Thinking out loud … while wondering if Ludacris really is ludicrous?
— When it comes to the National Football League, power corrupts. Absolute power, Mr. Goodell, corrupts absolutely. It’s a basic, life lesson we learned once upon a time in civics class, and we often forget occurs in all walks of life. Oh, and the arrogance thing? Not a good look. Keep this in mind as you pursue your appeal.
— Inquiring minds need to know. When does the bastion of truth and information, ESPN, decide that its legal analysts now are worthless as teats on a bull?
— If you’ve followed along for any amount of time, you know Tom Brady‘s eventual exoneration was predicted right here. But not because of any special inside knowledge or information gained, really. The legal system had to work, to play itself out. Common sense had to prevail, eventually. The bullies and wannabes within the NFL had to be flushed out, and these things take time. That, and a little faith and persistence from the public. Patriots fans deserve big kudos for keeping this story alive and growing, much like fungus grows on a locker room shower floor.
— And of course, even Patriots haters have caught onto the absolute lunacy of the punishment the league attempted to stick onto TB12’s backside. If Brady’s penalty had been one game for “failure to cooperate”? This would have ended months ago, methinks. Just because Roger Goodell decided he would make an example of the Patriots — and Brady — by doing the bidding of a scorned few within the NFL, tired of getting pasted by the Pats and their ways, he now has opened up a Pandora’s box of litigation anytime he tries to discipline anyone else.
— Um, Rog? Try leading and making your own decisions, rather than following the revenge-fueled mindset of those dopes in Indianapolis, Baltimore and New York. If you had actually done that when this charade began, you wouldn’t necessarily be persona non grata in New England right now and viewed as a toothless shark by everyone else. Stupid is as stupid does.
— Tweet of the Week I, from @ArmandoSalguero: NFL Commissioner’s salary at an all-time high at a time his power may be at an all-time low.
— Biggest winners right now? Maybe those who took the Patriots by just three points over the Steelers in the season opener. Vegas books had that spread just before Judge Richard Berman’s decision came down Thursday. Just after it? New England moved to a 6.5-point favorite. Over/under grew from 48.5 to 51.
— Jonathan Kraft said the team might have raised a Brady-themed banner instead of the Super Bowl XLIX banner next Thursday night if his suspension hadn’t been overturned. I almost — almost — wish we could see what that would have said. #FreeBrady?
— Kraft also told the audience it isn’t likely the team will make an attempt to recoup any of the fine or the draft picks deducted by the league. But the banner that read “16-0″ for the 2007 regular season? It’s gone, replaced by a new super box in Gillette Stadium‘s northwest corner. They may send that to Don Shula. Now that’s actually a great idea.
— #FreeBrady? Yes. #VindicateBrady? Nope. Not entirely. The end result is what Patriots fans have hoped for over the past seven-plus months. It is not, however, the truth. As I’ve said before, we’ll probably never know the whole truth. Sure, Brady has always steadfastly maintained his innocence, and the “nice guy” in all of us wants to believe him. But know this: The NFL bungled this so badly, it stretched the boundaries of reality, common sense and fairness. That is, ultimately, why TB12 is free.
— The NFL will appeal the decision, and while it isn’t likely Brady’s court win will be overturned, don’t be shocked if the league tries to “re-punish” him. Since the Patriots haven’t punished Tom for anything, technically speaking, the NFL could go after him again under the collective bargaining agreement’s “one-penalty” clause. No one is accusing Mensa of residing on Park Avenue in New York. But we’ll find out the meaning of the word “vindictive” if the league travels this road. Just sayin’.
— So, how come there isn’t a bigger deal being made over “Orsillogate”? Sorry, kids, but The Boston Globe said it couldn’t “independently verify” that signs mentioning Don Orsillo were actually confiscated at Fenway Park? Did anyone actually attempt to speak with fans holding signs? The Sporting News had the story, and it’s not IN Boston. Social media (admittedly, not always the best source) was rife with stories on placards being removed from the park. Why not check it out?
— Three words: conflict of interest. Yes, a few positive signs have been spotted over the past couple of games. Does anyone really believe they haven’t been screened first? Any mention of NESN or the Boston Red Sox screwing up this entire escapade, and those cardboard-carrying truths undoubtedly are whisked off to the dumpster. And NESN’s apparent attempt to get Orsillo to agree to say his departure was a “mutual” decision is a poor attempt to cover up a bad move.
