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If Tom Brady is cleared of Deflategate charges, could he file defamation suit against NFL? 06.29.15 at 9:33 pm ET
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Tom Brady leads a healthy group of Big 10 alums on the New England roster. (Darren McCollester/Getty Images)

Could Tom Brady try and sue Roger Goodell or the league for defamation if he’s cleared?. (Darren McCollester/Getty Images)

Tom Brady has been caught up in the Deflategate maelstrom since just after the AFC title game, and has been forced to deal with a series of attacks on his character as a result. While others have been quick to say he’s guilty, the quarterback has maintained his innocence.

While the story has yet to play out completely, if Brady is exonerated in some form or fashion over the next few months — whether it’s the result of having his suspension wiped clean by NFL commissioner Roger Goodell or having the penalty overturned in court — could he try and get some payback against the league in the form of a defamation suit?

While it would be an intriguing proposition for the quarterback to try and extract a pound of flesh from those who put this whole thing in motion, legal analyst Michael McCann said Monday that Brady would “face an uphill climb” if he chose that course of action against the league, the commissioner or Troy Vincent, the NFL’s executive vice president of football operations who initially handed down the four-game suspension.

“Brady would need to show that not only were public statements made about him false and damaging to his reputation, but he’d have to show those statements were made with actual malice, which means knowingly or intentionally,” McCann said. “In other words, if the Wells Report contained reputationally-damaging inaccuracies or lies about Brady, that would not be enough for Brady to prevail in a defamation lawsuit. He’d have to show that Wells included statements that Wells knew were false. That would be hard to show, especially as it relates to a controversy where there remain different scientific opinions and theories about what may have happened.

“Debate about the science in Deflategate is itself a defense for defendants in any defamation lawsuit brought by Brady. Those defendants can argue that at the time they made those statements about Brady, there was debate about what happened in Deflategate and thus a lack of consensus about what constituted the truth and what constituted a lie.”

There is some precedent here for a player pursuing legal action against the league. Saints linebacker Jonathan Vilma, who was initially suspended for a season for his apparent involvement in the Bountygate scandal, later saw his ban lifted. Consequently, he filed a defamation suit against Goodell, one that was later dismissed because of insufficient claims and evidence. (When initially told about Deflategate, Vilma had some simple advice for Brady: “Lawyer up.”) If Brady decided to pursue legal action against the league, even though Vilma’s case wasn’t successful, McCann believes he would at least ponder taking a page from Vilma’s playbook.

“If he decided to go that route, Brady would likely retain attorneys who specialize in defamation litigation,” McCann said. “One possibility is Peter Ginsberg, a New York City attorney who represented Jonathan Vilma in Vilma’s defamation lawsuit against Roger Goodell in the aftermath of Bountygate. Ginsberg has represented other athletes as well, including Michael Irvin and Vijay Singh, in legal matters concerning their reputation.”

Read More: Deflategate, Jonathan Vilma, Michael McCann, Tom Brady
Patriots announce training camp will begin July 30 06.29.15 at 6:24 pm ET
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The Patriots announced Monday that their 2015 training camp will open on July 30 with the first practice of the summer on the fields behind Gillette Stadium.

This year marks the 56th annual training camp for the Patriots, including their 13th consecutive camp at Gillette Stadium. Veterans will report to camp on July 29. The following day, the Patriots are scheduled for their first training camp practice. The Patriots will practice once daily and have confirmed that they will be conducting practices on Thurs., July 30 through Sun., Aug. 2. (As dates and times for training camp are confirmed, they will be updated on the Patriots website, They are expected to be morning sessions.

Additionally, the Patriots will hold joint practices with the Saints at The Greenbrier in White Sulphur Springs, W.Va., ahead of their preseason matchup. The joint practices will be held on Wed., Aug. 19 and Thurs., Aug. 20 ahead of the game on Sat., Aug. 23 in New Orleans.

In addition, the Patriots would like to remind fans that the 2015 Patriots Hall of Fame Induction ceremonies for Houston Antwine and Willie McGinest on Wed., Aug. 5 at 5 p.m. The event is free and open to the public and is held on the NRG Plaza outside The Hall at Patriot Place presented by Raytheon. Following the ceremony, the Patriots will host their annual in-stadium practice for Season Ticket Members and Foxboro residents inside Gillette Stadium at 7 p.m.

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When it comes to stocking Patriots roster, Big 10 and SEC lead way 06.29.15 at 1:32 pm ET
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On the heels of this story, we received a request for a breakdown of the Patriots roster by conference. With the understanding that the roster currently stands at 88 players, here’s a quick look at how the latest edition of the team stacks up by where each player went to school:

17 — Big 10, SEC
11 — Pac 12
9 — ACC
6 — Conference USA, Big 12
5 — American Athletic Conference
4 — MAC
2 — Mountain West, Southland
1 — Ivy, Sun Belt, Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference, Ohio Valley, Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference, Gulf South Conference, Big Sky, Lone Star Conference, Colonial

Report: Use of drones to film practice in Foxboro and elsewhere draws attention of FAA 06.29.15 at 9:00 am ET
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The FAA is looking into the use of drones by three NFL teams –€” including the Patriots — to film spring practices, according to Bloomberg News.

