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With the NFL offseason in full swing, gossip columnists like Mike Florio of ProFootballTalk and ‘journalists’ like Adam Shefter of ESPN have run a nauseating amount of articles about Vikings running back Adrian Peterson. Florio has been particularly annoying on that front.

His near-daily posts about what that day’s news means in terms of whether Peterson will be a Viking next opening day is a display of how the NFL encourages media coverage whether there’s anything to report on or not. (There usually isn’t.)

Yesterday, there genuinely was news on the Peterson front. The NFL finally reinstated him after putting him on the Commissioner’s naughty boy list. The Vikings issued this brief statement on Peterson’s reinstatement:

“The Minnesota Vikings have been informed by the NFL that Adrian Peterson has been reinstated. We look forward to Adrian re-joining the Vikings.”

Immediately, the ‘Will Adrian be freed and traded to the Cowboys?’ stories littered the internet again. The answer to that question is simple. Adrian will be traded if another NFL team blows them away with an offer.

Rick Spielman, the Vikings GM, has repeatedly and steadfastly said that they’re looking forward to seeing Adrian lining up behind future superstar QB Teddy Bridgewater. Why wouldn’t he want that? Adrian Peterson is the best running back in the NFL. The last 4 years, he’s been the only offensive weapon the Vikings had. That’s why it’s astonishing he’s been incredibly productive. He’s been the only threat the other team’s defense has had to identify and stop.

That’s meant having 8 or 9 men within 5 yards of the line of scrimmage on, at minimum, 80% of rushing plays. This offseason, the Vikings added Mike Wallace, once the premium deep threat pass catcher in the NFL. Imagine how thrilled he’d be consistently getting man coverage while the defense focuses on Adrian. Imagine the explosiveness of the Vikings offense with Teddy Bridgewater emerging as a Pro Bowl QB with a full set of weapons.

Spielman’s message to other NFL teams has been simple. Adrian’s under contract to us for the next 3 years. If you want him on your team, you’ll have to blow us away with a great offer. If we don’t get that type offer, we’ll just have to figure out a way to use Mr. Peterson.

If Cowboys owner Jerry Jones wants Adrian Peterson playing his home games in Dallas, he’d better put together a great offer. If he doesn’t, Adrian Peterson will remain a Viking.

Judge Doty’s 16 page ruling in the NFLPA’s lawsuit on Adrian Peterson’s behalf against the NFL contains some bombshell statements. This part of Judge Doty’s ruling is particularly stinging:

Moreover, Henderson’s conclusion that the New Policy is consistent with the previous Policy is contradicted by the Commissioner’s own statements in which he acknowledged that the New Policy included “changes” to the Policy. See, e.g., id. Ex. 65, at 1 (“I made a mistake. I’m not satisfied with the process we went through, I’m not satisfied with the conclusions. And that’s why we came out last month and said: we’re going to make changes to our policies. We made changes to our discipline.”); see also id. Ex. 35, at 99:21-100:15.

At the heart of the NFL’s defense was that the Commissioner had great latitude in determining Adrian Peterson’s punishment.

Judge Doty’s ruling didn’t just criticize Commissioner Goodell. It criticized Henderson, too:

The NFLPA next argues that Henderson exceeded his authority by adjudicating the hypothetical question of whether Peterson’s discipline could be sustained under the previous Policy. The NFL responds that the NFLPA submitted that issue to Henderson. The record belies the NFL’s argument. The NFLPA submitted to Henderson “the pure legal issue” of whether the New Policy could be applied retroactively. NFLPA Ex. 122, 21:22-22:24; see also id. Ex. 20, at 4. Nothing in the record supports a finding that the NFLPA asked Henderson to determine whether the discipline imposed was consistent with the previous Policy.

In other words, Harold Henderson tried justifying his decision by saying that the NFLPA asked him to. That isn’t the only time where Judge Doty criticized the NFL’s arbitrator:

Henderson was an NFL executive for nearly two decades and apparently continues on in a part-time capacity, earning $2.5 million in compensation from the NFL since 2009.

