Tomlinson to retire with the Chargers


Tomlinson to retire with the Chargers

LaDainian Tomlinson's time in the NFL is up. One week away from his 33rd birthday, the free-agent running back has not found any suitors to play the 2012 season and he will now sign with the San Diego Chargers on a one-day contract to officially retire with the team that drafted him.

The Chargers will hold a press conference at 11 a.m. on Monday to announce Tomlinson's retirement.

It won't be a teary goodbye to LT here in New England. Over the course of his 11-year career -- nine with the Bolts and two with the Jets -- Tomlinson has been one of the Patriots' greatest rivals. Here's a rundown of how LT's relationship with the Pats has shaken out:

Patriots beat Tomlinson's Chargers in the 2007 Divisional round, 24-21. LT became so angry that he had to be restrained when he saw Patriots players dancing on the Chargers' midfield logo. The dance was done to mock then-Chargers linebacker Shawne Merriman's "Lights Out" dance.

"I would never react in that way. I was very upset," Tomlinson said after the game. "That is disrespectful. They showed no class and maybe that comes from the head coach."

In 2008, New England beat LT and the Bolts, 21-12, to advance to their fourth Super Bowl in seven years. Tomlinson was injured for the game and carried the ball just twice. He famously hung on the sidelines wearing a parka and a helmet for most of the game.

In 2011, Tomlinson got some measure of redemption. He caught a touchdown from Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez as New York came into Foxboro to win the Divisional Playoff game with the Pats, 28-21.

Tomlinson visited the Dan Patrick Show in the days leading up to Super Bowl XLVI and was asked if he still hates the Patriots.

"I don't hate them," Tomlinson said. "When we were between those lines, they were the team that always kept my teams from getting to where we wanted to go and win a championship."

Hypothetically, could he ever put aside the hate to sign a deal with the Patriots?

"I think that would be ... uh ... that would be ... obviously I would be tempted because Tom Brady's there and I would love to play with him," Tomlinson told Patrick. "I just think probably at this point it would be a stretch."

Tomlinson leaves the NFL as one of the greatest backs in the history of the game and very likely a first-ballot Hall of Famer. He's fifth all time in rushing yards, second in rushing touchdowns and he set the single-season record for rushing TDs with 28 in 2006.

The only thing missing from his long list of achievements in the league is a Super Bowl title. For that, in part, he has the Patriots to thank.

Kraft, Pats still bitter: NFL 'really messed this up badly'

Kraft, Pats still bitter: NFL 'really messed this up badly'

It's been almost two years exactly since the Deflategate saga began during the AFC title game between the Colts and Patriots on Jan. 18, 2015.

Since then, Robert Kraft has expressed his displeasure at how the whole thing was handled by the league -- particularly as it relates to the treatment of quarterback Tom Brady -- on multiple occasions. And according to a story in the New York Times, that feeling hasn't subsided.

"Sometimes, the league really messes up, and I think they really messed this up badly," said Kraft . "But we’ve all agreed to subjugate our right to disrupt everything.

"I mean, we can, but we’re a partnership. There’s jealousy, there’s envy, there’s stupidity. Sometimes, life is unfair, and you have to suck it up and move on and not use it as an excuse."

Brady served his four-game suspension to start this season, and Kraft opted to accept the league's punishment for the team following the 2014 season: They were docked two draft picks (a first and a fourth) and fined $1 million.

The piece includes Kraft's thoughts on President-elect Donald Trump ("Loyalty is important to me, and he has been a wonderful friend," Kraft said), as well as comments from others on how Kraft has handled his situation ("I think Bob has exhibited disagreement, but he’s also very capable of making and influencing change," Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said). 

You can read the full piece here.

Bell excused from Steelers practice for 'personal reasons'


Bell excused from Steelers practice for 'personal reasons'

FOXBORO -- The Patriots have had perfect attendance at each of their last two practices. The Steelers, on the other hand, have been working with less than a full deck.

All-Pro running back Le'Veon Bell has been conspiculously absent from Pittsburgh's practices each of the last two days. On Wednesday, he was listed on the injury report as a non-participant due to non-injury related reasons. On Thursday, coach Mike Tomlin announced that Bell had been excused from practice due to "personal reasons."

Tomlin added that Bell will be ready to go against the Patriots on Sunday so it seems as though the team is painting this as a nothing-to-see-here situation. And it probably is. Whether or not Bell practices at all this week won't necessarily have any bearing on the AFC title game; if he's healthy, he'll be a factor. 

If for some reason he doesn't follow up his 170-yard performance against the Chiefs with another strong game, however, people will wonder how his preparation was impacted by missing out on the first two of his team's on-the-field sessions this week.