Belichick gives high praise for Colts' Vinatieri


Belichick gives high praise for Colts' Vinatieri

FOXBORO -- Is Adam Vinatieri a Hall of Famer?

As the former Patriots kicker returns to Foxboro in his 17th NFL season, Patriots coach Bill Belichick was asked the question. And even though Belichick admitted to not really understand the Hall of Fame criteria, he did seem like he would put Vinatieri into the Hall if the choice was his.

"He's certainly one of the greatest kickers I've ever seen, since I've been in the league," said Belichick. "The longevity, the production, the performance of championships in big games. What more could he do? You know, what more could he do? Go out there and play wide receiver and catch a bunch of passes? What more could he do?"

Vinatieri spent 10 seasons with the Patriots and won three Super Bowls. Now with Indianapolis, he enters Sunday's game at Gillette Stadium having hit the most 50-plus yard field goals in a season in his career, with three through nine games.

So he's still got it.

"When Adam was here -- and I'm sure it's the same in Indianapolis -- he trained hard, worked hard, kept himself in good condition, had good overall strength, and certainly mental toughness and concentration, and all those things, technique," said Belichick. "He kicked the ball straight. I haven't seen any of that change too much. He might have lost a little bit of range, but, he's still making 50-yard kicks. I'm sure they're confident when they send him out there. And I can understand that."

As much as Belichick praised Vinatieri on Friday, he also made sure he expressed his confidence in his current kicker and Vinatier's replacement since he left: Stephen Gostkowski.

"Steve works hard, and he's been real consistent for us, since the first year he got here," said Belichick. "He's really pretty much the same guy every day. He doesn't get too up or too down. He's made a lot of big kicks for us. Not perfect, but he hasn't been too high in the highs or too low on the lows. He's been very consistent with his work ethic, his discipline, his ability to adapt to different snappers and holders over the course of his career. It's something you can't control as a kicker, but you have to work with. And he's done a good job of that. He hasn't let it affect him. What he controls is just his preparation."

Stevens, Celtics expect to use similar rotation vs. Bulls


Stevens, Celtics expect to use similar rotation vs. Bulls

The Boston Celtics’ bench was unable to close out Wednesday’s 122-117 win over Brooklyn, but don’t look for head coach Brad Stevens to make any significant changes tonight.

“I felt pretty good about those rotations last night,” Stevens told reporters prior to tonight’sgame against Chicago. “For forty minutes, we rotated well.”

After a relatively close first quarter, it was Boston’s second unit that gave Boston its first double-digit lead of the night and led by as many as 13 points.

But it wasn’t their scoring that jumped out to Stevens.

“The second unit came in and provided probably our best defensive sequence of the game, start of the second quarter and played really well until the end,” Stevens said.

Stevens played a total of 10 players against the Nets – all playing in the first half - and will likely have a similar number of Celtics on the floor tonight against the Bulls.

It will be interesting to see what the Celtics do rotation-wise when Marcus Smart (left ankle sprain) and Kelly Olynk (right shoulder) are back on the active roster.

Smart recently confirmed an earlier report that the left ankle injury he suffered in the Celtics’ final preseason game against the New York Knicks, would keep him out for a couple of weeks.

In addition to missing the season opener against Brooklyn, Smart is likely to miss another three games.

Olynyk, who had offseason surgery in May, has been cleared for contact but is not expected to be back on the floor until the middle of next month.

“Until our other guys get back,” Stevens said. “There will be similar rotations.”

ESPN’s Mortensen: Deflategate coverage led to death threats


ESPN’s Mortensen: Deflategate coverage led to death threats

In an expansive profile on The, ESPN’s Chris Mortensen says he and his wife were subjected to death threats because of Mortensen’s Deflategate coverage.

After the Patriots’ AFC Championship Game victory in January 2015, Mortensen tweeted information he said he received from a source that has long since been proven incorrect. The info - that 11 of 12 Patriots footballs in the game were underinflated by 2 pounds - remained uncorrected on Twitter and in an story for more than six months.  

The controversy over Mortensen’s reporting drew the ire of Patriots fans, many of whom blamed the tweet and his story for fanning the flames of what eventually led to a four-game suspension for Tom Brady and a $1 million fine and loss of draft picks for the Patriots. 

Mortensen, who has subsequently undergone treatment for cancer, told The Ringer’s Bryan Curtis that the threats led him to tell his wife Micki that he didn’t want her traveling with him from their home in Arkansas to Bristol, Connecticut when he did studio work for ESPN. 

“What bothered me is we’re in an era where if your wife goes onto social media, she basically reads that they want you to die,” Mortensen said. “Even after I got cancer, I got some death wishes.”

More from the Ringer story:

“My job is to protect her,” he said. When Mort himself came to Bristol, he behaved like someone who was living under a public threat. He went straight from the ESPN studio to his home, avoiding restaurants and rarely appearing in public.

Mortensen said after his initial tweet, a second source, with whom he had a better relationship, told him to used a broader description of the footballs, i.e. call them “significantly underinflated.”  Mortensen now acknowledges that information should have given him pause.

“That should have raised the journalist in me to a higher level,” he told the Ringer. “I’ve got to ask some more questions here. What are we talking about, 2 pounds under? But, no, I got to get on TV.”