Annoying NFL Texts with Ian Rapoport: The Patriots are squabbling, but try not to enjoy it
Let's start by first acknowledging the obvious: Our man Ian Rapoport is a football expert, more connected to the pro game and its complicated underbelly than 99.9 percent of the population. What he is not, however, is clairvoyant, because if he was, he would probably be busy gaming the various Las Vegas sports books (and ignoring our texts) instead of earning an honest wage reporting for NFL Network.
We mention all this because if you recall last week's text exchange with the NFL Insider, we asked Rapoport which games to pay most attention to during wildcard weekend, and he specifically told us to NOT BOTHER (!) with Chiefs-Titans because he figured the Titans didn't stand a chance. Well, he was wrong, first because Chiefs-Titans was arguably the most entertaining game of the weekend AND because the Titans ended up winning. Hey, everyone deserves a mulligan now and then, but this week we felt it our journalistic obligation to remind Ian how he led us astray.
By losing a sixth-straight playoff game at home, the Chiefs are essentially the antithesis of the Patriots, who win with such cool efficiency in large part because of the indomitable duo of head coach Bill Belichick and quarterback Tom Brady. Alas, though, last week revealed a few small chinks in the Pats' impressive facade. Arguably the biggest story around the league revolved around a team that didn't even play, all stemming from an ESPN report that portrayed a strained relationship between Belichick and Brady as the franchise pursues a sixth Super Bowl title this winter.
As the ESPN story details, one of the points of contention between Belichick and Brady had to do with the treatment, and ultimate exile, of Brady's backup Jimmy Garoppolo. The suggestion was that even at age 40, Brady wasn't willing to accommodate an eventual succession plan to Garoppolo, and thus the promising understudy was dealt for a mere second-round pick to San Francisco, where he went 6-0 to end the season.
All of this points to the fact that as remarkable as the Patriots' run has been, everything in football is fleeting, and there remains the big questions about what happens once Brady's extraordinary efforts of hydration and deep-tissue massage are not enough to counter the inevitable encroachment of old age.
True, hope is always a college campus away, and we're not always just talking about players.