Branch return to Seattle is a business trip


Branch return to Seattle is a business trip

FOXBORO -- Every week you're going to read some NFL version of a Wayward, Forgotten, Cast-Out or Prodigal Son story. There are more than 1,600 players dispersed over 32 teams, and just when you think guys are settled into their respective places the whole thing gets picked up and shook like a snow globe.
This Sunday Deion Branch returns to Seattle.
Branch landed with the Seahawks in 2005 after playing his first four seasons in New England. Contract extension talks with the Patriots got ugly and went unresolved, so he took off. The receiver played three and a half seasons in Seattle before being traded back to the Patriots.
An old tale with a twist.
Will Branch be reminiscing about his old team at all? Of course. But he knows his isn't a special case.
"I know I will. That stuff happens," he told reporters Wednesday. "I think that happens with every individual who plays the game."
Branch has been through this before, in a way.
The Patriots, with Matt Cassel at the helm, visited Seattle in 2008. It was a back-and-forth battle and Branch shined for the Seahawks. He caught four passes (88 yards), including two different go-ahead touchdowns.
New England prevailed despite the best efforts of its former receiver, however.
Just ask Branch what he remembers.
"The loss," he smiled ruefully. "Not the game that I had. I think just overall the loss."
Which is exactly the attitude he'll have this weekend. Branch was asked if he'll have any special feelings regarding the return trip and he set the record straight easily enough.
"Hopefully we go out there and get a victory. That's the most important feeling that I need to have, and that's what I have," he said.
"It's always good to go back and see some of the other guys. But when the whistle blows it's time to play the game. All that other stuff goes out the window."

Curran: Can we swear off the stupid questions?

Curran: Can we swear off the stupid questions?

FOXBORO  -- To think there’d be no further questions about the Tom Brady-Jimmy Garoppolo dynamic when Brady’s four-game suspension ends would be moronic.

Bill Belichick won’t like them. He’s destined to give them the verbal Heisman. But there are aspects to the story which demand further interrogation.

So there’s those questions. And then there’s baiting for the sake of baiting, which is what happened Friday morning.

A reporter asked Belichick, “You said Tom will start when he’s eligible. Can you think of an occasion when you named a Week 5 starter in July?”

“Yeah, I don’t know,” Belichick said.

“What happens if Jimmy plays better?”

“Look, I told you what’s gonna happen,” Belichick answered.

Pressing on, the reporter began, “So there’s no, there’s, there’s . . . ”

At that point, with Belichick reacting like he’d come open a month-old-corpse and muttering, “Jesus Christ," the reporter cut himself off.

I’ve been trying to steer clear of the media ombudsman business. But this stuff makes it hard. The first question was obtuse in the extreme. I don’t even know how that gets formulated.
This is not a Brady-Bledsoe scenario.

You have the best quarterback of his generation who – 17 months ago – took down what was supposed to be one of the great defenses in NFL history in the fourth quarter of the Super Bowl. A guy who got smashed all over the field in Denver at the age of 38 and still almost pulled out a win last January.

When that guy’s cleared to play, you sprint him onto the field regardless of the circumstances.

“If Jimmy plays better . . . ”? Better than what? Better than 11 touchdowns, no picks, 116-for-160 and 1,547 yards, which is what Brady did in the first four games last season? Better than Brady played in Denver while getting his head caved in every other play?

I understand that sometimes you have to ask the dumb question to get something on the record, but this was not that. This seemed like someone who really thought he was onto something. Was going to paint Belichick into an uncomfortable corner and hang him with his own words.

Sorry, counselor.

Now, you and I can sit on the front stoop and wonder what happens if Garoppolo plays ridiculously well then Brady comes back and spends four weeks playing like he’s never been on a field before and is clearly an impediment to the team’s success.

Won’t happen. But we can talk about it.

Asking Belichick if he’s gonna go with the hot hand when two days prior he told you what he was going to do is asking for a JC response.

Belichick probably figured that stating Brady was the Week 5 starter before he was asked was the best way to defuse idle speculation. “We’ll see . . . ” or “We always do what’s best for the football team . . . ” would have ignited a thousand hours of conversation about the budding quarterback controversy in New England.

Belichick now knows that the speculation and scenario spinning is coming anyway. JC may hear his name muttered a few more times from the podium between now and October.