Curran: Haynesworth singing a familiar tune


Curran: Haynesworth singing a familiar tune

By Tom E. Curran Patriots Insider Follow @tomecurran
I think Albert Haynesworth will be a good football player in New England. I like the trade. I know he's alleged to have swiped a credit card through a waitress' cleavage, rammed fellow drivers on Tennessee highways while going over 100 mph, raged in the road and on the field, and stolen millions of dollars from Daniel Snyder. But I don't plan on going to dinner with him, riding shotgun in some absurd vehicle he's driving orhopping out of my compact car to see if he wants a piece of me. As for bilking Snyder...well, it just shows Haynesworth's deeds aren't all bad. I guess I'm in the media minority. Many of my brethren and sisterenhave been fanning themselves with their hymnals since Haynesworth got here. What about the children? What about Myra Kraft's legacy? Will it be safe to leave my house after 8 p.m.? You know, self-righteouscrap that never gets a centimeter below the surface of a situation because indignation and the moral high ground are the Jordan and Pippen of media conversation these days. Sonobody wonders if the Patriots' track record of taking raging jerks and turning them into productive employees might help wayward Albert find himself and live blissfully ever after. Nobody considers the liberal idea that this is a nice chance for him torehab his self-worth a bit. Nobody bothers to point out that it's a football team he's joined, not the state legislature. Instead, we get an onslaught of crass, cringe inducing finger-wagging about the Patriots betraying Myra Kraft's memory. It's an argument built on an example mined from a moment 15 years and two football administrationsago and it's supposed to demonstrate Mrs. Kraft's sway over personnel decisions. Sorry, only the internet has evolved more since 1996 than the Patriots. It's an inane contention that ignores recent history and the present reality that if Haynesworth is a jackass, he will be cut. The New England Patriots' organization -- the company -- has earned the right to hire employees with questionable histories and be given the benefit of the doubt that they will do the right thing if said employee commits crimes in the community or on the football field. They earned it, not because of the three Super Bowls, but because of the way in which they've conducted their business since 2000. Now that that's off my chest, I feel better. And I can move on to the point of this column, which is: Haynesworth is not at all stupid. He may act like an idiot and have some self-esteem and anger issues, but he is intelligent. Which is why the words he speaks must be heard with jaundiced ear. On Tuesday, he said the right things to the assembled media at Gillette Stadium. He made it sound like he embraces the perfection the Patriots demand and looks forward to "rewriting my name as Albert Haynesworth the Patriots."But he knows how to say the right things. When he signed the 100 million contract with 41M guaranteed with the Redskins, here's what he had to say, With the contract, it's going to be all on me, he said. What they want me to come here and do is play football and be disruptive, do what I do, so thats what I've come here to do. When you get on the field, you're not thinking about dollar signs or anything like that, you're just going out there to play. It's a lot of money, but honestly, I put more pressure on myself than what the contract will do.I have such high standards for myself that, you know, Snyder can pay me half a billion dollars, and it still would have been the pressure I put on myself. I expect myself to play at a high level and to dominate. And if Im not making plays, then people around me are making plays. As far as the number, I mean, yeah, it's great. Its awesome, dont get me wrong, but as far as the pressure, no. He disgraced himself. So thoroughly that in just two seasons, a chronicle of the Worst of Haynesworth was easy from Dan Steinberg of the Washington Post to cobble together. Haynesworth can talk it. He hasn't shown if he can walk it. That he's being given the chance to take his steps back to redemption in New England? Don't bother me none.
Tom E. Curran can be reached at Follow Tom on Twitter at http:twitter.comtomecurran

Curran: NFL embarrasses itself yet again in Josh Brown case


Curran: NFL embarrasses itself yet again in Josh Brown case

In February, the New York Times did a fawning feature on Lisa Friel, the woman hired to make sure the NFL never had an investigatory embarrassment like the one they had in the Ray Rice case.

As the NFL’s Senior Vice President of Investigations, Friel would be relentless and undaunted, stated wrote Times reporter Dan Barry, who wrote:

The only issue (she declined even to call it a frustration) is the expectation by some of instant investigative findings following an allegation. Friel said that she was no longer in law enforcement, had no subpoena power and must pursue these cases more like a reporter or private investigator.

This means asking the local police department for incident reports, transcripts of 911 calls, photographs, interviews with responding officers. This means wading through redacted documents, being rebuffed by witnesses and alleged victims, waiting for the processing of freedom-of-information requests. This means hitting walls, putting together a to-do list, then waiting for the case to be adjudicated, dismissed or closed.

Barry then cited Friel who said, “Then we’re going to circle back and go through the whole list again." 

Well, that certainly doesn’t align with what’s unfolding in the Josh Brown case.

