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Perfect weather greets fans gathered for ‘Free Tom Brady’ rally at Gillette Stadium

05.24.15 at 2:49 pm ET
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For Patriots fans, it was picture perfect weather to rally behind their picture perfect quarterback.

According to the “Free Tom Brady” rally Facebook page, 600 people committed part of their Memorial Day Sunday to show their support for the embattled Patriots quarterback in Lot 4 of Gillette Stadium. Estimates had the attendance actually on site less than the 600 figure.

Fans held signs that read “Free Tom Brady” and “Fire Goodell,” voicing their displeasure over the four-game suspension that was handed down to Brady by NFL commissioner Roger Goodell for the quarterback’s role in Deflategate.

Brady has appealed the suspension through the Players Association, which requested last week that league commissioner Roger Goodell recuse himself from hearing the appeal. Goodell’s lawyers have suggested he deny the union’s request.

Patriots fans across New England and the country have rallied around Brady, whom they feel has been an unfair target of the probe by Ted Wells and the NFL to look into why footballs were under inflated in the first half of the AFC championship game against the Colts.

This week at Fenway Park, fans have broken out in spontaneous cheers of “Free Tom Brady,” including Friday night when the team was down 12-5 in the 8th inning of a loss to the Los Angeles Angels.

Fans showed their disgust for NFL commissioner Roger Goodell and their support of Tom Brady. (Maggie Meyer/Getty Images)

Fans showed their disgust for NFL commissioner Roger Goodell and their support of Tom Brady. (Maggie Meyer/Getty Images)

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Sunday NFL Notes: Is this the week we hear from Tom Brady?

05.24.15 at 6:00 am ET
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Tom Brady met the media last year while at his celebrity touch football game, which benefits Best Buddies. (Paul Marotta/Getty Images for Best Buddies)

Tom Brady met the media this time last last year at his celebrity touch football game, which benefits Best Buddies and is part of a charitable weekend for the quarterback. (Paul Marotta/Getty Images for Best Buddies)

1. The sports media calendar starts to fill up again this week. First and foremost, there’s the potential to hear more from quarterback Tom Brady prior to his annual Best Buddies charity event, set for Friday and Saturday. In year’s past, Brady has made the rounds in a series of pre-promotional interviews in the days leading up to the event, and has spoken at halftime of his celebrity touch football game at Harvard on Friday night. In the wake of the news regarding his suspension, it’s not clear if he’ll address the Wells Report, but it should be an interesting few days for the quarterback. In addition, the Patriots are scheduled to make their rookies available to the media on Wednesday and Thursday. The introduction of the first-year players, which was delayed in the wake of the Deflategate news, will include first-round pick Malcom Brown on Wednesday, as well as other members of the rookie class on Thursday. In addition, there will be access to OTAs on Friday.

2. If Brady will be sidelined for a stretch in 2015, the natural question arises: Do the Patriots need to add a veteran signal-caller as a backup to (presumed) starter Jimmy Garoppolo? New England does have Garrett Gilbert (who ended the 2014 season on the practice squad) as the only other quarterback on the roster, but examining the list of available free agents (a group that includes Matt Flynn and Mike Vick), it doesn’t look like there are a lot of potential fits in Foxboro, even on a part-time basis. At the same time, there are financial ramifications to consider. While the move wouldn’t likely break the bank, signing a veteran as a backup for the start of the season would mean that the contract for the additional quarterback would be guaranteed. Considering that said backup would likely be jettisoned soon after Brady returns, it’s worth wondering if the Patriots would be inclined it spend that sort of money on someone who — in an ideal world — would be holding a clipboard for a few weeks. From this viewpoint, if a former Brady backup does become available between now and the start of the season (Brian Hoyer and Ryan Mallett come to mind), the Patriots could add them after Week One. That would give New England a relatively inexpensive insurance plan if something did happen to Garoppolo in the opener. Regardless, it’s another team-building question that needs to be taken into consideration as the team sits and waits for Brady’s appeal to take place.

3. Ever since rookie salaries became slotted, the race to get draft picks signed and into the system has lost some of its old drama. Currently, the Patriots have nine of their 11 draft picks signed, with only first-rounder Brown and fifth-rounder Joe Cardona yet to agree to contracts. Cardona (Navy) is the last fifth-round selection to sign, and given his background, it’s reasonable to speculate how much of that has to do with his uncertain future as it relates to a possible military commitment. As for Brown, he is one of 11 first-round picks who have yet to sign. Overall, as of Tuesday (according to our friend Brian McIntyre), over 80 percent of the 2015 class has signed/agreed to terms, including 91 percent of Day 3 picks.

