9-23-2016

From Roger Goodell Commissioner NFL

To : Robert Kraft, Bill Belichick, Jimmy Garoppolo, Jacoby Brissett et/al

Subj: Many Thanks

Hello:

Wanted to drop you a quick line of thanks for your 3-0 start this season in general and your 27-0 thumping of the Houston Texans in particular.

As you may have heard for the 2nd week in a row our ratings are down. Furthermore a new a Yahoo Poll shows 44% of Americans say they are likely to shut off NFL games if player protests continue.

These results meant that it was very likely that all of the Friday sports shows on TV and radio would have been discussing both the ratings and this poll, particularly given the events in Charlotte this week.

However the fine play of Jimmy Garoppolo in weeks 1 & 2 and his subsequent injury forcing you to play Rookie Jacoby Brissett vs Miami and his Subsequent start against the Texans provided a welcome topic for discussion for NFL fans everywhere, particularly given Mr. Belichick’s decision to not sign an experienced QB to back him up.

Furthermore young Mr. Brissett’s fine play complemented by excellent defense giving the Patriots a 27-0 victory in a game where the Texans were favored by 2, his injury and the subsequent quarterback controversies on who to start for week 4 vs Buffalo and the potential of a completely unanticipated QB controversy on starting Brady week five if the team goes 4-0 without him has the potential to completely change the conversation everywhere.

I must confess that while my intentions toward your franchise were completely punitive your teams ability to completely confound me and the rest of the league that wanted to bring you down has come at precisely the right time for all of us who are desperate to protect our high profits and subsequent high paychecks from the possibility of the fans figuring out there are other alternatives out there.

Once again keep up the good work.

Sincerely

Roger Goodell
Commissioner NFL

Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto: I had intended to deal a fatal blow to the American Fleet by attacking Pearl Harbour immediately after Japan’s declaration of war, but according to American radio, Pearl Harbour was attacked fifty-five minutes before our ultimatum was delivered to Washington. I can’t imagine anything that would infuriate the Americans more. I fear all that we have done is to awaken a sleeping giant and fill him with a terrible resolve.

Tora Tora Tora 1970

This week the New England Patriots defeated the Tennessee Titans to go to 12-2 clinching a first round bye in the playoffs with two games to go.  The Titans fell to 3-11.

New England Started 10-0 and it was generally agreed that the whole “deflategate” scandal had motivated the already formidable patriot to the point where they pretty much wanted to punish the rest of the league to the point where even an incredible assortment of injuries were not enough to stop them.

But the passage of time, the reality of how hard it is to win every game in  the NFL, and even more injuries finally took their toll and the Patriot managed to lose two in a row before returning to their winning ways last week vs Houston and again vs a young & weak Tennessee team.

For all of their renewed success it looked very much like the Pats had managed to prove their point , the anger was gone and the only motivation left would be the normal desire to win.  That in itself has made the Patriot formattable enough for this this team to 6 superbowls in 15 years.

And then the NFL does this:

NFL Reportedly Tested PSI Of Footballs From Patriots-Titans Game

Now on twitter, it’s claimed that this is random.

But given the game (one that the Patriots were expected to easily win) the headline at Drudge:

STING: NFL Tests Air Levels In Footballs Used In PATRIOTS Game…

and the chip that had already been on the Patriots shoulders most of the year, and the deflategate conversations that it is going to revive I can’t think of anything that could happen that would infuriate Patriots fans who don’t trust the league and Patriots players who already think the NFL’s goal this year is to stop them and Tom Brady the best quarterback in the history of the game who normally need no motivation to win other than a desire to do so.

Congratulations NFL, you have for the second time this year awoken the sleeping giant and filled it with a terrible resolve that will be taken out out on every team they face beginning with the NY Jets this weekend.

One should never get ahead of oneself when it comes to the playoffs but if you are a Carolina fan and claimed you weren’t worried about facing the Patriots in the Superbowl, you should be now.

Last month I said this about the New England Patriots and deflategate:

it is clear the that patriots have spent the last 15 years living rent free in the heads of practically every time in the league.

Yesterday Ian O’Connor at ESPN seconded that motion:

This game, and the way Pagano coached it, illustrated again that the Patriots aren’t just beating opponents between the tackles, they’re breaking them down psychologically, too.

