Revenge of the Patriots: It’s Them vs. the World, and That’s Scary for the World

As seen on Bleacher Report: [LINK]

Revenge of the Patriots: It’s Them vs. the World, and That’s Scary for the World


It was late Tuesday night when the text from a Patriots player arrived on my phone. The message was simple and succinct. Yet also powerful.

“It’s us against the world,” the player wrote.

Us against the world.       

Then, just hours later, on Wednesday morning, came one of the most staggering news conferences I’ve seen in 25 years of covering the NFL. Robert Kraft—responding to Tuesday’s statement from commissioner Roger Goodell, who denied Tom Brady’s appeal of a four-game suspension for his part in Deflategate—destroyed Goodell and initiated what can only be called a sort of NFL civil war. The last time we saw this was when Al Davis owned the Raiders.

This was one of the key parts of Kraft’s statement:

Tom Brady is a person of great integrity and is a great ambassador of the game, both on and off the field.

Yet, for reasons that I cannot comprehend, there are those in the league office who are more determined to prove that they were right rather than admit any culpability of their own or take any responsibility for the initiation of a process and ensuing investigation that was flawed.

I have come to the conclusion that this was never about doing what was fair and just. Back in May, I had to make a difficult decision that I now regret. I tried to do what I thought was right. I chose not to take legal action. I wanted to return the focus to football.

At one point, Kraft continued to say, “I was wrong to put my faith in the league.”

hi-res-5b98fd1be68f61b4859d05722f97eb6c_crop_exactStephan Savoia/Associated Press

It cannot be stressed enough just how remarkable this statement was. Kraft is the most powerful owner in the country’s most powerful sport, and he just took his commissioner and his disciplinary process to the woodshed. I believe it is Kraft, not NWA, who is Straight Outta Compton.

What we are now seeing, what we will continue to see all season, is Revenge of the Patriots. They aren’t just mad. They aren’t just hurt. They are now hellbent on getting even.

They will do this in a number of ways. With speeches like Kraft’s. With actions like Brady going to federal court.

But, mostly, they will do it with winning. Their anger, their sense of injustice—no matter if misplaced—will serve as a sort of nuclear fuel. There will be no cooling off by Kraft and the team anytime soon. No turning of cheeks. Just kicking the crap out of teams on the field.

Us against the world. The Patriots thrive on this. I believe they will, to borrow a phrase from Johnny Football, wreck this league on the field.

While New England has had some of this league paranoia since Spygate, Deflategate has ramped it up considerably. Some of their angst is understandable. The process the NFL used to reach a (correct) conclusion was indeed flawed. When Kraft expresses anger about the various leaks, he has a point.

Now, Kraft is wrong about the NFL purposely trying to destroy Brady. There is no logical reason for the NFL to destroy its version of Captain America. Kraft also cannot explain why Brady destroyed his phone (cracked it/dropped in the toilet/dropped down a flight of stairs, whatever) just as he was meeting with investigators.

This passage from Goodell’s 20-page statement is also critical:

Indeed, a player of Mr. Brady’s tenure in the league and sophistication, and who was represented by highly experienced counsel (both personal and NFLPA-engaged), cannot credibly contend that he believed that he could, without consequences, destroy his cellphone on or about the day of his interview with the investigators when he knew in advance of the interview that the investigators were seeking the cellphone for the evidence that it contained. And the belated attempt by his representatives to remedy this failure to cooperate—ultimately by asking the NFL to track down nearly 10,000 text messages sent to or received from a substantial number of other individuals—is simply insufficient. The NFLPA and Mr. Brady’s representatives have identified no instance in or outside the NFL in which such conduct has been deemed satisfactory cooperation with an investigation.

Finally, the CBA-mandated standard NFL Player Contract, which Mr. Brady signed, makes clear and provides notice that, in the event of a finding of conduct detrimental, the Commissioner may “suspend Player for a period certain or indefinitely.”

hi-res-c1fbfed52873a62f0960c21164727073_crop_exactJeff Chiu/Associated Press

No matter to the Patriots. They see all of this as a grand conspiracy, the league versus Tom, and now they are going to fight back hard, on the field and off it.

Another Super Bowl appearance coming this season? I think highly possible. This isn’t hyperbole. This is how I feel. If Brady misses the first four games, well, the Patriots have started slow before and won. And they’ve found ways to win games without Brady before, too.

Remember, the brains of this operation is Bill Belichick—to me, the greatest coach of all time. He is a great manipulator of locker rooms (and I mean this in a good way). He will channel all of this anger and present a dangerous, unified football team to the rest of the league. He will be the Us against the world ringleader.

The Patriots are still in a relatively weak division, which they’ve won six straight times and 11 of the past 12 seasons. The conference is tough, but even with Brady missing four games—if that happens—they can still beat the Colts or Broncos.