This footnote was found at the bottom of Page 8 of Judge Doty’s ruling. This information, by itself, isn’t damning. The fact that Henderson’s ruling sounded like the NFL’s press release, coupled with his less-than-impartial ruling, however, all but state explicitly that Henderson was Commissioner’s self-appointed hatchet man against Adrian Peterson.

ProFootballTalk stated that the NFL hasn’t had a good year in the courts. That’s what happens when a tyrant thinks he has the authority to make the rules up as he goes. That’s what third world dictators get away with. High profile CEOs of major corporations don’t get away with that very often.

It’s getting tiresome listening to Bill Belichick’s spin. Thankfully, Jay Glazer’s article sheds new light into #DeflateGate. First, though, here’s Belichick’s latest offensive spin:

New England head coach Bill Belichick and quarterback Tom Brady both have proclaimed innocence and said they were unaware how the footballs became underinflated.

“At no time was there any intent whatsoever to try to compromise the integrity of the game or to gain an advantage,” Belichick said in an unscheduled availability on Saturday afternoon.

“Quite the opposite: we feel like we followed the rules of the game to the letter,” he said. “We try to do everything right. We err on the side of caution. It’s been that way now for many years. Anything that’s close, we stay as far away from the line as we can.”

Notice Belichick’s weasel words in that last paragraph. “We feel like we followed the rules of the game to the letter.” That’s totally irrelevant and subjective. The NFL has confirmed that the Patriots’ footballs a) complied with the NFL’s rules before the game and b) didn’t comply with the NFL’s rules at halftime. That’s an objective standard. Either the Patriots’ footballs complied with the NFL’s rules or they didn’t. In this instance, they didn’t.

That isn’t the only objectionable thing Belichick said. Here’s another statement worth ignoring:

“We try to do everything right. We err on the side of caution. It’s been that way now for many years. Anything that’s close, we stay as far away from the line as we can.”

Coach Belichick, are you saying that the Patriots stay well within the lines of the NFL’s rules? If that’s what you’re insisting, I’d love hearing your explanation for how the Patriots organization was fined for videotaping the Jets’ defensive signals, which isn’t permitted by the NFL’s rules. It isn’t permitted because it gives a team a major competitive advantage.

If the Patriots knew what the Jets were doing before they did it, the Patriots could install plays to take advantage of the Jets’ play-calling. That’s a major advantage.

What’s insulting is that Coach Belichick was personally fined $500,000 and the NFL confiscated the Patriots’ first round draft pick for breaking the NFL’s rules. So much for the Patriots erring “on the side of caution” and staying “as far away from the line” as possible.

Tom Brady used some slippery words in his attempt to explain this away:

“I didn’t alter the ball in any way,” Brady said. “I have a process before every game where I take the footballs I want to use for the game. Our equipment guys do a great job breaking the balls in for the game. Our equipment guys have a process they go through.”

Nobody accused Brady of altering the balls. Here’s what John Madden said:

“That would have to be driven by the quarterback,” Madden told The Sports Xchange on Wednesday. “That’s something that wouldn’t be driven by a coach or just the equipment guy. Nobody, not even the head coach, would do anything to a football unilaterally, such as adjust the amount of pressure in a ball, without the quarterback not knowing. It would have to be the quarterback’s idea.”

Madden’s position makes a lot of sense. Quarterbacks are particular about their footballs. Anybody doing anything to the footballs without the quarterback’s knowledge or consent would be asking for a tongue lashing. In Brady’s case, his tongue wouldn’t be needed to formulate the various “F” words that would be hurled at he who messes with the quarterback’s primary tool.

“He is the effected,” Madden said. “He is the only guy. I heard some of the pundits saying the ball is easier to catch, but that would never, ever, ever be done for that unless the quarterback wanted it. You wouldn’t do something for a receiver to catch the ball if the quarterback couldn’t throw it. So it’s going to be done for the quarterback.”

