|Ted Johnson on Peyton Manning and HGH allegations: ‘I feel bad he has to deal with it. I’m a proponent of [HGH]’||02.05.16 at 8:14 pm ET|
SAN FRANCISCO — Ted Johnson has made a name for himself after winning three Super Bowls with the Patriots by being outspoken.
He’s at it again.
Speaking to WEEI.com Friday, two days before Super Bowl 50, the linebacker-turned-Houston sportsradio host said that Peyton Manning shouldn’t be dealing with allegations of HGH use, in part because he thinks it should be legal.
“I’m a proponent of HGH,” Johnson said. “I think HGH should be allowed and maybe be regulated. It helps guys recover. There’s so many good things in being able to use HGH for guys that play football because your bodies just get beat up. Now, it’s got to be used within reason and regulated. I don’t have a problem with it. I think it’s much to do about nothing.
“I feel bad that he has to deal with that distraction but I’m a proponent of it. Used carefully and regulated, I don’t have a problem with HGH.”
Johnson said he is doing very well for himself now after some very dark days following his football career, which ended after winning his third Super Bowl in Jan. 2005 in Jacksonville.
Johnson told the New York Times in 2007 that he suffers from amphetamine addiction, depression and headaches related to post-concussion syndrome and Second Impact Syndrome. He then suggested Bill Belichick pressured him to participate in full contact practice drills three days after suffering a concussion in an exhibition game against the Giants in Aug. 2002.
Johnson said during those drills, he suffered a second concussion, and that Belichick asked him to participate against the advice of the team’s head trainer. Belichick denied those allegations. Johnson told WEEI’s Dennis and Callahan that he was only joking when he said he’d consider returning to football in 2006 after Junior Seau was injured. Those five years were an emotional roller coaster for Johnson, a ride he admitted again Friday involved Adderall and cocaine.
“A lot of people know my story. I sought out drugs to feel better,” Johnson recounted. “I was having headaches. Cognitively, I wasn’t firing on all cylinders. Behaviorally, I was changing, depression. You have a lot of impulse issues. And so, I sought out drugs to feel better. And the first drug was Adderall. It made me feel better. It was not prescribed for what I was feeling because it’s not a medication used to treat that. But I started using that. It made me feel better. Cognitively, I was sharper. It just cleared things up. My headaches went away.
|Brandon Stokley overjoyed Peyton Manning beat Patriots to go to Super Bowl: ‘Still got a smile on my face’||02.04.16 at 7:34 pm ET|
SANTA CLARA, Calif. — There’s clearly no shortage of former NFL players who can’t stand the Patriots.
“You can’t imagine. He’s like a brother, so happy for him because I know what he’s put in, not only his whole career but this year. I know what he’s been though,” Stokley told WEEI.com Thursday. “I know how hard he’s worked to have a chance to get back out on the field.
“For me, watching him do it against the Patriots a week and a half ago, it didn’t get better than that.”
Why does it mean so much to see the Patriots go down?
“To beat them to go to the Super Bowl, for me, was like watching him win the Super Bowl because I don’t care for the Patriots because I could hardly never beat them. I still dislike them. It was that rivalry, that type of rivalry where I didn’t like then, I don’t like them now. I’ll never like them. So, to see Peyton beat them to go to the Super Bowl put a big smile on my face. I’ve still got a smile on my face from that game.”
Stokley, who is working for Denver’s Channel 7 covering Manning and the Super Bowl, also insists that the report on NFL.com that Manning has told close friends he’s retire “is crap.”
Like Super Bowl loser Brad Hoover of the 2003 Panthers, Stokley’s emotions and recollections of his four-year rivalry with the Patriots in the mid-2000s are still vivid. The Patriots dominated early on, but the Colts won both games in Foxboro in 2005-06 and the memorable AFC championship in Indianapolis in Jan. of 2007.
“Didn’t win a lot. That’s the biggest thing. They always seemed to have our number,” Stokley said. “I know we won one regular season game there and ’06, the AFC championship game. But they were always battles. It really was. You knew that when you played a team like that, you couldn’t make a lot of mistakes.
|Aqib Talib insists playing for Bill Belichick isn’t like ‘a military school’||02.04.16 at 6:29 pm ET|
SANTA CLARA, Calif. — This has been a week for Aqib Talib to soak it all in.
