|Wes Welker: ‘I’ve got a lot of respect’ for Robert Kraft and Bill Belichick||11.25.13 at 1:56 am ET|
FOXBORO — A disheartened Wes Welker spoke to the media about his return to New England following the Patriots’ 34-31 comeback victory over the Broncos at Gillette Stadium.
“It was a little different for sure,” said Welker. “It was great seeing Mr. Kraft. I got a lot of respect for him as a man, as an owner of a team and everything else.”
The former Patriots receiver caught four balls for 31 yards in his first return to Gillette Stadium since signing with Denver this off-season. Before the game, a video tribute highlighting the great moments of Welker’s career in New England was played inside the stadium on the video board.
“It was very classy of them to do something like that and I appreciate it very much,” the wide receiver said.
One of the big storylines coming into the game was the relationship between he and Bill Belichick. In a pregame interview conducted by Tedy Bruschi on ESPN, the 32-year-old receiver said, “I think so” when asked if he still had a good relationship with Belichick. Welker went on to say he was anticipating, “the most awkward situation that could possibly happen” if he and his former head coach were to interact.
After the game, Welker talked about that interaction which took place on the field following the game where Belichick sought out his former receiver.
“It wasn’t awkward at all,” Welker said. “It was good to see him. I’ve got a lot of respect for him as a coach. He came over and was like ‘good job; we’ll see you all again I’m sure.’”
For Welker, a 10-year veteran, he acknowledged he tried to make this just another game, but it wasn’t easy.
“I tried to. You try to make it just a regular game, but it’s hard at times,” he said. “You try and go out there and focus and do your job. I’m sure there were more emotions and things like that going into it for sure.”
In his first time back at Gillette Stadium the game could have marked closure on his time in New England, but ultimately it didn’t go as he would have liked and now it’s time for Welker to put the game behind him and move on to another big game against division rival Kansas City next Sunday.
“It would have been a lot better closer if we would’ve won, but I had a lot of good years here and things like that,” he said. “I feel like I’ve had closure before and I’ve kind of moved on. We have another big game this week against Kansas City and we have to move on to that.”
Ryan Hannable contributed to this article.
|Tom Brady on D&C: Dolphins’ bullying controversy ‘their issue to deal with’||11.12.13 at 9:40 am ET|
Patriots quarterback Tom Brady joined Dennis & Callahan on Tuesday morning as the team returns from its bye week to prepare for a Monday night matchup against the Panthers.
The Patriots are coming off a 55-point outburst against the Steelers, leading to widespread optimism following a slow offensive start to the season.
“Our expectations have never changed with the way that we perform offensively,” Brady said. “The reason why you score a lot of points is because you execute well. You hit the plays that are there. When you get defenses that you may expect to get and you have a great play call vs that defense, you’ve got to really take advantage of that opportunity.
“Football is about matchups and it’s about execution. When both those things come together, you can have pretty good nights offensively. And if you execute really well offensively, it’s hard for good defenses to stop you. But if you execute poorly, you could call the best play vs. the defense that you’re looking for, and if I make a bad throw, then we’re unproductive.
“We’re trying to be productive on a consistent basis. We talk about it at practice, we talk about it before the games. You always go into the games thinking that you have a really good plan of attack, and then it comes down to how well the players can go out and execute that. The last game, we scored 55 points, that was our best night of execution. We played really well.
“How we fare against Carolina, we’ve got to put the work in in practice, we’ve got to be prepared so that we can go out there and play with anticipation. You can play to 100 percent of your aggressiveness if you’re really confident in what you’re doing. There’s definitely games where you gain confidence in what we’re doing, and you think, ‘OK, man, this is what we’re capable of if it all goes well.’ That’s what we’re going to go try to do this next week.. This week we’re playing one of the best defenses in the league. So, our margin of error will be even less. But we still expect to go out there and play really well. That’s the expectation for the offense.”
The big news in football over the past week is the situation in Miami, where Jonathan Martin left the team after allegedly being harassed by Richie Incognito and other Dolphins teammates. Brady distanced himself from the controversy by noting the Patriots have avoided such issues.
“I’ve been a part of one locker room — or two, really, being in Michigan and being in the Patriot locker room,” Brady said. “We’ve got a great group of guys, we have great respect for one another. It starts with coach [Bill] Belichick and Mr. [Robert] Kraft and Jonathan [Kraft] and the leadership that they bring.
“We don’t want to do anything to misrepresent what’s going on in our locker room, we want to be good role models, we want to win football games. And I think that’s what it comes down to. We show up every day trying to do our job and really not let anything else get in the way of that. Because if there’s issues in your locker room, if there’s issues that are outside of the realm of your own opponent that you’re dealing with, it just takes away from what you’re trying to accomplish. Coach Belichick has always done a great job of keeping the players focused on our opponent, and that’s where our energy needs to go.
