|02.07.15 at 12:32 am ET|
A lot has changed for Malcolm Butler over the last week.
After the cornerback made a game-saving play in the Super Bowl last Sunday against the Seahawks, he was suddenly thrust into the national spotlight. He’s done most of the major network morning shows, and made a trip to Disneyland with teammate Julian Edelman. For the relatively shy West Alabama product, it’s been a bit of a whirlwind.
“You know, [life] changed real fast,” Butler said in a conference call with the media. “I’ve been busy a lot. Been having to do a lot of things. I probably can’t go grocery shopping or whatever. That’s what this game comes with at times. I’m just enjoying the moment. Life changes dramatically, in good ways. It just changed.”
It’s been a remarkable ride for the undrafted free agent this past season, who was signed shortly after the draft and fought his way onto the 53-man roster. As the only rookie cornerback, playing time was occasionally scarce over the course of the season, but he said Friday that didn’t deter him.
“I came in trying to make the best of my opportunity — I came to practice and I played like my hair’s on fire,” he said. “I did everything the coaches asked of me to make the team. Once I made the team, I wanted to keep striving. It’s kind of hard sitting back and not playing and just playing special teams, but I’ll do whatever the team needs me to do.
“When I get my opportunity to get in the game, everyone has good ones, everyone has bad ones. No matter what, I’m going to do my best to play the best I can and just took advantage of my opportunities.”
|02.06.15 at 3:23 pm ET|
Appearing on CBS This Morning, Robert Kraft answered a number of questions on a number of different topics, including Deflategate, the Super Bowl, Malcolm Butler, and keeping Bill Belichick and Tom Brady together with the Patriots.
The quarterback and coach duo have been to six Super Bowls, and have won four of them, solidifying their spot as the best coach, quarterback tandem of all-time. Kraft said he does not want there to be a time where one of them is on the Patriots without the other.
“As long as the good lord lets me breathe, that’s my objective,” said Kraft on CBS This Morning. “We’ve been able to keep it together for 15 years, and I don’t think there is any other head coach-owner relationship like that. Tommy is just so special the way he takes care of himself, the way he trains and the kind of leader he is.”
Belichick and Brady were attacked in the media in the two weeks leading up to the Super Bowl with all things Deflategate related, and Kraft backed his coach and quarterback the Monday prior to the big game with a statement demanding the NFL apologize if there was no wrongdoing on the Patriots’ part.
Kraft backed his guys again on Friday.
“Whenever you’re privileged to get to this big game there’s always a lot of distractions that come about. The bottom line is we won our championship game 45-7 and we won the Super Bowl 28-24, and the league pretty much had full charge of the footballs,” said Kraft. “They’re looking into it and I’m really comfortable with the people we have in this organization.”
|02.06.15 at 2:18 pm ET|
It was the ugly fight that marred the end of one of the greatest Super Bowls in NFL history.
On Friday, the NFL handed out fines to the four players at the heart of the fisticuffs. For instigating the whole brawl, Seahawks linebacker Bruce Irvin was fined $10,000. This comes in addition to his ejection from the game.
Irvin was spotted grabbing the facemask of Michael Hoomanawanui in the back of the end zone with 18 seconds left in the fourth quarter. Irvin initially got into it with Rob Gronkowski at the line of scrimmage. Also fined was Seattle defensive end Michael Bennett. He was docked $8,268 for his role in the altercation, which included tackling Gronkowski to the ground after Irvin was pushed off to the side.
Gronkowski appeared on “Jimmy Kimmel Live” on Tuesday and pretended to not be aware of throwing any punches before Kimmel showed him the tape. “I don’t think I did. No, Roger [Goodell], I did not. Oh. Ooh. Ooh. Roger, that wasn’t me. Don’t fine me. I have to buy a new party bus.”
Left with no other choice but to admit his role, Gronk explained, “Screw it, last game of the year, I’m throwing some haymakers.”
Those haymakers cost Gronkowski $8,268, the same amount his teammate Michael Hoomanawanui was fined. Gronkowski will no doubt still be able to upgrade that party bus with his Super Bowl winners’ share.
|02.06.15 at 1:08 pm ET|
The most talked-about play of the game is the Seahawks‘ decision to throw the ball on the goal line instead of letting Marshawn Lynch run. The play resulted in the Malcolm Butler interception that sealed the victory for the Pats.
“I thought the real key part of that play was that New England brought on its goal-line defense, and when New England brought on its goal-line defense, that was when Seattle went to the three-wide receiver package,” Schefter said, adding: “The bottom line for that is that New England dictated to Seattle rather than Seattle dictating to New England the type of play that was going to be run. … Obviously that worked out very very well for the New England Patriots.”
Schefter expressed a belief that Seattle coach Pete Carroll is receiving too much blame for the play call.
“If they had thrown a touchdown there, I promise you people would have said, ‘Look at how smart Pete Carroll is, and how creative, and going outside the box, and running their play on that spot,’ ” Schefter said. “But it didn’t. If the play worked no matter what he ran, he was going to be brilliant. And if it didn’t work no matter what he ran, he was going to be ripped.”
“[The Patriots] have done this in a free agent era that is designed to promote and implement and have parity,” Schefter said. “This league is built for everybody to finish 8-8, for teams with great players to lose great players. And yet New England during that time has still managed to find a way to go to six Super Bowls. … The only one of those dynasty type of situations that we’re talking about that’s had to fend off the salary cap and the parity that the league always is striving for.”