According to the story, the Federal Aviation Administration has been in contact with Dallas about the use of drones to film practices from different angles this spring, and plans to also get in contact with New England and the New York Giants. It’€™s illegal to fly the unmanned aircraft for any commercial purpose without first getting an FAA waiver, and the FAA says none of the three teams have exemptions or provided evidence that the drones were being operated by someone with permission.

Asked last month what advantage drone footage might provide, Patriots coach Bill Belichick simply said: “I don’€™t know.”

Cowboys coach Jason Garrett sounded enthusiastic about using the new technology when reporters asked him about it last month.

“We pride ourselves on coaching and teaching our players as well as we can and film has been a big part of the game for a long time,”€ Garrett told reporters. “Typically you have an end zone shot and a sideline shot. We use a lot of hand-held cameras on the ground. … One of our coaches went down to SMU for their spring practices and saw they were using it. They liked the angle. We got a chance to see it, so we decided to take a look at it.”

Read More: Bill Belichick,
Rutgers still best-represented school on Patriots’ roster 06.29.15 at 7:30 am ET
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Devin McCourty is one of four former Rutgers players on the New England roster. (Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

Devin McCourty is one of four former Rutgers players on the New England roster. (Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

On the heels of a pre-draft breakdown we did on a look at the Patriots roster by school — and keeping in mind that the New England roster currently sits at 88 players — here’s an updated list as to how the Patriots roster is represented at this stage of the summer. Despite the fact that New England cut loose Tim Wright in the spring, Rutgers still sits atop the list, as four former Scarlet Knights are still part of the Patriots roster. (Jonathan Freeny, Duron Harmon, Devin McCourty and Logan Ryan.) The selection of two Arkansas players in the draft leaves New England with three former Razorbacks, joining a group of colleges tied for second place. And with the addition of second-round pick Jordan Richards and the sudden presence of Tyler Gaffney on the field after a year on the shelf, the Patriots have a trio of Stanford alumni. Here’s the complete list.

4 — Rutgers
3 — Arkansas, Florida State, Illinois, Iowa, Mississippi State, Stanford
2 — Alabama, Bowling Green State, Kent State, Louisiana State, Marshall, Memphis, Michigan, Notre Dame, Oregon, Pittsburgh, Texas Christian, Vanderbilt
1 — Alabama-Birmingham, Appalachian State, Arizona, Auburn, Brown, Cal, Colorado, Concordia-St. Paul, UConn, Eastern Illinois, Florida, Florida A&M, Florida International, Fresno State, Georgia, Georgia Tech, Houston, Kansas, Louisiana Tech, Maryland, Mississippi, Montana State, Navy, Nebraska, Nevada, Ohio State, Oklahoma, Purdue, Sam Houston State, Southeastern Louisiana, Southern Mississippi, Syracuse, Tarleton State, Tennessee, Texas, Texas Tech, UCLA, Utah, Washington State, West Alabama, William & Mary, Wisconsin

Report: Several Hall of Fame voters wouldn’t hold Deflategate against Tom Brady 06.28.15 at 10:43 pm ET
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A handful of voters for the Pro Football Hall of Fame say that Tom Brady‘s potential involvement in the Deflategate scandal won’t impact his chances to get to Canton.

In this story from, Richard Deitsch spoke with eight current voters, and all of them pretty much say the same thing — unless new evidence comes to light that might directly implicate Brady in the scandal, the quarterback will have little trouble getting into the Hall of Fame, likely on the first ballot.

Voters polled by Deitsch include Bob Glauber of Newday, Jason Cole of Bleacher Report, and Mike Sando and Jim Trotter of ESPN. Trotter perhaps offered the strongest endorsement of Brady, saying that “Brady’s greatness isn’t about the air pressure in a football; it’s about the competitive drive in his heart.”

He added: “My evaluation of Brady for the Hall of Fame hasn’t changed at all. If he were listed on the ballot today, he’d get my vote without hesitation. It’s arguable whether any quarterback has consistently done more with less than Brady.”

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Read More: Deflategate, Pro Football Hall of Fame, Tom Brady,
Denver’s Emmanuel Sanders: Patriots shouldn’t be Super Bowl champs because of Deflategate 06.25.15 at 10:20 pm ET
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Emmanuel Sanders has some issues with the Patriots. (Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

Emmanuel Sanders has some issues with the Patriots. (Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

On Thursday, Denver’€™s Emmanuel Sanders left no doubt where he stands on the topic of Deflategate. The Broncos wide receiver, speaking with kids at a football camp in Colorado, said he was “kind of mad’€” about what happened, and that the Patriots shouldn’€™t have won the title.

“Am I mad about Deflategate?” Sanders said, answering a question from a young camper. “I feel like I’m on ESPN with that question. … Yeah, yeah, I’m kind of mad. I don’t think that they should be the Super Bowl champion this year.

“You aren’t supposed to cheat. Cheating is not good, especially when you’ve got guys who are working they’re butts off for 365 days out of the year and one person cheats — whether it helps them win the Super Bowl or not, they still cheated and shouldn’t be a champion.”

Adding another layer to this story is the fact that the Patriots heavily courted Sanders in 2013. They signed the former Pittsburgh wide receiver to an offer sheet, only to see him return to the Steelers after Pittsburgh matched the deal. The 28-year-old signed with the Broncos prior to the start of the 2014 season, and had 101 catches for 1,404 yards and nine touchdowns last season with Denver.

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Read More: Deflategate, Emmanuel Sanders,
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