Brady and Bill Belichick. One lies. The other one swears to it.

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Allahpundit’s post from this morning hits the nail on the head:

Makes me wonder if the team, craftily seeking a dubious advantage that they could play dumb about later, doesn’t deliberately have the footballs inflated in a very hot room before each game knowing that the temperature on the field will naturally soften them up for Brady. That way, if they’re ever caught cheating, they can claim it was an accident. We’re football players, damn it, not physicists.

So Brady surely knew, which means we’ve now reached the “What will the NFL do?” stage of this. Do they try to make it go away by claiming there’s no hard evidence that anyone on the team deliberately tampered with the balls?

Commissioner Goodell lost tons of credibility this season, starting with his decision to suspend Ray Rice 2 games for knocking his then-fiancé out in the elevator of an Atlantic City casino. It went downhill after that.

Yesterday on NFL Insiders and this morning on Mike & Mike, both of which air on ESPN, Adam Shefter tried pushing the NFL’s chanting points, saying that we shouldn’t rush to judgment, that we don’t have all the facts. That’s shameful reporting, especially considering the fact that Shefter is the football equivalent of a gossip columnist.

While it’s true that we don’t know all of the facts, we know a majority of the most important facts. First, we know with certainty that all 12 of the Patriots’ footballs were underinflated. We know that 1 of the Patriots’ footballs was slightly underinflated and that 11 of the footballs were significantly and noticeably underinflated. We know that the Patriots’ footballs complied with league rules 2 hrs. 15 minutes before kickoff and that 11 of the 12 footballs were significantly underinflated at halftime.

Those are the most important facts involving this scandal. They’re also facts that are indisputable.

What we don’t know is who deflated the Patriots’ footballs. While we’re not 100% certain of other things, we’re 95% certain of a few things, which AP wrote about here:

Mark Brunell, a former QB himself, is especially damning in explaining how he’d always personally check and re-check the feel of the footballs before each game to make sure that they were to his liking — within the PSI parameters set by the league, of course. The odds that Brady would skip that preparation before the AFC title game are basically zero. In the end, they come back to the same point I made yesterday. To get Brady (and Belichick) off the hook, you need to believe either that the balls deflated accidentally, due to temperature effects, say, or that some random New England staffer decided on his own initiative to mess with the balls without telling the Pats’ star player. The second scenario is unimaginable.

I wrote yesterday that the Belichick press conference set thing up perfectly to essentially blame the Patriots’ equipment manager or ball boys for the deflated balls. That’s precisely the path Brady took. AP’s right, though. It’s unimaginable that a New England “staffer on his own initiative to mess with the balls without telling the Pats’ star player.” That’s intellectually insulting. The fact that the Patriots’ haven’t fired any staffers indicates that they know low-level staffers aren’t the problem.

Finally, if Goodell doesn’t get this right, if he doesn’t come down hard on the Patriots for cheating and ruining the integrity of the NFL, he’ll be the biggest laughingstock in professional sports. The sportswriters that’ve already written ‘everyone cheats’ articles aren’t worthy of being called journalists because they’re missing the point. The average fan wants to think that somewhere, people behave honorably.

If Goodell treats the Patriots gently, the NFL owners should fire him the day after the Super Bowl. The minimum punishment Goodell should levy on the Patriots should be a $1,000,000 fine against the Patriots, suspending Bill Belichick for a year and Tom Brady for 3 games and stripping the Patriots of their first and second round picks in this year’s draft.

That’s more than fair because of the fines and suspensions levied against the New Orleans Saints for BountyGate. At the time that he handed down those fines and suspensions, Goodell said that Sean Payton wasn’t absolved of guilt because he said he didn’t know about the bounties. Goodell said that ignorance wasn’t a defense. That should apply to Tom Brady, Bill Belichick and Robert Kraft. Let’s remember that Goodell also said that he’d hold coaches and owners to a higher standard than players.