Remember at this point the Patriots where only up by six, the Colts were at home, with a defense that had already burned the pats for a pic-6 (Interception run back for a touchdown) and a first rate punter. There was plenty of time and no reason at all to be bothering with tricks at this point.

Pagano coached Sunday night as if he were determined to out-trick the master.

The problem is you don’t defeat the defending superbowl champion by “outtricking the master” you win it by playing football for 60 minutes, something the Bill Belechick demonstrated after Seattle’s Jermaine Kearse made one of the greatest clutch catches in superbowl history with just over a minute to play and facing one of the best running backs in the game at their own five yard line:

here are the Patriots, seconds after dealing with a dagger in the heart play step up and stop Lynch just before the line keeping the game in play, making it 2nd & goal on the 1 yard line with 26 seconds to go.

This is the first of two telling moments. The play by play announcers are saying openly perhaps Patriots Coach Bill Belichick should simply let Seattle walk into the end zone and take the lead to give Tom Brady the maximum amount of time to possibly come back for a game tying field goal. As far as they are concerned a Seattle touchdown to take the lead is a fait accompli and there is nothing the Patriots can do to stop it…

…Bill Belichick is thinking the opposite. His team already has taken the lead and if Seattle wants it they’ll have to take it back. He isn’t using a time out in the hopes of preserving time for Tom Brady to take back the lead, he’s counting on his defense to hold it.

Belichick isn’t worrying about mind games, his player Malcolm Butler isn’t worrying about mind games, they’re both worrying about football and how to win that game, unlike for example, Pittsburgh in week one. O’connor again

Mike Tomlin’s opening night meltdown over the failed Foxborough headsets was a case in point, and it was answered the next day by a Belichick jab about running a program that isn’t built on excuses. People see ghosts when they play the Patriots. They don’t stay within a country mile of their lane. Go back and give a second read to the report by ESPN.com’s Don Van Natta Jr. and Seth Wickersham on the connection between Spygate and Deflategate, and on all the time and energy New England’s opponents have invested in fretting over potential covert ops and dirty tricks.

If you haven’t seen it take a good look at that play

They say the film never lies, and Sunday night’s film shows a Colts team that tried to get way too smart and way too cute at the worst possible time.

In the end, the Patriots don’t just make you miss blocks and tackles. Pagano reminded everyone that they make you lose your mind, too.

This week Patriots Colts game demonstrates the truth of this post Superbowl statement concerning New England

None of this changes the fact that Tom Brady is one of the greatest quarterbacks of all time, that Bill Belichick is a great coach and the Patriots teams were some of the best trained and prepared teams in the league. Without those truths even if every allegation against the pats was true, they simply would not have been able to win as they did.

But given those facts and the obsession the rest of the league had with the pats, the question isn’t how the NE Patriots managed to win 4 Superbowls and play in six over the last 15 years. The wonder is how they ever failed to make it.

The way you beat New England is you play better football for 60 minutes.  Period.

When you hear the name “Gaylord Perry” the first word that might come to mind is “Spitball”. However you might be surprised to know that in his entire 22 year major league that saw him win two Cy Young awards strike out over 3000 men and take the mound 777 times it wasn’t till his penultimate season that he was ejected for doctoring a baseball despite every umpire in the league watching him.

However as much as Perry was known for the spitball his very reputation put every single batter he faced on the defensive. All Perry had to do is go through the motions and the hitter was frozen.

Reading the latest ESPN report

In fact, many former New England coaches and employees insist that the taping of signals wasn’t even the most effective cheating method the Patriots deployed in that era. Several of them acknowledge that during pregame warm-ups, a low-level Patriots employee would sneak into the visiting locker room and steal the play sheet, listing the first 20 or so scripted calls for the opposing team’s offense. (The practice became so notorious that some coaches put out fake play sheets for the Patriots to swipe.) Numerous former employees say the Patriots would have someone rummage through the visiting team hotel for playbooks or scouting reports. Walsh later told investigators that he was once instructed to remove the labels and erase tapes of a Patriots practice because the team had illegally used a player on injured reserve. At Gillette Stadium, the scrambling and jamming of the opponents’ coach-to-quarterback radio line — “small s—” that many teams do, according to a former Pats assistant coach — occurred so often that one team asked a league official to sit in the coaches’ box during the game and wait for it to happen. Sure enough, on a key third down, the headset went out.

