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Mike Florio on M&M: Patriots might be better off passing on Aqib Talib and making a run at Darrelle Revis 03.04.14 at 12:05 pm ET
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Mike Florio

Mike Florio

Mike Florio of checked in with Mut & Merloni on Tuesday to discuss news from around the NFL, including speculation that the Patriots might be interested in acquiring Buccaneers cornerback Darrelle Revis. To hear the interview, go to the Mut & Merloni audio on demand page.

Florio suggested that Revis could be on the move prior to March 13, when he’s due to receive a $1.5 million check, and a 2014 fourth-round draft pick the Buccaneers sent to the Jets in last year’s trade would become a third-rounder.

“Those two things combined suggest that if there is going to be a move, it’s going to happen by next Thursday or it’s not going to happen at all,” Florio said. “That’s what it comes down to — it’s not going to happen if it doesn’t happen by the 13th. And the question becomes, can some other team persuade the Buccaneers to make the move. Last year it was the Jets wanting to move Revis. This year the thinking in league circles is that there are other teams that would like to shake Revis away from Tampa.”

Two teams Florio mentioned as potential landing spots are the Patriots and Broncos.

“I’ve heard from someone I trust very much the speculation that it is the Broncos and the Patriots who are trying to stir this ‘Revis can be/Revis will be/Revis could be,/Revis should be traded’ idea, to put the idea in the Buccaneers’ heads to move on from Darrelle Revis. Would the Broncos or the Patriots like to have a shot at him? I believe they would. Does that mean the Buccaneers are ready to trade him? No. ‘€¦ The question is convincing the Glazers [who own the team] to do it. But they’re going to save $16 million in cash if they do it.”

Meanwhile, the Patriots passed on franchising Aqib Talib as they try to determine if it’s worth spending big money to keep the free agent cornerback in New England.

“I think Talib at least is going to get an $8 million-a-year offer, if that’s what [Brent] Grimes is getting from the Miami Dolphins,” Florio said. “And the problem for the Patriots — and this is an Aaron Hernandez offshoot — you can’t give a big chunk of money to a guy with a history of off-field issues less than a year after Aaron Hernandez blew up in your face. You just can’t do it.”

Florio doubted that Talib would take a hometown discount to return to Foxboro.

“Are the days still around where somebody would take less to stay with the Patriots? I don’t know that that vibe exists anywhere except maybe in Seattle. And it would be more somebody taking less to join the Seahawks than someone taking less to stay with the Seahawks,” he said. “So, I think they’re going to have to compete with the highest bidder. And if the Patriots don’t compete with the highest bidder, then he could very well be going elsewhere.

“And when you’re in a position where from a PR standpoint it’s very difficult to give a guy a bunch of guaranteed money on the hope that he doesn’t revert to the things he was doing in Tampa, allegedly or actually. That’s a big risk to take. And other teams don’t have that same PR risk.”

Added Florio: “That’s where this whole Revis thing comes from. When you think about what it’s going to cost to keep Talib on a long-term deal, what the costs are from an off-field risk standpoint, it’s very easy to get yourself to the point where you can justify making a run at Revis. And you throw in the icing on the cake of sticking it to the Jets. Because one of the reasons the Jets traded Revis last year was to get him out of situation where he could walk out the door and sign with the Patriots as a free agent this year. For him to end up with the Patriots would be the ultimate kick in the pants to the New York Jets. And I’m sure that the Patriots would like to be able to pull that off. If they think it’s a good football move, you throw on top of that tweaking the Jets, and they’re not going to feel bad about doing that.”

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Peter King on M&M: Jonathan Martin-Richie Incognito situation ‘sounds almost like it’s the battered-wife syndrome’ 11.08.13 at 1:17 pm ET
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Peter King

Peter King

Sports Illustrated’s Peter King made his weekly appearance on Mut & Merloni on Friday to talk about the disturbing situation with the Dolphins as well as Patriots news.

The Richie Incognito-Jonathan Martin saga seems to take a new turn every day, with Incognito getting support from teammates after being suspended by the team for his treatment of his fellow offensive lineman.

“It’s too easy to say Incognito ought to be sentenced to 10 years with Miss Manners or something, or to say Martin is wrong — or one of them is wrong, one of them is right. There’s fault on each side,” King said. “Honestly, I can’t get past Incognito and the name-calling. I don’t know what it is. I don’t know what other walk of life, what sort of band of brothers [in which] it’s OK to call a person with one white parent and one black parent a half-N-word. I can’t get past that.”

The Dolphins organization has been criticized for its handling of the matter, but King said management might have been in the dark as to the extent of the problem because Martin apparently was hesitant to address it with anyone.

“That’s the problem here — I don’t know that he ever did. I’m not sure that Jonathan Martin went to any person in the organization,” King said, adding, “It sounds almost like it’s the battered-wife syndrome, where you don’t want to tell anybody because you think that’s just going to make it worse.”

Looking at the future for the players, King said he thinks both will return to the league.