— Our worst fears, people, are coming to fruition. The era of an actual, independent press continues to dwindle right before our eyes. The Globe, owned by Red Sox owner John Henry, has some ‘splainin’ to do. Or some actual reporting, if the boss lets the employees do it.
— Tweet of the Week II, from @GlobeKPD: Don Orsillo’s trademark, IMO, is his ease of manner and humor. His legacy: the dignity he has shown in recent days.
— Now, on to “Schillinggate.” ESPN, you’ve outdone yourself. A now season-long suspension for Schilling’s comparison of ISIS “extremist” Muslims to Nazis? While Hall of Famer Cris Carter goes free for his unconscionable words of wisdom to NFL rookies that they should have a “fall guy” for their actions? It’s so terribly obvious who the four-letter network is in bed with. Walter Cronkite and Edward R. Murrow must be turning in their graves from the conflict of interest.
— Most right-minded Red Sox fans realized early on that Hanley Ramirez could not play in the outfield, and a move to first base — if he stayed in the organization — had to happen. That John Farrell and Ben Cherington downplayed or dismissed this should be all you need to know about why change at the top has been made. Now that Ramirez is beginning his voyage on the other side of the diamond, this decision has Dealer Dave Dombrowski all over it.
— Providence basketball forward Rodney Bullock tweeted out this past week he’s been given medical clearance to play, after missing most of the past two seasons with a suspension and a knee injury. If Bullock is actually healthy and close to regaining his pre-injury form, he’ll play a major role for the Friars this season. He looks like he’s on a pogo stick when he heads to the boards.
— And if you need to know just exactly what a pogo stick is, Google it. And try to jump on one.
— Good move by the Big East Conference to launch what it’s calling the Freshman Fundamentals Program, which is designed to help student-athletes transition from high school sports to the demands of intercollegiate athletics. The event will be held in New York next weekend, with all 10 league teams sending selected scholarship athletes to learn about things like media demands, time accountability and balancing life with school and sports. Hope they don’t let Cris Carter in the building.
— If you’re wondering about the Big East hoop schedule, it was released about this time a year ago. Expect the 2015-16 version to be announced in the next week.
— It looks as if the Friars have caught a couple of unfortunate breaks before the season gets started. First, Illinois star guard Tracy Abrams went down with an Achilles injury, putting him out for the year. Now, Harvard senior point guard Siyani Chambers is out for the season with an ACL tear. Chambers also has to actually leave school for the year because of Ivy League rules against athletic redshirts. He’ll apparently attempt to re-enroll for 2016-17 and finish his eligibility. Along with his degree.
— URI’s schedule is complete, with the Atlantic-10 releasing the conference portion of the schedule this week. It was buried in the wake of the TB12 court decision (great timing and awareness, A-10), but nevertheless there will be at least 107 conference games on national TV of some kind. That’s a big step up.
— Valparaiso, Providence, Houston in non-league play for the Rams at home, but for an expected A-10 preseason favorite, road trips (with no return game to the Ryan Center) to VCU, George Washington and Davidson should prove to be challenging. Home-and-home with Dayton will be fun to watch.
— Back to the business of football: ICYMI, four Patriots were named in the NFL Top 100 player rankings, compiled by ESPN through voting from a panel of more than 70 analysts, reporters and stat geeks. To me, anything done by ESPN now is branded with the smell of “agenda,” much like the same burning stench you get when a cowboys’ brand is applied to a cow’s backside. Trust me, something stinks. Nevertheless, Tom Brady ranked No. 3, Rob Gronkowski No. 5, Devin McCourty 56 and Jamie Collins 97.
— Houston’s J.J. Watt was No. 1, Green Bay’s Aaron Rodgers was No. 2 in the poll. Hard to argue with those findings, no matter the agenda.
— Preseason football games in the NFL are a modern-day fraud perpetrated on a willing, gullible society. We want — need — football after the offseason. We get it in name only. Because what we witnessed Thursday night in Foxboro was not football. Whatever it was, it was a gross misrepresentation of actual competition. On a night when emotions were running high over TB12’s court victory, the game against the Giants sucked the intensity right out of Gillette Stadium, faster than a Usain Bolt 100-meter sprint to a finish line.
