Belichick, would never succeed Parcells. “I was there when [Young] said it,” recalled personnel man Chris Mara. “He said, ‘He’ll never become the Giants’ head coach.’ … George, like others, said, ‘This is an ex-lacrosse player. He’s a disheveled-looking mess most of the time.’ George was big on that other stuff as far as appearance, which is why he was so high on Ray Perkins, who took command of everyone around him and was a born leader. I just don’t think he saw that in Bill Belichick.”

Belichick’s father

  • Steve Belichick was ahead of his time on race relations. While serving in the Navy during World War II, Belichick’s father was the only white man who didn’t walk out of the officers’ club on Okinawa when one of the Navy’s first black officers, Samuel Barnes, walked in. Belichick instead befriended Barnes, who often faced racism during his service. Barnes’ daughter Olga likened their friendship to the cross-racial bond between former Chicago Bears running backs Gale Sayers and Brian Piccolo depicted in the 1971 film “Brian’s Song.”



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Tom Johnson to sign with Minnesota Vikings after Seattle Seahawks release


EAGAN, Minn. – Former Vikings defensive tackle Tom Johnson is set to reunite with his former team, a source confirmed to ESPN.



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Tom Brady of New England Patriots tells reporters he wants to ‘stick to football’


FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — Two days after saying that he’s learning to deal better with media reports of drama surrounding the New England Patriots, quarterback Tom Brady politely told reporters at his Friday news conference that he’s sticking to football.

“I don’t want to bring on any drama this year,” Brady said, two days before he will lead the team against the Houston Texans in the season opener. “I’m just focused on what I want to do, and be a great football player for this team and be a good example in the locker room, provide great leadership. That’s where my focus is. I know people want to talk about a lot of other things, but I just really want to stick on football and focus on being the best I can be for this team.”

Brady’s answer came after he was asked a question about his personal athletic trainer, close friend and business partner, Alex Guerrero.

The theme continued when Brady was later asked about Nike’s advertisement with quarterback Colin Kaepernick.

“I really want to focus on football, not hot topics, and my reaction to a lot of hot topics and so forth,” he said. “Get ready for the Texans — they’re a great team. That’s where my focus is, not on advertisements and so forth.”

Along those lines, Brady took note of the Philadelphia Eagles running the “Philly Philly” play in their season-opening win over the Atlanta Falcons — which members of the Eagles organization said they took from the Patriots, as it was the play in which Brady dropped a pass in Super Bowl LII.

“Good execution wins games,” said Brady, who watched Thursday’s opener with his son Jack. “I think that’s ultimately what we have to do. When you have to make the plays, you either make them or you don’t.”

Brady enters the season with a lighter-than-normal group of receivers, led by Chris Hogan, Phillip Dorsett and Cordarrelle Patterson as Julian Edelman is serving a four-game NFL suspension.

“I have confidence in them, certainly. Phillip and Chris, I obviously played a lot with them last year. Cordarrelle is new and he’s done some good things and he’s been productive in this league,” Brady said. “To be on this team, you have to be a good football player …. We’re all going to be learning on the fly and you have to build as the season goes.”

Brady, who was elected a team captain for the 17th straight year, said in his “Tom vs. Time” epilogue Wednesday that he hopes to play until he’s 45. But at the moment, it’s a short-term focus for him with the season opener in mind.

“I’m really excited,” he said. “It’s a blessing to be able to do it. I love playing football. I love the sport. I’ve been doing it for a long time. I’m not sure what life would be like without it. I’ve had a few experiences when I haven’t been out there and haven’t liked those very much.

“There’s no place I’d rather be Sunday afternoon at 1 o’clock than playing here, and playing well.”



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New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady says he’s dealing better with drama of team


FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady acknowledged that parts of the past couple of seasons were a struggle for him, saying some of that was due to his own approach, while acknowledging that he’s dealing better with media reports of drama surrounding the team.

“If I’m going to do something at this point, it’s going to be because I enjoy it. The last couple years, a lot of parts about football weren’t enjoyable when they should have been,” Brady said in an epilogue of the “Tom vs. Time” docuseries posted on Facebook on Wednesday.

“Some of it was my approach. And you know, I think any time you are together with people for a long period of time, relationships ebb and flow.”

Brady seemed to be referencing head coach Bill Belichick, who is in his 19th year in the role.

“I think people are just looking for something to write and talk about. They want to talk about a lot of drama,” Brady said in the epilogue. “I’m sure a lot of teams have things like that, but ours is just to the 10th degree. I’m learning to deal with it better. I don’t still give a f— that much anymore about anything.

“I think a lot of keeping things in perspective, like nothing is that big a deal to me anymore. Maybe I’m just caring about certain things that really matter, like my family, like people’s health, like life and death. To worry about a lot of bulls— that people may say or think or feel, like, I really don’t care anymore.”

Brady, who turned 41 on Aug. 3, explained in the epilogue that he didn’t attend voluntary spring practices because he “needed something different this year,” as did his family.

In recent weeks, Brady has stressed positivity in conversations in the locker room. In the epilogue, he reinforced his desire to play five more years.

“I’d love to play 41, 42, 43, 44, 45. It will be a challenge for me, I don’t think it’s going to be easy … but I think I can do it,” he said. “I’m not ready to say that I’m done, because I don’t feel like I am. I still feel like there’s things to accomplish.”

He added that the past eight years of his career have been better than his first 10.

“So I should just prolong it,” he said. “And that’s what I’m trying to do.”



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