Pat Tillman (left) with his brother Kevin in Afghanistan in 2004 turned down a three-year $3.6 million dollar deal to join the US Army Rangers and fight in the War on Terror. (USA TODAY Images)
Good morning, we hope youâre enjoying your holiday weekend, here are Sundayâs Patriots news notes and whatâs happening around the division:
Tillman A Hero And Story That Needs Remembering: With Memorial Day weekend here and people enjoying their time away from home with their families, it is also important to remember why weâre celebrating the holiday. Many men and women have fought and died for this country and this being a football column, weâll recognize some of those who have both played in the NFL and served their country in time of war.
The NFL has had its share of men who took up arms during our countryâs wars, including Eddie LeBaron and Sid Luckman, Ralph Wilson, Chuck Bednarik, even Tom Landry who became an icon for the Cowboys flew over 30 combat missions over Europe in World War II. Among more recent veterans, Roger Staubach won a Heisman Trophy at the Naval Academy before embarking for Vietnam.
One of my favorite players of my youth, Rocky Bleier was drafted by the Pittsburgh Steelers in 1968 and after his rookie season was drafted againâŠthis time by the United States Army. Fighting with the 196th Light Infantry Brigade in 1969 Bleier suffered severe shrapnel wounds in his leg where doctors told him heâd never play football again.
But he did and by 1971 was back with the Steelers and had a fantastic career of 10 more seasons where he was a member of four Super Bowl winning teams.
But none of the above men had the story and tragic ending of Pat Tillman. Tillman was only 25 and had an All-Pro season under his belt. He had a contract in hand that would pay him millions of dollars. But the terrorist incidents of 9/11 affected him deeply and prompted him to enlist in the Army and volunteer for the Rangers, some of the toughest training in the Army.
During a second combat tour in 2004, Tillman was tragically killed in a friendly-fire incident and any dreams about returning to the NFL died on a barren hill in Afghanistan. Tillman wasnât a draftee but a volunteer and gave up fame and a big dollar contract to fight in a war far from home.
The Patriots have an exhibit in their team Hall of Fame at Patriots Place honoring Tillman for what he stood for, showing some of his football and military uniforms.
At a time when we tend to hear about the players who are in the news for all the wrong reasons, this weekend is a time to remember those for the right ones. Tillman is a player who should be remembered and honored everywhere.
GoodellÂ Says Heâll Hear Bradyâs Appeal: At the conclusion of the NFL Owners Meetings in San Francisco this week, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell was talking like he fully intends on hearing Tom Bradyâs appeal of his four-game suspension handed down by the league.
Goodell also stated that the decision by Robert Kraft and the Patriots would have no bearing on the appeal by Brady. The commissioner also stated that Bradyâs decision to not cooperate by turning over his cell phone and emails were a major factor in his punishment being so severe. He also said he would continue to protect âthe integrityâ of the game while providing fair and uniform discipline.
But there has been nothing uniform in the way Goodell has handled this case thus far. In case anyone was wondering if there was another case of a player refusing to turn over his phoneâŠback when Brett Favre was with the Jets, he was accused by a Jets staffer of texting a picture of his private parts to the woman. At the time, Favre refused to turn over his phone and was punished with a $50,000 fine. Seems uniform, fair and balanced thereâŠ
NFL Trolls Patriots: On the subject of fair and balanced, the NFLâŠthe league who doesnât make biased observations or investigations took a huge shot across the bow towards the Patriots on Thursday.
The Official Twitter Account for the NFL sent out a picture of Â âHead Coaches tell us what it takes to be a franchise QB. Just above the tweet was a picture of Andrew Luck of the Indianapolis Colts. And to the left side of the screen were the words,
In an obvious attempt to ridicule New England over the PSI fiasco, the official twitter of the NFL comes out with this only two days after Robert Kraft and Goodell supposedly kiss and makeup? Thereâs your olive branch BobâŠ
Eastbound and DownâŠ..News from around the AFC East:
Revis Joins in to the Chorus of Patriots âShady Stuffâ: Chalk this one up to âthat didnât take longâ, as Darrelle Revis CB of the NYJets wasted little time in giving his take on the Patriots and Tom Brady in a NY Daily News piece.
âEverybody is blowing it up because it is Tom Brady,â Revis said on Wednesday. âI understand that. But if the NFL feels he did the crime or he did something and they want to penalize them, then thatâs that. The Patriots have a history of doing stuff. You canât hide thatâŠTom was there when they did that stuff in the past.â
Revis didnât stop there, stating Brady “is going to go down as one of the greatest – if not the best – quarterback that’s ever played” and “he’s definitely a Hall of Famer,” but can’t say for certain if the man is a cheater.
“I don’t know,” he said. “I don’t care. It doesn’t matter. If people want to judge him as a cheater, that’s their opinion.”
Bills Dareus Suspended For Season Opener: The Buffalo Bills defensive tackle Marcel Dareus was suspended for the Bills opener against the Indianapolis Colts for failing a drug test, it was announced on Thursday.
Dareusâ suspension was not believed to be PEDs but a test for marijuana.
“Last year, I made a mistake involving possession of a banned substance,” Dareus said in a statement. “The NFL’s discipline for this conduct is part of the drug policy, and I apologize to my family, my teammates, the entire Bills organization and Bills fans that I will miss one game as a result of my mistake. I will work intensely that week and will be extremely happy to contribute to a win in week two for the Bills.”
Dareus had two legal issues in 2014, but this one will cost him the opener against the Colts. Last season Nigel Bradham also was suspended for the opener due to a drug test as well.
Tannehill Cashes In: Miami QB Ryan Tannehill signed a six-year, $96 million dollar extension this week according to Adam Schefter of ESPN.
“We are thrilled that we were able to sign Ryan to an extension,” Dolphins vice president Mike Tannenbaum said in a statement. “He is an ascending talent, a team leader and checks all of the boxes you are looking for at the position.”
Last season Tannehill set career high in attempts, completions, completion percentage, passing yards, touchdowns and quarterback rating while cutting down on his turnovers.
The Dolphins believe that Tannehill is ready to take that next step and elevate those players around him and push Miami into a playoff berth.