|This is not the first time the Steelers have said something foolish before a big game with the Patriots||01.16.17 at 12:37 pm ET|
Antonio Brown’s video of Mike Tomlin’s postgame speech on Sunday unknowingly caught the Steelers coach cursing out the Patriots. But it isn’t the first time that a member of the franchise has said something before a big game against New England that could come back to haunt them.
In the days leading up to the 2001 AFC championship game in Pittsburgh — a year when there was only one week between the conference championships and the Super Bowl — the Steelers made a sizable show about the fact they needed to take care of any potential Super Bowl travel business as early as possible so they could focus on the AFC title clash with New England. Those statements made their way back to the Patriots, who took great exception to the idea that Pittsburgh was putting the proverbial cart before the horse, at least publicly. After the game — a 24-17 win over the favored Steelers — Lawyer Milloy told reporters exactly what he thought about Pittsburgh’s approach. “You never disrespect anybody,” said Milloy, who bristled before the game when told of the Steelers’ Super Bowl plans. “You just make it hard on yourself. I’m just surprised the veterans on that team didn’t shut the younger guys’ mouths on that team. It was a momentum-builder for us. We rallied around that, and in the end we were the AFC champions.”
Prior to a game against the Patriots in 2007, Steelers defensive back Anthony Smith guaranteed a win over the then-unbeaten Patriots while dismissing the New England receiving corps. “They’ve got [Wes] Welker and [Randy] Moss, but they’re not like Cincinnati,” Smith said. Almost predictably, Smith was targeted on several occasions by Tom Brady and the New England passing game on the way to a 34-13 win over Pittsburgh. In his postgame press conference, Bill Belichick piled on when asked about Smith. “We’ve played a lot better safeties than him, I’ll tell you that,” he said.
|When Bill Belichick called him about being traded to Patriots, Randy Moss thought he was being pranked||11.01.16 at 7:45 pm ET|
When Randy Moss first got the phone call from Bill Belichick in the spring of 2007 saying he was on the verge of being dealt to the Patriots, he didn’t believe it.
He really didn’t believe it.
“I actually cussed him out,” Moss said of the voice on the other end of the phone.
Turns out, it wasn’t a friend playing a prank, as Moss initially suspected. Instead, it was actually the New England coach.
“I started being apologetic because I had cussed the man,” recalled Moss in a story for ESPN. “Then, he told me the Raiders were thinking about trading me. I had to be in Foxboro by 10 p.m. Eastern, or the trade would void. So, I just did everything that I could possibly do to get up there by 10 p.m.”
He added: “After I got off the phone with him, I was excited. I was hyped. I was in a club that night. Defensive tackle Shaun Rogers, who played for the Detroit Lions at the time, was there, so I went up there, high-fiving him, hugging random people. Shaun asked me what was going on and I said to him, ‘I’m getting ready to be a Patriot.’ The first thing that came out of his mouth was, ‘Man, that’s cheatin’.”
Moss wasn’t surprised that he was traded for a fourth-round pick.
“I could see why they did it. I wasn’t that productive in Oakland. We were not productive as a team in Oakland. So the price tag might have gone down,” he said. “There was some things said about me from coaches and the front office about how my skills were diminishing. I had [a lot of money] on the table. I told the Oakland Raiders they could keep all of that money. I didn’t want to play anymore. So I really wasn’t tuned in to what was going on in Oakland. I got refocused and became a Patriot.”
Moss spent the next three-plus seasons with the Patriots before being dealt to Minnesota in 2010.
For more New England memories of Moss, check out the full Q&A here.
For more Patriots news, check out weei.com/patriots.
