Dick MacPherson, last Patriots coach before Bill Parcells, dies at age 86


Dick MacPherson, last Patriots coach before Bill Parcells, dies at age 86

Dick MacPherson, the last Patriots coach before first Bill Parcells and then Robert Kraft arrived and changed the fortunes of the franchise, died Tuesday in Syracuse, N.Y. He was 86.

MacPherson, a New England native, played college football at Springfield and got his first head-coaching job at the University of Massachusetts. He made his name at Syracuse University, resurrecting a declining program in the 1980s and restoring the Orange to national prominence. Between 1967 and MacPherson’s arrival in 1981, the Orange -- the undefeated national champion in 1959 -- made only one bowl trip. After two seasons of transition, MacPherson produced a winning team in 1983. By the time he left in 1990, he had a 66-46-4 record, the school’s second-winningest coach.

Known for his jocular personality and off-beat comments, he accepted the offer to coach the Patriots in 1991, a year after they had finished 1-15. The Pats improved to 6-10 in his first season, but fell back to 2-14 in 1992. MacPherson was fired after that season and replaced by Parcells, who had the team in the playoffs by 1994. Kraft purchaed the team in '94.

Although MacPherson’s coaching career ended with disappointment in New England, his success at the college level earned him a spot in the College Football Hall of Fame.

The cause of death was not disclosed.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Marcus Cannon (ankle/concussion) back at Patriots practice Thursday


Marcus Cannon (ankle/concussion) back at Patriots practice Thursday

FOXBORO - The Patriots received some very good news on Thursday as starting right tackle Marcus Cannon was back on the practice field in preparation for Sunday's game against the Texans. 

Cannon did not participate in Wednesday's practice and he was listed as having an ankle injury and a concussion. That he was on the field a day later means that he has advanced to the point in the league's concussion protocol that he can participate in practice, but it's unclear what his availability will be for Sunday's game. 

Should Cannon be sidelined, the Patriots would likely go with Cameron Fleming (or LaAdrian Waddle) as their starter at right tackle. But if Cannon can go, the Patriots would certainly take him. The Texans defensive line will be among the most talented that New England sees all season. 

Missing from Thursday's practice were running back Rex Burkhead (ribs) and defensive tackle Vincent Valentine (knee). Burkhead missed Wednesday's session as well, casting some doubt on his availability for Sunday. 

Rob Gronkowski was at the start of practice for the second straight day. He participated in warmups and drills during the media-availability portion of Wednesday's practice but the team announced later in the day that he did not participate due to a groin injury suffered against the Saints. 

Brady-signed Goodell clown towel auctioned off for $6,500

Brady-signed Goodell clown towel auctioned off for $6,500

Perhaps this will finally close the book on Deflategate?

One of the Roger Goodell "clown" towels that Barstool Sports founder Dave Portnoy had made for the Patriots' season-opener - this one signed by Tom Brady - fetched $6,500 at former Pats offensive lineman Matt Light's charity auction.

A spokeswoman for Light and his Light Foundation confirmed to the Boston Herald that the towel was sold at the live auction at the recent Matt Light Celebrity Shoot-Out. 

Portnoy, who paid $140,000 to have the towels made and distributed to fans at the Sept. 7 opener, wrote that he would've paid $10,000 to get the Brady-signed towel, which he called "My holy grail."

I would have gladly paid 10k to get my towel back.  Because this would legit be the best memorabilia piece I could ever own.  It would be the perfect final chapter in Deflategate to have this hanging on the wall of Barstool World HQ’s.   So while I think it’s really cool Brady signed the towel it just doesn’t feel right that I don’t own it.