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Michael McCann on Dale & Holley: ‘Evidence suggests that [Tom Brady] has been defamed’ 02.05.16 at 10:38 am ET
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Michael McCann

Michael McCann

Sports Illustrated legal analyst Michael McCann joined Dale & Holley with Thornton on Wednesday to discuss the latest chapter in Deflategate. To hear the interview, go to the Dale & Holley audio on demand page.

After league commissioner Roger Goodell announced the NFL would not release PSI measurements taken over the course of the season, many have been left searching for answers.

“I would imagine one possible answer is that the results don’t corroborate some of the theories the NFL offered last year about deflated footballs,” McCann said. “There’s also the possibility that the NFL doesn’t want to share information that could be used by Tom Brady, not in the appeal, but if Tom Brady were to pursue a defamation lawsuit against the NFL.”

The possibility of a Brady defamation suit as been thrown around a lot this week after many suspect the NFL is hiding something by not releasing its data. Although it undoubtedly would drag this case out much longer than he would like it, it is certainly an option for Brady.

“The evidence suggests that he has been defamed, in the sense that there have been things said about him that basic tenets of science repudiate,” McCann said. “If you’re him, you could clearly show that you’ve been harmed. His reputation has been harmed, he’s been embarrassed, the rest of the country calls him a cheater. … Do I think he’s going to do it? No. But I would be pretty furious if I were him.”

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Read More: Michael McCann, nfl, Robert Kraft, roger goodell
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
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Peyton Manning and Bill Belichick have knocked heads on several occasions. (Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

Peyton Manning and Bill Belichick have knocked heads on several occasions. (Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

SANTA CLARA, Calif. — There’s clearly no shortage of former NFL players who can’t stand the Patriots.

Former Colts receiver Brandon Stokley, who played with Peyton Manning on the Colts from 2003-06, couldn’t have been more overjoyed that Manning beat the Patriots to get back to his fourth Super Bowl.

“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.

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Read More: Bill Belichick, Brandon Stokley, Denver Broncos, Indianapolis Colts
Aqib Talib insists playing for Bill Belichick isn’t like ‘a military school’ at 6:29 pm ET
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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.”

Read More: Aqib Talib, Bill Belichick, New England Patriots, nfl
Rob Gronkowski responds: ‘Everyone wants to see collisions. I’m ready to give some’ 01.21.16 at 1:06 pm ET
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FOXBORO — Rob Gronkowski was hardly offended by the Broncos defensive players saying they’re going to go low on the Patriots tight end to bring him down on Sunday.

Chris Harris announced on Tuesday that the best way to bring Gronkowski to the ground was to hit him in the knees.

His reaction at the podium Thursday at Gillette Stadium: Bring it on.

“It’s part of the game,” Gronkowski said. “I’ve been seeing it all year, been seeing it my whole career. Just got to get low, get my shoulder down, protect the ball. Just protect myself in any way when I see a lot of guys coming, when I know there’s not a chance to make that many yards. Just possibly go down on that play. But if you can make a play, try to make a play, make more yards. But at the same time, just got to watch out, get your pads down. It’s football so you’ve got to be ready for contact at all times.”

Of course, it was in Denver on Nov. 29 when safety Darian Stewart went low at Gronk’s right knee and took him out late in the fourth quarter. He was taken off the field on a cart.

Has that moment made him reconsider his approach about going after more yards or making a catch?

“Nah, not really. Been playing for a while now. I’ve been seeing a lot of defenses and players out there. I’ve been hit a lot,” Gronkowski said. “Just my mentality, my game speed. I just like to go full speed at all times. Just whatever it is, it is. It’s football. Everyone wants to see collisions. I’m ready to give some.”

Gronkowski went even further Thursday by acknowledging that the Broncos aren’t doing anything dirty. They are doing whatever they can to bring the receiver down to the ground within the rules.

“It’s just part of the game,” Gronkowski said. “They’re not doing anything illegal out there. It’s just part of the game. Just got to be aware of it. Maybe just got to step up my game a little bit, maybe throw a juke. I don’t know how many jukes I’ve got but I’ve just got to be aware for it. It’s football and it’s just part of the game.”

Then there’s the little matter of his tweet in response to the Broncos pronouncement of a low-blow game plan. Any regrets for going to social media?

“Nah, I was just having a little fun with it,” Gronkowski said. “Hoping to get a little laughs, which I think it did. So, it’s just all fun and games with that.”

Plan on saying anything more? “No, I’m good,” Gronkowski said with his trademark giggle.

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Read More: 2016 NFL playoffs, Denver Broncos, Gronk, New England Patriots
Source: Matthew Slater injured shin running into NFL Films cameraman during win over Chiefs 01.20.16 at 9:25 pm ET
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Matthew Slater is handling life in the NFL as a new dad. (Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

Matthew Slater was injured during Saturday’s win over the Chiefs. (Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

FOXBORO — Covering punts can be a risky proposition, especially for gunners heading up field and engaging with blockers.

No one knows this better than veteran special teams captain Matthew Slater. And this past Saturday he was reminded the hard way why it can be a painful undertaking as well.