|Rob Gronkowski zeroing in on top spot of Tom Brady’s list of all-time favorite targets||10.17.16 at 12:37 pm ET|
We have tracked Tom Brady’s big board of favorite receivers several times over the last few years, but with Rob Gronkowski continuing to move up the list and Julian Edelman landing in the top 5 this year, we figured it would be a good time to revisit the latest totals. As always, we have to point out that these are not career totals, but only catches from Brady during regular-season contests:
Most catches from Brady, regular-season games only:
1. Wes Welker (563 catches in 78 career regular-season games with Brady)
2. Rob Gronkowski (391 catches in 82 games)
3. Deion Branch (328 catches in 89 games)
4. Julian Edelman (327 catches in 89 games)
5. Troy Brown (323 catches in 84 games)
6. Kevin Faulk (310 catches in 117 games)
7. Randy Moss (192 catches in 36 games)
8. Aaron Hernandez (175 catches in 38 games)
9. David Givens (158 catches in 53 career games with Brady)
10. David Patten (157 catches in 54 games)
Here’s the rest of the top 20:
11. Danny Amendola, 144 catches. 12. Ben Watson, 142. 13. Daniel Graham, 117. 14. Brandon LaFell, 107. 15. Shane Vereen, 106. 16. Danny Woodhead, 92. 17. Christian Fauria, 79. 18. Brandon Lloyd, 74. 19. James White, 65. 20. Antowain Smith, 64.
Five thoughts on the list:
1. Other than Gronkowski, the top 6 consists of only smallish, “make-you-miss” guys who had the sort of field awareness to understand what the quarterback needed and when, particularly when it came to reaching the sticks. Says something about the comfort level Brady has with some of those guys, especially Welker. Of course, in the rush to praise Gronkowski, it’s easy to dismiss Welker and his tremendous run, but it’s even more amazing to consider that Welker lost almost a full season with Brady (2008) because of the QB’s knee injury. Welker is already head-and-shoulders above the rest of the pack. If the two were able to stick on another 80-catch season, it’s unfathomable what they might have been able to accomplish.
2. That being said, can Gronkowski pass Welker? Going into Week Six, he’s 172 catches off Welker’s mark. If he can finish this season with somewhere in the neighborhood of 75 catches (an eminently reachable goal, considering his slow start), that would give him 453 at the end of the 2016 season — 110 shy of Welker’s mark. If he and Brady stay healthy, he could pass Welker somewhere toward the middle of the 2018 season.
3. In such a short span (36 games, the fewest in the top 10), Moss’ numbers are ridiculous. If he had all of 2008 with Brady, and found a way to work before his 2010 trade, he could have certainly landed in the top 5.
4. Amendola has gotten off to a slow start, but he should almost certainly break into the top 10, and could climb as high as No. 9 before the end of the season. White is the latest name to land in the top 20, thanks in large part to his nice day Sunday against the Bengals. He’s one of four “third-down backs” who have reached the top 20.
5. The guys who are on the active roster now who are closest to the top 20? Running back Dion Lewis has 49 catches, while tight end Martellus Bennett is already up to 11 in two games with Brady. One guy who just missed out was Aaron Dobson — the wide receiver who was cut loose this season had 53 catches from Brady in his three seasons with New England.
|Magnificent 7: On Hall of Fame weekend, these current and former Patriots deserve consideration for Canton||08.07.16 at 6:37 pm ET|
On Hall of Fame weekend, here are seven current and former Patriots who deserve to be a part of the conversation when it comes to Canton.
Bill Belichick: There will be some critics who don’t agree, but as his boat reminds us, Belichick has won four titles as a head coach and two as an assistant. That’s six rings. SIX. That should be enough to gain entry on the first ballot, critics be damned.
Tom Brady: There will inevitably be some Deflategate drama when his name is raised, but four Super Bowl wins and a pair of MVPs should be enough to get him through on the first ballot.
Ty Law: I wasn’t a big believer in the possibility of a Law candidacy for the Hall. But a closer look at the numbers over the last few seasons reveals the fact that he’s at least worthy of a debate. His resume is pretty impressive, especially when stacked against others in Canton: Three Super Bowl rings, two All-Pro nods and 53 career picks, which puts him 24th on the all-time list. He was a semifinalist last year, but might need an advocate — like Ron Borges, who worked hard to get Andre Tippett in — if he wants to make it.
Adam Vinatieri: The automatic default is to reject the idea of a kicker in the Hall of Fame. But when it comes to Vinatieri, it’s hard to go against him. The best big game kicker of his generation, Vinatieri has played in five Super Bowls and won four rings. Two Super Bowl titles were ultimately decided on the strength of his right leg. When all is said and done, he should become the second pure kicker to reach the Hall. (Jan Stenrud is the only pure placekicker in the Hall of Fame. George Blanda and Lou Groza are also in Canton, but also did other things in addition to their work as kickers.)