“If Richie Incognito is cut at some point and he serves whatever suspension he’s served either by the Dolphins or the league, if he has the ability to come back at any point this year, in my opinion, I think he’ll be signed by a playoff contender, and I think he’ll play down the stretch,” King said. “There might be some guys who look at him like, ‘We’ll go on the field together, but don’t talk to me. I don’t want to know you.’ But I think that football, and contending in football, and the NFL playoffs, and stories like this, they make strange bedfellows. And I think that a desperate team that might need a guard is going to call him.

“Having said that, you ask about Martin, Martin is one of those guys who, he is going to play football somewhere, and he’s going to be welcomed back by a segment of the locker room, but there’s also going to be a segment of whatever team he goes to who’s going to think he’s a rat. And that’s all there is to it — fair, unfair, whatever. You know that guys in NFL locker rooms now are going to brand this guy as somebody who went outside the family to share his problems and to try to get his problems fixed.

“You and I and any normal person outside NFL locker rooms would say, what kind of help is he going to get, what kind of relief is he going to get telling Richie Incognito, ‘Hey, please stop picking on me.’ Or stop laughing about it, and all that. I think he will go back, but I think it will be a tough road for him.”

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Rob Gronkowski has ‘no reaction’ to Aaron Hernandez, Alfonzo Dennard or his back 07.11.13 at 5:54 pm ET
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Rob Gronkowski spoke briefly Thursday in Boston to reporters. (AP file)

Rob Gronkowski spoke briefly Thursday in Boston to reporters. (AP file)

In Boston to sign copies of his book “Growing up Gronk” Thursday at the Prudential Center, Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski held a very brief session with reporters. Not surprisingly, Gronkowski was asked his opinion about the Aaron Hernandez murder case, the arrest of Alfonzo Dennard and the rehab on his surgically repaired back.

Gronkowski, who had back surgery on June 18, was asked two questions about the content of his book before reporters began a series of questions on the controversies regarding the Patriots and behavior in the NFL.

Q: Any reaction on the arrest of your colleague, Alfonzo Dennard?

A: Nah, I got no reaction at all.

Q: What about Aaron Hernandez?

A: I got no reaction at all, just here about the book.

Q: How is your back?

A: I got no reaction about that right now, either.

Q: Looking forward to the season?

A: I can tell you this, I’m in great spirits and I’m enjoying life a lot more. I can tell you that right there.

Q: Does the NFL have a problem with players off the field, getting in trouble?

A: Ask [commissioner] Roger Goodell.

Q: Do you think there is a problem with players off the field?

A: You have to ask Roger. He’s been in the business for a while now, so he’ll know, from when he started to where he is now. Roger that.

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Dorsey Levens on D&C: NFL rule change prohibiting leading with helmet ‘a great idea’ 03.21.13 at 10:12 am ET
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Dorsey Levens

Dorsey Levens

Former NFL running back Dorsey Levens checked in with Dennis & Callahan on Thursday to discuss the league’s new rule change that prohibits ball-carriers from lowering the crown of their helmets outside of the tackle box.

The hope is that the rule change will prevent concussions and other serious injuries.

“A lot really depends on the defender,” Levens said. “If you’re a running back, see him coming in full speed, sometimes you have to protect yourself. Sometimes guys use your head as a weapon, because if you’re running full speed and the guy tries to wrap you up with your arms, and he catches the crown of your helmet, he could break his arm. Guys know that, which is why running backs use the lowering of the head as a weapon down the field. But, I understand the rule change and there’s going to be some more coming down the pipe.”

While some current and former NFL players have spoken out against the rule, Levens sees both sides and agrees with a lot of what commissioner Roger Goodell is trying to do.

“I think it’s a great idea,” Levens said. “Like I said, it all goes back to safety, and that’s the priority. … I think the smaller, more shifty backs never really lowered their heads anyway. Other guys, the bigger guys know that they could use that crown as a weapon over the guys who don’t like it as much. But the big guy likes it, like [Brandon] Jacobs.”

Levens played in the league for 11 years, spending the majority and most successful part of his career with the Packers, and he understands the thinking of running backs who want to lead with their head.

“What happens is, it’s kind of instinctive especially within that three- to five-yard area.” Levens said, adding: “On third-and-1, or fourth-and-1, a lot of times if you don’t put your head down you’re not going to get the first down, and guys understand that. If you need that one yard, guys are going to do whatever it takes, and that helmet will get people out of your way faster than anything else. But again, if guys on the defensive side were just as willing and able to put that head down and meet you head on, and I think that’s the concern because if the defensive guy and offensive guy do it, and they hit crown to crown, that’s when the serious neck injuries come in.”

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Patriots owner Robert Kraft 12th most powerful in sports, according to Sports Illustrated 03.06.13 at 12:30 pm ET
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Robert Kraft

Robert Kraft

Patriots owner Robert Kraft was named the 12th most powerful person in sports by Sports Illustrated in the March 11 issue of the magazine.

According to SI:

Kraft, 71, made himself invaluable to the NFL with his work on its broadcast, finance and compensation committees. And as an owner trusted by players, his consensus-building and shuttle diplomacy were keys to resolving the 2011 lockout.

