NFL adds all-pro lawyer to inquiry into Patriots

24 Jan 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Deflategate bringing out the best in New York tabloid headline writers.

After starting his press conference yesterday at Gillette Stadium by answering five straight questions about the Deflategate controversy, one reporter shifted the attention away and asked the defensive captain a question about the Patriots’ Super Bowl opponent, the Seattle Seahawks. The NFL is upping the stakes in its probe of the New England Patriots and unleashing one of the country’s top lawyers and a high-powered investigative firm to uncover the truth behind a scandal that has cast a dark cloud over the team as they prepare for the Super Bowl.

FOXBOROUGH — Cornerback Darrelle Revis confirmed Friday that Tom Brady addressed the team on Thursday, talking about the controversy over underinflated footballs that has hung over the Patriots since Sunday’s AFC Championship game win over Indianapolis. “He stood up and spoke and just said, ‘This is a distraction.“I’m not worried about no balls,” the most gregarious of the Patriots joked on Friday. “Maybe Tom’s (Pats QB Brady) worried about balls, but I ain’t.” Nobody in New England seems that worried about footballs, even if the fallout from DeflateGate rages on around them at the Gillette Stadium compound. Five days into the controversy that has grabbed the attention of the nation, it’s clear these Patriots are more interested in moving on to more important matters. We just need to keep focused as a team, we’ve got a big game to play,’ ” Revis said Friday, before the Patriots had a walk-through practice inside the climate-controlled field house. “And that’s something he wouldn’t do, he wouldn’t break a rule.

The league announced a detailed probe into the mystery of the underinflated footballs from the AFC title game, and a host of former players insisted they didn’t believe the press conference denials from Bill Belichick and Brady. Wells, who the league tapped to lead an investigation into bullying in the Miami Dolphins locker room in 2013, was named one of “The Decade’s Most Influential Lawyers” in 2010 by the National Law Journal. It issued a statement that the Patriots have pledged full cooperation and have given the league information it requested and made personnel available upon request. In the coming days, we expect to conduct numerous additional interviews, examine video and other forensic evidence, as well as relevant physical evidence.” As a result of Friday’s statement, it certainly appears that Bill Belichick, Tom Brady and the Patriots will likely face no punishment before next Sunday’s game.

McCourty and another defensive captain, Vince Wilfork, were stern in their mission to block out the distractions, something they’ve become quite comfortable in doing over their veteran careers. “Trust me, we’ve been attacked plenty of times, individually and as an organization. The statement also leaves the NFL wiggle room to say the balls were accidentally deflated, which would instantly raise questions about Goodell’s ability to oversee an impartial investigation, and whether he should recuse himself from any punishment that might be handed down. It’s not our first rodeo,” Wilfork said. “We have a group of guys who know what it takes to basically ignore the noise and focus on what we’re here for, and that’s playing football.

Brady claimed no knowledge of how the footballs became underinflated. “I think so,” he said. “I think at that point, you would want your leader to step up and say a couple words for us to move forward, because it can be a distraction, and it can bond us during this whole Super Bowl experience. Goodell and Patriots owner Robert Kraft have a close relationship, and fans of, say, the Jets, have complained for years that Belichick and the Pats should have been more severely punished for SpyGate, when New England was busted for videotaping Gang Green’s defensive signals in 2007. Also, in 2012 Kraft pushed for Goodell’s massive contract renewal, which runs through March of 2019 and has been reported to be worth about $44 million a year. After a blowout loss in Week 4 to Kansas City, they endured a week of second-guessing on matters such as Brady’s age and ability plus whether the team’s reign of success was all done. He leaves no stone unturned, and he’s a particularly good strategist,” Haluman told the Herald. “He will do a very thorough investigation, and he will get to the bottom of this.

Goodell has already been under fire for his unilateral handling of player discipline issues, with many calling for his ouster following the Ray Rice case earlier this season. That’s what they want, and that’s what they’ll get.” According to the league, nearly 40 interviews have been conducted over the last three days, “including of Patriots personnel, game officials, and third parties with relevant information and expertise” — and more interviews are coming. The NFL Players Association filed a grievance Thursday, arguing that the NFL’s unilaterally implemented personal conduct policy is an issue for collective bargaining. Questions regarding the controversy were met with non-answers and disinterest, a clear sign that they’re ready to move on to the Seahawks, despite the ongoing NFL investigation. “There’s always noise,” veteran offensive lineman Dan Connolly said. “Throughout the season, there’s always something that can draw your attention away from the game. So far, the league’s evidence supports the conclusion that the Patriots’ footballs were under-inflated in the first half, but they were properly inflated in the second half.

I’m kind of past all of that,” McCourty said. “We went out there and we won a game in the AFC Championship and we got the right to play in the Super Bowl. It said guard John Jerry and Centre Mike Pouncey followed Richie Incognito’s lead in harassing offensive lineman Jonathan Martin. “We have not made any judgements on these points and will not do so until we have concluded our investigation and considered all of the relevant evidence,” the league said. “Everything, I’m sure is going to come out in the investigation,” he said when asked if the Colts alerted the NFL to the underinflated balls. “It’s in the league’s hands.” “This isn’t a big deal. I think that should be the focus and the topic, so that’s what I want to talk about today.” The same could be said of his Patriot teammates on Friday. Everyone does it because each quarterback likes a different grip,” Nader Kawash, a Philadelphia Eagles ball boy from 1996-2000, told The AP. “I’m not saying a ball boy or equipment guy did anything on purpose to cheat. Initially, Thompson’s group came up with “GREAT BALLS OF LIAR” following the Brady news conference, but it was ultimately rejected. “We thought, well, you don’t want to condemn him [Brady] as a liar because we are not sure about that based on our reporting and the reporting out there,” Thompson says. “So our sports editor Bill Price, who is a terrific headline writer, a great back page guy, went to work on other possibilities and designs for the page.

And, once again, the team needs to do that as it seeks a Super Bowl title. “I think we just have to continue to be that close-knit football team that is playing in the biggest game of the year,” he said, “and that closeness will give us a chance to hopefully help us win this game.” Everyone will throw out something from the desk, and that includes the editors, the layout people, the copy editors, the website editors, any number of people. You know it when you hear it.” Given the Patriots’ press conferences were easily the biggest sports story of Thursday, the Daily News completed its back page by about 8:00 p.m.

Kraft, in a separate statement, said he received a letter on Monday about the situation and that “immediately after receiving the letter” he instructed his team to “be completely cooperative and transparent with the league’s investigators.” He added that they had come and gone. “During the three days they were here, we provided access to every full- and part-time employee the league’s representatives requested to speak with and produced every communication device that they requested to search,” Kraft said. “It is an ongoing process that the league and our team are taking very seriously. The sports department often collaborates with the front page editors if they are going with sports on the front. “In our afternoon meeting, if they hear a headline that they think is appropriate with the front, they will take it and then we have to come up with a different one,” Thompson says. “The front page takes precedence.” The Boston Herald has also been on its game.

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