Tag Archives: Robert Kraft

NFL17 Pre-Play: Triumvirate Intact, Patriots Grip On Power Remains Firm

1 Jun

Hail the New England Patriots’ Tom Brady, Bill Belichick and Robert Kraft!

Never in the history of sport has a tightly-woven triad of money (owner), brain (coach) & brawn (player) so effectively organized and implemented an operation of success over such a long period of time and with so little apparent friction as have these three, compatible personalities.

Historically, the triumvirate has shown mixed results.

The ancient Romans, building blocks to Western civilization, triumvirated a couple of times (Caesar – Crassus – Pompey 60 BC / Antony – Octavian – Lepidus 43BC), without much claim to victory, save brief respites from war.

Jumping forward to the North American pro sport scene, you’d be hard-pressed to find the same owner, coach (mgr) and top player remaining together winning titles for anywhere near as long as the Foxborough Three have been doing it.

There were the Habs (1944-79), Yanks (1923-62), Celtics & Lakers, dynasties we’ve been talking about for generations but none a triumvirate of top-level talent staying intact for as prolonged a period as these Patriots powerbrokers.

There were the Lombardi – Green Bay teams where ownership (EC – BoD), coach and key offensive player in Bart Starr, the way under-rated Bart Starr, won lots o’ titles but in a much more concentrated timeline (1961 – 68). Condensed greatness is potent (70s Steelers / 80s 49ers) and terrific in its own way but not of the championship continuum on topic here and special too itself.

It’s in the NBA where is found the only real comparison to the Patriots trio-of-time-tested-title-takers, that being the San Antonio Spurs.

The trifecta of Peoria native and current owner Peter Holt (1993), coach Gregg Popovich (1996 >) and recently retired center and championship nexus in Tim Duncan (1997-16) garnered five NBA titles (’99, 03, 05, 07, 14) in sixteen seasons, though never back-to-back (NE: 04-05), requisite for the dynasty.

But that was then, this is now, and wow, the Foxborough Three are defending NFL champions again after their Swing Time SB51 OT win over the ‘gotta’ still be stunned’ Falcons, having made the grade even as their starry starter in Brady had to sit the first four on his Deflategate susp’n. The red, white & blue bunch have been setting and maintaining a standard of sport excellence unlikely to be matched for a long, long time. Never say never, right?

Detractors will bemoan, ‘Hey dingdong, don’t forget Spygate, you fool!’ Always class-acts, and never redundant, the bemoaner boys. Rules violations are wrong, some even bad, i.e., failing to cooperate with an investigation (destroying a phone). But the general public, those with no serious rivalry axe-to-grind or having little interest in promoting their own brand of team who seek ’The Greatest’ award (Cowboys, Steelers, Packers, 49ers), just won’t be too bothered by black-marks on a team’s historical ledger that involve spying or stretching of the rules, outside game-fixing and PEDs. Spys have helped us win wars. A bit off-track here but that’s how the more rationally-minded fan will think.

Can they keep it going? Not forever, they can‘t, as hard as that is to imagine in 2017. Someday Tom will hang up his cleats, Bill hand in his headset one last time and Rob just won’t care anymore. All three have accomplished just about everything they can in the business of football, personally and as a team.

With Tom and Bill both having set the new standard in SB tandem wins with five and the team having set the record for Super Bowl appearances last February in Houston with their ninth (9) (5-4) (Pitt – Dallas – Denver all at eight (8)), about the only achievement unattained is to match and then surpass the Steelers league leading six (6) victories in the Big Game.

But as long as Brady stays healthy and the Foxborough Triumvirate keeps itself amused, an NFL bound to get more amusing, and lengthy, if not better, with Raja Goodell’s kow-tow in relaxing celebration rules, Pats should keep winning.

If you’re expecting to read here roster depth-chart chatter, draft break-downs and musings on New England’s 2017 schedule, forget it. Trust, in Belichick & Company’s judgment and future performance, has never been more earned.

Besides, who’s gonna’ stop ‘em? Anyone in the AFC?