4. The Dolphins are all in. If the free-agent addition of Ndamukong Suh wasn’t enough of a sign earlier this spring, that fact was hammered home this week when they went and gave a $96 million deal to quarterback Ryan Tannehill. (While guaranteed money is the bottom line and contracts can always be re-worked, it’s remarkable to think that the Dolphins narrowly avoided becoming the first team in NFL history to have two players with $100 million contracts in Suh and Tannehill.) In addition, Miami has spent heavily this offseason to retain veterans like Mike Pouncey, Cameron Wake and Branden Albert. Their spending is part of a “win now” attitude, according to owner Stephen Ross. However, it’s a huge gamble for the Dolphins, who could face their financial reckoning in 2016 unless several of their players volunteer to re-do their deals. Miami is already $17 million over the cap for next year, and the money it has committed to this season and beyond could hamstring their team-building process down the road. Ross should be applauded for ponying up the dough to try and build a winner, but that short-term financial thinking approach could spell disaster in the long term if the Dolphins can’t capitalize in 2015.

5. While NFL training camps are still a few months away, the Canadian Football League will kick off their preseason workouts this week north of the border. While the news that Michael Sam joined Montreal drew some attention, from our perspective, there are a few former Patriots worth keeping an eye on as the CFL season approaches: In Montreal, wide receiver Chad Johnson, who spent a forgettable 2011 season with the Patriots, as well as defensive end Aaron Lavarias, who was on and off the Patriots roster in 2011 and 2012, are both on the Montreal roster with Sam. Wide receiver Tiquan Underwood — most famous for being cut the night before Super Bowl XLVI — is a member of the Hamilton receiving corps, while wide receiver Lavelle Hawkins, who had a cup of coffee with New England in the summer of 2013, is in camp with British Columbia. And veteran Austin Collie, who spent time with New England at the end of the 2013 season and distinguished himself as a receiver who developed a good chemistry in a very short time with Brady, is also on the roster with the BC Lions.

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Patriots fans to stage ‘Free Tom Brady’ rally Sunday at Gillette Stadium

05.23.15 at 6:16 pm ET
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Tom Brady will be getting support from Patriots fans on Sunday at Gillette Stadium. (Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

Tom Brady will be getting support from Patriots fans on Sunday at Gillette Stadium. (Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

Patriots fans will be taking time out of their Memorial Day weekend to show their support for their embattled superstar quarterback.

According to a Facebook fan page, fans will be holding a rally in support of Tom Brady at Gillette Stadium on Sunday from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. The event, according to a post on the page, describes the event as a “peaceful rally to protest the unjust football arrest of half God half man Tom Brady.”

The rally takes place at Patriot Place Parking Lot 4, in the general area of the Patriots Pro Shop and Hall at Patriot Place, which houses the team’s hall of fame.

Brady has been suspended for the first four games of next season by the NFL for his role in Deflategate. Brady has appealed the suspension through the Players Association, which requested last week that league commissioner Roger Goodell recuse himself from hearing the appeal. Goodell’s lawyers have suggested he deny the union’s request.

Patriots fans across New England and the country have rallied around Brady, whom they feel has been an unfair target of the probe by Ted Wells and the NFL to look into why footballs were under inflated in the first half of the AFC championship game against the Colts.

This week at Fenway Park, fans have broken out in spontaneous cheers of “Free Tom Brady,” including Friday night when the team was down 12-5 in the 8th inning of a loss to the Los Angeles Angels.

A "Free Tom Brady" rally has been organized for Sunday on Facebook. (Mike Petraglia/WEEI.com)

A “Free Tom Brady” rally has been organized for Sunday on Facebook. (Mike Petraglia/WEEI.com)

As of Saturday afternoon, nearly 250 people had confirmed via the Facebook page that they were planning to attend. Fans are also encouraged to wear Tom Brady jerseys. Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Deflategate, New England Patriots, Tom Brady,

Report: Roger Goodell will hear Tom Brady appeal after NFL rejects NFLPA motion

05.22.15 at 4:30 pm ET
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According to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, the NFL rejected the NFLPA motion that Roger Goodell recuse himself from Tom Brady‘s appeal.