It’s time to see if he’ll live up to that statement.

Thursday afternoon, Patriots QB Tom Brady held a press conference in his attempt to put the #DeflateGate scandal behind him and the Patriots. He failed miserably. Here’s one of Brady’s quotes from the press conference:

“I didn’t alter the ball in any way,” Brady said. “I have a process I go through before every game where I go in and pick the balls — the footballs that I want to use for the game. Our equipment guys do a great job of breaking the balls in. They have a process that they go through. When I pick those footballs out, at that point, to me, they’re perfect. I don’t want anyone touching the balls after that, I don’t want anyone rubbing them, putting any air in, taking any air out, to me those balls are perfect and that’s what I expect when I’m on the field.”

Later in the press conference, Brady said that he prefers the footballs to be precisely 12.5 psi. At another point in answering questions, he said he couldn’t tell the difference between the balls he described as perfect and the footballs that were checked at halftime and found to be 2 psi light of the minimum psi allowed by league rules.

How can someone say that he wants game footballs to be a specific psi, then say he can’t tell the difference between footballs that feel and weigh dramatically different? The panelists of NFL Live on ESPN have an opinion on the matter:

Here’s what Mark Brunell said on whether he believed Tom Brady:

“I did not believe what Tom had to say,” Brunell said. “Those balls were deflated. Somebody had to do it. And I don’t believe there’s an equipment manager in the NFL that would on his own initiative deflate a ball without his starting quarterback’s approval. I just didn’t believe what Tom Brady had to say.”

Brunell explained that starting quarterbacks (and he started 151 games in the NFL) routinely check the balls to ensure that the balls have the right feel, from an inflation standpoint. “That football is our livelihood,” Brunell said. “If you don’t feel good about throwing that ball, your success can suffer from that.”

Prior to this week the average football fan didn’t pay attention to the footballs used in games. They couldn’t have told you a thing about the NFL regulations on footballs. It’s different with QBs, though. As Brunell said, “That football is our livelihood.” Using footballs that they don’t feel comfortable with is foolish.

At this point, we have a substantial base of information that’s been verified. There’s still some things that aren’t known. On another front, some of the details aren’t important to the NFL handing down a ruling.

When Sean Payton, the Saints’ head coach, was asked what he knew about BountyGate, he said he didn’t know anything about it. Commissioner Goodell suspended him for an entire year because, in Goodell’s words, he should’ve known. It’s possible Belichick didn’t know about DeflateGate. That’s irrelevant because making sure the team plays within the rules is the head coach’s responsibility.

It isn’t possible to believe that Tom Brady prefers his footballs to be inflated to 12.5 psi but then he can’t tell the difference between footballs inflated to 12.5 psi compared with footballs inflated to 10.5 psi.

Finally, this is the second time this season that the Patriots used underinflated balls that we know of. The Patriots’ footballs for their regular season game against Indianapolis were underinflated, too. That’s before considering the fact that Baltimore suspected the Patriots of using underinflated footballs.

Regardless, the NFL referees handled the underinflated footballs for the entire first half and didn’t notice. It’s impossible to believe that they didn’t notice a significant difference between the Patriots’ underinflated footballs and Indianapolis’ properly inflated footballs.

After reading this article about Patriots Coach Bill Belichick’s press conference on #DeflateGate, it’s feeling like he’s teeing things up for Tom Brady to throw the ball boys under the bus. Here’s the video of Belichick’s press conference:

That’s aggravating from the standpoint of the fact that it’s a press conference. Normal people answer questions when they hold a press conference. Bill Belichick doesn’t answer questions at his press conferences. His media availabilities are tightly controlled to the point that Belichick’s meetings with the media make a Jay Carney briefing look expansive. This simply isn’t credible:

The famously tight-lipped coach said he, like fans everywhere, only learned about the intricacies of pigskin air pressure this week, after the NFL announced the Patriots used illegally underinflated balls in the game, played in Foxboro, Mass., in bad weather.