But the truth is, only one man truly knows how much Spygate, or any other suspect method, affected games: Belichick.

and Rush Limbaugh’s coverage of the Patriots and the NFL

Now, I don’t know how anybody gets some low-level schlub sneaking in an NFL locker room without a lot of people being in on it. That’s just hard to do, and my point is I really question this. Baseball is different. At least it was. I have some experience at this when I worked for the Kansas City Royals, but still it was tough. And if it was discovered that somebody from the other team is in there — I don’t care how low on the totem pole they were — it would have been a huge scandal.

The person would have been kicked out. There would have been holy hell raised over it. The other thing is the play sheet. This first 20 plays? Not every team does that. Some teams’ head coach scripts the first 20 plays for his own offense no matter what. They’re gonna do those 20 plays no matter what the situation is. They’re gonna run those 20 plays because it’s strategically been put together and they’re gonna learn how the defense operates in those 20 plays and those first two set up the rest of the game.

Not all teams do it. But I can guarantee you that no head coach would leave it laying around for some schlub from the other team to walk in and pilfer. You know, they’re kept in laminated folders to protect from the elements from rain and this kind of thing. They’re just not pieces of paper. It’s 8.5X11, color-coded. You’ve seen the head coach holding these things if you’ve noticed coaches on the sideline watching these things.

…it is clear the that patriots have spent the last 15 years living rent free in the heads of practically every time in the league.

None of this changes the fact that Tom Brady is one of the greatest quarterbacks of all time, that Bill Belichick is a great coach and the Patriots teams were some of the best trained and prepared teams in the league. Without those truths even if every allegation against the pats was true, they simply would not have been able to win as they did.

But given those facts and the obsession the rest of the league had with the pats, the question isn’t how the NE Patriots managed to win 4 Superbowls and play in six over the last 15 years. The wonder is how they ever failed to make it.

I was at a local restaurant last night and all the talk was about the 4 game suspension given to Tom Brady over Deflategate.

In one respect it really doesn’t matter for Brady, HOF Baseball player Gaylord Perry who was known to bend a rule or two in his day put it best:

“They’d have to be a little bit smarter about it,” Perry told Sporting News Thursday morning. “But they got away with it during the game and won, so that’s all that matters.”

Given that this is football rather than something that actually matters like the upcoming election or baseball I was actually thinking about giving the whole topic a miss but it hit me that the NFL rather than hurting Brady & the Pats has actually done them a big favor.

Consider the following facts:

First of all Tom Brady is 37 years old, while he is arguably the greatest quarterback in NFL history even the greatest gets old and the toll of 15 seasons of getting hit has to have a cumulative effect on a body.

Second of all the Patriots are a pragmatic bunch of folks, they understand Brady is getting older and need to start considering who might be replacing him down the line.

Third of all how do you motivate a man who is:

1. Married to a Supermodel
2. Has all the money he will ever need
3. Has all already been to six superbowls and won 4

That’s why this suspension will do wonders for everybody.

Tom Brady’s 37 year old Body gets an extra month of not being hit that the rest of the league’s quarterbacks will not get.  While that might not seem a big deal in say week 7 or 8 come week 15 or 16 that’s the type of thing that can pay huge dividends particularly for an older player.

The Patriots will now get a chance to see if they have a potential long term replacement for Brady on their Roster. This had to be checked sooner or later so now they have an excuse without waiting for an injury or risking offense to a team icon & start.  If they are a bust, they you have a healthy & rested Brady ready to go, and if they’re not then you now have either

1.   A game tested backup for Brady the rest of the year

2.  The Greatest QB of all time available as needed during the season

Furthermore Brady now has been given two huge incentives to have a monster year

1.   Brady will want to remind New England that no matter how good a potential replacement plays HE is the star of the team (Don’t think for one second that he’s forgotten that he got his chance because of an injury to star QB Drew Bledsoe).

2.  Brady, already a competitive man, knows a lot of people are pointing to him & calling him a cheater and not in the friendly oh shucks Gaylord Perry way.  There is nothing he would like better than to turn those smiles and grins into frowns and groans of pain by adding a 5th ring to his collection.