This means Goodell will hear Brady’s appeal, which goes against what Brady and the NFLPA wanted. The date for the appeal reportedly hasn’t been set.

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Report: Still no date set for Tom Brady appeal hearing

05.22.15 at 3:12 pm ET
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Those looking for a date for Tom Brady‘s appeal hearing will need to wait a little longer.

According to Pro Football Talk, the league office says no date has been set for the hearing. The NFLPA officially filed the appeal last Thursday, May 14.

For more Patriots news, visit weei.com/patriots.

Read More: Deflategate, Tom Brady,

NFLPA chief DeMaurice Smith questions independence of Wells Report

05.22.15 at 3:08 pm ET
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NFLPA chief DeMaurice Smith came out against the Wells Report Friday. (Rob Carr/Getty Images)

NFLPA chief De Maurice Smith came out against the Wells Report Friday. (Rob Carr/Getty Images)

Speaking for the first time since the release of the Wells Report and the subsequent punishments meted out to the Patriots, NFLPA Executive Director DeMaurice Smith hammered back at the league Friday afternoon, questioning whether or not Ted Wells was truly autonomous in his work.

“You can’t really have credibility just because you slap the word independent on a piece of paper,” Smith told ESPN.

He added: “I think the Wells Report delivered exactly what the client wanted.”

Smith also noted some of the inconsistencies in the report, saying that one part of the document credits the memory of referee Walt Anderson, while another section questioned Anderson’s recollection. He also took issue with the way it was written.

“The first thing that jumps out at you about the report is how negotiated the language is,” he said.

Smith said he does not know if there is some sort of agreement in place between commissioner Roger Goodell and Patriots owner Bob Kraft that included Kraft dropping his fight against in the league in exchange for Goodell reducing or eliminating the suspension of Brady. While Brady’s appeal is pending, a report from Pro Football Talk on Friday indicated that no date had been set for that meeting.

For more Patriots news, check out weei.com/patriots.

Read More: Bob Kraft, Deflategate, DeMaurice Smith, roger goodell

Bill Polian on MFB: Robert Kraft has ‘always been the NFL’s leading citizen’

05.22.15 at 12:20 pm ET
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ESPN NFL analyst Bill Polian, a frequent critic of the Patriots, joined the Middays with MFB crew on Friday to discuss Deflategate and how the Patriots are perceived around the NFL. To hear the interview, go to the MFB audio on demand page.

Polian, a former longtime Colts executive, had high praise for Robert Kraft, who this week announced the Patriots would not appeal their punishment for Deflategate.

“I think it’s just typical of Mr. Kraft. He’s always been the NFL’s leading citizen. He’s a leader in every way. He’s a guy who thinks about the league first, last and always,” Polian said. “Anybody else you might be a little bit surprised by the reaction, but knowing Mr. Kraft, I’m not surprised at all. He did what was best for the league rather than his own franchise.”

As for speculation that Kraft gave in to other owners, Polian said that’s unlikely due to the Patriots owner’s standing.

“No, I don’t think so. He’s one of the leading owners in the league. There’s no one going to pressure him,” Polian said. “The bottom line is he looked at the issues and recognized that while he probably would have liked things to turn out better for the Patriots in the long run, what’s important for the league is what ultimately counts. That attitude was called ‘league think,’ that phrase created, at least to my knowledge, by Pete Rozelle. And Mr. Kraft follows it to the letter.”

Polian said the issue is not about what did or did not happen, but whether the commissioner has the right to do what he did.

“It wasn’t about the argument,” Polian said. “At this point it isn’t about the Patriots or Tom Brady, even. It’s about the commissioner’s right to handle unilaterally — and in conjunction with the rights given him in the collective bargaining agreement since 1968, and tradition dating all the way back to the Black Sox in 1919, with Kenesaw Mountain Landis, the first commissioner of baseball. The commissioner has the right to handle the integrity of the game. It is his responsibility. And that responsibility extends not only to the owners and players and coaches and general managers and staff people, but to the fans as well. Because if the integrity of the game is called into question in any way, it affects the overall health of the game and standing of the game in society.

“So to take that from the commissioner is an absolutely bad precedent. And of course Round 2 of that takes place in Tom Brady‘s grievance hearing. But the fact that Mr. Kraft went ahead and accepted the commissioner’s decision is in line with the longstanding tradition of the league and is what is best for the league in the long run.”

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Read More: Bill Polian, Robert Kraft, roger goodell, Tom Brady
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