Patriots Lions Week 3 Game Preview, Odds, and Things to Watch For

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I may have been off by about five points in terms of point differential, but I pretty much nailed last week’s game prediction. The Jags simply look like the team to beat in the AFC right now, and I am not surprised at all that Brady & Co. took an L down in the Sunshine State in Week 2.

Fortunately, the Pats have a good chance at a bounce-back game in a prime-time matchup against old friend Matt Patricia and the 0-2 Detroit Lions this Sunday – which also just so happens to be the date on which ya boy Mattes graced the world with his presence 29 years ago, so it’s only right that they’ll be victorious on such an important day.

(Also, I know everyone is all excited about Josh Gordon. Settle down; we’ll get there.)

Before we get into the game preview, here’s a quick look at where, when, and how to watch the game along with the latest lines:

  • Location: Ford Field (Detroit, MI)
  • Kickoff: Sunday, Sept. 23, 8:30 p.m. ET
  • TV: NBC (Check local listings)
  • Odds (via Odds Shark): Patriots: -6.5 (spread)/Patriots: -265 (moneyline)/51.5 (total)

As you can see from the 51.5-point total, which is the fourth-highest total in the league this week, this game figures to be high-scoring. Both teams have a potent offense which overcompensates for a mediocre defense that is susceptible to giving up a lot of yards and points. Basically, if you got fantasy players on either side this week, feel free to go ahead and put pretty much all of them in your starting lineup.

So, who are some of the weapons that Detroit has? Well, they’re found mostly in the receiving corps, and their success all hinges upon the play of much-maligned quarterback Matthew Stafford.

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After an abysmal Week 1 performance, during which he threw FOUR picks in a loss to the New York Jets, people were calling for Stafford’s head (including our very own Red, who has him as his fantasy signal-caller this year). However, I thought it was a bit much. For as much as he turned the ball over during his first few years in the league (four seasons with 15-plus interceptions), he has an 89:37 TD-to-INT ratio over the past four seasons, which includes 2018. He’s also one of only five players to ever throw for over 5,000 yards in a season, and I bet you didn’t know that he was the fastest quarterback ever to reach 20,000 yards, 25,000 yards, AND 30,000 yards on his career. The guy’s also coming off of a 347-yard, three-touchdown, zero-pick performance against San Francisco.

The point is: this dude can sling the rock, and the only reason he gets so much criticism is because he’s yet to win one playoff game in 11 NFL seasons. (I get it, Detroit; you’re hungry.) And with Detroit’s nasty group of receivers, coupled with the fact that the Pats have given up the fifth-most passing yards in the league through two games, Stafford could do some damage on Sunday.

Of the receivers, I expect Golden Tate to have the most success. The game’s most underappreciated slot receiver has 14 catches on a ridiculous 28 targets through two games so far as Stafford’s No. 1 guy. The Lions also have two big boys on the outside in Marvin Jones (6’2″, 198 pounds) and Kenny Golloday (6’4″, 214 pounds), both of whom use their size and unfair athleticism to gain big chunks of yards in a hurry, averaging 13.5 and 15.6 yards per catch, respectively. The Pats are definitely going to give up some real estate through the air this week – especially if either Trey Flowers and/or Patrick Chung, who both haven’t practiced this week due to being in concussion protocol, are ruled out.

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Sure, I’m excited about Gordon. But MAN, I really wish those Golden Tate trade rumors weren’t just all talk. This dude can BALL.

Fortunately, they could have success containing Detroit’s very lackluster running game. Right now, the team is using a three-pronged “attack” of Kerryon Johnson, Theo Riddick, and former Patriot LeGarrette Blount.

Riddick has been one of the Lions’ key offensive pieces for the past five seasons as the team’s third-down/pass-catching specialist. While he is not built to be any team’s primary ball-carrier, he does have 234 (!) receptions since 2014, including 14 already this season. He’s going to be targeted and used a lot.

Johnson, a rookie, is by far the most talented back of the bunch from an overall standpoint, but for some reason he has been sharing the load with Blount between the tackles so far. Truthfully, Johnson – who also has eight receptions on the year and is by no means a one-trick pony – should have been given the starting role right out of the gate, and maybe this is the game he finally takes a stranglehold on the role for good. It’s only a matter of time until Blount fades away entirely. Either way, I don’t expect the Lions to kill the Pats on the ground.

