Mike Shalin's Working Press: Pats' stuff gets odder every dayBy MIKE SHALIN
June 12. 2018 8:37PM
The way things normally happen down in Foxborough, Mass., it will be October and November and Patriots fans will likely be able to look back and laugh at what went on during the offseason and into the first workouts for 2018. That’s the way things work down there. Nothing affects the Pats when it comes down to just winning football games.
But this is all getting ridiculous even on Patriots standards. On Tuesday, Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski didn’t attend what turned out to be the only OTA session of the week because today’s and Thursday’s sessions were canceled.
The quarterback apparently is in the middle of a triangle he denies, the tight end is reportedly close to a re-worked contract. Julian Edelman is in the middle of a confusing suspension situation.
New reports pop up almost daily. The reports come, the reports are denied. There’s plenty of smoke. Brady hates coach Bill Belichick. Belichick hates owner Robert Kraft. Gronk is being traded. Brady threatens to quit if he is. Edelman was suspended for using a substance yet to be banned.
On and on it goes.
But in the middle of it all, Brady and Gronkowski did not attend the OTA, and that can’t be a good thing. If Edelman is indeed out the first four games, and with Danny Amendola and Brandin Cooks elsewhere, shouldn’t Brady be throwing footballs to the other receivers? Shouldn’t Gronk be catching some of those passes?
Last week, Brady said, “It’s been just a good process for me and it’s been fun to be out here with my teammates and I’m excited about the year. Every year has some different challenges and this is good. It’s been a good three days and we’ve got to try to keep it going and be ready for camp.”
This year’s challenges included a 41-year-old quarterback throwing to new receivers. Young guys like Sony Michel come in and see the two best players not showing up. This can’t be good.
Report: Edelman not guilty?
How can you be suspended for using a substance yet to be identified or banned? Because it’s the NFL, and now Edelman is in the middle of an appeals process — even though he kind of apologized last week.
“I am very sorry — I don’t know what happened,” Edelman’s statement read. “I’ve taken many, many tests obviously over the course of my career, and nothing like this has ever happened. I apologize to the Kraft family, my coaches, teammates and fans. As this matter is being appealed, I can’t say any more but no matter what, I will be ready to play and pursue another championship with our team and for Patriots fans around the world.”
Former Pat Matt Chatham rode to Edelman’s defense, tweeting, “Seems super weak for an NFL player to get suspended for an ‘unrecognizable’ substance. I mean, isn’t ‘recognizing’ what substance testing is? — feel like that would be important. If the unrecognizable part means mo’ testing to figure it out, fine. But suspend before ya know ... dumb.”
Report: Gronk almost traded
This has been denied on so many fronts but it’s out there. Even the denials contain words that trading the big fella has been discussed. He needs to get paid and he gets hurt — a lot.
I laughed when I heard Gronk say, “They trading me still,” last week.
But Gronk later in the week, after the reports surfaced, said, “It just shows how much fake news is out there. Hashtag fake news that’s all I know. It’s true. It exists. See it all the time about me. It’s wild.”
And Kraft said, “When your team is good, people are looking for things. I’ll just tell you it’s a bunch of hogwash that I vetoed some trade. That was never in the works. It’s just completely made up ... and I think we have to be careful in society, people just can’t come out and say things. This bit about us trading Gronk to the 49ers or Tennessee. There’s no basis to it and it gets a life of its own. I just want to go on record to make sure you all understand there’s no truth to that.”
By the way, Mark Wahlberg has chimed in on New England’s future — and says Baker Mayfield, who went to the Browns with the top pick in the draft, will eventually find his way to the Patriots as Brady’s replacement.
Report: LeBron’s kid to L.A.
Former Celtic Gary Payton said Monday that LeBron James’ 13-year-old is committed to attend a private high school in Los Angeles in the fall, and that he will attend school with the sons of Scottie Pippen and Kenyon Martin.
A school official denied the report.
There are odds out there as to where the elder James winds up. The Celtics don’t seem to have much of a chance.
Wrote Steve Bulpett in the Boston Herald: “At present, the Celtics’ connection to all this is tangential. LeBron wants to win more championships, and the Celts offer an immediate opportunity to compete for them. But as we stated on Twitter when this talk first arose, there would be a number of needles to thread to get him here — perhaps too many. Let’s begin with the fact that I get the feeling the C’s are concerned with the effect if they were to even ask Kyrie Irving how he’d feel about a reunion.”
Irving sounds excited about remaining in Boston past his 2019 opt-out. There will be no extension this summer, and no commitment to the future, but Irving told Brian Robb of Boston Sports Journal, “I’m just excited to see what that looks like, really getting that experience with G and seeing what other pieces we have going forward. I think that’s the exciting part about all this is. ... You’re shaping up to gear up to be a championship-caliber team for years to come — which I think Danny (Ainge) has echoed for a little bit. I’m just appreciative to be a part of it and see where my career can take off as well. I’m excited.”