Ben’s a trooper but needs sideline help; Denver & Houston have D but the Os are iffy; Colts & Titans have Os but Ds are doubtful; Raiders Las Vegas engagement came at a bad time for a still maturing Carr; Harbaugh & Flacco know how but is owner listening; KC will play out the string with Reid & Smith; Miami has a good QB in Tannehill but no good game-plan and Cincy, well, they’re Cincy.

In the weaker NFC the Cards turned conundrum; Wilson has D but needs a plan from Pete, not protest (CK); Rodgers needs a run-buddy and a D; Saints showed spunk late; Bucs are rising; Cats didn’t claw back in 2016; Eli is locked-in (‘20); Cousins may’ve peaked and that leaves Atlanta who need to shake off the shame.

Maybe it’s like those other eras with one, or two, dominant clubs, Pack in the 60s, Pitt – Dallas in 70s, 49ers in the 80s: Until the big dog (NE) loses its bite, everyone keeps focusing on the leader of the pack, tripping over their tail at the worst possible times. Course, having a defense that can close the deal is key, its absence to continue to be the biggest issue for most teams in 2017.

But in every NFL season there is the unexpected, that turnaround team where everything begins to click (Falcons / Raiders 2016-17), or sustained success sprouts from where no special tillage had been undertaken (Dallas draft).

As long as Robert Kraft, Tom Brady and Bill Belichick remain together in good spirits and keep “calm(ing) the envious spirit” in those sporadic challenges to their predominance, efforts that will require a charmed season aided in no small part by a capricious Sporting God set (See; Carolina ‘15 – Dallas ‘16), this 21st century will remain the Patriots Period, period.

Steven Keys
NFL HunchLine
Photo credit: NFL-wikiproject, wc.cca, Ixnay-Beao; Belichick-Kraft-Kerry, wc, US-Department-of-State, 4.25.15; T.Brady, wc, K.Allison, 8.28.09; W.Wood, Topps, 1970.
Posted: 6.1.17 @ 2:13p EST, edit 6.26; Copyright © 2017

NFL15: Krafty Move or Senior Moment?

21 May

Recent news of Patriots’ owner Robert Kraft’s decision to forgo appeal of the penalty levied on his team by the NFL for what it perceived was a knowing “circumvention” of the League’s loosely enforced in-game ball inflation standards (Deflategate), caught most of us fans off guard.

Is it a krafty move or a senior moment?

......Kraft&Bush.wc.P.Morse.5.15.04.thmb

More likely the latter, though, not used here in mockery of a memory lapse but in recognition that Robert is nearing 74 (6.4.41), a time in life when one wisely becomes more selective of which battles are worth or not worth engaging. Life is short, no matter the gene strands.

Around lunch-time on Tuesday Bob made his announcement to accept the team penalty, leaving his quarterback Tom Brady to continue on with his own appeal of the 4-game susp’n he had received. Kraft’s reason: he feels this matter has gone on “too long.”

At first blush such an explanation seems reasonable enough.

But it doesn’t take long to start fathoming some possibly negative and slightly serious ramifications for the Foxborough footballers.

.....Brady.10.11.09.wc.J.Beall.thmb

Bailing at this point in time may give the public, in particular, opponents of the Patriots Way, the perception that Bob either lacks faith in Tom’s story (non-circumvention) or that his own prior public statements that had expressed full faith & credit in his starry QB are lacking themselves in full veracity, even if opposite is true and his support is rock-solid.

That’s where legacy will come into play with fans and historians.

Passing on an appeal of the team penalty, a $1M fine and draft ding (-2), might even have an adverse effect on his player Tom’s appeal, theoretically, by re-affirming in the mind of the arbiter (Roger Goodell) the belief of appellant’s wrong-doing while lessening the mental state of impartiality.

Remember, this is a judge in Goodell who’s neutrality on hearing this appeal of a ruling handed down by his own office (T. Vincent, EVP-FO) is already at issue (NFLPA seeks independent-arbiter). Unity, joinder in spirit, would seem preferred in such scenarios.