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Johnson will be a household name soon enough, giving the Lions their first good back since Barry Sanders – and Mattes’s fantasy squad a much-needed boost.

On defense, there’s not much to talk about besides the fact that the Lions are expected to be without stud corner Darius Slay, per Kyle Meinke of MLive, which must be music to Brady’s ears. After a brutal dogfight against the Jags vaunted secondary last week, things won’t be nearly as difficult for the offense on Sunday night. (Especially if Flash Gordon is ready to go!) (UPDATE: Slay did return to Lions practice in a non-contact jersey on Friday, but he is still unlikely to play [h/t Rotoworld].)

Storylines to Keep An Eye On

(What Will We See from Josh Gordon?): This is obviously the biggest storyline heading into the game. Pats Nation is absolutely giddy with excitement over this week’s acquisition of the uber-talented but oft-troubled 27-year-old receiver. He has the skills to make a Randy-Moss-level impact on the team’s offense, or he could easily succumb to past transgressions and fade out in a “Flash.” I’m remaining hopeful, but I’m also not expecting a huge impact from him in Game 1. As we’ve discussed before, the Patriots system has claimed the careers of many former standout pass-catchers in the past, and while Gordon has practiced the past two days, he’s going to need a little more time to get up to speed. He’s also dealing with a minor hamstring issue, so don’t expect him to be truly unleashed until at least next week. If Bill does decide to throw him right into the fire, though, I’d say 4-5 targets, max, isn’t an unreasonable expectation.

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Apparently, Flash is going to be rocking No. 10 as a Patriot.

(So…Maybe Sony Michel is the Guy Now?)After missing basically all summer plus the season opener, Michel was immediately granted 11 touches (12 if you include his kick return) in his debut against the Jags last Sunday. He was even thrown to on two separate occasions. Meanwhile, Rex Burkhead rushed the ball six times and wasn’t targeted once in the passing game. (James White also got eight targets and seven receptions, but that’s always going to happen. He’s basically our Riddick.) Typical. Friggin. Belichick. Some believe it’s because Burkhead was dealing with concussion symptoms earlier in the week and the team was taking it easy with him; I believe, in typical Belichick fashion, he likes to choose which back will be the horse each week depending on the matchup. Until one of them, likely Michel, busts out and locks down the role as top dog, I’m done trying to project anything regarding the team’s group of backs. (My Burkhead for offensive MVP prediction could be in some serious doubt. But hey, at least the rookie finally got on the field!)

(Reunited and It Feels So Goooood): For the 21st time in his Patriots career, Belichick will face off against one of his former assistants, against whom he has a combined 14-6 record. This time it’s former defensive coordinator Matt Patricia, who’s currently suffering through a tough start to his NFL head-coaching career. There’s really not much to be said here, as it’s really only a fluffy storyline being used to try and create some more drama and intrigue. Still, it’s always fun to see if the grasshopper can successfully take down the master…even though he probably won’t.

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Always remember the good times, boys.

Prediction

The Pats are able to come out and establish the run early on. Detroit’s defense has been absolutely GASHED so far on the ground, giving up 179.5 rushing yards per game, which is good for dead last in the league. (I know it’s only been two games, but the next-worst mark is Oakland with 154. The Lions run D is horrendous.) Brady is also able to move the ball pretty well through the air and puts up over 20 points before the half. Not to be outdone, Stafford also has his way with the Pats defense, but the Pats clock-killing offensive game plan doesn’t give him a ton of opportunities to keep up. In the end, the game will be close and high-scoring, but the Pats will ultimately tame the Lions, 38-28.

