By Tom E. Curran
With Panthers' owner Jerry Richardson taking heat for his conduct in the pre-Super Bowl sitdown between owners and players, Patriots' owner Robert Kraft -- a longtime friend of Richardson's -- hasdefended Richardson to the Rock Hill Herald"Since the Panthers joined the NFL, Jerry Richardson has been one of the league's most influential owners, frequently bridging any gaps among the ownership groups on various issues," said Kraft in a statement published Wednesday. "His unique background as a former NFL player and successful businessman helps form a perfect personality to co-chair the owner's negotiating committee. Anyone who has ever heard Jerry speak at the owners' meetings knows that he has reverent regard for the players in this league."There were plenty who heard Richardson speak to both Peyton Manning and Drew Brees at thatnegotiating session who did not describe Richardson's tone as "reverent."Our Quick Slants buddy Michael Silver from Yahoo! (via ProFootballTalk.com) said Richardson started out with a bad attitude and got worse from there.He was condescending to Peyton, a player who was at the meeting told Silver. "He tried to talk about P&L profit and loss statements and all these other risks that the owners assume, as if Peyton didnt know anything. Drew Brees interrupted and said, All were doing is just asking you to show us your books. We want to negotiate in good faith.Former Patriots Sean Morey, a Marshfield native, tried to bring up concussions and Richardson reportedly shot back, "You guys made so much expletive money -- if you played three years in the NFL, you should own your own expletive team."Silver reported that Kraft, Giants owner John Mara andChiefs owner Clark Hunt apologized to playersduring a break. If Kraft went to Richardson's defense, that's understandable. It's in contrast to the lack of solidarity seen when guys like Antonio Cromartie leans on his favorite pejorativeand someone like Kevin Mawae fires back. But if Kraft is going to be a bridge-builder in this, he needs to be careful to make sure his support of Richardson isn't seen as a defense of what -- if the fleet of reports are true -- is pretty indefensible for a group that should be interested in deal-making.
Tom E. Curran can be reached at email@example.com. Follow Tom on Twitter at http:twitter.comtomecurran
There was no postseason clunker for Tom Brady Sunday. In fact, his performance Sunday was one of the best of his NFL record 24 playoff wins.
PATRIOTS 33, STEELERS 9
Brady completed 32 of 42 passes for 384 yards and three touchdowns with no turnovers. His passing yard total is a Patriots postseason record.
No. 12’s dominance helped Chris Hogan set a Patriots postseason record with 180 receiving yards on nine catches. Two of his grabs went for touchdowns, including a 39-yard touchdown on a flea-flicker in the second quarter.
The previous Pats' postseason record was held by Deion Branch, who had 153 receiving yards in the Patriots' divisional round loss to the Broncos in the 2005 season.
Hogan’s performance ranks tied for 17th all-time in terms of receiving yards in a postseason game. The record is still safely held by former Bills receiver Eric Moulds, who had 240 receiving yards on Jan. 2, 1999 in a loss to the Dolphins.
Hogan wasn’t the only Pats receiver to finish with gaudy numbers. Julian Edelman had eight catches for 118 yards and a touchdown.
FOXBORO -- Notes from the Patriots' 36-17 victory over the Steelers in the AFC Championship Game:
PATRIOTS 33, STEELERS 9
-- The Patriots are headed to their ninth Super Bowl, most in NFL history. The Cowboys, Broncos and Steelers have each been to eight.
-- The Patriots are now 9-4 in AFC Championship Games, including 6-1 in games played in Foxboro and 5-1 at Gillette Stadium.
-- The Patriots are now 3-0 against the Steelers in AFC Championship Games, and 4-1 overall against Pittsburgh in the playoffs.
-- The Patriots are 31-19 in postseason games, including 20-4 at home (3-1 at Schaefer/Sullivan/Foxboro Stadium, 17-3 at Gillette).
-- The Patriots won their 31st postseason game tonight, moving them past the 49ers into fourth place on the list of all-time playoff victories in NFL history. They trail the Cowboys (34), Steelers (34) and Packers (32).
-- The Patriots' .620 winning percentage (31-19) in postseason games is now second-best in NFL history, behind the Ravens (15-8, .652). The Packers' loss today drops them to third (34-22, .607).
-- The Patriots have now won eight conference championships with Robert Kraft as owner, setting an NFL for most conference titles in the Super Bowl. Kraft had been tied with the Denver Broncos' Pat Bowler at seven.
-- Bill Belichick is now 25-10 in postseason games as a head coach and is in a tie with Bill Walsh (10-4) for third place on the NFL list of best postseason coaching winning percentage. Vince Lombardi (9-1, .900) is in first place and Tom Flores (8-3. .727) is second.
-- Belichick is advancing to his seventh Super Bowl as a head coach, most in NFL history. He had been tied with Don Shula at six. Belichick's Super Bowl record is 4-2, Shula's is 2-4.
-- Tom Brady had his ninth three-touchdown-pass postseason game, tying Joe Montana for the NFL record.
-- Stephen Gostkowski, who entered the game with 142 career postseason points, scored 12 points today and moved past Gary Anderson into third place on the NFL's all-time list of kicking points in the postseason. Adam Vinatieri (234) is first and David Akers (175) is second.