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Longo: Hopkins deal still has rancid odor to it

By Hector Longo - Sports Writer | Mar 22, 2020

Stray National Football League thoughts as I contemplate whether or not Jarrett Stidham has the next 19 years covered at Patriot Place.

Seriously, any fantasy football commissioner worth his salt would have rejected the recent Deandre Hopkins deal from Houston to Arizona as some sort of collusion.

Let me get this straight. Bill O’Brien gives away a top three receiver in the game for just a second-round pick AND takes back $11 million in basically dead money (washed up RB David Johnson)?

O’Brien has to be a Cardinals’ stock-holder. It’s the only explanation.

Mark my words. This one is a lock. Your Patriots are about to lodge an illegal tampering charge on the Tampa Bay Bucs for the recruitment of Tom Brady. This one could get ugly.

I hear players complain all the time about the franchise tag in the NFL. Then I see things like Dak Prescott yanking down $33 million and Joe Thuney grabbing $14.781 million, both guaranteed under the tag, for one year. So you are telling me that Thuney will scoop 17 game checks for $870k and Dak will draw 17 direct deposits of $1.94 million, win or lose, play great or play awful, heck, even if they don’t play at all?

Sorry, no complaints on that one.

I consider Mike Vrabel one of the top five Patriots of the dynasty, Amazing guy. Athlete. Intelligent. Classy. I expect he will be a top-tier head coach as long as he chooses to in the NFL.

What is the Tennessee Titans’ boss thinking? He just handed Ryan 62 guaranteed million bucks in his recently signed four-year, $118 million extension.

I would love to see Tannehill and Vrabel prove me wrong. I respect Mike that much. Forget it. This is a deal that is destined for combustion. Not going to be pretty.

And finally, TB12’s move to Tampa has everyone in the mood to reminisce.

We all have this revisionist history. Apparently, all of us on the Pats’ beat back in 2000-01 knew what Brady was way back then.

Nobody supported Drew Bledsoe. It was all Brady, right? Of course, that’s a crock.

On that vein, allow me to re-tell a great, true story.

It was after the “Snow Bowl” win over the Raiders. Most of us were in the old Foxborough Stadium press box, well after deadline, waiting for the traffic on Route 1 to break.

Hunting for snacks, a former colleague of mine, Bill Burt of the Eagle-Tribune, and I found ourselves in a quarterback conversation with ESPN insider John Clayton.

Mind you, Brady had just willed the Patriots into the AFC title game in an all-time classic over the Raiders, and here’s Clayton, pompously espousing the platform that Bledsoe was the starter, should be the starter and will be the starter.

I’ve never heard a dumber take. Had this guy, ripping down high six-figure cash from ESPN for his NFL knowledge, not watched the 2001 season for some reason?

It was utterly embarrassing that Clayton would stand on this soap box. By this time, January of 2002, even the staunchest Bledsoe backer had melted.

Not Clayton. And he was supposed to be this genius.

Several things grew out of that night.

First, it cemented my divorce from ESPN. Second, it solidified my No. 1 thought about the NFL, rule No 1 to this day.

Trust your eyes.

Don’t trust stats or analytics or so-called experts. Trust your eyes.

You had to be ignorant to not see Brady’s greatness early in 2001. Some of us saw it in training camp. He crushed a healthy $100 million Bledsoe.

John … Clayton. Two weeks later, we rode a shuttle with him in New Orleans at Super Bowl 36. He never budged.

Bledsoe was shuffled off to Buffalo, Brady went on to legend status, and I never took ESPN seriously again.

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