|Bill Polian on MFB: Robert Kraft has ‘always been the NFL’s leading citizen’||05.22.15 at 12:20 pm ET|
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.”
|Aaron Hernandez pleads not guilty to shooting friend in face||05.21.15 at 10:32 pm ET|
Hernandez, in court for the first time since being convicted of murdering Odin Lloyd in 2013, sported a new tattoo on the right side of his neck — the word “Lifetime” above a star. As an inmate, Hernandez is not allowed to get a tattoo, and he is expected to face discipline for this transgression.
The former Patriots tight end reportedly was put in a segregation unit this week after serving as a lookout for an inmate who entered another prisoner’s cell in order to fight.
On his latest charge, Hernandez allegedly shot Alexander Bradley in the face as the two left a Florida nightclub in 2013. Bradley is believed to have been with Hernandez at a Boston nightclub on July 6, 2012, when Hernandez allegedly shot and killed two men shortly after leaving the club.
According to the prosecution, Bradley infuriated Hernandez by making a comment about the shooting while the two were in Florida in early 2013. Hernandez shot Bradley in the face while the two were in a car, resulting in Bradley losing his right eye. Bradley then was pushed out of the car and left on the side of the road as Hernandez drove away.
The prosecution asked that the witness intimidation case be combined with the murder charges in order to have the cases be tried together. The judge scheduled a hearing for June 4 to discuss that proposal and set a trial date.
In a separate hearing Thursday, Hernandez was hit with a 60-day extension of a restraining order batting him from selling his 2005 Hummer and keeping the money. The family of Odin Lloyd has sued Hernandez, and the family’s lawyers are trying to prevent Hernandez from hiding his assets. The car was found at a used car lot in Wrentham.
|Report: Aaron Hernandez involved in prison gang fight||05.20.15 at 1:23 pm ET|
According to a CNN report, Aaron Hernandez played a role in an apparent gang fight Monday at the Souza-Baranowski Correctional Center in Shirley, where the former Patriots tight end is being held after receiving a life sentence for murder.
CNN, crediting a law enforcement source, reports that Hernandez served as a lookout for a prisoner who went into another inmate’s cell and engaged in a fight. All three individuals are being disciplined, with Hernandez placed in a special management section of the prison.
Hernandez was convicted in the 2013 shooting death of Odin Lloyd. He is due back in court Thursday for a status hearing related to his second trial, for a 2012 double-homicide in Boston.
|Mike Florio on D&C: Robert Kraft ‘not going to fold the tents simply in exchange for nothing’||05.20.15 at 10:16 am ET|
ProFootballTalk.com’s Mike Florio checked in with the Dennis & Callahan show on Wednesday morning to discuss why Robert Kraft ended the Patriots’ fight against the NFL over Deflategate. To hear the interview, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.
Kraft held a press conference Tuesday from the owners meetings in San Francisco and stunned Patriots fans by announcing he would accept the league’s penalties in an attempt to move past the controversy. Florio said he agrees with the widespread speculation that Kraft struck a deal with Goodell, although he’s not sure what it might entail.
“Whether it’s just for future considerations, whether it’s for a Super Bowl in Foxboro at some point in the next decade, whether it’s a wink/nod, ‘Don’t breathe a word of it to anybody but maybe Roger Goodell’s going to reduce Tom Brady‘s suspension’ type of a promise, there’s got to be something. Because you don’t pivot that quickly.
“Robert Kraft said yesterday you measure nine times and you cut once, and that same mindset applied when they issued the 20,000-word manifesto just six days ago, the 50-minute angry interview with Peter King. These are things that even though emotional on the surface were not the product of anything but careful and deliberate thought. Strategy went into both of those two things, and strategy went into what we saw yesterday. He’s not going to fold the tents simply in exchange for nothing.”
Added Florio: “Logic, common sense, you start piecing it together — OK, there was the report of the talks [between Kraft and Goodell], they had been talking, they’re working something out, and the Patriots’ aspect of it is we’re going to take our medicine and go home. Now the return on that bargain comes down the road. We just don’t know what it is. And they’re never going to tell us what it is. For all the leaks that we’ve seen in this case, I don’t think anybody’s going to come out and say what it was, especially because there may be only two people on the earth who know — Robert Kraft and Roger Goodell.”
|Reports: Patriots release CB Chimdi Chekwa||05.18.15 at 9:20 am ET|
Two months after signing free agent Chimdi Chekwa to a one-year deal, the Patriots released the cornerback, according to multiple reports.
Chekwa, who previously played for the Raiders, was not expected to earn a starting spot in the Patriots’ revamped defensive backfield, but he was thought to have potential value as a backup and special teams player.
Chekwa was a fourth-round pick out of Ohio State in 2011. He played in 32 games with four starts during his four years in Oakland, including 10 games and two starts in 2014.
The 26-year-old was a restricted free agent with Oakland, but the Raiders elected not to tender him a contact. The Patriots signed him to a one-year deal worth $825,000, with a salary cap hit of $665,000.
Earlier this month the Patriots parted ways with Kyle Arrington and Alfonzo Dennard. With Darrelle Revis and Brandon Browner gone this offseason as well, the cornerback position is a big question mark for the Pats.
|Aaron Hernandez defense team appeals murder conviction, claims it was based on ‘conjecture and guesswork’||05.15.15 at 10:36 am ET|
Attorneys representing Aaron Hernandez filed an appeal of his murder conviction Friday in Bristol Superior Court in Fall River, insisting “no reasonable jury” could have found Hernandez guilty of murdering Odin Lloyd in 2013.
The defense team cited insufficient evidence and said the verdict was based on “improper speculation, conjecture and guesswork.”
The former Patriots tight end was found guilty of first-degree murder and a host of other charges in April and received a mandatory sentence of life in prison without parole. Under Massachusetts law, his conviction is automatically appealed.
Hernandez also will be tried for the shooting deaths of two men in Boston in 2012. Earlier this week he was charged with shooting a man in the face in Florida, allegedly in an attempt to keep him quiet about the 2012 double-murder.
Also Friday, prosecutors dropped perjury charges against Hernandez’s fiancee, Shayanna Jenkins.
|Tom Brady merchandise sales double in wake of Deflategate suspension||05.13.15 at 1:52 pm ET|
When the NFL announced Monday that Tom Brady was suspended four games for his alleged involvement in Deflategate, there was speculation that it would hurt his brand. According to one website, the opposite has happened. The sports apparel site Fanatics.com reports that sales of Brady merchandise have doubled since Monday’s announcement.
The top-selling jerseys on Tuesday belonged to Marcus Mariota, Jameis Winston and Brady, who moved up three spots from sixth prior to the suspension.
Fanatics.com says fans in 22 states have purchased Brady items, led by Massachusetts, Florida, California, Washington and Michigan.
Brady’s navy blue home No. 12 jersey is his top-selling item at the site, which features about 150 Brady pieces.
Brady has endorsement deals worth an estimated $7 million annually, with companies including UGG, Under Armour and Dodge. There are no reports that any companies plan to sever ties with the quarterback due to the controversy.