Francis the Praying Mantis


Francis the Praying Mantis

Justin Francis was back on the practice field today, and that's good news for the Pats. Although in a way, it's pretty amazing that it's news at all.

Admit it, you'd never heard of Justin Francis before this season. You might not have heard of him after three weeks. I don't think I did. Yet slowly but surely, you started to hear his name.

He made his first play in Week 9, an assist against Buffalo. He made his first tackle three week later at Miami. He had two tackles and two assists in Week 14 against San Francisco, by which point his name started sounding familiar.

There's Francis again . . .

You know, this Francis kid is always around the ball . . .

Then, in the season finale against the Dolphins, Francis exploded with the first, second and third sacks of his NFL career. He was suddenly a viable presence on the Pats defense line.

So it was at least somewhat worrisome when Francis skipped practice on Tuesday. But far more comforting to see him back there today, with the hope that he'll continue to make a name for himself here in New England. (And that shouldn't be too hard, considering his Wikipedia page is only three sentences long.)

And yes, I know. That's still three sentences longer than mine.

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


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'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