Ties bind a few Ravens to New England

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Ties bind a few Ravens to New England

FOXBORO - The Patriots and Ravens play so often, there are few secrets between the two teams.

And with James Ihedigbo, Arthur Jones and Corey Graham, there are probably even fewer than normal.

Jones, a Ravens defensive lineman, is the older brother of Patriots rookie defensive end Chandler Jones. Ihedigbo, a safety and special-teamer for Baltimore, was with the Patriots last season and played a key role and spent time with the Patriots in camp.

Graham, a corner, is a Buffalo native who went to UNH. All have friends and family who may have split allegiances this week when the Ravens and Patriots play in the AFC Championship game, but the Brothers Jones, of course, have the closest binding ties.
Jon "Bones" Jones, the famed UFC fighter, will be at the game Saturday, according to Arthur Jones. Also "a couple of cousins and a bunch of friends."

Arthur's hoping to see Ravens hats on as many members of the entourage as possible, he told Ravens media Wednesday.

Arthur Jones said he talked to Chandler Tuesday, two days after he tweaked an ankle in Sunday's Patriots win.

"Weve been going back and forth talking crap," said Arthur. "Really, I have been just seeing how hes doing. I know he got rolled up bad last week, so I was trying to figure out if he was going to play or not and get the inside scoop. But hes doing a good job not telling me anything. Hes not telling me anything, but I think he is going to be out there. Hes a hard-worker. I know hes getting treatment on it hard.

Ihedigbo, meanwhile, is staunchly a member of the Ravens now.

"Its exactly where its supposed to be," he said. "Im here as a Raven. I love being here, Im proud to be here and Im proud to go out with these guys and fight for the opportunity to go to the Super Bowl.

Released by the Patriots on August 31, he signed with Baltimore on September 2. He played in all 13 games for the Ravens, starting three. But he's not sure he can give much inside knowhow about New England's inner-workings.

I dont know if it helps at all," Ihedigbo said when asked about what advantage he can provide. Teams change every year, but one thing we know is Tom Brady is a phenomenal quarterback. He does a great job with that offense in terms of getting those guys the ball, and thats really our focus on defense. We have our hands full.

Ihedigbo defers to the coaches when discussing the things Brady does well.

"A lot of coaches who are coaching here have gone against him a lot longer than Ive been in the league six years," Ihedigbo pointed out. "So, I dont know how much intel I can give into that. But, everyone knows Tom Brady and the kind of quarterback he is and the things he can do with that offense.

Ihedigbo also noted that "Life Without Gronk" is not going to mean a day off for the Ravens defenders.

"They do a lot of the same things (whether Gronkowski is available or not. "Gronk is a phenomenal player he had a tough injury, so he wont be playing but besides that, in terms of that offense, theyll do what they do. Their offense is explosive, they get the ball going downfield, they move at a high pace and they score touchdowns. Our job is to stop them.

Graham notes that, "All of my roommates were big-time New England Patriot fans in college, and all of my friends still to this day are die-hard Patriots fans and Red Sox fans. It is a big game for me, obviously. I went to college New Hampshire in that area. I was up there all of the time. I know what it is like. They have die-hard fans out there. Obviously, you dont want to lose against the Patriots, especially when all of my friends are going to be out there probably with a Patriot jerseys on. Its going to be a little different his week, but no matter who you are playing, you want to go out there and win. This is for all of the marbles to get to the Super Bowl, so this is ever bigger.

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