“It’s an unfortunate thing. There’s been a lot of awareness brought to the situation, based on what’s happened down in Miami. But that’s their issue to deal with. It’s certainly not an issue that any of us Patriots want to deal with. We’re not really concerned with that, to tell you the truth. We’re concerned with how we’re going to do our best to prepare to prepare for the biggest challenge of our year this week.”
|NFLPA reportedly files grievances against Patriots on behalf of Aaron Hernandez, seeking millions||10.16.13 at 10:11 pm ET|
FOXBORO — The NFLPA is demanding the Patriots pay accused murderer Aaron Hernandez millions of dollars from his five-year, $40 million contract.
According to the Boston Herald and ESPNBoston.com, the NFL Players Association has filed two grievances this week against the team on behalf of Hernandez, who has pleaded not guilty to first-degree murder in the death of 27-year-old Odin Lloyd in June.
The union is seeking restitution of Hernandez’s 2013 base salary ($1.323 million), his 2014 salary ($1.137 million) and workout bonus ($500,000). The workout bonus had guarantee language attached in his original contract, and also for the final installment of his signing bonus worth $3.25 million.
Hernandez signed a five-year extension in August 2012 that was to keep him with the Pats through 2018. The extension had a total maximum value of $40 million, with a $12.5 million signing bonus. In August, the NFLPA had filed a grievance against the Patriots on behalf of Hernandez, seeking to collect $82,000 in workout bonuses.
Team president Jonathan Kraft told the team’s radio network in August that the team believes Hernandez is not owed workout bonus money because the player failed to meet the 90 percent participation requirement.
After filing the initial grievance this August, the union made its only public statement about the case, setting the groundwork for this week’s more substantial demand from the team.
“On behalf of all players, it is our responsibility to protect the rights in the collective bargaining agreement,” the union said in a statement. “We are not tone-deaf to what the allegations are in this case, but for the benefit of all players, there are important precedents here we must protect.”
A team can recover bonus money and avoid a cap hit if a player violates one of the league’s personal-conduct policies or defaults on contract language.
Patriots owner Robert Kraft, speaking before his team’s annual pre-season gala, responded to the grievance.
“Simple: you can look at our history. We honor all of our contracts, and we expect the people who sign them to honor their part of their contract,” Kraft said.
|Source: Patriots considering ‘all options’ on Rob Gronkowski||10.13.13 at 12:24 pm ET|
FOXBORO — The decision as to whether Rob Gronkowski will play again this season is in the player’s hands.
An industry source tells WEEI.com that Gronkowski is receiving the full support of the team, as evidenced by the comments of owner Robert Kraft to ESPN Radio on Sunday morning. The source says the team, based on medical reports, is considering “all options” including shutting down the tight end for the season if he’s still not comfortable with the state of his forearm.
Here is what Kraft told Mike Lupica on ESPN Sunday morning: “Look, he’s a young man that has had a number of different operations and I just want to make clear, because I know the media has a job to do, our first concern is his health and safety and doing what’s in his best interest long-term. And he’s the only one who can decide when he’s ready to play and we’re completely behind whatever his decision is. Obviously, all of us would like him to come as soon as possible, but we’re not going to let our short-term desire impede what’s right for the long-term.”
Gronkowski is signed through 2019 and in the second year of an eight-year contact paying him $55 million, which includes $13.17 million guaranteed and a $5 million guaranteed injury clause.
All of this comes on the heels of WEEI.com’s report this week that there remains “serious concern” about the integrity of the arm. A potentially telling quote from Gronkowski came on Thursday when he spoke to reporters and said that “nothing’s changed” in regard to his status and his physical overall readiness. Asked to clarify, Gronkowski would only add that he’s taking it “day-to-day.”
Pro Football Talk reported Sunday that Dr. James Andrews suggested he not play Sunday against New Orleans. But PFT added that Gronkowski is only expected to miss one more week “at most” and is still hopeful to be on the field next Sunday when the Patriots travel to New York to play the Jets.
The team is trying to counter an Ed Werder report of “resentment” in the locker room as to why the tight end is practicing but doesn’t feel comfortable taking the field in a game.
A source confirmed Sunday that Gronkowski would indeed miss his sixth straight game to start the season as his forearm heals from three offseason surgeries. Gronkowski came off PUP on Aug. 31, with the team’s expectation that Gronkowski would practice with the team and be ready to play before Week 6.
No one is totally sure of the next step, including Gronkowski himself.
|WEEI NFL Power Rankings, Week 3: Seahawks soar, Pats plunge||09.17.13 at 10:08 am ET|
It’s the best rivalry in football, but the Seahawks made it look easy in Sunday’s 29-3 thrashing of the Niners. Seattle soars to the top of the WEEI NFL Power Rankings following the statement win while the divisional-rival Niners drop to No. 3. The Broncos (2), Falcons (4) and Packers (5) round out the top five for a second straight week.
