The business-vs.-football battle over Mankins


The business-vs.-football battle over Mankins

By Tom E. Curran
On an Indianapolis sidewalk last week, the agent for Logan Mankins said he's never seen a head coach work harder to get a deal done than Bill Belichick has workedon Mankins. So if the head coach and de facto GM is working hard and wants it done, what's the holdup? Has to be somewhere else in the building, right?Frank Bauer, Mankins' agent,hasn't expertly managedhis client's effort to get a new contract, but the landscape in New England right now is a little bit confusing. On one hand, you have Belichick, Tom Brady and most every other person who doesn't wear a suit to the office squarely in support of the decorated left guard. Work ethic, commitment, skill, effort, importance to the team - all are buzzwords we've been hearing since last offseason. On the other hand,there's ownerRobert Kraft. He'ssaying all the right things publicly but the number of times Kraft has felt compelled to either address or inject himself into the public discussion of Mankins indicates a negotiation that's unique during the Belichick Era. Business and football are at loggerheads. Kraft seemed to deny involvement in negotiations on WEEI back in September when he said ownership will "bless" contracts but not embroil itself. If that's the case, this negotiation's been damned. Mankins threw the first public punch, that's for sure. He told Mike Reiss of back in June that ownership was unwilling to do an extension because of CBA uncertainty. He questioned Kraft's principles. A month later, vice chairman Jonathan Kraft told me Mankins "seriously misspoke" when challenging Kraft. In September, it was reported that a deal was close with Mankins until Robert Kraft requested a public apology from the player and that Mankins refused. Kraft took to EEI to deny. He didn't deny asking for the apology, only thata deal was close. "I also said, Logan, it would be nice if that (apology) was made public because Im hoping we do a deal with you and I dont want people to think that the way you do a deal is to say something that is not true or involve ownership," Kraft told 'EEIWhen Mankins reported, Kraft took a little victory lap saying, "Im happy hes with the team," adding, You can't always believe everything you read in the media."At the Super Bowl, Kraft again alleged the media was confusing matters when he said, "Logan Mankins is one of the best players on the team," Kraft said. "I think there has been a little misunderstanding about some things that have been written."When pressed about what was misunderstood, Kraft ignored the question. These oblique references to media misinformation are a little maddening since the Patriots control their ownflow of information. Something's messed up? Well, what is it? Because the guy who's laying it out there most regularly is Frank Bauer. And he paints a picture of a football team and a football coach that wants a certain bearded football player in the fold long term. But he says the business operation is bent on making Mankins grovel. We can debate the seeming propriety of a player turning his nose up to a 10 million franchise tag for a season of play. We can argue whether Mankins deserved to be paid top dollar at his position when he wasn't a free agent based on his talent.All good talk. But what's interesting here is thebehind-the-scenes tug of war (which will inevitably be pooh-poohed) that's exists between football and business.

Rex Ryan: Zero focus on 'extracurricular things' vs. Patriots


Rex Ryan: Zero focus on 'extracurricular things' vs. Patriots

FOXBORO -- Seems as though the Bills don't quite have their stories straight. 

On the one hand, you have Bills players, who say that they won't hesitate to retaliate if a Patriots player gets near one of their pregame warmup drills, as Jacoby Brissett did in Week 4. 

On the other hand, you have the Bills coach, who sounded less eager for there to be any kind of scrap before this weekend's game at Ralph Wilson Stadium. 

"No, I mean with us, just go out and warm up," Ryan said in a conference call Wednesday. "That’s what you do, but any of the extracurricular things, you know, there’s absolutely zero focus on that, and shouldn’t be any focus on that. It’s just about playing games.

"I mean if people want to show how tough they are, put the boxing gloves on and get in the ring or something. That might be more impressive -- I don’t want Gronk by the way.

"But I definitely don’t want to see that happen, and our focus is 100 percent on the game and doing the very best we possibly can."

It's an interesting comment from a coach who has made it very clear that he wanted to build a "bully" in Buffalo. His team shut out the Patriots after trying to intimidate New England's rookie quarterback before the game. Did his team not benefit somehow from what occurred before kickoff that day?

He doesn't think so.

"It had nothing to do with our team . . . Absolutely nothing," he said. "You know, those things happen every now and then but it was no big deal. It did absolutely nothing for us."

Roethlisberger to Brady: I've never done this before but...can I have your jersey?

Roethlisberger to Brady: I've never done this before but...can I have your jersey?

Tom Brady has fans everywhere, apparently. Even in Pittsburgh. Even on the Steelers roster. 

Showtime's Inside the NFL caught video of Brady meeting with Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger before Sunday's game between New England and Pittsburgh. 

The pair hugged near the 50-yard line at Heinz Field. Brady called Roethlisberger "big guy." Roethlisberger, who was out with a knee injury, told Brady he wanted to play "so bad."


Then Roethlisberger became a fan. And like many of them, he had a request. 

"Um, hey, listen," he said. "I've never done this before, but I would love to get a jersey at some point. It'd mean...There's not many I want to put in my office. You're the best, dude."

Brady was happy to oblige. Just not right at that moment. 

"Sure, I'd love to," Brady said. "I'll get you after the game."