As far as Gordon Hayward coming back to the mix, Irving said, “Just how much versatility we have. I think that our starting five probably could have changed game-to-game, based on the guys we have on this team and the length. When you add another prominent ballhandler, creator of opportunities, scorer and defender in Gordon, that’s something you can’t necessarily talk about it, you can only see. That’s something a lot of us are excited to see from G.
“It’s encouraging. For me, it’s my job to just stay present. When all that stuff at that time comes, we’ll see what happens.”
Report: Ohtani headed for Tommy John
He’s been shut down. We don’t know for how long — and the Angels are denying that their Japanese import will not return until 2020.
Did they push him too hard? Brian Kenny pointed out on MLB Network Tuesday that there were four occasions where they sent the righty out for an extra inning and more stress. Remember, he came to Anaheim under an injury cloud.
Said GM Billy Eppler: “There have been no changes in Ohtani’s diagnosis and neither our physicians nor medical staff have recommended (Tommy John surgery) or said it’s likely.”
Also out in California, the Boston Globe’s Stan Grossfeld caught up with Tommy John himsel. The lefty is 75 and very much against early TJ surgery for pitchers.
“My God, it’s appalling,” John said. “They’re in there getting their arms cut up. It shouldn’t be.”
His son, Tommy III, says that 57 percent of all Tommy John surgeries are performed on teenagers between 15 and 19 years old. … It’s more often less about the kids and more about the cash.
Did you catch that sea of red on the streets of Washington D.C. Tuesday? The Caps held their Stanley Cup celebration and there was something poetic about a Russian leading a parade of red in our capital.
Within the next two years, the number of bowl games will increase from 40 to 43 — meaning 86 of the 130 FBS schools will play an extra game.
According to NFLdraftscout.com, one will be at Wrigley Field, with the ACC and Big Ten squaring off. Another will take place in the Myrtle Beach, with Conference USA, the Sun Belt and Mid-American in that picture. The third has yet to be determined.
Sports Illustrated published a mock NBA draft, with the Celtics “taking” import point guard Elie Okobo with the 27th pick. Who? “Okobo has helped himself over the course of the past month with a strong finish to his season in France that included a much-ballyhooed 44-point game in which his primary defender was veteran Aaron Craft, who’s no slouch. If the Celtics find a way to keep Marcus Smart at cost and choose to retain Terry Rozier, it’s only delaying an inevitable financial logjam. Boston could be smart to use this pick to stash a player they like, and Okobo could be groomed overseas until the Celtics have a need for him at the point. An athletic, left-handed scorer, he offers a degree of upside that most other point guards lack at this stage of the draft and could become an NBA contributor given time.”
According to STATS, Rick Porcello walked in a run last Sunday for the first time in two years, the eighth time in his career. … Tuesday marked the 69th anniversary of the very first Hall of Fame induction in Cooperstown. … USAToday ranked Rick Nash as the No. 11 free agent on the NHL market, saying, “Not the player he once was. But at the right price, he’s still a valuable piece as a 20-goal scorer. The Canadiens should be interested.” … The Caps took out an ad congratulating the Golden Knights for their incredible expansion season. … Some Red Sox “fans” embarrassed themselves on Twitter by ripping the team’s Gay Pride salute. Fortunately, others didn’t. … Mookie Betts is the leading vote getter in MLB in the first published results. … The Globe’s Kevin Paul Dupont on Twitter: “The Stanley Cup, suffering acute alcohol poisoning, has checked into the Betty Ford Clinic. The NHL asks that you respect its privacy at this difficult time.” … Warriors owner Joe Lacob says he will do what’s necessary to keep his team together, saying. “All good things cost a lot. We’re going to try to sign Klay (Thompson) and Draymond (Green) to extensions this summer. They’ve earned the right to do whatever they want; maybe they want to wait until free agency. I can’t control that. But we’ll do whatever we can to keep them.” Kevin Durant, talking to Jimmy Kimmel Monday, again said he’s staying, but this luxury tax burden is a problem. … Thescore.com ranks Brady No. 2, behind Aaron Rodgers, in their QB rankings. … Finally, we give you Andrew Marchand of the New York Post, via Twitter: “A-Rod (Alex Rodriguez) claims he took the subway to the Subway Series a few times when he played early in Yankee career. Considering he didn’t put his own toothpaste on his toothbrush in clubhouse, I find it hard to believe.”
Mike Shalin covers Boston pro sports for the New Hampshire Union Leader and Sunday News. His email address is email@example.com.