NFL: New England Patriots Practice

New England Patriots wide receiver Antonio Brown warms up during practice at Gillette Stadium on Wednesday.

MORE CONTROVERSY in Foxborough, Mass.

More reasons for the rest of the world to hate the Patriots.

Antonio Brown!

Now, if you’re looking for reasons the Pats would take on a potential headache despite the potential downfall, consider the following:

This guy is VERY talented, which is why the Patriots reportedly offered a No. 1 pick for him last year (the Steelers didn’t want to swap him to a main rival).

Josh Gordon, also very talented, is never a guarantee to play a full season.

And … it ticks off the rest of the league, something Bill Belichick treasures.

In short, we just don’t know if Brown is actually in trouble after being accused of rape in a civil lawsuit.

Matthew Slater, always the most approachable player in that New England locker room, was asked about Brown the other day and really put it in proper perspective.

“This is a unique situation,” he said. “I don’t want to minimize it. But I don’t feel as though I’m qualified to really speak to it because I don’t know anything about it.”

That really sums it up. We just don’t know. That point was hammered home by Belichick during a rather contentious meeting with the media Wednesday. No one wanted to talk about the coming Miami game. It was all about Brown until Belichick had enough and walked away.

“On Antonio’s situation, both Antonio and his representatives have made statements, and so I’m not going to be expanding on any of those,” he said. “They are what they are. We’ve looked into the situation. We’re taking it very seriously all the way through the organization. I’m sure there are questions, but I’m not going to be entering into the discussion about that today. So, that’s where we’re at.

“I’m not going to be expanding on the statements that have already been given.”

And he didn’t.

Tom Brady, speaking later in the day, said … well, nothing about the situation, but he did say, “He’s a very productive receiver. I think that he’s done a lot of things in the league as a great player over a long period of time.”

Weighing in

Corey Dillon, now retired, doesn’t appreciate being mentioned when people are talking about strays taken in by Belichick.

“I’ve got nothing against AB. He’s a hell of a football player,” Dillon said. “I don’t know him personally. I’ve never had an opportunity to meet him. But I just find it kind of curious every time the Patriots do something, or bring a guy in, my name comes up like I was a bad guy. I’m trying to set that straight.

… ”I’m just saying, I find it kind of curious why my name keeps being brought up when somebody makes a move to New England. If they knew what I was going through in Cincinnati, my name wouldn’t even be mentioned in that light. Second of all, Carson Palmer did the same thing. Why don’t they talk about him like that? You see what I’m saying?

“If the media wants to bring something up, why don’t they change the narrative? If you want to bring me up, to be frank, I’m a Super Bowl champ. So why don’t you say, “go be like Corey Dillon, a Super Bowl champ who went over and won one with New England” instead of, “Corey Dillon, this problem player that the Patriots picked up and changed his life?”

We tried

Jon Gruden, who never got a chance to coach Brown in a game, is ready to move on — and his Raiders won their opener Monday night.

“I feel like somebody was smashing my temple on the side of the head,” he said. “Get over it, man. It’s over. We were good this preseason without him. We were fine without him. We wish him the best.

“We gave it a shot. Now New England gets their turn. Good luck to them. I just can’t deal with it anymore.”

And all-time great Jerry Rice said Brown worked the perfect scam to get himself to New England.

“We all got played, man. We did,” Rice told a radio station in San Francisco.

“I’m gonna be honest with you, because, this guy, he contacted me and he told me that he wanted to play ball here in the Bay Area. He wanted to be part of the San Francisco 49ers. So, I bought into it because I can only take a man at his word and stuff like that. But I think this, it was pretty much already planned. He had to take a different direction.”

And Reggie Bush tweeted: If the @Patriots sign @AB84 the whole league is rigged.”

Well deserved

The Bruins extended Bruce Cassidy’s contract on the eve of training camp.

Great move!

“He’s earned the right to lead this club and this doesn’t start from two years ago, it starts from a number of years ago, where I got to know Bruce really well, working with him,” said GM Don Sweeney. “And to me, those translate into a lot of the ideals he has as a coach, in an everyday approach. During the game, really good bench coach to know who’s playing and who’s not. He continues to evolve, continues to be quick on the trigger and move guys around versus guys to have patience with.”

Cassidy, who brought the Bruins to within one win of a Stanley Cup, was asked who was there for him to ask for leadership help when he got the job.

“Zee (Zdeno Chara) and Bergy (Patrice Bergeron) were the first two that I talked to,” he said. “Terrific. I remember to this day, Bergy said: ‘Listen, you’re my coach. Whatever you need, I’ll do.’ ... Right away, it’s like, ‘Hey, let’s go.’”

As far as a potential hangover from losing Game 7 of the Cup final at home, Cassidy said, “I hope we’re not talking about it after Day 1 (of training camp). It’s done. It’s over. We’ve got a few new players. It’s not the same team. It’s a new year. We’ve got to be ready to be our best going into the season.”

Packing it in

Tough thing to say in baseball, but it sure looks like the Red Sox didn’t take any intestinal fortitude on their trip to Canada.

Now, they need a GM.

One of the things the new person will have to navigate is what to do regarding the J.D. Martinez and Mookie Betts contract situations. Said Betts Sunday, “This is proof that this is a business. Like I said, I love it here. But this is still a business.”

Finally, I’m telling it like it is on France ending the long U.S. international winning streak: Our stars aren’t even AT the FIBA World Cup. Apologies to Rudy Gobert and Co., but France would not have beaten the U.S. if our best were there. On Thursday, Team USA lost again, 94-89, to Serbia.

It hasn’t been a fun trip for the Celtics. Jayson Tatum is battling an ankle sprain and Marcus Smart was KO’d from the rest of the tournament with assorted problems.

Finally, we tip our cap to the great Michael Jordan, who is donating $1 million to the Bahamian relief effort. Clearly, the man GETS IT.

Mike Shalin covers Boston pro sports for the New Hampshire Union Leader and Sunday News. His email address is shalinmike@yahoo.com. Follow him on Twitter @mscotshay.