Report: Brady Sr. would hesitate to let Brady play

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Report: Brady Sr. would hesitate to let Brady play

Injuries, and concussions in particular, could be threatening the popularity of football among the American youth. Concerned parents can't be blamed if they see how head trauma affects football players and then decide to keep their own children away from the game.

Kurt Warner -- the man who went from grocery store worker to national icon because of football -- already said he would rather his sons not play.

Tom Brady's father, Tom Sr., told Mike Silver of Yahoo! Sports that given all the information he knows now, he might have kept Tom Jr. away from the football field.

"I would be very hesitant to let him play," Brady Sr. said.

"Tommy did not play football until he was 14, because we didn't think he was physically developed enough to play the sport," Brady Sr. added. "It's the same reason I wouldn't let him throw a curveball until that age. I told him, 'If I see you throw a curve, I will pull you right off this field,' and he knew I meant it.

"This head thing is frightening for little kids. There's the physical part of it and the mental part it's becoming very clear there are very serious long-term ramifications. I think Kurt Warner is 100 percent correct. He's there to protect his children, and these other people who are weighing in are not addressing the issue of whether it's safe or not for kids. All this stuff about, 'He made his fame and fortune off of football,' that's true but we didn't know then what we know now. Apparently, they don't take their own parenting responsibility very seriously, or they don't value their children's health as much as they should."

It was former NFL star Randy Cross who convinced Brady Sr. that his son should wait until his early teens before strapping on the pads. In 1985, Cross visited St. Gregory elementary school in San Mateo, Calif., where Brady Sr. was the volunteer athletic director.

"Randy Cross came in and talked to the kids, and afterward, I asked him, 'If you had kids, when would you let your son play?' " Brady Sr. said. "He said, 'Fourteen. That's about when they're developed.' That was always in the back of my mind.

"That was 27 years ago. We know so much more now; we know that not only is the body not physically developed to play football at five, six and seven, but we know the neck and the brain aren't, either. At that time, we thought it was kind of heroic to play at a young age. Now, with the flow of information coming at us, it's obvious the bodies of little people are not structured to absorb the hits."

Brady is now 34, but Brady Sr. still worries about his son. Especially when it comes to head trauma.

"Absolutely," Brady Sr. said. "That never goes away. The answer is yes, I'm concerned. He claims that he's only been dinged once or twice, but I don't know how forthright he's being. He's not gonna tell us, as his parents, anything negative that's going on. I wouldn't be shocked that he would hide that."

All that said, and with all the information that's now out there, Brady Sr. said he'd still probably allow his son to play football. But he wouldn't do it lightly.

"If he were 14 now, and he really wanted to play, in all likelihood I would let him," he said. "But it would not be an easy decision, at all."

Breer on Brady-Garoppolo: I don't think this is a Bill [Belichick] decision

Breer on Brady-Garoppolo: I don't think this is a Bill [Belichick] decision

Mike Felger and Bert Breer discuss a transition of quarterbacks between Tom Brady and Jimmy Garoppolo, and when or if a move would happen.

Four-player draft class an indication of Patriots confidence in roster

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Four-player draft class an indication of Patriots confidence in roster

FOXBORO -- The Patriots had only 50 to 75 players on their draft board. From that group they took only four this weekend: Youngstown State edge defender Derek Rivers, Troy tackle Antonio Garcia, Arkansas defensive end Deatrich Wise and UCLA tackle Conor McDermott. 

What are we to gather from that? Does that miniscule class -- the smallest in team history -- mean this was a particularly shallow pool of talent?

Patriots director of player personnel Nick Caserio seemed to indicate otherwise about a week before the draft during a press conference.

"Look, there's good football players top to bottom, I would say, across positions," he said."Our job is to find the ones that fit for us. The reality is, look, there are some players that fit. There’s some players that don’t. In the end, we end up with 50 to 75 players that we would draft from top to bottom. That’s a small number, but that’s where we end up."

That explanation seemed to be a sign that maybe Caserio, Bill Belichick and their staff felt as though there weren't many players in this class who could compete for spots on what was was a talent-laden roster well ahead of draft weekend. There were good players scattered throughout the class, as Caserio said, but maybe only 50 to 75 were good enough to challenge for jobs in New England.  

Boston Sports Tonight's Michael Holley -- whose book War Room followed closely the draft strategies of the Patriots, Chiefs and Falcons in 2011 -- said something interesting on CSN two weeks ago once Caserio let it be known that the Patriots draft board was looking relatively small. Holley believed the number of names on the draft board was a sign that the Patriots felt very good about their team before they were even on the clock to make a pick.

Because the Patriots will put names of their own players on their draft board, comparing them to potential draftees who might compete with them at a certain position, pegging only a limited number of players as "draftable" may mean that many of the veteran names already on the roster were unlikely to be leapfrogged by rookies.

It was an interesting point. In retrospect, it highlights the fact that this draft probably wasn't devoid of talent. But it may have been short on talent that could "fit" in New England -- or realistically make the 2017 Patriots. 

One area in the draft where the Patriots seemed to believe in its depth? Perhaps the team's most obvious area of need: Edge defender. 

The Patriots had just three established defensive ends on the roster going into the draft in Rob Ninkovich, Trey Flowers and Kony Ealy. Ninkovich, 33, is going into a contract season. Ealy is in the final year of his rookie deal and has never played a snap in New England. 

The Patriots had several options on the edge with their first pick at No. 72 overall. Kansas State's Jordan Willis, Texas A&M's Daeshon Hall, Alabama's Tim Williams, Auburn's Carl Lawson and Ohio's Tarell Basham were all on the board . . . yet they traded back. 

As ESPN's Mike Reiss suggested Sunday, that deal could have been the result of a player the Patriots liked -- like defensive end Dawuane Smoot of Illinois -- coming come off the board just before No. 72. Maybe they wanted to regroup and trade back to buy themselves time to make a choice they felt confident in.

But it also could have been a case where they had a handful of edge players on their board graded similarly, and they wanted to pick up some draft capital by moving down the board without sacrificing much in the way of talent. 

They ended up with Rivers, who some believe has the ability to be a top-end pass-rusher and would have been taken much higher had he played for a program in a power-five conference. Then they hung tight at No. 131 in the fourth round and found another added layer of depth for the edge in Wise, who in some ways looks like Chandler Jones when Jones was a rookie in 2012.

Whether or not the they thought of this year's draft as "deep" throughout? That's debatable. That they liked the look of their roster going into the weekend before making a pick is not.