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Disney Confirms That Marvel Will Take Over X-Men

OMG OMG OMG it’s happening and I am having a gigantic nerdgasm. So a few months back Disney acquired FOX, which I blogged about back in December, and after some anti-trust concerns, Disney finalized the deal. Now its been confirmed that Kevin Feige will oversee the X-Men, which is huge news as he is the president of Marvel Studios. Feige is basically the architect, the godfather, the puppet master of the $17 billion dollar industry that is the Marvel Cinematic Universe. He got people to see TWENTY movies over more than a decade and care about characters like Iron Man and Thor, who were absolute D-List superheroes back in 2007. Feige essentially created shared universes in cinema as we know it today. Very few, if any, movies were combining IPs to tie into one gigantic story across different franchises like Marvel.

Marvel’s success has only made the failures of company like DC and Sony loom even worse. Sony had a decent run with the first two Tobey Maguire Spiderman movies, but the third one was trash, and then they rebooted it with Andrew Garfield, which was trash, only to have it saved once they rebooted it yet again with the help of Marvel for the current iteration of Spidey.

Now X-Men has been much more of a mixed bag in terms of quality. There have been excellent movies like Logan, Deadpool, and X-Men 2 as well as some truly garbage ones like X-Men 3: The Last Stand.

Most recently they’ve run into trouble as two very publicly announced movies have been pushed back time and time again to the point where I don’t know if we’ll ever even see them. There was the Sophie Turner Dark Phoenix movie and the Maisie Williams X-Men movie, The New Mutants. Both seem to be stuck in purgatory, which says volumes about the overall quality of them both. I mean New Mutants already had a trailer drop a year ago for christ’s sake.

I think the biggest problem with X-Men though has always been seeing the bigger picture. The movies always jumped around without any bigger map of where it was all heading. They never really know where they’re going with anything aside from the one movie they’re currently in. Thats how you end up killing off one of the biggest X-Men ever in Cyclops in the first 20 minutes of X3 (spoiler alert) only to have Days of Future Past completely retcon the whole thing and fix it with some tricky time traveling.

See? Not confusing at all.

Now, enter the GOAT of universe building in Kevin Feige and we’re cooking with gas.
And thats BEFORE we even mention the inevitable crossover events. After Avengers 4 comes out next summer, a movie in which most expect to be the final film for guys like Chris Evans, Robert Downey Jr, and Chris Hemsworth, Marvel will be banking on younger players like Black Panther and Spiderman to carry the studio. Just imagine the possibilites with all of the X-Men characters finally available on the roster? It’s going to be truly amazing to watch. Plus they might even be able to reboot Fantastic Four, which was an absolute disaster.

TWICE.

So this is awesome news for fans of comic books and blockbuster movies. Everybody wins. We can start imagining the movies we never thought possible due to bullshit exclusive contracts.

The only downside? It took too long. The greatest character in the 11 movie history of the X-Men universe is dead and retired in Wolverine himself, Hugh Jackman. Unless….

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There are Rumors Abound That the Pats are Going to Sign Colin Kaepernick

I know that this is not the most reputable source but this is the same account that had the Gordon news before just about anybody than Rap, you’ll have to just trust me.

When I saw this I sat back and kind of just said, “well how about that.” Believe it or not when I hear Kaepernick’s name the first thing I think of is still a 24 year old Joey B watching him carve up the NFC and come within a pick of making it to the Super Bowl. He could run, he had an arm, his choice of pet was a turtle, the whole shebang.

Now, sticking to football, he could have not given less of a fuck about learning to read defenses or look off his receivers, which is a tad bit of an issue in the NFL. There was some SERIOUS flaws to his game. With all of that said I still always thought he could be a reclamation project if a team could lock him in the film room.

So how do I feel now that he may be New England’s new back up/3rd string. I feel fine. He has a similar skill-set to Brissett and I am sure the Pats could come up with some McTrickery to include him in. TB12 could show him how to be a professional, possibly excluding the rub and tugs from Alex Gonzalez, and who knows, at 30(ish?) he still could have a few solid years left. Maybe at least become a trade piece.

Ball is ball.

-Joey B.

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Tough Break for Malden Men Who Recovered Red Sox Banner

boston.com – The Red Sox’ 2018 division title banner that was recovered on McGrath Highway in Somerville Monday has been returned in exchange for nothing…

If the missing banner had not been returned, Tony Lafuente, owner of Flagraphics, said his company had already produced a replica that would be ready to go.

