Curran: O'Brien in a mess at Penn State

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Curran: O'Brien in a mess at Penn State

Well, if Bill O'Brien hoped to enhance his coaching career by showing he could deal with adversity, he landed in the right spot.

But as sanctions for the Penn State football program dropped on Monday, this feels less like adversity and more like unmitigated disaster.

And now it's worth wondering whether O'Brien would have made the decision to leave the Patriots and join the diseased Penn State program as Joe Paterno's successor if O'Brien knew then what he knows now.

A story this morning detailing O'Brien's contract shows that O'Brien did little to protect himself contractually from the Sandusky fallout.

Sara Ganim for The Patriots News reports that "if (O'Brien) wants to terminate employment for any reason before his five-year contract is over, he has to pay back his base salary at the time multiplied by the number of years left."

His base salary, Ganim reports, is 950,000 for 2012. He makes another 1 million for media-related university appearances and 350K from Nike.

Ganim also points out that the bonus structure in O'Brien's contract tied to the win-loss success of the Nittany Lions is where O'Brien will really take the hit. O'Brien would make up to 33 percent of his base salary for winning his division in the Big Ten, winning the Big Ten championship game, playing in a bowl game and winning the BCS title game.

The sanctions levied will make two of the bonus targets -- playing in a bowl game and winning the BCS title game -- completely unreachable for four seasons, since one of the penalties is that the Nittany Lions can't play in a bowl game.

O'Brien released a statement Monday morning reaffirming his commitment to the program despite the sanctions brought against Penn State:

"Today we receive a very harsh penalty from the NCAA and as Head Coach of the Nittany Lions football program, I will do everything in my power to not only comply, but help guide the University forward to become a national leader in ethics, compliance and operational excellence. I knew when I accepted the position that there would be tough times ahead. But I am committed for the long term to Penn State and our student athletes.

"I was then and I remain convinced that our student athletes are the best in the country. I could not be more proud to lead this team and these courageous and humble young men into the upcoming 2012 season. Together we are committed to building a better athletic program and university."

You'd like to be able to credit O'Brien's desire to face the challenge in Happy Valley and say that it seemed like a good idea at the time when he took the job. But it wasn't. And now it's miles worse.

Patriots officially side with Brady vs. NFL by filing amicus brief

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Patriots officially side with Brady vs. NFL by filing amicus brief

Robert Kraft and the Patriots organization have been saying for a long time that they hope Tom Brady prevails in his fight with the league over Deflategate. Kraft reiterated that stance on Tuesday at the NFL's annual spring meetings.

But on Wednesday, the Patriots took their support for Brady to a different platform. The team has filed an amicus brief stating that it supports Brady and the NFLPA now that the union has filed a petition to be granted a rehearing by the Second Circuit. 

Per ESPN's Adam Schefter, it is a noteworthy move because the last time an NFL team took legal action against league was when late Raiders owner Al Davis sued the NFL. It is important to note, though, as SI.com's Michael McCann explains, that the Patriots have not actually "switched sides" in this instance. As one of 32 teams in the league, they are technically still a part of the NFL Management Council et al. v. NFL Players Association et al. With its amicus brief, however, the team is advocating for a rehearing of a case that the NFL recently won. 

Filing the brief may not necessarily have any legal impact on the case -- judges can ignore the team's opinion in its amicus brief if they so choose -- but its value may be more than simply symbolic in nature. Attorney Daniel Wallach notes that the team's amicus brief covers ground that Brady's petition for rehearing couldn't cover due to page limits. 

On the first page of the amicus brief, in the document's second footnote, the language is strong: "From the outset of this matter, the League's conduct reflects less a search for the truth than pursuit of a pre-determined result and defense of a report which, despite no direct evidence of tampering or Mr. Brady's involvement, was reiled on to impose penalties with no precedent or correlation to the alleged offense."

The Patriots have continued to update The Wells Report in Context, a website that argues the findings of the NFL's investigation into Brady that has also accumulated various reports and scientific studies that support Brady's innocence. But this amicus brief is another way for the team to show that it has its quarterback's back. 

The NFLPA filed its petition for a rehearing on Monday and now awaits a decision from the 13 judges of the Second Circuit as to whether or not they will grant Brady a rehearing.

Statistically speaking, Brady is facing long odds to be given a rehearing, but his legal team believes there's reason for optimism