“I think we all know that quarterbacks, kickers and specialists have certain preferences,” Belichick said. “Tom’s personal preferences on footballs are something he can talk about.”

Watching a Belichick press conference provides ample verification that Belichick is a control freak’s control freak. For him to insinuate that he doesn’t pay attention to important details is insulting. This is the coach who used this gadget play a week ago against the Baltimore Ravens:

The New England Patriots used just four offensive lineman during a series of three plays in the third quarter of their 35-31 comeback win over the Baltimore Ravens on Saturday night. It totally confused the Ravens and was so unexpected that the NBC announcers didn’t even catch it during the live broadcast.

An explanation:

Under NFL rules the offense effectively has to have five players on the line of scrimmage who are ineligible to catch a pass. Normally, these five players are the offensive linemen, and they’re stacked together in the middle of the field. The Patriots didn’t do that on those three plays. They used four clearly identifiable offensive linemen and had another player who was lined up in a different part of the formation declare himself as the fifth ineligible player.

Now we’re supposed to think that the man who scours the rulebook for obscure rules to give him an advantage doesn’t know that a deflated ball gives his QB and his runners an advantage in cold weather? I don’t think so.

Frankly, Beli-cheat, which is his nickname, shouldn’t be given the benefit of the doubt on whether they’ll comply with the rules. His administration has frequently flaunted the rules. Many major rule changes were created because Belichick’s Patriots didn’t obey the rules.

Later this afternoon, Tom Brady will hold a special press availability. Knowing Belichick’s respect for Brady, it’s obvious that he didn’t throw Brady to the wolves. I’d be totally surprised if Brady admitted that he cheated. It wouldn’t surprise me if he threw the Patriots’ ball boys under the bus. I’m not predicting that. I just won’t rule that possibility out.

What I’ve ruled out, though, is the possibility of Belichick, Brady and Robert Kraft, the Patriots’ owner, all being innocent. That simply isn’t plausible.

Let’s stipulate that deflating the footballs Tom Brady used didn’t cost Indianapolis Colts a berth in Super Bowl XLIX. Indianapolis has Andrew Luck, a secondary that tackles well and pretty much nothing else. If the Patriots used deflated balls against the Ravens, which wouldn’t surprise me, I’d argue that the underinflated balls gave the Patriots a distinct advantage against Baltimore. I’ll return to this later.

First, let’s talk about what we know with certainty.

  1. The Patriots submitted 12 footballs to the NFL on the Friday before the AFC Championship Game.
  2. When NFL inspected those footballs prior to the AFC Championship Game, each of the Patriots balls were properly inflated.
  3. When the inspected footballs submitted by the Patriots were returned to the Patriots 2 hrs. 15 minutes before the AFC Championship Game, they were properly inflated.
  4. When Indianapolis Linebacker D’Qwell Jackson intercepted Tom Brady’s pass, he gave the ball to the Indianapolis equipment manager. The equipment manager alerted NFL officials.
  5. At halftime, NFL officials checked the footballs submitted by both teams. NFL officials have announced that 11 of the 12 footballs submitted by the Patriots to the NFL were underinflated but that the Colts’ footballs were properly inflated.

It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that the Patriots deflated the footballs Tom Brady used to give him a competitive advantage. NFL rules require that game-used footballs be inflated to at least 12.5 psi and no more than 13.5 psi. The Patriots’ footballs were found to be up to 2 psi under the minimum allowed weight.

During NFL Live on ESPN, host Trey Gowdy handed 3 footballs to retired QB Mark Brunell and retired running back Jerome Bettis to see if they could identify which ball was overinflated, which football was underinflated and which football met the NFL’s requirement. It took Brunell and Bettis less than 5 seconds each to correctly identify each of the balls. To them, it was that obvious. What happened after that test is what caught my attention.