“We already have a new banner made,” Lafuente told Anderson. “I’ve been doing work for the Boston Red Sox since 1992. Nothing ever happened like this.”

Lafuente also told Anderson that Iacuzzi and his friends “should be ashamed of themselves,” saying “those guys stole my banner.”

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How about John Henry going Willy Wonka on these guys? At least Charlie stole Fizzy Lifting Drink. If you take their story at face value, these guys just happened to find the banner in the middle of the road and offered to return it. All they wanted was a couple of playoff tickets. Our men from Malden might be a couple of characters, but their request was more than reasonable.

If it comes out that this banner didn’t simply “fall off a truck,” I reserve the right to update this post. But unless/until more information emerges, it seems like these guys got hosed. The guy that caught and gave back Derek Jeter’s 3000th hit got a World Series ring from the Yankees. All the men from Malden wanted was to get into the building.

Everyone knows what a pain it is to get to Fenway Park. Couldn’t John at least have given them some caps from the souvenir shop for their troubles? Or pay the inevitable parking ticket they got while dropping this thing off?

To paraphrase Stu and Alan from the Hangover our men from Malden say they didn’t steal anything, they found it and if anything they deserve a reward.

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Khaleesi Walks the Walk with the Most Fire Game of Thrones Tattoo I’ve Ever Seen

Don’t just talk about it, be about it. Khaleesi takes that message to heart as she revealed the most fire Thrones tattoo these eyes have ever seen.

Subtle, yet instantly recognizable. Thats a perfect tat, Emilia.

I’ll be totally honest guys, I’ve had a Game of Thrones tattoo in mind for a couple of years now and the only thing thats been holding me back is the crippling fear of George R.R. Martin having the character turn heel and have me get stuck with a Red Wedding level tat. So I’ve told myself I’ll wait it out, make sure this character doesn’t end up being the Night King or something before inking it onto my skin forever.

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Sony is Jumping on the Cash Grab Bandwagon with the Mini Playstation Classic

Sony is jumping on the cash grab bandwagon that is the mini “classic” console re-release. It really is nothing more than a shameless cash grab, but hey don’t hate the player. I have yet to pick any of these up because like a hoarder I still own half of these systems and can bust them out anytime I have a 6 pack of IPAs down in my parents basement over the holidays.

Nintendo has led the charge on this trend with the NES Classic Edition

and the Super Nintendo Classic Edition

And people went fucking BANANAS for these things. Legit sold out for months. Something about the nostalgia of video games you grew up playing coupled with the fact that they’re miniature drove people wild.

Meanwhile, SEGA is in the corner like “What the hell? We’ve been selling the same goddamn thing in Urban Outfitters for YEARS!”

Anyways, Sony is jumping into the fray with their own mini system, the Playstation Classic, and I have some questions.

There will be 20 games playable on the PS1 classic and as of right now only a handful have been announced.

“It’ll be out on December 3 in the US, Canada, Europe, Japan and Australia, and includes games like Final Fantasy VII, Jumping Flash, Ridge Racer Type 4, Tekken 3, and Wild Arms. There’ll be 20 bundled titles in total, but those five are the only ones announced at the moment.”

$100 bucks for Final Fantasy VII? Pass. Hard pass. Throw in Metal Gear Solid 1, Crash Bandicoot, Tomb Raider, maybe Spyro and then we can talk.

What else should we throw in there? Full disclosure I never owned the PS1. After N64 I went over to the Dreamcast because I’m a goddamn contrarian before coming back to the mainstream with the PS2.

So what other games does this mini system need to have for you to buy it?

Even though it looks like the biggest piece of shit ever created, I am still dying to play the 1997 release, Dragon Ball GT: Final Bout.

Give me all the gloriously bad games and I will somehow wind up giving you $100. But with the garbage thats been announced so far? Can’t do it guys. I gotta save those crisp bills for the N64 classic, which you just know is coming sooner than later.

I mean I’m currently balls deep in Zelda: Breath of the Wild on the Switch so its not like I need any more video games, but this is the only “classic” miniature system I’ve ever really been hyped for. Sure I have TWO N64 consoles in my apartment currently, but what I don’t have is a miniature version of it.

