This story has been updated.
There has been no more dominant force in football over the past 20 years than the New England Patriots. And while that success has allowed head coach Bill Belichick, quarterback Tom Brady and owner Robert Kraft the opportunity to cultivate their own legacies in the press, it has also brightly illuminated their scandals. That includes incidents both minor and major—from illegally videotaping opposing coaches’ signals in 2007 to charges of deflating the air from footballs before the AFC championship game in 2016.
Friday brings more breathless Patriots coverage. Here at the Morning Huddle, we try to set you up for your football day every weekday through the season. And there's little doubt the news cycle today will be dominated—all day—by a blockbuster story from ESPN's Seth Wickersham on a power struggle among the Patriots' power trio of Kraft, Belichick and Brady. The story contains some juicy material about the sudden trade of Brady's backup, Jimmy Garoppolo, to the San Francisco 49ers on Oct. 30. The deal came after months of strong reporting from several reputable media members that Garoppolo was off limits and would not be dealt. The story also reports growing tension this year over Tom Brady’s personal trainer, the access he had to the team facility and the work he did on Patriots players.
On Thursday night, Boston Sports Media Watch broke the fact that the story was in the works. Make no mistake: Anything that even remotely hints at the end of the Patriot Dynasty is explosive. Once again, New England will rip its way through the playoff field with an unmistakable, five-ton elephant in the room. Only this time, the questions will be pointed at the heart of the franchise—something its biggest figures did personally to one another, and not to get ahead as a team.
Both Brady and Belichick have developed their own diversionary tactics with the media. One scowls, one plays dumb—though the act has lost its effectiveness over the last few years. Will they stick to the script when something so personal and precious is on the line? Today, and the next few weeks, will be fascinating to watch.
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1. Ryan Shazier's father, Vernon, informed WPXI in Pittsburgh that Ryan has feeling in his legs. Enough said. This is tremendous news for a player whose worst nightmare played out live on Monday Night Football. Vernon thinks Ryan will play again. I think Pittsburgh and the rest of the NFL world would settle for healthy.
2. John Wooten of the Fritz Pollard Alliance is making the rounds telling outlets that Oakland complied with the Rooney Rule before, zeroing in on Jon Gruden. Just a few days before, Wooten told me there was a chance the Raiders interviewed minority candidates long before their courtship of Gruden. It appears whatever they've done, it has satisfied the foundation working to promote minorities in the field.
3. Todd Haley spoke about the bar incident that left him with a hip injury (kind of).
4. There is no guarantee that LeSean McCoy plays against Jacksonville. It will undoubtedly be the most watched injury of the Wild Card weekend.
5. What does Mike McCarthy want from the next general manager of the Green Bay Packers?
6. Marshon Lattimore missed Pro Football Focus' All-Pro team. They explain why.
7. Shad Khan, the owner of the Jacksonville Jaguars, talks at length about the effect Tom Coughlin has had on the franchise.
9. How are the Panthers planning to stop New Orleans' running game?
10. Terrell Owens, potentially nearing a Hall of Fame invitation, is warring with the producers of MTV's "The Challenge."
Have a story you think we should include in tomorrow’s Press Coverage?Let us know here.
A song for the Patriots beat. Have a tab at a local watering hole? Buy someone from the Globe or Herald a drink this week. Seems like whatever offseason they had left has just disappeared.
Question? Comment? Story idea? Let the team know at firstname.lastname@example.org