Brunell said that underinflated footballs are a) easier to grip and b) more accurate to throw. He made that statement with total confidence and without hesitation. Bettis said that an underinflated football helped running backs tuck the football in between their shoulder and their elbow tighter, making it more difficult for defenders to strip the football from a runner’s grip.

Since it’s clear that the Patriots didn’t need underinflated balls to defeat the Indianapolis Colts, it’s fair to ask what the Patriots’ motivation was. This is where the Patriots’ past is relevant. In 2007, Belichick had “an assistant spy on the New York Jets’ defensive signals.” Belichick was personally fined $500,000 for getting caught cheating that time. The Patriots’ history under Belichick is that of getting caught cheating. The next thing to be determined is what the appropriate punishment should be.

Personally, I think Belichick should be suspended for a full year starting the day after the Super Bowl. That means he can’t have any contact with the Patriots from the minute that the game ends until he’s reinstated. Next, the Patriots should be fined $1,000,000. They should forfeit their first and second round picks this year, too.

When they were caught cheating in ‘Spy-gate’, Belichick was fined $500,000 and the team lost its first round pick and paid a $250,000 fine. This cheating is as bad, if not worse, than Spy-gate.

Finally, the NFL shouldn’t give the footballs back to the teams on the sidelines. The NFL is one of the richest sports leagues in the world. They should hire people to handle the footballs to preserve the integrity of the game and to prevent the Patriots from cheating again.

Wingo later noted that Watergate happened in 1972, with Richard Nixon cruising to the biggest landslide in US presidential history. It wasn’t that Watergate helped him defeat George McGovern. Watergate caught the nation’s attention because it exposed the Nixon administration’s corruption.

Deflate-Gate is catching football fans’ attentions because it’s reminding them of the Patriots’ history of corruption. That’s why Deflate-Gate matters.

UPDATE: John Madden brought a voice of sanity to “Deflate-Gate” with this explanation:

“That would have to be driven by the quarterback,” Madden told The Sports Xchange on Wednesday. “That’s something that wouldn’t be driven by a coach or just the equipment guy. Nobody, not even the head coach, would do anything to a football unilaterally, such as adjust the amount of pressure in a ball, without the quarterback not knowing. It would have to be the quarterback’s idea.”

Madden’s position makes a lot of sense. Quarterbacks are particular about their footballs. Anybody doing anything to the footballs without the quarterback’s knowledge or consent would be asking for a tongue lashing. In Brady’s case, his tongue wouldn’t be needed to formulate the various “F” words that would be hurled at he who messes with the quarterback’s primary tool.

“He is the effected,” Madden said. “He is the only guy. I heard some of the pundits saying the ball is easier to catch, but that would never, ever, ever be done for that unless the quarterback wanted it. You wouldn’t do something for a receiver to catch the ball if the quarterback couldn’t throw it. So it’s going to be done for the quarterback.”

UPDATE II: Chris Canty’s comments will get under some Patriots’ skin:

“The Patriots are habitual line-steppers,” Canty said during an in-studio appearance. “If the allegations are true, then you are talking about attacking the integrity of our game and I have an issue with that…[W]hat I’m going to say about the deflating of the balls, to me there is no difference than performance-enhancing drugs. You are cheating at that point. You are getting a competitive advantage outside of the rule book and there has to be some sort of consequences for that.”

Canty’s opinion sounds a lot like the NFL’s position that, when it comes to topics impacting the integrity of the game, serious action is required.

“To me, the integrity of the game is the most important thing,” Canty said. “You want to be successful as a player but you want to think that you are doing things that are within the rules and that you are out there competing and it’s not whether it is performance-enhancing drugs or deflated footballs that is out there aiding in your performance.”