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Tom Brady vs Bill Belichick Drama Will Never Die as More Juicy Gossip Comes Out in New Book from ESPN’s Ian O’Connor

ESPNNew England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady felt trapped this past offseason and was not sure he wanted to play anymore for the only NFL coach he has ever had, Bill Belichick, according to a new book on Belichick’s life.

“If you’re married 18 years to a grouchy person who gets under your skin and never compliments you, after a while you want to divorce him,” a source with knowledge of the Brady-Belichick relationship told ESPN’s Ian O’Connor, author of “Belichick: The Making of the Greatest Football Coach of All Time,” after the 2017 season. “Tom knows Bill is the best coach in the league, but he’s had enough of him. If Tom could, I think he would divorce him.”

What is dead may never die.

In the latest bombshell to drop in the Belichick (sources) vs Brady (sources) war of words comes this new book from ESPN’s Ian O’Connor that has quite a few juicy excerpts. Before people try to discredit this book or start holding their breath until they pass out like a child, O’Connor has been at ESPN as a senior writer for years and is generally pretty favorable towards the Pats despite being a longtime NY guy.

So lets get to it shall we?

“Based on interviews with 350 people (Belichick did not cooperate), the book, due out Tuesday, reports Brady was so upset with his coach that he still wasn’t certain in late March if he would return to the Patriots.

But in the end, even if he wanted to, Brady could not walk away from the game, and he could not ask for a trade,” O’Connor wrote. “The moment Belichick moved [Jimmy] Garoppolo to San Francisco, and banked on Brady’s oft-stated desire to play at least into his mid-forties, was the moment Brady was virtually locked into suiting up next season and beyond. Had he retired or requested a trade, he would have risked turning an adoring New England public into an angry mob.”

If Brady felt painted into a corner it’s because he was, but that’s mostly through his own doing. By continuously saying he wanted to play until he was 45 and (allegedly) complaining about a contract extension he essentially told the team I want to be here for the long term. And by elevating his play to levels of success never seen before the Patriots had zero choice when it came to keeping or trading Brady. A victim of his own success it would seem if he does indeed hate working with Belichick that bad.

“New York Yankees general manager Brian Cashman recalled in the book that Belichick told him years earlier about a disagreement Brady had with a Patriots strength coach over equipment. “Belichick said, ‘If Tom Brady wants it, Tom Brady gets it,‘” Cashman said. “If you get a player at that level, you get him what he needs, even if the strength coach says otherwise.”

This is a little disingenuous from Cashman because you’re telling me that Jeter, A-Rod, Mariano, Posada, Sheffield, CLEMENS, and other star players didn’t get special treatment? Bull. Shit. The top performers get special treatment in every team or 9-5 office.

According to the book, Brady’s family long felt Belichick would push out his longtime franchise player before he was ready to retire. Brady’s sister Nancy is quoted telling people that her brother believed “Belichick will definitely do to him someday what the Colts did to Peyton [Manning].

Brady started worrying for his job almost immediately after Belichick cited his age and contract status –– and the coach’s desire to be “early rather than late at that position” — when the Patriots drafted Garoppolo in 2014.

100% valid concern from Brady because Belichick absolutely will would have done this when he felt it was best for the team in the long run. However, Brady winning Super Bowl XLIX, and Super Bowl LI, and Super Bowl MVP in both, and league MVP at the age of 40 kind of blew that plan to smithereens though. Still, it’s not a great look for Brady if true because it essentially admits to something we’ve all known for years; Brady’s late career resurgence is due almost entirely to his fear of being replaced by Jimmy G.

Don’t get it twisted, thats not a knock on Tom Brady, thats just human nature. As much as Brady would hate to admit it; thats just great coaching. Bill knew what buttons to push as Brady would either double down and work even harder to improve from a dip in production….or he wouldn’t and Bill would push Brady out for Jimmy G.

“One New England assistant said the general feeling among staff members around that time wasn’t that Belichick’s system could make Super Bowl quarterbacks out of all 32 NFL starters. “But if you gave us any of the top 15, we could do it,” the assistant said. “I don’t think the coaches view Tom as special as everyone else in football does. Mr. Kraft thinks Tom is the greatest gift ever, but the coaches don’t.”