.....Kraft.12.14.08.BrokenSphere.wc.Oak.thmb

Though, it’s also fair to speculate that Bob Kraft’s decision might just as well have a positive effect on the Commissioner’s appeal ruling in that, Roger could do Tom a ‘solid (reduce penalty (2g)),’ on the facts, of course, in return for his owner’s acceptance of the League’s punishment ($1M, etc.) and, to a degree, its claimed validity.

Trouble with that hypothesis, apart from its acceptance of a possible due process violation and the bad precedent it sets, is that Brady likely wants no part of a namby-pamby reduction, he wants complete clearance on League’s claim of wrong-doing based, apparently so, on the Wells Hunch Report.

Not just “more probable than not (51%),” but likely that Tom and Bob have discussed these matters and yesterday’s statement is an agreed upon route. Likely, not certainly. One never wants to push the big kahuna (Kraft) to engage a battle he’d rather not, does one, Tom? Discretion, good judgment, can be the better part of valor, and friendship.

.......NFL.wikiproject.6kb

Steven Keys
NFL HunchLine
Photo credits: R.Kraft, wc.cca, 12.14.08, BrokenSphere, OAK; Kraft&Bush, P.Morse, WH, wc, 5.15.04; T.Brady, wc, 10.11.09, J.Beall; R.Kraft, wc, 12.14.08, BrokenSphere, OAK; NFL-symbol, wikiproject.
Posted: 5.20.15 @ 10:21pm Eastern Standard Time

NFL15: Why Goodell Goofed in Patriots Penalty

12 May

Update: Shortly before this write was set to post on Monday, the NFL announced that Tom Brady would be suspended four games and the Patriots penalized $1M with the loss of two draft picks for their role in what the League believes was a rules violative effort to deflate game balls below acceptable standard.

* * * * * * * *

I wouldn’t exactly call it karmic backlash but these past twelve months have been one, hellacious rollercoaster ride for NFL’s standard bearer franchise, the New England Patriots.

The 2014 season began under cloud of apprehension over the arrest, indictment and impending criminal trial of former tight-end Aaron Hernandez, eventually found guilty last April by the State of Massachusetts of 1° murder. Downward.

..........Brady.8.28.09.K.Allison.wc.cca.thmb

In February the Patriots took a tremendous Super Bowl win, their fourth under coach Bill Belichick, over Junior America’s favorite team, the defending champion Seattle Seahawks (28-24). Upward.

Now, the Foxborough franchise is beset, their starry signal-caller Tom Brady in particular, by one more of what’s becoming a long, continuous line of storylines (Sterling-Stiviano, Rice, Sam, etc.) that seem to suck-in the entire sports cycle like a black-hole and has come to be known as Deflategate, harkening back to that original ‘gate’ scandal of somewhat greater significance in Nixon’s Watergate (‘73). But don’t try selling that to the trolls.

Which makes this writer wonder why NBA’s Cleveland club got off easy with their in-game video (v CHI) that made light of domestic violence. Maybe the Tosh.0 effect: degradation for laughs. As long as the offensive display was “not intended” to offend, as Cavs’ brass responded, I guess it wasn’t protest-worthy, I guess.

The power of royalty (James) and near-monopoly (Nike®).

Since NFL began its inquiry into whether or not Patriots & staffers Jim McNally and John Jastremski (‘Frick & Frack‘) feloniously fiddled with 2015’s AFCC Wilsons (IND) by deflating psi without official OK, wrapped-up last week on Ted Wells issuance of his report (“more probable than not” that Patriots worked a “deliberate effort to circumvent (NFL) rules” and Brady was likely aware), the saga has come to a halt, waiting on Commissioner Roger Goodell’s ruling.

..........football.extreme.wc.'10.HordeFTL.Wilson.thmb

As popular today as a black-hole storyline is the new national tendency to kick a winner when they’re down. Maybe that’s not so new, but clearly a habit taken up with a passion by millennials and their kin. Course, Fox News has been awful popular since the 90s, so there’s that. Suffice to write, it‘s a lonely walk “On The Sunny Side of the Street (McHugh & Fields)” in 2015.