The veteran corner, who turns 30 on Feb. 13, is taking in all the vibes from his first Super Bowl experience.
“It’s a lot of fun,” Talib said. “You have to have the fun, lock in and work and then you have fun, lock in and work. You just have to balance it. We’re all enjoying it.”
He’s been enjoying himself on and off the field, as his three interceptions in practice on Wednesday would suggest.
“They have cameras at practice? [laughter],” Talib said with a big grin. “I did. I was able to make some plays on the ball. We had a good look from our offense from our scout team offense. I was able to make some plays on the ball.”
Earlier in the week, Talib gave props to Bill Belichick in New England for helping him understand and appreciate the professional approach of a winner in the NFL. But, on Thursday, the final day of player availability before the Super Bowl, he made it clear Belichick let his team have its share of fun on the field.
“It’s a lot similar,” Talib said comparing Belichick to Broncos coach Gary Kubiak. “It’s a lot similar, you’d be surprised. People think New England is like a military school and boy school and don’t talk. It’s not like that ‘ they have fun over there as well, it’s just a tight knit group. Bill just doesn’t mess with you all. He just doesn’t mess with the media.”
Talib let everyone in on another secret on Thursday. Belichick nearly gave him a chance to help Tom Brady.
“Actually, when I first got to New England, I think my first practice maybe, Bill kept me after practice for like 20 minutes and Tom threw me like ten routes: stop routes, fades, a couple slants the first day I got there,” Belichick said of that day in 2012. “I guess I didn’t look good enough because he never did it again,” Talib laughed. “I feel like I caught all of my passes though. I was working hard out there but I still want to know what happened with that, Bill. He definitely kept me after practice though and Tom threw me about a good 10 routes.”
The Patriots weren’t the first team to try Talib out on offense.
“In Tampa, I was this close, I was young too. I was young and flying around. I was this close to getting an offensive package. I came to work late on a Monday. Raheem Morris called me up to his office and said, ‘I had a 15-play script for you on offense,’ and ripped it up (laughter). That’s Raheem Morris, he’s my dog. He was going to give me an opportunity.”
Why all the attention to offense for a guy that’s made his name as one of the best corners in the game?
“Because I used to play offense. I used to love playing offense,” Talib said. “I played offense in high school, in college, and I don’t get to play it in the league. So when I get the ball I have to score my touchdowns like I’m on offense. I just like offensive guys, they don’t practice tackling like that. It would be wrong to let those guys tackle me when I get the ball. That’s kind of how I go about it.”
|Luke Kuechly thinks Doug Flutie ‘is still the guy’ at Boston College||02.04.16 at 5:36 pm ET|
SAN JOSE, Calif. — As he was making his rounds through both the Broncos and Panthers media camps on Thursday, Snoop Dogg made a point to stop by and say hi to Luke Kuechly and pay him some might high praise.
“You’re the best linebacker in football, man,” the rap legend said. “Take it from Snoop.”
All the humble linebacker could muster with a wide grin was “thanks, thanks a lot!”
Snoop is not alone. There are many in the game right now, both on and off the field who think that the Boston College product might just be the best all-around linebacker in football. That has prompted the conversation of where Kuechly, who left after his junior year in 2012, belongs in the great pantheon of Boston College football players. Matt Ryan was selected by the Falcons third overall in 2008. Four years later, it was Kuechly going ninth overall to the Panthers.
“I don’t know about the best player. We’ve had a lot of good guys come out. We’ve had some linebackers that have come out. Bill Romanowski was a great player. Mark Herzlich‘s been a great player. Matt Ryan and Gosder Cherilus and Anthony Castonzo and I’m sure I’m missing guys. Those guys came out and did a great job.”
But of all the great NFL talent that Boston College has produced, Kuechly pointed to another BC product that had a much bigger impact in the CFL than the NFL.
“Doug Flutie to me is Mr. BC,” Kuechly said. “He’s got a statue in front of the stadium. He’s won the Heisman. He’s going to go down as one of the players that has one of the all-time plays in college football history. Doug Flutie, if you talk about people from Boston College, Doug Flutie, I think, is still the guy.”