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell is ranked No. 1, ahead of NBA commissioner David Stern and AEG owner Philip Anschutz (investor in multiple teams and arenas). ESPN president John Skipper and MLB commissioner Bud Selig round out the top five.

No other Boston personalities are ranked in the magazine’s top 50 list. SI also did top-10 lists for each of the major sports leagues. In the NFL list, Kraft is second to Goodell, while Patriots coach Bill Belichick ranks eighth. In the NBA list, Celtics coach Doc Rivers is eighth. Bruins owner Jeremy Jacobs in included in the NHL top 10, which is not ranked.

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Roger Goodell talks player safety, faces critics at Harvard School of Public Health 11.16.12 at 12:43 am ET
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Roger Goodell will meet with Gregg Williams on Monday in New York. (AP)

Roger Goodell (AP)

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell spoke for nearly an hour about player safety and concussions Thursday at the Harvard School of Public Health, and he faced some tough critics in the process.

Throughout his speech, Goodell spoke of the measures the league has taken to improve safety and why the NFL has set a good example for the other sports, but he was questioned heavily by those on hand afterwards.

Audience members pointed to the proposed 18-game schedule in the last CBA negotiations and the league’s Thursday night games as examples as to how the commissioner and the league may be doing what’s in the owners’ best interests rather than focusing on the players’ safety.

One question fielded by the commissioner came from an audience member who noted that the Ravens had to play four games in 17 days, and that in the process the team lost such star players as Ray Lewis and Lardarius Webb.

Goodell responded by saying to be careful of “drawing conclusions without facts.”

“Is that really what’s causing the injury? Did that cause Ray Lewis’ arm injury?” Goodell said. “The fact is we have to look at the data and the results and see, is there a higher frequency of injuries? We have not seen that.”

Goodell added that most players he has spoken to like having the Thursday night games because of how light their workload is practice-wise in the days leading up to them. He also cited the extra time off between games as a reason as to why players have welcomed the addition of more Thursday night games.

“The reaction, while always mixed, has been quite positive on the players’ standpoint,” he said. “Also, we have not seen anything in our injury data that would indicate [that players are at a greater risk because of Thursday games]. If we did, we would certainly evaluate that.”

During his speech, Goodell pointed to Alex Smith, Jay Cutler and Michael Vick all leaving their games this week with concussion symptoms as a sign that players and teams are getting better at handling the issue of concussions. That was later refuted by an audience member who pointed out that though Smith left that game against the Rams eventually, he stayed in after taking a hit from Jo-Lonn Dunbar and threw a touchdown pass with blurred vision.

“The players were taken out when they developed symptoms,” Goodell said. “If they don’t tell medical professionals that they’re getting symptoms, it’s difficult to tell. If we see an impact that he’s showing symptoms, then we’ll take him out of the game. In addition, we need teammates to be able to say, ‘This guy’s not right. Something’s wrong. He needs to be evaluated,’ and get him off the field.”

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Opinion: Blame Roger Goodell, owners for replacement disaster 09.24.12 at 1:46 am ET
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Roger Goodell has been NFL commissioner since 2006. (AP)

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell has come under fire for his handling of the referee situation. (AP)

That’s the only reason you, me and 15 million others had to watch replacement officials do everything possible to screw up what should have been a terrific football game on Sunday night.

This is only about billionaire owners not wanting to lose a fight to referees, plain and simple. Follow the money and all that. We can knock Roger Goodell all day about this — and plenty of it is justified, to be sure — but if the owners told Goodell tomorrow to make a deal, Goodell would make a deal.

But that’s not going to happen. As hideous as the replacement officials were on Sunday night — players fighting after plays with no flags thrown, 24 accepted penalties for 215 yards and 13 first downs, botched holding and pass interference calls, utterly and completely overwhelmed refs who seemingly were intimidated by coaches and players, total amateur hour — it won’t change what really matters to Goodell and the owners.

Ratings aren’t going anywhere, which means money for the networks, which will eventually mean more money for the NFL. We know now that player safety and the integrity of the game don’t mean nearly as much as making every last dollar of profit. And no one is going to stop watching games and paying for Sunday Ticket and gambling on games and playing fantasy football. From a strictly financial perspective, where is the motivation to make a deal with the refs?

I get that it’s a business, I really do. No problem there. But don’t try, as Goodell as done over the last couple of years, to sell me on the idea that player safety is paramount. It’s not. Concussions only landed on Goodell’s radar because of lawsuits. Fear of losing money was the motivation. And now the chance to save some money is why you’ve got Division 3 officials looking like Division 3 officials every Sunday. Has “protecting the shield” ever seemed more disingenuous than it did on Sunday night?

Don’t blame the replacement officials, either. It’s not their fault that owners want to make the very best deal possible — quality of the product be damned — or that the regular officials want to continue their defined-benefit pension plan (the league wants to put a freeze on that plan and shift them over to a 401(k)).

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