|01.29.15 at 3:26 pm ET|
Known as a player unafraid to speak his mind, Bennett didn’t hold back on the subjects of paying college players, the long-term health impact of playing in the NFL, and his belief that Goodell is wildly overpaid.
Start with college. Bennett graduated from Texas A&M and finds it distasteful that colleges rake in the cash while athletes get nothing.
“And to say you only get a degree?” he said. “I think the NCAA should come up with some kind of plan for college athletes to receive some of the money they bring in to the school. I think my school, Texas A&M, averaged $50 million just on jersey sales. There’s ticket sales. Think about all of the things they sell. They sell numbers of guys that don’t have names on the back of their jerseys. But we all know who No. 2 is from College Station and that would be Johnny Manziel. He made so much money for the university, but the players don’t see any of it.”
Bennett thinks college players should have a certain amount of money placed in a 401k for each year they remain in college ‘ “maybe $60,000,” he said ‘ and the players can get access to the money after they graduate.
“That gives you a chance to do something special in life,” he said.
The way it work now, students-athletes are viewed as little more than disposable employees.
“You give so much to these schools and they just move on,” he said. “And of course [Michigan] can pay Jim Harbaugh $48 million, because they don’t have to pay any of the athletes. The athletes are the ones who make the schools, not the coaches. If Nick Saban doesn’t have those athletes that he has, if he doesn’t have those 5-star recruits, can you still be Alabama? The coaches don’t really matter, but the coaches are so egotistical in college, it’s actually amazing to me that so many of those guys think they’re the ones that are doing it. It’s really the players and they don’t get their just do.”
|01.29.15 at 3:24 pm ET|
Things took off from there and the comment has been a major topic of conversation this week. Browner clarified on Thursday that was not his intent to turn into a huge thing, and Sherman as well as his other former Seahawk teammates would not take offense to the comment.
“[I didn’t expect it to] blow up the way it did, but at the end of the day I don’t regret anything I said because those guys know where I am coming from,” Browner said. “It is about winning the championship. We play a violent game. We play football. It is not like we play water polo or swimming or anything like that. It is a physical game and we want to be as physical with those guys as we can.”
Having spent three seasons in Seattle and being a member of the Legion of Boom secondary, Browner is still close to his former teammates.
“Off the field those are still my brothers,” Browner said. “On the field my brothers are the guys I go to work with every day, guys that put their life on the line for me on Sunday’s. Those are the guys that I am meshing with at this point. Come offseason, those guys will be my friends again.”
Having spent three seasons with the Seahawks, there was a thought of maybe he could help with the game plan and pass on some knowledge from his time there. Browner said Bill Belichick didn’t ask him for any help.
“No, that is Belichick. He is going to cover all corners,” he said. “That is why he is one of the best coaches in this league. I tried to help the guys as I could, but it seemed like Belichick had the guys down pat.”
|01.29.15 at 3:17 pm ET|
|01.29.15 at 2:34 pm ET|
The quarterback is 160-47 in the regular season, the highest winning percentage among active NFL quarterbacks, and he also has the top winning percentage of the Super Bowl era (.773), besting Roger Staubach (.746).
“His desire to be so competitive, I’ve never seen it,” Revis said. “You could put him in the category of Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson, just some of the great athletes in this world, and I’m talking different sports, too. He has the fight, the will and the determination to go out there and destroy anybody who’s in his way. You see the results on the field, he’s awesome.”
After spending his first six seasons in the NFL with the Jets, he was traded to Tampa Bay for the 2013 season. He only lasted one season in Tampa, signing with New England as a free agent last offseason.
Revis said Thursday he made the right decision.
“Yes, definitely by far,” he said. “In New England we have one of the best NFL teams in the league and joining this organization has been a process, but at the same time it’s been great, it’s been awesome. This is what we came for, we want to be in these big games.”
Revis wasn’t the only player the team added this past offseason in the secondary, as they also signed Brandon Browner — one of the most physical cornerbacks in the NFL.