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I first heard of Ben Watson when he was drafted by the New England Patriots with the last pick in the first round of the 2004 NFL draft. Thanks to this interview with FNC’s Megyn Kelly, I’m seeing him in a different, more positive light than ever before:

Here’s the text of Ben Watson’s Facebook post:

At some point while I was playing or preparing to play Monday Night Football, the news broke about the Ferguson Decision. After trying to figure out how I felt, I decided to write it down. Here are my thoughts:

I’M ANGRY because the stories of injustice that have been passed down for generations seem to be continuing before our very eyes.

I’M FRUSTRATED, because pop culture, music and movies glorify these types of police citizen altercations and promote an invincible attitude that continues to get young men killed in real life, away from safety movie sets and music studios.

I’M FEARFUL because in the back of my mind I know that although I’m a law abiding citizen I could still be looked upon as a “threat” to those who don’t know me. So I will continue to have to go the extra mile to earn the benefit of the doubt.

I’M EMBARRASSED because the looting, violent protests, and law breaking only confirm, and in the minds of many, validate, the stereotypes and thus the inferior treatment.

I’M SAD, because another young life was lost from his family, the racial divide has widened, a community is in shambles, accusations, insensitivity hurt and hatred are boiling over, and we may never know the truth about what happened that day.

I’M SYMPATHETIC, because I wasn’t there so I don’t know exactly what happened. Maybe Darren Wilson acted within his rights and duty as an officer of the law and killed Michael Brown in self defense like any of us would in the circumstance. Now he has to fear the backlash against himself and his loved ones when he was only doing his job. What a horrible thing to endure. OR maybe he provoked Michael and ignited the series of events that led to him eventually murdering the young man to prove a point.

I’M OFFENDED, because of the insulting comments I’ve seen that are not only insensitive but dismissive to the painful experiences of others.

I’M CONFUSED, because I don’t know why it’s so hard to obey a policeman. You will not win!!! And I don’t know why some policeman abuse their power. Power is a responsibility, not a weapon to brandish and lord over the populace.

I’M INTROSPECTIVE, because sometimes I want to take “our” side without looking at the facts in situations like these. Sometimes I feel like it’s us against them. Sometimes I’m just as prejudiced as people I point fingers at. And that’s not right. How can I look at white skin and make assumptions but not want assumptions made about me? That’s not right.

I’M HOPELESS, because I’ve lived long enough to expect things like this to continue to happen. I’m not surprised and at some point my little children are going to inherit the weight of being a minority and all that it entails.

I’M HOPEFUL, because I know that while we still have race issues in America, we enjoy a much different normal than those of our parents and grandparents. I see it in my personal relationships with teammates, friends and mentors. And it’s a beautiful thing.

I’M ENCOURAGED, because ultimately the problem is not a SKIN problem, it is a SIN problem. SIN is the reason we rebel against authority. SIN is the reason we abuse our authority. SIN is the reason we are racist, prejudiced and lie to cover for our own. SIN is the reason we riot, loot and burn. BUT I’M ENCOURAGED because God has provided a solution for sin through the his son Jesus and with it, a transformed heart and mind. One that’s capable of looking past the outward and seeing what’s truly important in every human being. The cure for the Michael Brown, Trayvon Martin, Tamir Rice and Eric Garner tragedies is not education or exposure. It’s the Gospel. So, finally, I’M ENCOURAGED because the Gospel gives mankind hope.

That’s the message of a true 21st Century civil rights leader. Thank you, Mr. Watson, for speaking honestly about your thoughts. Most importantly, thank you for working overtime to be an inspiration to your family and your community.

After reading this article, and after looking over their recent few drafts, it’s time to question whether the Patriots are heading towards being the AFC’s version of the Dallas Cowboys.

Let’s look at the Patriots’ last few drafts, excluding this year’s. The Patriots’ 2013 draft yielded LB Jamie Collins and Aaron Dobson in the second round, then Logan Ryan and Duron Harmon in the third. Dobson has been inactive 3 of this season’s 4 games. According to Bill Belichick, he’s been inactive because he isn’t playing well.