While that was all nice and flowery, there are a lot of Patriots fans who still fume when they see the All-American smile. That’s, of course, because of his WWE hold on Rob Gronkowski in the end zone on the game’s last play in Nov. 2013 on a Monday night game that allowed the Panthers to escape, 24-20.
“”Of course, of course, everyone was giving me grief for it,” Kuechly said. “We had a couple of guys that we played with that are Massachusetts guys that are big Patriots fans. You go to school in Boston, there are going to be buddies that are off the team that you’re friends with so. They’re giving me some grief for it but it’s all fun and games.”
|Mike Petraglia on Luke Kuechly, Aqib Talib at Super Bowl 50||02.04.16 at 4:44 pm ET|
SAN JOSE, Calif. — WEEI.com’s Mike Petraglia wraps up the final day of media availability for both the Denver Broncos and Carolina Panthers prior to Super Bowl 50, to be played Sunday at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, Calif. Petraglia spoke to Luke Kuechly about his days at Boston College and Aqib Talib about his days in New England. The star of the day in both Santa Clara (Broncos) and San Jose (Panthers) was legendary rapper Snoop Dogg.
|Source: Tom Brady will be on field for Super Bowl 50||02.04.16 at 4:24 pm ET|
Brady will be on hand to be honored as a past Super Bowl MVP, a source confirmed to WEEI’s Ryan Hannable. The news was first reported by The Wall Street Journal’s Kevin Clark.
The NFL is honoring all previous 43 winners of the award and, despite speculation that Brady would skip the event, the Patriots quarterback will be on the field as a three-time winner.
Brady was the MVP of Super Bowls XXXVI, XXXVIII and XLIX. Brady and his his childhood hero Joe Montana have three apiece to lead the way. The only other players with multiple honors are Terry Bradshaw (XIII, XIV) and Eli Manning (XLII, XLVI).
Tom Brady will be on the field Sunday getting honored as a past SB MVP. Some speculated he may not be.
‘ Kevin Clark (@KevinClarkWSJ) February 4, 2016
|Mike Haynes wonders if Don Hasselbeck could’ve been Rob Gronkowski back in the day||02.03.16 at 10:01 pm ET|
SAN FRANCISCO — Rob Gronkowski is widely considered the most dangerous tight end in football. He’s also the biggest nightmare for a defensive back assigned to cover him, especially when he’s split wide from the line of scrimmage.
Hall of Fame corner Mike Haynes covered his share of great receivers in his day but rarely, if ever, a tight end in a game.
But in practice, that was a different story.
“I can’t ever remember ever playing being locked on a tight end,” Haynes told WEEI.com Wednesday at Super Bowl media headquarters. “But I did lock on Russ Francis in practice. They were trying to simulate some of the challenges he was going to face. I know how difficult that can be. I wouldn’t be welcoming that kind of challenge because of the weight difference, the height difference, the strength difference. And generally when you’re covering a guy like that size, if he turns around and looks at the quarterback, I can no longer see the quarterback because of his height and his width. It’s a challenge.”
But for as much as Patriots fans remember the hey-dey of Russ Francis and catching passes from Steve Grogan as a traditional tight end, there’s another former tight end Haynes thinks of as a comp to the 6-foot-6, 265-pound Rob Gronkowski: Don Hasselbeck, who stood an inch taller than Gronk but weighed 20 pounds less.
“It wasn’t something I had to do on a regular basis and I wouldn’t have been looking forward to do that on a regular basis. I actually think that Gronk is more built like Hasselbeck was than Russ Francis,” Haynes said. “He’s tall and a long-strider. A lot of times I wonder if they had used Don Hasselbeck the same way they use Gronkowski, what would he have been like? They didn’t. It was a different game in those days.”
Hasselbeck finished with 107 catches, 1,542 yards and 18 touchdowns in his nine-year NFL career that began in 1977 when he was selected in the second round by the Patriots. For some perspective, Gronkowski nearly had as many receiving touchdowns (17) in 2011 as Hasselbeck did for his career. Hasselbeck finished with 15 TD receptions in his six-plus seasons in New England.
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