This is probably the single most disrespectful thing thats ever been said about Tom Brady. Listen, I love Bill Belichick, he’s hands down the greatest coach in the history of the league, but even for him this is cocky. I hate getting into the sports talk radio debate of how many Super Bowls would Bill or Brady have without the other? Would Bill win 2, 3, or all 5 without Brady and vice versa? Its a fortuitous situation for both that built the greatest dynasty the league will ever see. But for Belichick to completely discount Brady’s all-time talent, football IQ, work ethic and clutch ability is just nonsense. Could the Patriots probably be a pretty decent team with Matt Stafford or Philip Rivers or Ben Roethlisberger? Yea probably. Are they winning 5 Super Bowls with any of those guys? Doubtful. But to say that the Patriots would be a consistent Super Bowl team with the Andy Daltons, Dak Prescotts, and Case Keenums of the world is just spitting in TB12’s face and I will not stand for it.

“One person close to Brady said his entire family was “miffed” at Belichick for telling reporters to ask the quarterback about his preferences on game balls and “very miffed” at Kraft for reluctantly announcing in 2015 that he wouldn’t fight Brady’s four-game ban…Brady told friends that his weak answer to the news conference question about whether he was a cheater — “I don’t believe so” — didn’t betray a consciousness of Deflategate guilt, but rather thoughts of the earlier Spygate conviction and his belief that at least some of the suspicions over the years about alleged Patriots black-ops tactics were likely true.

I think years from now we’ll look back and point to Deflategate as the beginning of the end for the Brady Belichick relationship. According to all reports, Brady still outright denies doing anything shady in Deflategate so he feels, whether it’s accurate or not, that he did nothing wrong. Belichick however already had one huge black mark on his resume with the whole Spygate scandal. Despite Spygate being the most overblown story of the past quarter century, Belichick knew what it would mean for him and his legacy if he was blamed for a second league scandal though. So yup, he dumped that shit right in Brady’s lap.

Now if you’re Brady you have to feel like you’re getting hung out to dry *solely* because your coach was fucking around with cameras and filming rules 10 years prior and tossed the hot potato to you. That has to have destroyed any semblance of trust remaining between the two sides. Hell, Brady probably felt like he was paying for Bill’s past crimes as the team felt it had to distance itself from Tom and the Deflategate scandal just to save face as an organization and a coach.

Now we get to the juicy stuff when it comes to past relationships with his former mentor in Bill Parcells.

“[Bill] Parcells is quoted in the book questioning why his former defensive coordinator’s game plan in the Giants’ Super Bowl XXV upset of the Bills ended up in Canton. “I don’t know whose idea that was to put it in the Hall of Fame,” Parcells said. “If anything should be in the Hall of Fame, it should be [offensive coordinator] Ron Erhardt’s game plan. We had the ball for 40 minutes and some seconds. That takes work, consistent play. We were only on defense for 19 minutes. To me, we had a good game plan against them. It was well thought out, a couple of things we did, the two-man lines in that game. But I’m not diminishing anything. I’m just telling you. I don’t know how that happened. I’m not knocking anyone here.”

Bill Parcells remains the saltiest man in the history of the league. If you haven’t seen The Two Bills documentary it is a must watch for any Patriots fan. It details the “repairing” of a fractured relationship between a mentor and mentee, but it sure as shit didn’t feel that way watching it. Parcells came off as a guy who thinks Belichick got lucky in a great situation and all but says he would have won just as much if he had Tom Brady too. I mean I get it, I guess.  In an environment you could never win in your younger protege comes into the same exact environment and wins FIVE Super Bowls. Thats gotta sting. So you tell yourself what you need to tell yourself to sleep at night.

There’s also some great tidbits on Belichick’s relationships with Urban Meyer, Nick Saban, Aaron Hernandez, the unlikelihood of Bill ever getting the Giants head coaching job in the late 80s/early 90s, and Belichick’s father being an awesome dude.

Great, now I have to buy ANOTHER book.

 

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