It helps explain why the last prior inquiry (Mueller) that looked into NFL handling of the Rice matter and largely cleared Goodell of wrong-doing was met with a fair skepticism, while the arguably over-reach conclusions of the Wells report have been widely adopted.

The common thread: Whether it’s jumping anti-Redskins bandwagon, screaming for Roger’s resignation (Rice-gate) or trashing Tom as “The Public Enemy (31),” those who seek the League’s downfall will keep trolling for topics.

The minutemen are clearly winners, NFL’s biggest since America’s former Team, the Cowboys, were ropin’ Lombardis (mid-90s), and certainly down. So if you polled sport news followers (not fans, necessarily), most believe Brady “circumvented” and should then be punished by the Commissioner with fine and/or suspension.

That attitude makes the ‘How’ question (What sort of penalty should the All-Pro quarterback be handed?), the query of choice amongst non-footballers.

But given that, 1) There’s no good evidence a suspected “circumvention” was a long-standing ploy in Foxborough; 2) the Wilson’s slightly deflated state had any measurable bearing on the outcome of contests (See: AFCC (Colts) & SB49 (SEA)), unlike the harm that was Bountygate (See; Favre & Warner ‘10-PS); and, 3) that if the expected penalty, whatever form it takes, is assessed on New England, it will, as some speculate, be source of legal challenge and most “likely” voided on appeal (See; Vilma ‘13), the better question is this: Should Patriots and Brady be punished at all?

..........Goodell.8.30.12.wc.thmb.SSG.T.Wade.USMA

The answer: No.

While I trust Attorney Wells & staff acted in good faith, they appear to’ve over-broadly interpreted their duty as one that, if at all possible (‘reasonably’ omitted), should come to a conclusion as if in a civil court property-divvy.

But in Deflategate there’s no property dispute, no necessity for a determination.

More probable than not” or a preponderance of evidence (51%) is a standard used in civil trials across the land everyday when property & rights are put at issue and a decision must be rendered to settle a dispute. Loosely stated, the court says to the trier of fact, ‘You don’t have to be certain but we need a decision, so decide, one way or the other.’

Never written into law or formally instructed, the 51 percentile is a generally accepted understanding of the application of the standard by triers of fact.

Simply stated, in civil cases where a decision must be made up or down, one side or another, the ‘preponderance / more probable’ standard provides an easier deciding point from where the subject property can be divvied without the greater mental, emotional investment required in meeting the clear & convincing (75%) and criminal BRD (90% +/-) benchmarks.

But a preponderance being equal to a likelihood, the conclusion that Wells and media reports so haphazardly toss around in claim of Brady knowledge of a supposed deflating scheme, well, that’s pure gobbledygook. Since when does 2% (51 – 49 = 2) create likelihood of anything?

.........Belichick.8.28.09.wc.cca.K.Allison.thumb

If Wells investigators didn’t have evidence to make firm findings, which appears the case, and questions on intent to tamper / deflate are left unanswered, so be it.

The Wells Report feels like conjectured conclusion where a result was so strongly sought that it would not be denied regardless of its “basis.” It suggests wrong-doing by Patriots even as it’s probabilities go largely unsupported by direct evidence.

It reads like an educated hunch that clumsily leaves one of the League’s standard-bearer franchises open to petty, endless criticism and mockery even as the findings fall far short of being definitive or even likelihoods on numerous issues.

Inconclusive’ should’ve been the drafter’s opening rather than setting out front the legal standard MPTN as motif unfairly creating public impression of a likelihood of misdeeds.

Maybe fearing public backlash, claim of bias, Wells played it safe and tried to have it both ways in stating there was probably a circumvention by New England, but we lack the “basis” to definitively state it with any degree of certainty. Ugh.

It would’ve served Wells, fandom, NFL and the general public much better had the attorney followed that physician’s creed (Inman): First, do no harm.

One fact that is well established apart from the Wells Report is that enhancing football-grip is only permitted in conjunction with NFL/PA approved (sticky) glove contracts.