So if you are an NFL East team or a Patriots hater I suggest you enjoy the first four weeks of the season as best you can because I would not want to be playing the patriots anytime after week 7. Barring a young Phenom pulling a Wally Pip on him  I suspect what Brady will be doing to opposing defenses will not be pretty.

You have been warned.

 

Guy Fleegman: I’m not even supposed to be here. I’m just “Crewman Number Six.” I’m expendable. I’m the guy in the episode who dies to prove how serious the situation is. I’ve gotta get outta here.

Galaxy Quest 1999

Michael Corleone:  It’s not personal Sonny, it’s strictly business.

The Godfather 1972

 

Vince Wilford was drafted by the New England Patriots back in 2004 and has played 11 seasons with the team.  In those 11 years he managed four trips to the Superbowl and two wins.  The first was during his rookie season with the patriots and apparently his second may be in his last:

Veteran defensive tackle Vince Wilfork tweeted Thursday that the New England Patriots have informed him they will not pick up the option in his contract, thus making him a free agent when the new league year begins Tuesday.

Now Wilfork is considered a good player at his position and will reportedly be a desirable free agent  top player at his position but there is a logical financial reason for this move:

Will the likely end of the Vince Wilfork-New England Patriots marriage bode well for the return of Darrelle Revis and Devin McCourty to New England?

Not picking up Wilfork’s option gives the Patriots a projected salary cap savings of $8.9 million. CSNNE.com Patriots Insider Tom E. Curran says that money could help retain their pending free agents in the secondary, who were a big part of their Super Bowl-winning season.

The Pats could of course still sign him for less money but the bottom line is this.  irregardless of his past performance as far as the Patriots are concerned Vince Wilfork is as expendable as a red shirt in the old Star Trek series (as illustrated in Mad Magazines parody song of the 70’s sung to the tune of The Age of Aquarius).

♫ As your ship files through the galaxy, to far away places way past mars.  Be sure that your adventures, do not kill off the stars!

And you can do it with a crew that’s expendable, crew that’s expendable.  Expendable!  Expendable

Minor actors that you bring on, perish when you meet a Klingon.  Other ones you bring on later die within a planet’s crater.  And although we try to save them we can not because the script has made them expendable.  Expendable! ♫

And that brings us to Senator Bob Menendez.

Now let’s preface the comments that follow with this statement. I’ve been writing about Menendez for a while since 2012.  One example:

An Elmwood Park man pleaded guilty on Tuesday to conspiring with his brother to violate federal election law by steering $21,400 in illegal campaign contributions to U.S. Sen. Bob Menendez.

Benedetto Bigica, 45, admitted that he worked with his brother, Joseph, of Franklin Lakes, from April 2005 to April 2008 to make the illegal contributions

The response from the Menendez campaign was…interesting

A spokesman for Menendez has acknowledged that the senator was the unnamed federal official cited in court papers in the case but said Menendez was a victim of Joseph Bigica’s.

“Senator Menendez’s campaign, a victim of the fraud that ensued, cooperated fully with the investigation,” Mike Soliman, Menendez’s state director and former campaign manager, said Tuesday.

Yes you read that right.

Based on my what I’ve already written  I’d say Menendez, like Dinesh D’Sousa is likely guilty as sin, but he was likely guilty as sin from 2005-2008 when those illegal contributions were made.  He was likely guilty as sin when I was writing about him in 2012 and 2013 and I suspect he was guilty as sin all through 2014.

The question becomes, if this was all true, why is justice only interested in him now?  PJ media and Ted cruz  and others think it’s because of his opposition to an Iran deal.  As Cruz said:

“The announcement this week by the Justice Department that they were bringing charges against Bob Menendez — I will point out that the timing seems awfully coincidental that … in the very week that Bob Menendez showed incredible courage to speak out and call out President Obama for the damage that his policy is doing to our national security … the Justice Department announces they’re moving forward with the criminal prosecution,” Cruz said.
 
“It raises the suggestion to other Democrats that if you dare part from the Obama White House, that criminal prosecutions will be used potentially as a political weapon against you as well,” he added.

But think about it.  Menendez was defending Israel and expressing suspicion of Iran long before this month.  The Kirk Menendez Amendment putting sanctions on Iran dates from 2011 Why were his speeches and critiques not enough to cause a break?

That’s actually easy. He wasn’t expendable then.