Randy Moss: If Moss doesn’t get in, they should shut the place down. He’s second all-time in receiving touchdowns with 156 (trailing only Jerry Rice), third in all-time receiving yards (behind Rice and Terrell Owens) and 11th on the list of all-time catches (982). He’s got his detractors — he doesn’t have a signature moment, which many Hall voters require when it comes to wide receiver — but come on. He was an absolutely transformative presence for a decade.
Vince Wilfork: We’ve been on this for a while now, but it’s worth reiterating that because of his longevity and his track record as an absolutely vital part of a consistently good-to-great team over the course of a decade, he deserves a spot in the discussion when his time comes. The voters aren’t crazy about interior defensive linemen who don’t pile up sack numbers — most of the linemen who have gotten a spot have either been big sack guys or other defensive ends — and so he’s probably a long shot. (Nose tackles are few and far between.) As a result, Like Law, Wilfork probably needs to have someone advocating for him in the room when he comes up for discussion.
Gino Cappelletti: One of the best players of his era, Cappelletti played wide receiver and kicker for the Patriots for 10 years, and led the American Football League in scoring five times. (He retired as the AFL’s all-time leading scorer with 1,130 points.) The 1964 AFL Most Valuable Player played receiver and kicker, he was the face of the franchise throughout the 1960s, and had one of the most memorable careers of any of the old AFL stars.
Also worthy of consideration but failed to make the cut here for various reasons: Rob Gronkowski (who could be on the list sooner rather than later if he continues on his current path for another couple of years), Willie McGinest, Wes Welker, Rodney Harrison, Richard Seymour.
|Kevin Faulk: Tom Brady could call 2 big-name former teammates to workout with him during suspension||08.01.16 at 10:05 am ET|
When Tom Brady is suspended for the first four weeks of the season he cannot have any contact with his teammates or be at the Gillette Stadium facility.
So what will he do to stay sharp?
Former teammate Kevin Faulk speculated he may call on two of his former teammates to work out with him during the month of September.
“He’s definitely going to work,” Faulk on NESN in a segment set to air Monday night. “There’s no doubt in my mind. He’s probably going to do the same regimen he’s been doing for the last how many years he’s been playing football, stay in that routine, and yes, I’m almost positive Wes Welker is going to be here. He probably will reach out to Randy (Moss), and Randy will come because Randy’s in still good shape. Real good shape.”
Welker remains a free agent after spending the end of last season with the Rams, while Moss hasn’t played since 2012 and is now an analyst with ESPN.
For more Patriots news, visit weei.com/patriots.
|Former Patriots WR Randy Moss to appear on ESPN’s Sunday NFL Countdown, Monday Night Countdown this season||07.18.16 at 11:18 am ET|
Get ready for a lot of Randy Moss on TV this fall.
ESPN confirmed Monday morning former Patriots wide receiver and six-time Pro Bowler Randy Moss will serve as an analyst on Sunday NFL Countdown and Monday Night Countdown from the site of each week’s Monday Night Football game this season.
He will also contribute to ESPN’s annual Super Bowl week coverage.
“ESPN is the No. 1 sports channel in the world,” Moss said in a press release. “Now I’m a part of a network I grew up running home to watch. The team that has been put together has so much football knowledge to share and I can’t wait to get started. I feel very blessed and excited for this opportunity. It’s going be a great and fun year.”
For the past three years, Moss worked as a NFL analyst for FOX Sports on the Sunday morning FOX NFL Kickoff pregame show, among other programs.
For more Patriots news, visit weei.com/patriots.
|Sean McDonough added to Monday Night Football, Randy Moss joining ESPN amid changes to football coverage||05.09.16 at 3:03 pm ET|
Significant changes are coming to ESPN’s football coverage.
Mike Tirico, who has voiced Monday Night Football since 2006, is leaving ESPN for NBC. He is being replaced by former Red Sox play-by-play man Sean McDonough, who will work alongside incumbent Jon Gruden.
That’s not the extent of the changes, however. According to The Big Lead, Mike Ditka will no longer be on ESPN’s Sunday Countdown program, though he will remain with the network. Cris Carter and Ray Lewis are reportedly done at ESPN, with The Big Lead reporting that Randy Moss will join ESPN after working for Fox Sports last season. Matt Hasselbeck and Charles Woodson are being added to ESPN’s Sunday coverage.
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