The Report is, however, an official hunch so it’s impact per likely League punishment will be outweighed by its blemish on Patriots’ legacy that’ll resonate almost entirely with their and the NFL’s rivals.

.........Goodell.wc.7.10.08.Sgt.B.DelVecchio.Afgh.thmb

Goodell can, firstly, suppress that erroneous motif, digest the report, consult, ponder and then, barring any clear evidence showing Brady or other investigatees failed to cooperate on material matters germane to the discovery truth, give Tom and the Patriots a punishment pass.

But Roger’s got a problem.

The Rice matter and the misdirected, somewhat self-serving public outrcry that arose post-TMZ video drop, has emotionally neutered the Commissioner, taken from him the verve & vigor that had been defining his leadership and left a man who’s now always looking over shoulder and gauging winds, not unlike politicos who live by the polls.

Goodell must find his inner Landis (Kenesaw Mountain), his greater Giamatti (Bart), and lead with the same wisdom and courage he showed in Bountygate.

My own hunch is that Patriots engaged in some extra ball management outside strict adherence to generally accepted practice and/or rules (J&M texts appear not much more than worthless drivel). Not so much because Belichick & Company like to bend the rules but because the Patriots Way believes in testing the limits, an ambitious approach that, in other venues, can be highly praised.

But whether or not Tom likes to bleed a little psi from his pigskins, investigators aught not engage in official hunchery. They have a higher standard to meet. As I can be wrong in my suspicions, so too could they even in an official capacity.

........Brady.wc.cca.mongomez93.thmb

Absent firm findings on claims of non-cooperation (one (TB) could refuse to turn over phone records for reasons that have nada to do with hiding supposedly damning information (privacy & principle)) and tampering that go beyond mere face & bearing, the facts that New England dispatched Indy with ease in the fully-inflated 2nd half of the AFCC that triggered the inquiry, bested defending champ Seattle (SB49) and that ball-control was clearly not well regulated by NFL (unattended official‘s locker-room), all go a long way in ranking this possible rule violation in same class with a player who adds extra uniform padding but below NED (noise enhancing devilry): very low.

Given how Roger’s lost his hutzpah since Rice-gate firestorm charred NFL landscape, a blind obedience to the tenuous tenor of the Wellsian Hunch would not surprise with a Brady suspension to follow (2g). If so, as mentioned above, Brady suing the League in response with NFLPA support, no matter what penalty may be levied ($1 or 1 day), is real possibility. He’d seem to have the meritorious grounds to sustain such an action.

If you’re a fan of due process (fund’l fairness), NFL and capable of subjugating a prejudice, be it team / QB rivalry or NFL policy positions, you’ll support a cautious read of Wells and a ‘no punishment’ ruling by Goodell on Deflategate.

As to the loosey-goosey nature of ball management by NFL officials who‘ve gone mostly unscathed in Deflategate reporting, that state goes to the issue of clarity. In a legal venue, claiming unawares of the law works no defense, but an unclear law as written or in enforcement can give an accused a pass to walk out the door.

.......Tracy.March.screensht.Inherit.60.wc.thmb

But best of all, Goodell taking a punishment pass would go a long way to putting this boring little mystery novella called Deflategate up on the shelf for good, and bad.

“Brady, Brady, Brady, Almighty!” The man from Milwaukee may’ve been a prophet (Inherit the Wind (‘60)).

.......NFL.wikiproject.6kb

Steven Keys

NFL HunchLine

Photo Credits: T.Brady, wc.cca, 9.14.14, A.Campbell; T.Brady, wc, 8.28.09, K.Allison; football.Wilson, extreme, wc, 2010, HordeFTL; R.Goodell, wc, 8.30.12, SSG.T.Wade, USMA; B.Belichick, 8.28.09, wc, K.Allison; R.Goodell, wc, 7.10.08, Sgt.B.DelVecchio, Afgah; T.Brady, wc, mongomez93; S.Tracy, F.March, screenshot, Inherit, 1960, wc; NFL-wikiproject.
Posted: 5.11.15 @ 9:39pm EST