Before Barack Obama’s re-election in 2012 a high profile hispanic was vital. Before the 2014 with the prospect of control of the senate hanging by a single seat, every person with a “D” next to their name was vital.

And even a few weeks ago with the first test of the Democrats ability to shake down Mitch McConnell & John Boehner it was vital to make sure there was party unity.

But now that all the elections are over, now that the amnesty money is secure and now that the Democrat party knows that 41 united democrats can bend Republican leaders like a yoga instructor Robert Menendez becomes expendable.

It isn’t Menendez’s corruption,  nor his support of Israel, or even his outspoken condemnation of the Iran deal that doomed him.  It’s because like Vince Wilfork.  He’s suddenly no longer worth the price.

************************

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Anyone who reads this site knows I’m a big Baseball fan and while I can watch Football & enjoy the nuances of the game I think it can’t compare.

The greatest advantage to Baseball?  No clock, you have to get those 27 outs, while often in football you can just run out the clock, the game is pretty much out of control.

That’s not how the Patriots approached this game. On sunday the Patriots were playing football, but were thinking baseball they played until the last out was recorded.

Consider the start of the  fourth quarter.  Seattle had the ball, the Patriots were down 24-14.  No Superbowl team in history had come back from a 10 point 4th quarter deficit and New England was playing against not only the defending NFL champions but the best defensive team in the league.

Rather than panicking or losing control they methodically, after stopping Seattle they drove down the field to score making it a 3 point game.

Then after stopping Seattle a 2nd time they drove a second time for a second touchdown with 2:02 left.

Both of those situation said a lot about the Patriots but what followed said even more.

Seattle, needing a touchdown started from their twenty and drove down the field, with  1:16 left on a 1st & 10 from the Patriots 38 we witnessed on of the greatest catches in NFL history:

That was an amazing miraculous catch but notice that in addition to Jermaine Kearse’s  incredible play, rookie defender Malcolm Butler (more on him later) after having what appeared to be a great defensive stop turned into a 30+ yard catch had the presence of mind to get Kearse out of bounds before he could score.

He didn’t waste time in shocked disbelief the game was still on the line and he acted.

With 1:06 left Seattle holding a time out in their pocket handed off to the best running back in the league Marshon Lynch who is stopped just short of the goal line.

Again, here are the Patriots, seconds after dealing with a dagger in the heart play step up and stop Lynch just before the line keeping the game in play, making it 2nd & goal on the 1 yard line with 26 seconds to go.

This is the first of two telling moments.  The play by play announcers are saying openly perhaps Patriots Coach Bill Belichick should simply let Seattle walk into the end zone and take the lead to give Tom Brady the maximum amount of time to possibly come back for a game tying field goal.  As far as they are concerned a Seattle touchdown to take the lead is a fait accompli and there is nothing the Patriots can do to stop it.

Seattle is thinking the same thing, consider Pete Carroll’s post game comments, he is thinking to “waste” a play, to get time off the clock to minimize the chances of a Patriots comeback after they score.

This kind of thinking suggests a lack of confidence in his top ranked defense but more importantly it presumes that the lead taking touchdown has already happened, his team doesn’t have to execute, he doesn’t have to make the right call, it’s all over.

Bill Belichick is thinking the opposite.  His team already has taken the lead and if Seattle wants it they’ll have to take it back.  He isn’t using a time out in the hopes of preserving time for Tom Brady to take back the lead, he’s counting on his defense to hold it.

And when the snap is made Malcolm Butler, the same fellow who stopped Kearse from scoring two plays earlier recognizes the play and muscles his way forward to intercept the ball and give the Patriots the ball on their own 1 yard line with 20 seconds to go.

But even then, no matter what the highlight reels are showing, the game is NOT over and the Patriots understand this.

There is little or no space for Brady to take a knee and if he is brought down in the end zone not only is it a safety making the score 28-26 but the same Seattle team that drove down the field at the end of the 2nd quarter would just have to get within field goal range for a chance to win.

Meanwhile Seattle was in the same spot New England was in a mere 46 seconds earlier.  They had been kicked in the chest by a stunning reversal.  But unlike New England who put it behind them and got down to business Seattle did not.

First the Patriots understanding the game wasn’t over, did their best to draw Seattle offsides and defensive end defensive end Michael Bennett obliged.