“Us two adding to the team just speaks volumes,” said Revis. “It’s something that builds in our game that we can bring to this team and this city and we’ve been playing well together, not just me and Browner, the whole secondary. We’ve been playing lights out football and we just have to continue to feed off each other, I think that’s what makes us go. Out on the field we have a lot of energy and we have a lot of chemistry.”
The Patriots defense finished the regular season allowing just 19.8 points per game, the ninth fewest in the league.
Newcomers Revis and Browner will have their hands full with Seattle quarterback Russell Wilson this Sunday in Super Bowl XLIX, as he is a duel threat, pass-throw quarterback, something the defense will need to be aware of.
“He’s very dangerous, he’s one of the best scramblers in the NFL,” said Revis. “He extends plays. When you watch film on him, you see plays from eight to 10 seconds. He’s scrambling, he’s running around trying to make a play. I think that’s one of the biggest things about him, he tries to make, not the perfect play, but he just tries to make a play for his team. It’s impressive, the fight he has for his team as a quarterback.”
|01.29.15 at 2:32 pm ET|
CHANDLER, Ariz. — One of the things that ended up derailing the 2007 Patriots from finishing the season with a Super Bowl title was the fact that, according to several players on that team, they had a miserable week of practice in Arizona in the days leading up to their title game against the Giants.
And while the 2014 Patriots still have a few practice sessions remaining over the course of the week, they all indicated Thursday morning that their first run-through at the Arizona Cardinals‘ facility on Wednesday was a productive practice session for several reasons, not the least of which was the fact they didn’t have to bundle up to guard against the New England cold.
“It was great not to have to wear two hoodies, sweatpants, thermal tights and all that,” said wide receiver Brandon LaFell. “It felt good to go out there and be in your uniform without all those extra layers. It felt like a day at training camp, really.”
“It was a great practice, honestly,” said wide receiver Danny Amendola. “To be out in this weather and run around and throw the ball. You don’t have to wear too many layers. It was fun.”
“That’s exactly what I was about to say,” linebacker Dont’a Hightower said with a smile when informed of Amendola and LaFell’s assessment of the conditions. “It felt good to be out and running around. We had a couple of days off. It felt good to get back out there. Everybody moved well and everybody looked like they were doing pretty well. It was just good to finally get a real sweat going again instead of having to wear eight layers of clothing. It felt good to be back out there.”
Defensive lineman Wilfork is one of a handful of players who were part of that 2007 team that say its dream die in the desert at the hands of the Giants. He’s still reticent to talk about that defeat — “I don’t think about it,” when he was asked about it on Thursday morning — but it sounds like he believes the team is in a better place when it comes to practice and focus in the days leading up to the game.
“It’s good. I’m very happy with where the focus is,” he said. “I’m very happy with where we sit right now as a team. I think we’re ready. We have a couple more days to be sure and sharpen up few things, but for the most part, I think we’ve gotten everything we want to do done. The guys are really excited to play, and hopefully, it’ll show on Sunday.”
While the Patriots will hold two more practices this week — sessions on Thursday and Friday before a final walkthrough on Saturday at University of Phoenix Stadium — it’s more about fine-tuning at this point.
“We’re pretty much recapping at this point — we put in some red zone and some of the stuff we did last week,” LaFell said. “We’re just taking the final steps now toward where we need to be on Sunday.”
“I feel like that’s the biggest part of execution is kind of getting all the knots out now,” Hightower said. “Come Sunday, everyone knows the game plan. Everybody knows their checks. Everyone knows the game plan. They know their checks. And everybody is playing two or three steps faster than what they might be used to. But these next couple of practices will be key for us.”
|01.29.15 at 2:22 pm ET|
CHANDLER, Ariz. — Junior Seau will be elected to the Hall of Fame this Saturday by pro football writers.
At least that’s the assumption Bill Belichick is going on. The Patriots coach couldn’t have made his support for the player and the man more evident Thursday morning, two days before the election takes place.
