How much did Belichick see in Brady?

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How much did Belichick see in Brady?

If I could go back to September 2001 and have an honest conversation with Bill Belichick, Id make one statement and ask him one question:

The statement: Bill, theyre going to find out about the videotapes, man. Abort the mission. ABORT the mission.

The question: So, whats your best-case scenario for this Brady kid?

Come on, havent you always wondered exactly what Belichick saw in Tom Brady? I mean, obviously there was something. At the very least, he went into that 2001 season believing that Brady was the best quarterback on his roster. But what did he really think? Was it, OK, well at least hes better than Bledsoe. Or was it more, Holy crap, we've found our Phil Simms! Or did he see something even better?

How high was his ceiling on Tom Brady?

Not that it matters one bit. But I'd love to know. For history's sake.

Anyway, Mary Paoletti has a good story up today with quotes from Belichick on the thought process that goes into narrowing a roster down to 53 players. And within those quotes, the coach tells an interesting story about Bradys rookie season, and the rare decision to keep four quarterbacks:

"Kind of a unique situation, Belichick said. We had really two third quarterbacks between Brady and Michael Bishop. One of them could have been on the practice squad . . . So then the question is, as an organization, which players do you want to protect? You can protect the ones on the 53. To some degree you can't protect the ones on the practice squad. In that particular case, that's why we didn't put Brady on the practice squad -- we wanted to make sure we had him, not so much for that year, but for the following year."

So, as you can see, its clear that Belichick saw something in Brady from the start. He didn't want to lose him. But at the same time, he still wasnt even sure if Brady was better than Michael Bishop. Right? I mean, at this point, Belichick had had a full season with Bishop a freak athlete, but also a seventh round pick who was out of football the next year. If he was so sure about Brady, he could have just parted ways with MB. Or maybe Belichick wasn't sure, and that one year (plus training camp) of watching Brady work behind the scenes was enough to convince him that No. 12 was a star?

Who knows? But I'd love to. And Im sure well find out someday. Maybe the details will be revealed in Belichicks first post-football biography, or maybe as he's presenting Brady at Canton. Whatever it is, the full story will eventually come out.

Until then, I'll settle for at least a few more years of watching these two run the show in Foxboro. (And, effective immediately, at least 10 minutes of googling Michael Bishop)

Rich can be reached at rlevine@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Rich on Twitter at http:twitter.comrich_levine

Easley on character concerns: 'It's all rumors' until sources step forward

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Easley on character concerns: 'It's all rumors' until sources step forward

When Dominique Easley was released by the Patriots this spring, it wasn't because he wasn't productive when he was on the field. In fact, on a per-snap basis, he was one of the most productive interior pass-rushers in the league last season, according to Pro Football Focus. 

Instead, there were some off-the-field factors, as well as injury concerns, that led to the Patriots choosing to cut ties with their 2014 first-round pick. 

As our Patriots Insider Tom E. Curran put it, there were "philosophical differences" between Easley and the team.

Other, more scathing reports of Easley's impact in New England were released, including one report from the Boston Globe that included a quote from a former teammate saying he was a "locker room cancer."

Since then, Easley has landed with the Rams and has a chance to contribute to one of the most talented defensive lines in football. In an interview on Sirius XM NFL Radio with Phil Savage and Amber Theoharis, Easley said he hopes that his new team will get to see that he's a better person than some have indicated.

"Just really," Easley said, "just hopefully that the Rams get to see what a great person and a great hardworker I am, and really, just a great person."

Easley went on to say that he's not sure who would speak of him negatively or why. He explained that it's not his "main goal" to prove there's nothing to worry about with his character, but clearly it's somewhere on the list. 

"There's been, obviously, stuff said about me," Easley said. "We don't know where it came from. I would say the person doesn't want to come out and say it, neither. As far as I know, it's all rumors until that person comes out and say that it was from them, and they can prove that they actually know who I am, or been around me long enough to know who I am and how I am as a person."

PFT: NFL plans to interview Manning about Al Jazeera PED allegations

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PFT: NFL plans to interview Manning about Al Jazeera PED allegations

Peyton Manning is retired, but that doesn't mean he's exempt from the interviews that the NFL plans to conduct as it looks into the allegations made by Al Jazeera's December PED documentary. 

It was reported last week by USA Today that the league's senior vice president of labor policy and league affairs Adolpho Birch informed the NFLPA that players named in Al Jazeera's report would be interviewed in July. 

Among those scheduled to be interviewed are Packers linebackers Julius Peppers and Clay Matthews and Steelers linebacker James Harrison. Former Packers linebacker Mike Neal will also be interviewed.

(Harrison has taken issue with the league's request, and said on social media that he would only meet with the league if commissioner Roger Goodell showed up to his home.)

Manning was not mentioned in the letter obtained by USA Today detailing the league's interview plans, but Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk followed up on Monday to see if the NFL intended to speak with Manning. It does.

The former Broncos and Colts quarterback has been very vocal about just how strongly he denies Al Jazeera's claim that his wife, Ashley, received HGH for his use. Despite the fact that he's no longer playing, it will come as no surprise if, given his stance, Manning cooperates fully with the league as it seeks more information regarding the report. 

As Florio points out, if Manning hopes to return to the NFL at some point as an executive -- as many believe he will -- this is something he'll want to put to bed beforehand. That process will start with an interview.