Suddenly instead of the ball on the 1 and the Patriots having to worry about a safety the ball was on the 5.

Now the odds were very long for Seattle.  With only one time out left the Patriots would only need two snaps without a fumble with five yards instead of one to clinch the game.  The chances of a fumble or mistake were longer than the Patriots picking off a pass at the one yard line to save the game.

But no matter how long the odds it was the only chance they had and like Jackie Robinson in 1951 making sure Bobby Thompson touched every base after his historic Home Run or Wil Wheaton using the “Moonpie gambit” to defeat Sheldon Cooper in Mystic warlords of Ka’a

A team determined to win a 2nd straight Superbowl championship keeps its cool, lines ups and forces the Patriots to execute.

They did not:

Seattle’s vaunted defense loses it’s cool and now the Patriots get to make their final snap not inside of the 5 where a bad snap could cost them the game, but at the 20 with plenty of room to make sure everything is under control.

And that really says it all. During the last two minutes the Patriots played Superbowl 49 as if it was the 9th inning of the 7th game of the world series, they didn’t stop executing until the very last out was made.

And that’s what champions do.

I’ll have a much longer piece on one of the greatest football games I’ve ever seen but if you really want to know what happened yesterday and why let me explain Why the Patriots won and Seattle Lost in two sentences.

After 59 minutes, both before and after the Malcolm Butler interception, the Seattle Seahawks played as if the outcome of the game was already decided.

After 59 minutes both before and after the Malcolm Butler interception the New England Patriots played as if the outcome of the game was in doubt.

That’s pretty much it.

 

 

Sarris: Do you think I’m a fool? That the commander does not know every bolt, every weld in his ship?

Galaxy Quest  1999

You may not appreciated the necessity for uniformity , gentlemen, unless you make use of your imagination. A single document may well be accepted, but you must think of a series. After receiving, let us say, six genuine documents, someone receives one spurious one. The recipient naturally lays them together in the course of the routine of his office. If one is markedly different from all the others –even if one is different in only a small degree–attention is clamorously called to it. Hine illac lachrymae. And if that document has a content somewhat unusual–even though in other circumstances it might have passed-then the fact is in the fire and Bow Street is called in. Et Ego in arcadia vixi, gentlemen.

C. S. Forester Hornblower during the Crisis 1967

 

 

On the radio yesterday the only thing anybody wanted to talk about was the Patriots and under-inflated footballs.

I’ve been hearing all the excuses:  “Everybody does it”, “They won by 30+ points”,and “how many of the Patriots actually knew?”, or “how much difference can you tell between ball inflation?” etc etc etc.

All of that is simply rubbish.

Consider coach Belichick.  He runs an incredibly tight ship, with a strong system, the word “methodical” is too light a description for how he builds a team.

There is no question that the success of his teams comes from the hard methodical work but does anyone believe that someone that methodical leaves any such thing to chance?

Additionally these guys aren’t avg guys.  They handle footballs for a living all week every day, they know a ball that is regulation or not because unlike us they live eat and breathe football, they are the elite of football in the world.

Furthermore I’m the type of guy who still believes when George Brett was initially called out for using an illegal bat in the pine tar game it was the right call.  The rules are what they are  and  I think, while the Pats  have no doubt earned their place in the superbowl by their performance this is a case of breaking the rules pure and simple.

All those involved should suffer the full measures of the penalties specified for such offenses superbowl or no.

Period

 

One of the most interesting episodes of the favorite TV show of my youth the Adventures of Robin Hood was “The Truce”.

The episode starts with Robin Hood stopping someone in the forest to rob him, the target challenges Robin to an archery contest. Robin wins and the man throws down his purse in disgust accidentally dropping a medal showing he Mark Crispin Champion Bowman of England.

Meanwhile the Deputy Sheriff is tricked into a 500 mark wager against Lord Redford who has stated his archer can beat the Deputy Sheriff’s man who too his shock discovers Redford has hired Crispin as a ringer before he could. Desperate to avoid the loss he offers Robin Hood a one day truce, half the prize money and a & safe-conduct in writing (threatening to tax the poor for every penny he loses if he declines).

Feeling confident the Sheriff offers to increase the wager by 100 marks, Redford agrees and proposes doubling the wager so now the bet is 1200 silver marks.