Leading up to the Super Bowl, the Patriots were under scrutiny for the Deflategate controversy.
“There are people in the Patriots organization, multiple people, that are adamant that nothing happened, they did nothing wrong, this is an overdone, blown-up situation that got carried away when they did nothing,” Schefter said.
“I don’t think that they’re going to exercise the $20 million option,” Schefter said. “I’ve always thought that to be unlikely. So I think they sit down, they try to get something worked out. … If they don’t and he gets out in the market — you can take this to the bank — the Jets and the Bills are going to make major runs at him.”
For more Patriots news, visit the team page at weei.com/patriots.
|02.06.15 at 12:31 pm ET|
The Patriots announced Friday that, in addition to the nine practice squad players they signed to futures contracts on Thursday, they have also signed defensive lineman Antonio Johnson, linebacker Rufus Johnson and running back Dion Lewis to futures contracts. Here’s a portion of the statement from the team on the moves:
Johnson (Antonio), 30, is a veteran of six NFL seasons with Indianapolis (2008-2012) and Tennessee (2013). The 6-foot3, 328-pounder, originally entered the NFL as a fifth-round draft pick (152nd overall) by Tennessee out of Mississippi State in the 2007 NFL Draft. Johnson began his rookie season on the Tennessee practice squad before being signed to the Indianapolis 53-man roster. He re-signed with Tennessee as an unrestricted free agent in the 2014 offseason but was released by the Titans prior to the start of the regular season. He has played in 83 NFL games with 52 starts and has accumulated 143 total tackles, 4½ sacks and three passes defensed.
Johnson (Rufus), 24, was originally drafted by the New Orleans Saints in the sixth round (183rd overall) of the 2014 NFL Draft out of Tarleton State. The 6-foot-5, 272-pounder, was released by the Saints prior to the start of the regular season.
Lewis, 24, is a veteran of three NFL seasons with Philadelphia (2011-2012) and Cleveland (2013). He was released by Cleveland at the end of training camp last season and was signed by Indianapolis, who then released him six days later. The 5-foot-8, 195-pounder, originally entered the NFL as a fifth-round draft pick (149th overall) out of Pittsburgh by Philadelphia in the 2011 NFL Draft. He was traded by Philadelphia to Cleveland on April 11, 2013 in exchange for LB Emmanuel Acho. Lewis spent the 2013 season on injured reserve with a leg injury. He has played in 24 NFL games and has 171 yards rushing on 36 attempts with two touchdowns and has three receptions for 21 yards.
|02.06.15 at 12:14 pm ET|
“Tom [Brady] is the one after we won the first Super Bowl who said that the one that’s sweetest is the next one,” Kraft said, adding: “I think that it felt good, but I think those emotions come at the minute and you experience them but then you’re focused on what’s going to happen in the future. And if you’re lucky enough to win another one, I think that one feels probably in the moment sweeter than anything you’ve experienced before.”
Added Kraft: “The bottom line is we had a hell of a Super Bowl game. … It was an awesome football game, and ultimately, that’s what the National Football League is about. Just incredible competition and entertainment.”
“You got to see why Tom Brady is the greatest of all time,” Kraft said. “Whether we had won or lost that game, it didn’t matter. To go to nine AFC championship games and six Super Bowls, and now to have won four, in an era of a hard cap and unrestricted free agency and coaching staff turnover. These other guys he gets compared to played in a totally different era where you had much greater consistency and there were fewer teams in the league and the level of competition just wasn’t what it is now. And, you know, that fourth quarter is Tom Brady, and he is as great a competitor as has ever played the game, he’s the greatest leader, he is the greatest quarterback. … He deserves it and the team deserves it.”
In the weeks leading up to the Super Bowl, Brady and the Patriots were brought under scrutiny for Deflategate.
“It was more a feeling of displeasure at how the whole thing had started and been handled,” Kraft said when asked about the controversy, adding: “Throughout that week, there was just a lot of stuff that was in the media which we didn’t feel was appropriate. You’re supposed to be, in the world, innocent until proven guilty.”
“I think we’re about to get started on the offseason,” Kraft said. “He is under contract for next year. I realize that it’s probably, people understand that that’s a placeholder. We’ll get to work on trying to make that happen and hopefully both sides will want to make a deal and we’ll get that done. He’s been everything and more since he’s been here.”
For more Patriots news, go to the team page at weei.com/patriots.
|02.06.15 at 11:05 am ET|
Superior Court Judge Susan Garsh has made it clear she doesn’t want any distractions as she oversees the Aaron Hernandez murder trial in Fall River. On Friday, she reminded Hernandez’s lawyer after the attorney made a Deflategate joke.
As a state trooper was testifying about tire pressure Thursday, attorney James Sultan jokingly asked the policeman if he had ever received “training in football deflation devices.”
As the trial resumed Friday morning, Garsh told Sultan that it is serious business, and she does not want any more joking around. Sultan acknowledged and expressed his regret.
The jury was scheduled to tour Hernandez’s North Attleboro home Friday. On Thursday the defense agreed to a prosecution request to remove trophies and religious items that had been added to the home since the events of June 2013, when Odin Lloyd was shot to death and dumped outside an office park near Hernandez’s home. The prosecution cited the O.J. Simpson case, noting that the defense added family photos and religious items to make it appear the defendant was a religious family man.