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Federal court reinstates Tom Brady’s Deflategate suspension

04.25.16 at 11:42 am ET
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Tom Brady

Tom Brady

Tom Brady’s four-game suspension due to Deflategate has been reinstated by the federal court. He will be suspended for the first four games of the 2016 season, as of now since Brady can appeal.

The NFL won by a 2-to-1 decision. Judge Parker and Chin sided with NFL, while Judge Katzmann dissented.

This is from the ruling: We hold that the Commissioner properly exercised his broad discretion under the collective bargaining agreement and that his procedural rulings were properly grounded in that agreement and did not deprive Brady of fundamental fairness.

The judges said the decision was not based on whether or not Brady actually was involved in a ball deflating scheme.

“Our role is not to determine for ourselves whether Brady participated in a scheme to deflate footballs or whether the suspension imposed by the Commissioner should have been for three games or five games or none at all.Nor is it our role to second‐guess the arbitrator’s procedural rulings. Our obligation is limited to determining whether the arbitration proceedings and award met the minimum legal standards established by the Labor Management Relations Act,” judge Barrington D. Parker said in the decision.

The court based the ruling on powers given to Roger Goodell in the CBA.

“The Commissioner was authorized to impose discipline for, among other things, ‘conduct detrimental to the integrity of, or public confidence, in the game of professional football.’ In their collective bargaining agreement, the players and the League mutually decided many years ago that the Commissioner should investigate possible rule violations, should impose appropriate sanctions, and may preside at arbitrations challenging his discipline. Although this tripartite regime may appear somewhat unorthodox, it is the regime bargained for and agreed upon by the parties, which we can only presume they determined was mutually satisfactory,” Parker wrote.

Brady will now miss the first four games of the 2016 season — at Arizona and home against Miami, Houston and Buffalo.

For the full ruling, click here.

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Even after Deflategate flap, Tom Brady still moves more merchandise than any other NFL player

04.25.16 at 9:55 am ET
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Tom Brady

Tom Brady

So much for the Deflategate scandal impinging on Tom Brady’s ability to move product.

According to a Monday announcement from the NFLPA, the Patriots’ quarterback finished first on the top 50 player sales list for the 2015-16 season, retaking the top spot from Seattle quarterback Russell Wilson. (Brady had previously held the No. 1 ranking for the first quarter of 2015.) Wilson dropped to third, while Denver quarterback Peyton Manning finished second.

It was believed by some that Brady’s perceived role in Deflategate would damage his reputation with the public, but the quarterback has not lost any of his high-profile endorsements along the way. In addition, Brady continues to be a regular presence at or near the top of most of these sorts of lists, including overall jersey sales.

Brady wasn’t the only member of the Patriots in the top 10 — tight end Rob Gronkowski finished eighth overall. Julian Edelman (23rd) was the only other member of the Patriots in the top 50.

The list is released quarterly by the NFLPA, via its licensing and marketing arm NFL Players Inc., and is based on overall sales of all licensed products from online and traditional retail outlets. The list is based on total sale of all merchandise from March 1, 2015 through February 29, 2016.

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Via Twitter, former Patriots teammates react to death of Ron Brace

04.24.16 at 6:54 pm ET
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Following the announcement that former second-round pick Ron Brace had died over the weekend, several of his former Patriots’ teammates took to Twitter to express their grief over his passing.

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Patriots ‘deeply saddened’ to hear of death of former DL Ron Brace

04.24.16 at 6:40 pm ET
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The Patriots have released a statement in the wake of the death of former defensive lineman Ron Brace.

“We were deeply saddened to hear the news this morning of Ron Brace’s death. Seven years ago tomorrow, we drafted Ron after his standout career at Boston College. During his Patriots career, the Springfield native was always eager to volunteer and give back in our communities, especially when those community initiatives were held in Western Mass. It is difficult to believe that someone so young and in the prime of his life is no longer with us. Our thoughts and prayers go out to Ron’s family, friends and the many former teammates who will mourn Ron’s passing.”