At the shooting field when Robin wins round one Crispin recognizes him and Lord Redford hints to the Sheriff that he should admit and denounce him. When Crispin makes an excellent shot on a spinning moving target the Deputy Sheriff, in a panic approaches Robin and says the following:

Deputy Sheriff: I forbid you to win.

Robin turns to him and answers:

Robin Hood: My Lord you seem to think I can win or lose as I please. That is a very difficult target.

Deputy Sheriff: I see

Robin Hood: A man could be excused for missing it entirely.

And that exchange is a perfect example of the situation that the New England Patriots and Tom Brady find themselves in every single time they make it to the NFL Playoffs.

Tom Brady a sixth round draft pick in 2000 went from backing up arguably the best quarterback in NE Patriots history at the time (Remember Drew Bledsoe?) to becoming not only the best Quarterback in the teams history but one of the best of all time. As Wikipedia puts it:

In Brady’s fourteen seasons as a starter, the Patriots have earned five trips to the Super Bowl, winning three. He has also won two Super Bowl MVP awards, two league MVP awards (2007, 2010), has been selected to ten Pro Bowls, and has led the Patriots to more division titles than any other quarterback in NFL history, with twelve. He is currently fifth on the all time list for career passing yards and fifth for career touchdown passes. His career postseason record is 18–8; his playoff win total is the highest in NFL history. He helped set the record for the longest consecutive win streak in NFL history with 21 straight wins over two seasons (2003–2004). He also set the record for most consecutive playoff wins with 10, and in 2007 led the Patriots to the first undefeated regular season since the institution of the 16-game schedule. He has thrown for more passing yards than any quarterback in NFL postseason history and is third for career postseason touchdown passes, and has the sixth highest career passer rating of all time (95.9) among quarterbacks with at least 1,500 career passing attempts.

Brady and Joe Montana are the only two players in NFL history to win the NFL Most Valuable Player and Super Bowl MVP awards multiple times. Brady and John Elway are the only two quarterbacks to lead their teams to five Super Bowls. He was also named the NFL MVP in 2007 and 2010 (becoming the first player to be unanimously chosen as MVP in the 2010 season) as well as 2007 Male Athlete of the Year by the Associated Press, the first time an NFL player has been so honored since Joe Montana won the award in 1990. After the 2010 season, Brady was ranked as the best player in the NFL. He was also the first quarterback to throw for 50 or more touchdowns in a season. In 2010, he set the all time record for consecutive passes without an interception (335), and broke his own record for season TD:INT ratio at 9:1 (which has since been broken by Nick Foles).

And if Tom Brady is one of the best quarterbacks ever what about Bill Belichick?

In his fifteen years as coach of the Patriots his team has made the playoffs 12 times winning their division each of those years. He has gone to 5 Super Bowls winning three.

To put that in perspective in the first 40 years of the Patriots history the pats made the playoffs 10 times going to the Superbowl twice and losing both of them.

In other words over the last fifteen years this has been one of the best teams of all time.

This comes at an odd price, the price of expectations.

Every single time the Patriots take the field they are expected to win, it has reached the point that when New England dropped two games early articles began to be written asking if he was finished.

Of course As I type this Brady’s Patriots have just taken a 4 point lead over Baltimore in the 4th quarter of an exciting game that can go either way so he’s without a question not done, but consider, if Baltimore comes back to win the only topic in New england will be what’s wrong with the Patriots.

The newspapers will not talk about the excellent Baltimore team that is only 3 years removed from a Superbowl. They won’t consider the excellent coaching on the other side or the fine effort, it will be what’s wrong with the Pats.

And even if the Patriots beat the Ravens if next week they lose to Andrew Luck’s Colts or Peyton Manning’s Denver Broncos the same questions will be asked despite the skill of either team (particularly the Broncos).

And lets say they manage to win again and get to the Superbowl, no matter who they face if they don’t manage to win, the only thing that will be talked about in New England is their failure.

Those are the wages of the Patriots success and in many ways it’s unfair.

Then again I suspect there are a lot of teams who have been on the outside looking in that would love to have that expectations problem.

FYI if you want to know how that Robin Hood story ends, here is the episode in question.

As I type this the Pats have just intercepted the ball in the end zone with under two minutes to go. Barring a huge mistake they now only have two more obstacles to overcome to meet those oversized expectations.

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