By TomE. Curran
I guess the current term you'd use for the way Bill Parcells exited New England in early 1997 is that he "wishes he had that one back."During a conference call Monday morning discussing his nomination for induction to the Patriots Hall of Fame, Parcells reflected on his messy departure from New England after the Patriots' Super Bowl loss to Green Bay. "As you know we had domestic misunderstandings with ownership I do regret," he said. "Those things since have been resolved. I think retrospectively, I would have handled things substantially different than I did. I was always saddened by the fact I had to leave there. In all honesty, I really didn't want to. I'm sure (owner Robert Kraft) would say something along those lines. We have talked about that. I did regret that. That's life. You learn from things as you go on."
Parcells left the Patriots in a huff after the 1996 season after months of closed-door feuding with ownership over - basically - who had final say over player acquisition and the philosophy the team would employ in team-building. That led to the infamous "if they want you to cook the dinner, at least they should let you shop for the groceries" line. Rankled as Parcells was over what he saw as a challenge to his power, he sullied his legacy in New England by negotiating privately to take over the Jets as the Patriots were preparing to play the Packers in Super Bowl XXX. There are plenty of people who don't fully forgive him for that around here. And that swath of folks will quite likely be dismissive of Parcells' epiphany over the things he did wrong. Parcells says there was never any one air-clearing meeting with Kraft.
I dont know if there was any definitive time (that the two men spoke)," Parcells explained. "We just kind of ran into each other a few times. You know, you cant help but talk things over a little bit. We never had a lengthy conversation about it. Certainly I know, I would have probably handled things differently." The irony is, had Parcells handled things differently, the succession pattern of Pete Carroll and Bill Belichick would have been drastically altered. And there's a lot of reason to believe the banners and excellence that followed wouldn't have been the same.
Tom E. Curran can be reached at email@example.com.Follow Tom on Twitter at http:twitter.comtomecurran
When it comes to projecting Rob Gronkowski's health, it's been best to steer clear of absolutes. There have been too many injuries, too many surgeries, to predict exactly how he'll feel months in advance.
Still, in speaking with ESPN's Cari Champion recently, he said he had "no doubt" he'll be ready for Week 1 of the 2017 regular season.
"Yes, for sure," he replied when asked if he expected to be good to go.
Gronkowski also fielded a question about his long-term future in the sit-down. Lately it's been his coach Bill Belichick and his quarterback Tom Brady who receiver all the life-after-football queries, but Gronkowski, 27, was asked how much longer he'd like to play.
"I’m not really sure," he said. "I mean, I still love playing the game, and as of right now, I want to play as long as I possibly could play. My mindset is to keep on going."
Gronkowski landed on season-ending injured reserve in December after undergoing a procedure on his back -- his third back surgery since 2009. He's had nine reported surgeries -- including procedures on his knee, forearm and ankle -- since his final year at the University of Arizona.
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.