Slater lined up at the Patriots’ 11 as Ryan Allen was getting ready to punt. Slater took his usual place wide on the left side as a gunner. At the snap, he released outside and tried to get around a Kansas City double team in front of him by running along the sideline.

Chiefs special teamer Jamell Fleming, who would receive a crushing blow on the ensuing series from Danny Amendola, blocked Slater as the two went out of bounds, and Fleming gave Slater an extra shove as Slater continued to get up the field while still out of bounds.

It was that shove, along with Slater’s momentum, that sent the special teams ace into an NFL Films cameraman who was positioned legally inside a yellow dotted line that surrounds the playing field and is in place for cameras and photographers. Following the initial collision, Slater ran into a second cameraman, from CBS-TV, which was broadcasting the game.

A league source confirms the collision on the sideline and that while Slater suffered a bruised shin, the NFL Films cameraman took a nasty blow to the nose and face. CSN New England’s Phil Perry was first to report the story.

Slater, while hobbled, tried to stay and nearly made the tackle, but Chiefs returner Frankie Hammond avoided him and brought the punt back to the Patriots’ 36.

Slater was the only Patriots player missing from a walkthrough practice Wednesday inside the field house but did speak to reporters in Wednesday’s press conference availability at Gillette Stadium, usually an indication that he’ll be ready come Sunday.

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Read More: Jamell Fleming, Kansas City Chiefs, Matthew Slater, New England Patriots
Matthew Slater misses practice; Rob Gronkowski, Jamie Collins among 15 limited at 5:25 pm ET
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FOXBORO — Darius Fleming was one of three Patriots players to show up on the first injury report of the week with a shin issue. But he and Rob Ninkovich were able to participate in a light walkthrough while Matthew Slater, who did speak to the media on Wednesday, was held out of practice inside the Empower Field House altogether.

Fleming spoke at length Wednesday about saving a woman from a smoking vehicle last week, two days before the game with the Chiefs. He said he played with 22 stitches in his leg.

Jamie Collins (back) and Chandler Jones (knee), both of whom missed time on Saturday with second-half injuries, were out on the practice field Wednesday participating.

Fleming and Ninkovich were among 15 players officially listed as limited. The Patriots will practice again on Thursday and Friday before leaving Friday afternoon for Denver and Sunday’s AFC championship game against the Broncos. The team is looking to beat the storm out of town before it arrives on Saturday.

Here is the complete Patriots injury report from Wednesday:

DID NOT PRACTICE
WR/ST Matthew Slater (shin)

LIMITED PARTICIPATION
OL Tre’€™ Jackson (knee)
TE Rob Gronkowski (knee/back)
LB Jonathan Freeny (hand)
WR Danny Amendola (knee)
TE Scott Chandler (knee)
CB Justin Coleman (concussion)
LB Darius Fleming (back/shin)
DB Nate Ebner (hand)
WR Julian Edelman (foot)
LB Dont’€™a Hightower (knee)
DE Chandler Jones (abdomen/toe)
DE Rob Ninkovich (shin)
C Bryan Stork (ankle)
OT Sebastian Vollmer (ankle)
OT LaAdrian Waddle (shoulder)

FULL PARTICIPATION
QB Tom Brady (ankle)
OL Josh Kline (shoulder)
WR Brandon LaFell (foot)
S Devin McCourty (ankle)

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Read More: 2016 NFL playoffs, Denver Broncos, Matthew Slater, New England Patriots
Tom Brady thinks playing Peyton Manning for a 17th time is ‘pretty cool’ at 12:33 pm ET
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FOXBORO — The Tom Brady-Peyton Manning never gets old to Tom Brady. But asked if this rivalry rises to the level of another epic battle – Larry Bird vs. Magic Johnson – Brady backed off.

“I wouldn’€™t compare it to any of those rivalries, but I think playing someone 17 times is pretty cool,” Brady said. “To play against those Peyton Manning-led teams, you know you’€™ve got to play 60 minutes and you’€™re going to be in for a tough game. They’€™re going to take advantage of opportunities that they get, so we’€™re going to have to do a good job of taking care of the football, because you don’€™t want to give it to these guys on a short field.

“So, it’€™s going to be a big challenge for us. They present a lot of challenges on defense. They’€™ve got the best defense in the league; the best rush, the best coverage, one of the best teams against the run. So, they do a lot of things well, and certainly it’€™s a huge challenge to go out there and beat them.”

Not only will Brady be playing opposite Manning for a 17th time Sunday, it will mark the fourth time the two combatants have squared off with a Super Bowl berth on the line.

In 2003, Brady beat Manning Colts while three years later, it was Manning gaining a measure of revenge in Indianapolis in the AFC championship.

Two years ago, with no Rob Gronkowski, Brady fell to Manning and the Broncos, 26-16, on the same field the two will play on this Sunday.

Brady also claimed a win in the 2004 divisional round against the Colts before beating rookie Ben Roethlisberger and the Steelers in the AFC championship game.

Overall, Brady holds an 11-5 lead against Manning in their previous 16 encounters.

For more Patriots news, visit weei.com/patriots.

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Read More: 2016 NFL playoffs, Denver Broncos, New England Patriots, nfl
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