None of this is a statement on Brady’s guilt or innocence. I think the NFL is right about Brady. But that doesn’t matter now. What matters is the Patriots are angry. And you wouldn’t like the Patriots when they’re angry.

“We’re all upset over how Tom is being treated,” the player also texted. “What they’re doing to Tom is just wrong.”

You saw a sense of this outrage—just a smidge—when several players met with the media on Wednesday. The players were instructed by Kraft in his speech to not talk Deflategate for the rest of the year, and it sounded like they were additionally coached. But there were snippets of what the Patriots player told me.

Said receiver Matthew Slater: “All of us in here are part of a family…and you stick with your family, no matter what the outcome.” Slater added that Brady was the heartbeat of the team.

Don’t be fooled by the calmness of his voice. Listen to his words.

The Patriots are furious. More than furious, they are on a mission. It’s the Patriots against the world.

And the rest of the league needs to watch out.

Mike Freeman covers the NFL for Bleacher Report.

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Keep Up with Us on Facebook

Hey followers and readers.  As I’ve said, the other writers and I haven’t had the time that we used to have to write full-length posts.  However, we still do write short posts and share stories and media on our Facebook page.  So, to keep up with us, please go there and like our page.
Here is the link:

A few quick notes that I would normally write posts about:

Brady becomes 6th in history to throw for over 50,000 career yards.

Tom Brady throws to who else but Gronk for the completion to put him over 50,000 career passing yards.

The Patriots
The Patriots that we say in week 5 against the Bengals is the Patriots team we’ve been missing.  They finally figured out the right combination and placement of offensive linemen to actually give Tom Brady more than a second to throw.  Honestly, I think this was the biggest, or even just THE problem in the first few weeks.  If you look at the stats, he was sacked, knocked down, and hurried more than he ever was before.  Anyways, they gave him time this week and everything else clicked.  It was awesome!  Oh ya and no big deal but Tom Brady became only the sixth quarterback in NFL history to throw for over 50,000 career yards!

Here are the highlights from the game:

The Bruins
The boys are back in town!  I went to the first Bruins game of the season last night and it was extremely refreshing.  They are my favorite team out of all the local ones, but even so, we appear to have a great and promising season ahead of us.  Yes, it was only one game, but they looked surprisingly good considering David Krejci and Gregory Campbell were out and we have some new guys on the roster that have been called up from Providence.  They still have some early season rustiness, but they looked good.  What’s more, the two goals we scored came from two guys we knew had more potential after last year: Reilly Smith and Chris Kelly.  Also, the Flyers looked pretty bad.  But the important thing is the Bruins look good and started off the season strong!

Here are the highlights from the game:

Thanks for reading,

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Bruins Fans’ Hearts Broken

Bruins fan reacts after the Habs eliminate the Bruins from the playoffs (5/14/14 - ECSF Game 7)

Bruins fan reacts after the Habs eliminate the Bruins from the playoffs.

This is tough.  I wasn’t able to even think about writing this for the past week, and even now I’m really forcing myself.  While fair weather fans can forget about it easily and move on to the Red Sox, true Bruins fans feel really depressed.  I almost feel like I got dumped by the girl of my dreams (hence this post’s title).. but not just that.. it feels like she dumped me to be with my best friend.  I’m not sure if that analogy really works but what I’m getting at is that the Bruins being eliminated from the playoffs in the second round is extra painful for a few big reasons.

It’s not just that we’re Bruins fans and they lost, it’s the fact that they had immense potential.  They finished the regular season at the top of the league, winning the Presidents’ Trophy for the first time since the 1989-90 season, but more importantly, they were considered by the majority to be the favorite to win the Stanley Cup.  This team was absolutely the most complete, solid, and deep in the whole league.  They should’ve been able to pull it off.  Unfortunately, the Habs played their best and the Bruins didn’t even show up.  The team we saw skating for Boston in this series was a shell of what we saw in the regular season.  That even included our world-class goalie Tuukka Rask.  Even if just he played to his potential, we would’ve had a great chance.  But nobody did, and you can’t win if you’re not there.

Another reason this sucked is how many close chances we had.  We hit something like 14 posts and had probably just as many open nets that we missed.  Some of that is just bad “puck luck” and “bad bounces,” but unfortunately, it also means we couldn’t finish.  This is part of the team not showing up as I previously mentioned.  I’m still trying to close my mouth after the incredibly high number of jaw-dropping missed shots where one of our players had a wide open side of the net and shanked it.  Scoring any one of them could’ve won us an extra game and the series.  But again, these guys just weren’t there.  I don’t know how else to describe it.  It just wasn’t our year I guess.