— There is no quick fix to the preseason/exhibition game dilemma. As a season-ticket holder, I will point out that ticket prices are reduced by the Patriots for these games, compared to regular-season games. So there is that. But everything evolves over time, and it is well past time for pro football to follow. We’ve had four preseason exhibitions on the schedule every year since 1978. Time to throw a changeup.
— Players don’t need four games to work themselves into shape, but coaches will argue they need time to evaluate 90 guys trying to make a team. Can a compromise ever be reached, and reduce this charade to two games? Only when the owners and players come to an agreement over one thing: money.
— My buddy “Big E” has trouble with understanding money, even though he’s an accountant. He asked his secretary recently for some math help about a bill he had received. “If I gave you $20,000, minus 14 percent, how much would you take off?” Without missing a beat, his secretary replied, “Everything but my jewelry.”
— Tweet of the Week III, from @Gil_Brandt: Bad news for Rams and Saints: Only one team has finished winless in preseason and gone on to win Super Bowl (1982 Redskins).
— Predictions for the regular season? “Pain,” as Clubber Lang once opined before meeting Rocky Balboa in the ring. Emotion can only carry a team so far. But emotion and a good-sized chip on the shoulder can certainly carry you through some tough times. The Patriots have both going for them. The biggest question? Can the secondary play well enough to keep the other guys from scoring almost at will?
— Tough times right now for former Brown defensive end James Develin, the Patriots’ starting fullback. With a break of his right tibia against Carolina a week ago, Develin was put on season-ending injured reserve by the team this week. I dislike preseason games as much as anyone else, but sometimes getting hurt just can’t be avoided. Tough break, indeed.
— For my friend and tennis fanatic Edward in Johnston, Rhode Island: Serena Williams is NOT the greatest female tennis player of all time. She belongs in the top three or four, absolutely. And she probably inches closer to the GOAT moniker (Greatest of all Time) placed in front of her name if she claims the U.S. Open and clinches the Grand Slam of winning all four major tournaments in a calendar year. For my money, right now I’ll still take Martina Navratilova as the GOAT, and Chris Evert as the FOAT (Favorite of all Time).
— Maybe you missed it around here, but the city of New Britain, Connecticut, lost its minor league baseball team to Hartford, and the Double-A Rock Cats (the Minnesota Twins‘ Eastern League affiliate) will be known as the Yard Goats in a brand new stadium starting next year. Sound familiar? This week, just two days after the Rock Cats played their final home game, New Britain announced it will be getting a new team to replace the old one, an expansion team in the independent Atlantic League.
— It sounds crazy right now, but crazier things have happened around here, haven’t they? If the PawSox build their stadium and move to Providence, what will the City of Pawtucket do with McCoy Stadium over the spring and summer? Maybe the city should place a phone call to the Atlantic League.
— Oh, and not for nuthin’, but that new ballpark in Hartford? Dunkin’ Donuts Park. Damn. Missed out on cornering the market on that one.
— Maybe you like his music, and maybe you think it’s a bit crazy. But rap star Chris “Ludacris” Bridges is the latest big name for Providence College to snag for its upcoming Late Night Madness celebration on Oct. 17, signaling the unofficial start to the college basketball season. Hey, it’s great for the kids and a potential boon for recruiting, to pull in a rap/rock star. But unless you attend PC, you won’t be able to get into Alumni Hall for the performance — it’s for students only. Last year, it was Big Sean. Before that, Nick Cannon. So when does Lynyrd Skynyrd or ZZ Top get an invite?
— There were some great comments this week via social media on the apparent end to Deflategate, the overwhelming majority from Patriots fans. But there was this note on Facebook from Kurt in Queens, New York: “The league is full of [expletive deleted]. I’m not even the least bit surprised. Still [another expletive deleted] the Patriots ALL DAY AND TWICE ON SUNDAYS.” Kurt: Good use of all caps. Appreciate the support, bro. And glad to see you’ve come around to the conclusion that yes, indeed, the NFL is having difficulty in the departments of arrogance and attitude. Thanks for the biology and anatomy lesson, too, by the way. You New Yorkers are so smart.
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