Thursday, the league complained it hit a dead-end in its investigation into allegations of abuse by Brown. A portion of their statement:

“NFL investigators made repeated attempts — both orally and in writing — to obtain any and all evidence and relevant information in this case from the King County Sheriff’s Office. Each of those requests was denied and the Sheriff’s Office declined to provide any of the requested information, which ultimately limited our ability to fully investigate this matter. We concluded our own investigation, more than a year after the initial incident, based on the facts and evidence available to us at the time and after making exhaustive attempts to obtain information in a timely fashion. It is unfortunate that we did not have the benefit or knowledge of these materials at the time.”

Later Thursday, the NFL’s effort to get to the bottom of the Brown case – or at least get background – was lampooned by the man the league said turned them away.  King County Sheriff John Urquhart, whose office investigated accusations that Brown abused his ex-wife while a member of the Seahawks, said the investigator that contacted his office didn’t make it clear he was representing the NFL.

“Since this is a hot-button item in the NFL, since it’s the NFL, we probably would have told them orally a little bit more about what we had.” Urquhart said. “But we don’t have them calling us here. We’ve got some goofus from Woodinville named Rob Agnew asking for the case file. We have no idea who he is.”

“We would have told them… ‘Be careful, NFL, don’t rush into this. This case is blossoming way more than what happened on May 22nd of 2015. We’re getting more information, be careful,’” he said. “Again, we’re not gonna give them specifics but we certainly would have cautioned the NFL to be careful about what they were going to do.”

The league has since taken exception to Urquhart’s representation of the facts.

Do you know how the league could have avoided embarrassing itself yet again, though? By being transparent, as I first wrote back in August when Brown’s one-game suspension came down and an explanation as to why he didn’t get six games was sorely needed.

Uncomfortable as it may have been to state publicly what the investigation had concluded at that point, citing mitigating factors that led to Brown’s reduced suspension and detailing the efforts made to get to the bottom of the situation would have at least put everything on the table.

I wrote then: The NFL had two choices when it how to package Brown’s suspension. Either leave people to presume it was trying to bury an infraction and save face for the beloved owner or a precious New York city franchise. Or demonstrate that there really was a new way of doing business by being painfully transparent. 

It chose the former. And they now deal with the fallout of mistrust. Again. Still.

And today, it’s miles worse. 

Belichick audibles: Extends press conference, references Russell, Gehrig, Jagger


Belichick audibles: Extends press conference, references Russell, Gehrig, Jagger

FOXBORO -- Bill Belichick held a press conference that lasted just under 30 minutes on Friday morning, touching on topics ranging from Malcolm Butler's growth, to lessons learned from Chuck Noll, to how Jack Lambert owes his career, in part, to the Rolling Stones. 

The Patriots coach is not generally thought of as someone who is expansive in press conference settings, but there are days, particularly on Fridays when most of the week's game-planning work is done, when he can get rolling at the microphone. He actually had a chance to shut down his scheduled 15-minute back-and-forth session with reporters about 20 minutes in. 

"I'll take a couple more if you want," Belichick said after speaking at length about Noll and the history of the Steelers. "I had a couple of long answers in there. That's usually a problem with me. Just going on and on."

He went on to answer a question about Duron Harmon, who he labeled a "silent leader," recalling a lesson he learned from Celtics legend Bill Russell, who came to speak to the team in 2002 and who Belichick saw during last season's Celtics playoff run. 

"Bill Russell taught me this," Belichick said. "In a way, a silent leader in some respects is more powerful than a vocal leader because you hear the v guy, you see him, you're aware of it, but then you have guys who have quiet leadership that in a way is more powerful because it's not quite out there as much, but it's that quiet push that sometimes can maybe have a little more impetus. I kind of put Duron in that category."

Then Belichick moved on to a query about rookie linebacker Elandon Roberts, who didn't play much as a junior at the University of Houston but became one of the best tacklers in the country as a senior. Is it difficult to scout players with just one real year of production?

"That's a tough one because you're like, 'If this guy's so good, then why did he not play? Why wasn't he out there?' [Rob] Gronkowski same thing," Belichick said. "[Rob] Ninkovich same thing. One year of production . . . Elandon, kind of the same thing. Got into the starting lineup, played and was very productive. 

"That's a great question. Is that production circumstantial? Is this guy real? Is this guy really on the way up or was that the peak and then he's going to come back down? 

"I guess the one that sticks out the most to me would be coach [Nick] Saban's story about [Jack] Lambert, when he was at Kent State, speaking of the Steelers. Lambert couldn't get on the field. Was a backup linebacker. Didn't play. Kid in front of him was really their leader, he was kind of the heart and soul of the Kent State defense . . . Through a series of circumstances, that's another story so we'll skip all that, but the kid dropped out of school, worked for Mick Jagger as a security guy, went on tour with the Stones and Lambert became the starting middle linebacker. He probably never would've played had that not happened. And you have a Hall of Fame linebacker.

"When some players have the opportunity and they get in there, the Tom Brady's of the world, or whoever, you can't get them out of there. I mean, Lou Gehrig." 

Soon thereafter, the questions ceased, but before leaving the media work room at Gillette Stadium, Belichick acknowledged his longer-than-usual run at the podium. 

"Extending the play," he said. "Little scramble."