Still, what hurts the most is that the team we lost to was our archrivals, the Montreal Canadiens.  The Bruins/Habs rivalry goes back almost a century and is arguably the most heated and passionate rivalry in all of professional sports (besides maybe some soccer rivalries outside of North America, which I don’t really know about).  Yes, I’m from Boston, where the Red Sox/Yankees rivalry is the most pronounced (shirts, bumper stickers, etc.) and I’m still saying this is a bigger rivalry.  Even my friend who is a total baseball nut/fanatic/historian and huge Red Sox fan/Yankees hater says that Bruins/Habs is bigger.  The average American may not even know this rivalry exists, but that’s because hockey is arguably the least popular of the professional sports (at least in the States).  However, true hockey and Bruins fans understand.  I’ll admit, my obsession with the Bruins is probably over the top and unhealthy, but there are many who love this team as much as I do.  For those of us who fit that description on either side of the rivalry, there is a very real and true hatred of the rival team, fanbase, and city.  So, naturally, there is nobody you would want to lose to less.

The other thing that hurts is that this exact roster was very likable and fun to watch.. and they will not all return next year.  There may only be some slight changes, but some speculate certain big names being traded away.  I don’t want to see any of these guys leave.  The headline of trade speculation is that Jarome Iginla may sign somewhere else.  Of all the guys who might not return, I would miss him the most.  It was fun to watch him as he seemed to really enjoy himself with this team.  He also said that he and his family loved the Boston area.  More importantly, though, he had a fantastic season and seemed to fit in extremely well.  He had 30 goals in the regular season and far surpassed all other Bruins in the playoffs with five goals.  He is a true asset and I really hope he’s wearing black and gold next season.

On that note, one thing that pisses me off to think about is that if Jarome Iginla had chosen to come here instead of going to the Penguins last year, many think we would’ve won the Stanley Cup.  I believe that too.  We only needed a little bit more than what we had to put us over the top, and he would’ve easily made that difference.  He obviously chose the wrong team as we swept them in the Eastern Conference Finals last year.. and they got taken out early again this year.  Ugh!  But there’s no use dwelling on the past.  Instead, we must look ahead with hope.

Who will return next year?  My heart wants this exact roster again, but my head knows that some changes must be made as core group hasn’t been enough to win the Cup in the last few years, however close we may have gotten.  I definitely want Jarome Iginla back as I said, though.  When he, David Krejci, and Milan Lucic were clicking, they were the best line in hockey this year.  And while talking about best lines, I think that Carl Soderberg, Loui Eriksson, and Chris Kelly were by far the best third line in hockey.  I want to see them together again next year.  Our second line of Patrice Bergeron, Brad Marchand, and Reilly Smith was solid at times, but inconsistent.  Patrice Bergeron should be a Bruin until he retires as he is consistently in the running for the Selke Trophy (for best defensive forward) and is also typically right at the top for face-off win percentage.  The other two guys, however, are questions.  I did like Smith, but he was probably the most inconsistent in terms of production.  Marchand is a great shooter, but dealt with some cold streaks as well.  Plus, as much as we like him instigating and getting under opponents’ skin, he does make some bad decisions and takes stupid penalties.  For this reason, he is the big name that is speculated to be traded if any big name is.  Our fourth line has been together for a long time and is usually the best fourth line in the game.  They also bring the energy and physicality.  However, enforcer Shawn Thornton’s contract is up, so some think he may not be signed again.  The reason is that as much as he helps us in the regular season, since there’s usually no place for fighting in the playoffs, he is rendered somewhat useless.  Still, he alone can get the team pumped up with a big hit or fight, and he is a big part of this team’s personality.  So I would be sad to see him go, as much as it might make sense.  Lastly, there’s the goalie, Tuukka Rask.  He is one of the best in the world and there’s no reason we should even think about trading him right now.  Bruins management knows this..  He will be here at least for several more years.  We just have to hope that it was the birth of his first child (during this series) that distracted him and had him not looking like the Rask we know.  Cam Neely, Peter Chiarelli and the rest of Bruins management know what they’re doing.  So, we just have to sit back, trust in them, and wait for September.

Bruins players salute the fans after being eliminated from the playoffs (5/14/14 - ECSF Game 7)

Bruins players salute the fans after being eliminated in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Semi-finals.

Bruins ‘Thank You’ Video:

Game 7 highlights:

Jarome Iginla’s Game 7 goal (the last Bruins goal of the season):

Post-Series Handshake:

Related Stories:

Fraser’s Broken Foot, Chara’s Finger, Lucic’s Wrist Among Bruins Postseason Injuries

Cam Neely: 2013-14 Season A Combination Of Success And Failure

Jaffe: Minor Changes Coming, But No Need To Blow Up The Bruins

Boston Bruins Notable Free Agents: Who Should Stay and Who Should Go?

In Defense of Shawn Thornton

Milan Lucic Calls Dale Weise ‘A Baby’ After Complaints About Comments In Handshake Line

Thanks for reading,

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