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Replay: Patriots Unfiltered Tue Apr 16 - 02:00 PM | Thu Apr 18 - 11:55 AM

View from Above: Remain calm, all is well

Nothing to see here, move along...taking ownership of controversy...and JR says there's no need to poke the bear...


It's a classic moment from a movie that will live on for generations.

A young Kevin Bacon as an ROTC neophyte in the cult-flick "Animal House," trying to keep order as rioting and looting had begun during a homecoming parade - and pleading with the good citizens of the fictional town of Faber to "remain calm! All is well!"

He was immediately trampled.

And so I stand here now (figuratively, of course), urging you to consider your own feelings as Organized Team Activities begin this week, with no sign (yet) of either Tom Brady or Rob Gronkowski.

R-E-L-A-X. Remain calm. All is well.

Now, give me time to step out of the way of the stampede, please?

If you believe TB12's no-show is a bad sign, or let's say...a sign of Patriot dominance now beginning to crumble (I actually read that in several places), I'd like to ask an honest question.

What makes you think not showing up for a voluntary workout signals the end of anything? Other than insanity?

In Brady's case, the man is 40 years old. He's earned the right to take more time for himself and his family, even though he has previously attended and participated in most of these workouts. There were a few absences in the seasons just after his 2008 ACL tear (2009 and 2010) you might recall, where he missed out on a few offseason reps.

The unequivocal leader of this franchise on the field has been present for everything he's been required to attend - and then some.

Brady has also said his goal this offseason was to spend more time with his family (which he has done, if you've paid attention) and to spend more time getting his mind and body in shape for the grind of another season. Or was this conveniently forgotten by the masses? Or mis-remembered by much of the media, constantly in search of the next big tweet, click or story?

And the whole 'he can't develop rapport with receivers' thing? Ok, let's consider who will likely be on the receiving end of most Brady targets next season - Gronk, Julian Edelman, Chris Hogan, James White. Maybe Malcolm Mitchell. I think he's good with these guys.

I am no TB12 apologist. But please. If anyone has earned the benefit of the doubt, he has. Give this a rest.

Gronkowski's absence for Monday's start (to Phase 3 of the offseason program) might be a different story, I'll give you that. Especially with his offseason antics and frequent taunts and threats about launching into new careers. Maybe he's simply maneuvering for whatever he can to potentially improve his contractual situation?

Hey, for that matter, maybe Brady is too? You ever put up a front for more in your own bank account?

All I know is, things got quiet after Gronk announced he had a meeting with Bill Belichick. Call it "a meeting of the minds." It's likely they're on the same page now, or at least close to it - after BB began Chapter 2018 well before anyone else had thought about picking it up.

Is it possible he's simply taking a little extra down-time for his mental (and physical) well-being prior to the start of mini-camp? Just asking the question.

He is, and has been, utilizing the TB12 Sports Therapy Center located at Patriot Place in Foxboro in case you weren't aware. And if his contract is being restructured for incentives, it can't be official for one full year from the last time it was re-worked.

The one-year anniversary of Gronk's prior contractual revamping occurs this week.

Now, if June 5th rolls around - the first day of the three-day mandatory mini-camp at Gillette Stadium - and one or both are not present, you might have something. A story, sure. But also, another 6-8 weeks to work things out before training camp begins.

Doom and gloom is overrated. It's an easy sell, perhaps because it's out-of-the-ordinary or unusual, and a way to gain page views and clicks to web sites. Common sense isn't glamorous, nor is it celebrated or sought after by many of us.

But it is smart. It's reasoned, and well thought-out. We should have more of it around.

Remain calm, as all is well. For now.


NFL owners should have plenty to talk about this week, shouldn't they?

The Supreme Court's recent decision opening a door to sports wagering outside of Nevada couldn't have been entirely unexpected. Therefore, now that the road to legalization is being paved, it's probable there will be discussion on how best to move forward.

As a precursor, perhaps, to any internal ownership discussion on the subject, Commissioner Roger Goodell issued a statement Monday, explaining the NFL has spent time planning for the potential legalization of sports betting.

Primarily, Goodell's statement asks Congress to enact 'uniform standards for states that choose to legalize sports betting,' and include at least four core principles:

There must be substantial consumer protections

Sports leagues can protect content and intellectual property from those who attempt to steal or misuse it

Fans will have access to official, reliable league data

Law enforcement will have the resources, monitoring and enforcement tools necessary to protect fans and penalize bad actors at home and abroad

I'm seeing dollar signs here. You? New stuff/ideas/rules/enforcement = increased cost of business.

The fifth bullet point - not an official part of the statement but certainly an underlying thought - should probably be:

How best for NFL teams to monetize this bold, brave new world of legalized sports wagering?


Other items on the ownership agenda this week in Atlanta will undoubtedly include the formal approval of David Tepper as the new owner of the Carolina Panthers.

But two items should also fill the agendas of the attendees, including a decision on new kickoff rules (which we discussed here previously) and if there should be a uniform, league-wide stance taken on player protests during the National Anthem.

Some owners would love to be able to turn a blind eye to player protesting, and still others have already spoken out publicly against their 'employees' making such public pronouncements.

By the end of last season, the NFL had consulted, you might remember, with a coalition of players and community leaders concerning the lingering protests. The new league initiative pledged verbal and monetary support to several social-justice causes - to the tune of nearly $90 million.

Since then, some owners have questioned whether the league should publicly champion a resolution to this 'problem.' With several opinions on the subject, and little in the way of uniform agreement, I would simply ask why the need to poke the bear?

Some owners want their players/employees to stand for the anthem. Some recognize the right of players to protest. But all should be concerned over whether doing or saying anything at all might cause fans or sponsors to continue their own protests, which in turn could cause sponsorship dollars to potentially dwindle.

And ratings to continue their slide, down nearly 10% for the 2017 regular season when compared with 2016.

That's not exactly business as usual, is it?

John Rooke is an author and award-winning broadcaster, and has completed 25 seasons as the Patriots' stadium voice. Currently serving in several media capacities - which include hosting "Patriots Playbook" on Radio - Rooke has broadcast college football and basketball locally and nationally for 30 seasons and is a member of the Rhode Island Radio Hall of Fame and RI's Words Unlimited Hall of Fame.

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