Despite being 2-0, the Patriots fall three spots to No. 9. After facing two rookie quarterbacks and two teams that combined for 20 losses in 2012, New England barely edged out victories in both games.
We’re just two weeks into the season, but if history tells us anything, the eight 0-2 teams have an uphill battle to climb. Since 1990 only 11.5 percent of teams that started 0-2 went on to make the playoffs. The Giants (18), Redskins (20), Vikings (24), Steelers (25), Panthers (29), Browns (31) and Jaguars (32) all have staggered out of the gate.
1. (3) Seahawks (2-0) — Dominant. That’s the simple way to describe Seattle’s stifling defense. Pete Carroll‘s D already has forced seven turnovers, allowed just one touchdown, and given up a total of 10 points.
2. (2) Broncos (2-0) — This team is so talented offensively, it can afford to be flagged 13 times and still win by 18 points.
3. (1) 49ers (1-1) – Some red flags were raised after the lopsided loss to Seattle. Colin Kaepernick already has matched his total number of interceptions all of last year with three on Sunday. Jim Harbaugh‘s team has been penalized 23 times in its first two games. Turnovers and penalties usually are something the defending NFC champs are used to seeing from their opponents.
4. (4) Falcons (1-1) — The defending NFC South champs will limp into Week 3 after losing several key players to injury. Starters Kroy Biermann and Bradie Ewing are done for the season. Asante Samuel, Sean Weatherspoon and Steven Jackson also were hurt in Sunday’s win.
5. (5) Packers (1-1) – It’s amazing the Packers have been able to win so many games over the last few years without having a productive run game. It’s goes to show how explosive their offense has been. On Sunday, James Starks rushed for over 100 yards, the first time a Green Bay running back has accomplished that since 2010.
|Robert Kraft on Tim Tebow: ‘Who’s to say he won’t get his opportunity?’||09.03.13 at 9:44 am ET|
Patriots owner Robert Kraft, during a Tuesday appearance on “CBS This Morning” to promote the start of the NFL season, continued to rave about recently released backup quarterback Tim Tebow and added to speculation that the Patriots will consider bringing him back at some point this season.
“Who’s to say he won’t get his opportunity?” Kraft said. “To have a guy like that in the locker room, the kind of person he is, the way he conducts himself … I’d love to be his agent.”
Asked about the Aaron Hernandez situation, Kraft said: “That’s one of the saddest things that happened in my tenure of ownership. I think we’ve said a lot on the issue. Everything I ever saw about him was first-class in the building. It’s a very sad thing, and it’s something that I’ve said everything I’m going to say about it.”
Kraft also touched on the controversy about one of his Super Bowl rings, which is in the possession of Russian President Vladimir Putin, on display in the Kremlin. Kraft has said he was showing it to Putin during a 2005 trip to Russia, and Putin put it in his pocket and walked off with it. When Kraft recounted the story at an awards show in June, a Putin spokesman insisted it was a gift and that Putin would make a new ring for Kraft. The Patriots owner said he would welcome that gesture.
“I had the great opportunity when my friend Sandy Weill and I were in St. Petersburg to show him the ring, and it worked out that I gave it to him as a present,” Kraft said. “And you know, I understand that he has said he’s making a ring for me, and I’d like to invite him right here to come and present it to me at a CBS-presented game.”
Kraft avoided a follow-up question from host Norah O’Donnell about whether he was pressured by the White House to say the ring was a gift in an effort to avoid causing friction in U.S.-Russian relations.
|Robert Kraft ‘optimistic’ workout buddy Rob Gronkowski will be ‘great contributor’||08.27.13 at 7:16 pm ET|
FOXBORO — Robert Kraft takes pride in taking care of himself. And sometimes that pride takes him face-to-face with some of his employees.
On Tuesday, the Patriots owner was working out in Gillette Stadium, getting some exercise in before Tuesday night’s Patriots Premiere kickoff gala, when he ran across one sort of famous employee.
Rob Gronkowski, who was not spotted during media access at practice on Tuesday, was spotted by the Patriots owner working out in the training room, trying to get himself ready for the season, whether or not that means beginning 2013 on the PUP list.
“I was actually was working out downstairs and he happened to be the only person in the training room and he’s working very hard,” Kraft said. “I’m optimistic that he’ll come back and be a great contributor.”
After Tom Brady, no one has been a bigger contributor to the Patriots passing game than Gronk and Kraft is hoping he begins the season with the team but knows that if he has to sit out the first six games, then he’s willing to wait.
“I’m hoping that he’ll be back as soon as possible. I’m going to let coach Belichick make that decision,” Kraft said.
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