That’s astonishing considering the fact that a) Dobson is a wide receiver and b) wide receiver is one of the weakest positions on the team. What’s really got to sting is the fact that they traded the 29th pick in the 2013 draft to the Vikings. The Vikings used that pick to take Cordarrelle Patterson. The Vikings traded their second, third and fourth round picks to New England. The Patriots used the Vikings’ second round pick to take Collins.

No disrespect to Collins but can you imagine Brady’s stats if he could stretch the field with Patterson?

In 2012, the Patriots had 4 of the top 90 picks. They struck it rich with Chandler Jones with their first pick. They got a reliable started in Dont’a Hightower with their other first round pick. Their picks in the second and third rounds are forgettable.

In 2011, the Patriots had 5 of the top 74 picks. Nate Solder, their first pick, is a starting tackle. Shane Vereen, the second of their second round picks, is a nice change-of-pace back. Stevan Ridley, their first pick in the third round, is a hard-running running back who starts. Ryan Mallett, their other third round pick, was traded to the Texans just before this season.

With tons of picks, the Patriots have failed to strengthen their offensive line, their defense or their wide receivers.

What’s really sick is the Patriots failed draft of 2009. That year, they had 13 total picks, including 4 picks in the second round. Sebastian Vollmer is the only starter from those picks. Their only other starters from that draft were Patrick Chung and Julian Edelman.

The bad news for the Patriots is that their drafts prior to 2009 were mediocre at best. Most of their picks in the three previous drafts were either outright failures or they contributed as role players for a couple of years. The exception to that is Vince Wilfork, a true All-Pro nose tackle.

There’s no question that Belichick is a coaching genius and that he’ll join Brady in Canton. Similarly, there’s no question that he’s overrated as a talent evaluator. These drafts testify as to how incompetent he is at drafting impact players and longtime starters.

If he wasn’t a Hall of Fame coach, Belichick would’ve gotten fired as the Patriots’ unofficial GM. It’s that simple.

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When it comes to public embarassments, Mark Dayton wrote the book on the subject. Now he’s calling Adrian Peterson’s behavior embarassing:

It is an awful situation. Yes, Mr. Peterson is entitled to due process and should be “innocent until proven guilty.” However, he is a public figure; and his actions, as described, are a public embarrassment to the Vikings organization and the State of Minnesota. Whipping a child to the extent of visible wounds, as has been alleged, should not be tolerated in our state. Therefore, I believe the team should suspend Mr. Peterson, until the accusations of child abuse have been resolved by the criminal justice system.

However, I will not turn my back on the Vikings and their fans, as some have suggested. The Vikings belong to Minnesota – and in Minnesota. This has been the team’s only home; and our citizens, including myself, have been its most dedicated fans.

Like many of his worst moments, Gov. Dayton’s statement will give thoughtful people intellectual whiplash. First, he says that Adrian Peterson is entitled to due process and “should be ‘innocent until proven guilty.'” Next, Gov. Dayton said that the Vikings should suspend him until he’s had his day in court.

That doesn’t make sense. What happens if Peterson is found guilty? At that point, the NFL has the right, under its personal conduct policy, to tack on an additional suspension. That additional suspension might be indefinite, meaning Adrian Peterson will have been suspended twice for a single offense.

Actually, that might not be legal because of the collective bargaining agreement between the NFL and the NFL Players’ Association. If that’s the case, Gov. Dayton might’ve just told the Vikings to ignore the collective bargaining agreement between the players and the owners.

I don’t doubt that Mark Dayton will react by saying that he didn’t know about the particulars of the NFL-NFLPA collective bargaining agreement. That’s shameful. This was a prepared statement. His staff should’ve done their research. They should’ve known about this provision in the NFL-NFLPA CBA.

The governor of a state should known what he’s talking about. Unfortunately, Gov. Dayton hasn’t done what smart governors have done. He’s shot his mouth off for political purposes, only to have to walk his statements back.

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