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Northwestern ‘superback’ Danny Vitale joins ‘NFL Sunday’ to talk Patriots, draft and what looms next weekend

04.24.16 at 6:07 pm ET
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Northwestern “superback” Danny Vitale joined Mike Giardi and Chris Price on WEEI’s “NFL Sunday” to discuss the draft, the combine, and interviewing with various NFL teams — including the Patriots. The highest-rated fullback in the draft, he says he’d welcome the chance to be taken by New England.

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Former BC, Patriots DT Ron Brace dies at age 29

04.24.16 at 3:21 pm ET
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Ron Brace was 29. (Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

Ron Brace was 29. (Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

Former Boston College and Patriots defensive tackle Ron Brace has died at age 29, according to social media posts from friends, relatives and former teammates.

Brace attended Burncoat Senior High School in Worcester before playing four years at BC from 2005-08. His standout career for the Eagles resulted in the Patriots drafting him in the second round (40th overall) in 2009.

Brace battled injuries throughout his NFL career and wound up playing 39 games over four seasons for New England from 2009-12. He signed with the Redskins in 2013 but was cut before the season started, effectively ending his career.

The cause of death has not been disclosed.

Sunday NFL Notes: Mike Mayock breaks down Patriots’ draft needs

04.24.16 at 5:30 am ET
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Mike Mayock knows what sort of player Bill Belichick likes to target come draft weekend. (Trevor Ruszkowski/USA Today Sports)

Mike Mayock knows what sort of player Bill Belichick likes to target come draft weekend. (Trevor Ruszkowski/USA Today Sports)

1. Predicting what the Patriots are going to do on draft weekend is always a bit of a fools’ errand. At the same time, there are some guys we’ve learned to listen to when it comes to Bill Belichick’s approach. It’s a small group that includes NFL Network analyst Mike Mayock, a certified Friend of Belichick who seems unusually dialed in to the coach might do around the draft. (Maybe it’s because Mayock played briefly as a safety for the Giants when Belichick was an assistant coach in North Jersey, and the two have maintained a relationship ever since.) On a lengthy conference call with the media on Friday, Mayock was asked about what sort of player might appeal to the Patriots with the No. 60 overall pick, and whether or not New England is in decent shape because many pundits have suggested there’s not much of a difference in this draft between the 30th and 60th overall pick in terms of talent. He agreed, and listed three different positions and a handful of players who could end up with the Patriots.

Defensive line: “There’s got to be some defensive tackles, I would imagine, that are sitting there that look and smell like New England Patriots. I’m not sure if they’re looking for the three-technique quick guy like a Javon Hargrave from South Carolina State or Adolphus Washington of Ohio State or even a Sheldon Day (of Notre Dame), who is more of a nickel pass-rusher as a three-technique. My point is that they’ve got Malcolm Brown and Terrance Knighton that are big, strong, tough defensive tackles. (The Patriots) probably would like a three-technique type of guy that can get up the field and be really quick in the sub-package, and I think one of those type of guys will definitely be there.”

Running back: “I think the running back position could be interesting. (Utah’s) Devontae Booker, Kenneth Dixon from Louisiana Tech, (Jordan) Howard from Indiana, (Notre Dame’s) C.J. Prosise. I think the running back position could be very interesting there.”

Offensive line: “The offensive line thing is interesting. (Sebastian) Vollmer is 32 years old (and) had a bunch of injuries the last couple years. You start getting down into the bottom of the second round, and if you like the kid (Halapoulivaati) Vaitai from TCU, and (Auburn’s) Shon Coleman, (LSU’s) Gerald Hawkins, Le’Raven Clark (of Texas Tech), there are a bunch of names that could make sense for New England.”

2. While he’s not nearly at the same level as someone like Josh Norman — both from an on-field and contractual situation — the reps for Malcolm Butler must have taken note of the deal that Norman inked Friday night with the Redskins. While many of the details of the deal have yet to be revealed, initial reports indicate that Norman’s contract includes $36.5 million fully guaranteed over the first two years and could reach $50 million in total guaranteed cash, an astounding number for any player. Again, let’s make this clear: Butler isn’t Norman. But the deal is a sign that the market for good cornerbacks will only increase going forward. Put that against a backdrop where linebackers Jamie Collins and Dont’a Hightower are set to become unrestricted free agents following the 2016 season, and it could take some serious financial wrangling on the part of the Patriots to get Butler, Collins and Hightower all signed to long-term deals. Not saying it’s not possible — only that Norman’s new deal and another good year from Butler will really cost New England.

