By Tom E. Curran
NEW ORLEANS - On Monday, Bill Belichick sneered at the proposed changes to kickoffs floated by the NFL's Competition Committee. On Tuesday, he was more accepting. Asked his reaction to the rule adopted Tuesday which will move the kickoff line of scrimmage from the 30 to the 35, Belichick downplayed the overall impact. "It's fine, we look forward to it," Belichick told ESPN.com's Tim Graham and a few other media members.Initially, the rule was also going to move the line of scrimmage on touchbacks up to the 25. It will remain at the 20. Additionally, the two-man blocking wedge will still be in effect. "I think that's good for the game," Belichick said of streamlining the change. "We don't need too many new rules every year. It's hard for the coach to keep up with them, let alone the fans. I'm still working on some of the new rules from last year."Asked what he figured the impact would be, Belichick said, "Based on the numbers, you're still probably looking at at least two-thirds of the kicks being returned, maybe three-quarters. At the end of the year it goes down anyway. There's a lot more touchbacks in the first part of the season than there are at the end. The ball just doesn't carry as far in the cold. I don't care. Just doesn't go as far."The league also adopted a rule that makes all scoring plays subject to booth review without a coach's challenge. "It'skind of like the college rule, kind of cleans it up a little bit," said Belichick."I think any time the pro rules and the college rules are the same, that's better for the fans. It's easier to follow, you know, one foot, two foot, all the things like that. To make it more consistent, that's better."
Tom E. Curran can be reached at email@example.com. Follow Tom on Twitter at http:twitter.comtomecurran
At this point, there may be no getting out of it.
Roger Goodell chose to visit Atlanta twice in as many weeks during its run to a Super Bowl, and in the process he opted not to check in at Gillette Stadium for either the Divisional Round or the AFC title game. But once the Patriots won Super Bowl LI, many felt as though Goodell would simply have no choice but to attend the 2017 regular-season opener in Foxboro.
There are those who are itching to have him visit. There are those who hope he stays away. In an interview with ESPN, Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski didn't put himself in either camp, but he seemed to suggest that it might not be the best idea for the commissioner to show his face in New England.
"To tell you the truth, I really don’t think so," Gronkowski said when asked if Goodell could come back to Foxboro any time soon. "The fans are nuts, they’re wild, and they have the Patriots’ back no matter what. They have Tom’s back. I’m telling you, he won’t get through the highway if the fans saw him. I don’t even think he can even land in the airport in Boston because Patriot fans are the best fans, they’re the most loyal fans. I’m telling you, they might just carry out Roger themselves. They couldn’t even get to the stadium in Foxboro if he landed in Boston."
Goodell hasn't been to Gillette Stadium since Deflategate, but he said during Super Bowl week that he'd be happy to visit if he was invited.
Tom Brady’s annual attempt at making the collective testicles of New England draw up into its stomach has succeeded.
Brady posted on Instagram and Facebook a video (see below) of him skiing somewhere that we aren’t. He approaches a decent-sized jump, hits it, appears to stick the landing, blurts, “Whoa…” and then the camera shows an empty ski and a lifeless body.
Actually, no lifeless body. Watched it a second time. No lifeless body.
Brady has graduated from sliding down waterslides and cliff-diving to this latest offseason effort to make sure everyone still cares about his safety.
Next season, Russian Roulette.