The business-vs.-football battle over Mankins

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The business-vs.-football battle over Mankins

By Tom E. Curran
CSNNE.com
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 ESPNBoston.com 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.

Fridays' Patriots-Ravens practice report: Richards returns to the field

Fridays' Patriots-Ravens practice report: Richards returns to the field

Friday's practice participation/injury report for Monday night's Patriots-Ravens game:

NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS

DID NOT PARTICIPATE
WR Danny Amendola (ankle)

LIMITED PARTICIPATION
TE Martellus Bennett (ankle/shoulder)
DB Jordan Richards (knee)
LB Elandon Roberts (hamstring)
DB Eric Rowe (hamstring)
WR/SpT Matthew Slater (foot)

BALTIMORE RAVENS

DID NOT PARTICIPATE
TE Crockett Gilmore (thigh)
LB Terrell Suggs (not injury related)
RB Lorenzo Taliaferro (thigh)
C Jeremy Zuttah (not injury related)

LIMITED PARTICIPATION
G Alex Lewis (ankle)

FULL PARTICIPATION
G Marshal Yanda (shoulder)

Mitchell rising fast but somehow totally unaware of fantasy football

Mitchell rising fast but somehow totally unaware of fantasy football

FOXBORO -- It seems unlikely that a 23-year-old who has spent much of his life around sports would be unaware of how fantasy football works. But Malcolm Mitchell insisted on Friday that he was that 23-year-old. 

Over the past seven days, Mitchell has been the second-most added player in ESPN.com fantasy leagues behind only Steelers tight end Ladarius Green. The rookie wideout went undrafted in many fantasy leagues before the start of the regular season, but his production has spiked over the last three weeks making him one of a hot commodity for people headed into the fantasy playoffs.

In wins over the Niners, Jets and Rams, Mitchell has caught 17 passes for 222 yards and three scores. 

"I have family members mention it, but I never know what they're talking about," Mitchell said when asked if he was asked about his newfound popularity among fans of fantasy football. "I'm not sure how that works. If someone said it, I'd probably have no idea what it means."

A fewer lockers down from Mitchell is the stall of rookie quarterback Jacoby Brissett, who cut into Mitchell's back-and-forth with reporters joking, "I've got him on my team!"

Mitchell's confusion over the phenomenon that is fantasy football seemed to be genuine as he asked questions about how teams operate and what fantasy free-agency means. 

Those who've picked him up probably don't mind that Mitchell is in the dark on the subject -- and the same goes for the Patriots coaching staff, it's safe to assume -- as long as he continues to do his job as well as he's done it in recent weeks.