“Well, it would mean a lot. It’s obviously got to happen. I can’t imagine having a Professional Football Hall of Fame without Junior Seau in it,” Belichick began. “The one word that comes to me when I think of Junior in life and football [is] passion. He’s a very passionate guy, lot of energy, lot of enthusiasm. First guy in the building in the morning, watching film, lifting weights, ready for practice, always loved to practice, flying around on the practice field, energy before the game on the sideline [and] during the game, emotional player, but a smart player.”
Seau was a 10-time All-Pro, 12-time Pro Bowl selection, and named to the NFL 1990s All-Decade Team. The San Diego native played college football at Southern Cal before being chosen by the Chargers as the fifth overall pick of the 1990 NFL draft. Seau started for 13 seasons for the Chargers before being traded to the Miami Dolphins, where he spent three years. Then, before the 2006 season, Belichick finally got a chance to coach one of his favorite players. He did so for the final four seasons of his career.
“[He] was a player that played with a purpose; played with good physical skill; but also good concentration, good awareness. Great team player, very supportive of his teammates, I mean, everybody in the locker room loved Junior,” Belichick said. “They loved what he did and they loved the way that he interacted with the team. He was a great player. I was very fortunate to have the opportunity to coach him. We had a lot of great experiences together.”
Seau retired after the 2009 season Obviously it was the end of his career; things were a little different than when he was in San Diego and so forth. But he brought a lot of energy and passion to our team, and I personally had a very good relationship with Junior. I loved coaching him and he always expressed how much he enjoyed playing on the New England Patriots and that meant a lot to me.” Read the rest of this entry »
|01.29.15 at 2:03 pm ET|
CHANDLER, Ariz. — In what has become seemingly a weekly tradition, following every Rob Gronkowski touchdown he spikes the football in the end zone, better known as a Gronk Spike.
The star tight end has wanted to do it since high school, but back in high school he would get flagged for it. Now that he’s in the NFL, he can do it all he wants.
“Oh, the Gronk Spike? I always actually just wanted to do it in high school and college after a touchdown, and it was always a flag, so I had really never done it in college or high school, but when I got to the NFL I finally got my opportunity, and I just always wanted to spike the ball,” Gronkowski said. “I just felt like that trait just went with me, so I did it and it caught on. It’s just a good feeling when you get that score and you do your little touchdown celebration to get your team going.”
Gronkowski was asked if there’s a certain technique that he follows.
“There’s not really a certain technique,” he said. “You kind of wind up like a pitcher and you just spike it to the ground. Sometimes there are good spikes and sometimes there are bad ones. It all depends on how the ball hits the ground.”
He finished with 12 Gronk Spikes (touchdowns) this season, while hauling in a total of 82 passes for 1,124 yards. It was the second-best statistical season of his career, as he played in 15 games.
With all the hype that comes with Super Bowl week, Gronkowski is chomping at the bit to play the game.
“I just wish the game was today,” said Gronkowski. “I’ve been saying that for like the last week ever since Monday hit of last week. We just have to stay patient and stay calm we’ve just got to keep doing what we’re doing and focusing. The game will come in no time.”
Quarterback Tom Brady is playing for his fourth Super Bowl title, which would tie Joe Montana for the most all-time, and the win would do a lot for his legacy of being considered the best quarterback to ever play the game. Gronkowski acknowledged the game is huge for the legacy of not only Brady, but the entire Patriots organization.
“Oh, no doubt. This game’s huge,” said Gronkowski. “It’s just based legacies on this game for a lot of players ‘ for Tom [Brady], for Vince [Wilfork], for the whole organization, and I feel like it bases the legacy of myself. Having a Super Bowl is huge. It’s a lot different than being the MVP or having an award for being the Outstanding Player. Being a Super Bowl champion, I feel like if it occurs, no doubt it’ll be one of the greatest things to happen.”