3. Every year, we like to have a little fun with some numerology posts, where we match up some new Patriots with a little history surrounding their new numbers in Foxboro. With the numbers for the new free agents coming out this week, we’ll fold the latest version into this week’s notebook:

53 — LB Ramon Humber
Linebackers Eric Martin and Jeff Tarpinian wore No. 53 the last few years, but the most distinguished No. 53 of the Belichick era was undoubtedly special teams captain Larry Izzo, who had it from 2001-08.

58 — LB Shea McClellin
Our buddy Matt Chatham wore it with distinction from 2000-05, but Jonathan Bostic, Steve Beauharnais and Tracy White all rocked No. 58 as of late.

65 — OL Jonathan Cooper
Not a great history — usually reserved for relatively anonymous offensive linemen. Jordan Devey, Nick McDonald and Wesley Britt have been the only three to wear it since 2008.

72 — DE Frank Kearse
Good number. Akiem Hicks sported No. 72 last year, and before that, it belonged to “Diamond” Joe Vellano for a stretch. But left tackle Matt Light was maybe the most notable No. 72 in franchise history.

83 — TE Martellus Bennett
Good number for a pass catcher — Wes Welker had it from 2007-2012, and Deion Branch wore it from 2002-2006. Bodes well for Bennett’s career in New England.

84 — WR Nate Washington
Another good number. Branch wore it during his second stint with the Patriots (2010-2012). In addition, Benjamin Watson (2004-2009), Shawn Jefferson (1996-99) and Darryl Stingley (1973-77) all wore in while in New England.

88 — TE Clay Harbor
Long a destination number for backup tight ends. Scott Chandler had it last season, while Matthew Mulligan, Sam Aiken and Kyle Brady also had it in their stints with the Patriots. (Shout out to WEEI teammate Christian Fauria, who made it his own when he was with New England from 2002-05.)

94 — DL Markus Kuhn
Ty Warren, Shaun Ellis, Justin Francis and Chris Jones all had No. 94 going back for the last decade or so.

95 — DE Chris Long
Long took No. 95 with the blessing of former Patriots’ defensive end Chandler Jones, who had it the previous four years before being dealt to Arizona this offseason. Our personal favorite — Roman Phifer — also had No. 95 from 2001-04.

96 — DT Terrance Knighton
Those digits have an up-and-down history in Foxboro in recent years: Adalius Thomas (2007-09), Jermaine Cunningham (2010-12) and Andre Carter (2013). A mixed bag, to say the least.

4. Our final Sunday pre-draft note deals with leadership. In the last five years, New England has made 48 draft picks, and 24 of them have been college captains. Last year, that included second-round pick Jordan Richards, fourth-rounders Trey Flowers and Shaq Mason and seventh-round selection Darryl Roberts. Over the last few years, the former college captains who have gone on to bigger and better things with the Patriots include Devin McCourty and Dont’a Hightower.

5. For those of you still holding out hope the Patriots will be able to figure out a way to beat the system on draft weekend, it’s important to remember that New England isn’t just prohibited from picking at No. 29. When it came to the punishment, the league added the wrinkle that if New England added a first-round pick via a trade, it would be forced to forfeit the better of the two picks. That being said, even with the Deflategate penalty, the Patriots could theoretically trade for the 30th, 31st or 32nd pick of the first round. Regardless, this is the fourth time in the Belichick era the Patriots have been without a first-round pick — they also were without one in 2013, 2009 and in 2000. “Our philosophy is we control the things that we can control,” Patriots personnel chief Nick Caserio said earlier this week when asked about not having a first-round selection. “Our job is to prepare for the draft and whatever our picks are, then be prepared to pick. A lot of that is out of our hands. There’s nothing we can do about that, so there’s no sense in spending extra time on it. … We’re just going to try and prepare for the draft and take advantage of our opportunities when we pick.”

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