CHANDLER, Ariz. - Those bad guys from New England finally made it out West, and it didnt take long for them to begin circling the wagons.An angry Robert Kraft led the way on a rainy Monday night in the desert, reading from a defiant speech crafted at 35,000 feet on the way out. It came straight from the heart, the owner of the New England Patriots said, because someone other than Bill Belichick and Tom Brady had to stand up for truth, justice and the American way.Actually, someone just had to explain what happened to those deflated balls in the AFC championship final, but that wasnt going to happen. Not here and certainly not now, with the Super Bowl just days away and the Patriots desperate for a way to turn the controversy over deflated balls to their advantage.That, really, was what all this was about. If Belichick was struggling to rally his players around their collective wounded pride, their owner wasnt going to let any more time pass before taking his shot.Kraft was nothing but all in, declaring that his coach and players had way too much integrity to engage in any kind of shenanigans. To even suggest so, he said, was so offensive that someone really ought to be apologizing, and he wasnt just talking about Seattle cornerback Richard Sherman.If the (Ted) Wells investigation is not able to definitively determine that our organization tampered with the air pressure in the footballs, I would expect and hope the league would apologize to our entire team, and in particular to coach Belichick and Tom Brady, for what theyve had to endure this week, Kraft said.If his righteous anger was a bit overboard, Kraft certainly had his reasons for taking the podium at the team hotel before Belichick and Brady faced the assembled media for the first time since arriving a few hours earlier.Clearly, he was looking to take some heat off of Belichick and Brady, who by now have already claimed ignorance about the deflated balls in so many ways that even the media seems tired of asking the questions. But ask they do, because its Super Bowl week and even the slightest hint of controversy is like raw meat to the insatiable appetite of television and the Internet.So Kraft tried to turn it to an advantage by declaring his love for both Belichick and Brady, rallying the troops with the classic us against them mentality that coaches love to use to motivate their teams.Tom, Bill and I have been together for 15 years. They are my guys, Kraft said. They are part of my family. Bill, Tom and I have had many difficult discussions over the years. Ive never known them to lie to me. Thats why Im confident in saying what I just said.It didnt take long for Belichick to get on the podium and pay his owner back. Dressed for success in coat and tie instead of the traditional hoodie, he said he was forever indebted to Kraft for working out a trade to get him from the New York Jets, had a great personal and professional relationship with the owner, and loved everything about the organization.Oh, and he wished Patriots fans well in the massive snowstorm hitting the New England area, saying they have the kind of toughness and teamwork to get through it just like the football team they cheer for would get through its own ordeals.As for those deflated balls? Well, the owner had already had his say, so there was nothing left to add.I appreciate the questions, but Ive covered everything that I can cover in the previous week and my attention is focused on the Seattle Seahawks, he said. Our job is to get ready to play this game Sunday and thats where its going to be from here on out.Brady followed in lockstep, proving if nothing else that the Patriots had a game plan for the media this week and are sticking to it. By then, the assembled media seemed exhausted and barely brought up the controversy in a passing reference to one of the greatest passers ever.Brady did manage to mention, though, how much he loves his owner, too.Ive been fortunate to play 15 years and its a privilege to play for this team, he said. Mr. Kraft, Jonathan (son of Robert Kraft), theyre family to me and Id love to go out and play my tail off and play as best as I possibly can and try to go win a Super Bowl for him.On Sunday, the Patriots just may do that, and with properly inflated balls, to boot.Then maybe the talk will not be about deflated balls or cheating coaches. Instead, it will be about how the guys who are supposed to be so bad can be so good.____Tim Dahlberg is a national sports columnist for The Associated Press. Write to him at [email protected]
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. "Yes, Id like to get them in," Detroits rookie manager said. "Mother Natures going to have a say in that." Sure enough, the Tigers had their game against the Kansas City Royals postponed because of rain on Thursday. ORLANDO, Fla. -- As well as the Wizards have played at times in the past month, Washington coach Randy Wittman said he expected a team that had never been in a tight playoffs race to go through a few growing pains. After two tough losses to start the week, Washington showed the kind of bounce back ability it will take to survive if they do eventually make it there. John Wall survived a poor shooting night to score 12 of his 21 points in the fourth quarter and overtime, Trevor Ariza added 21 points and 11 rebounds overall, and the Wizards hung on to beat the Orlando Magic 105-101 in overtime Friday night. "I wasnt making shots the whole game," Wall said. "The only shots it felt like I was making were 3s." The victory ends the Wizards two-game losing streak overall, and a seven-game road losing streak to the Magic. Bradley Beal added 20 points and a game-changing block before being helped off the court with sprained right ankle in overtime. Marcin Gortat finished with 19 points and 14 rebounds. "We realize that its about time for us to start winning," Gortat said. "Its about time to clinch that spot and get those wins, especially against teams like Orlando." Beals injury looked a lot more serious when it happened, with him having to be carried off the court by teammates. He is day-to-day. Orlando led by as many as nine in the second half before seeing that lead evaporate down the stretch. Tobias Harris had 21 points and Arron Afflalo finished with 18 to lead the Magic. Orlando has now lost five in a row and 11 of their last 14. "Its painful, it hurts, but you learn from it," Magic coach Jacque Vaughn said. Wall was fined $15,000 for inappropriate comments toward officials at the conclusion of the Wizards loss against Charlotte on Wednesday, and he had another run-in with the referees Friday. He was whistled for a technical foul in the third quarter for continuing to argue a non-foul call with referee Joey Crawford after Wall had walked back to the sideline huddle. It punctuated a mostly frustrating night for Wall, who finished just 7-of-18 shooting. But he picked it up when he had to. Jameer Nelson hit two free throws for the seventh lead-change of overtime to give the Magic a 97-96 lead.dddddddddddd He got a steal on the Wizards next possession, but had his layup attempt blocked from behind by Beal. It was rebounded by Wall, who found Ariza in the corner for 3 to put Washington back up 99-97. "That was just hustle play, one that we definitely needed. John got a pass deflected, and my first instinct was to just go chase it down," Beal said. "He had a head start on me I guess I kind of baited him into it, and I was able to jump up and get it before it was (goaltending)." Soon after that play was when Beal went down with his ankle injury. It didnt stifle the Wizards momentum, though, with Wall sinking a jumper with less than 30 seconds to play. The Magic were forced to foul after a miss and the Wizards closed out the victory at the foul line. The Magic led 60-51 in the third quarter before the Wizards ended the period on a 16-6 spurt to take a 67-66 lead into the fourth. Orlando regained its footing, though, getting seven straight points from Victor Oladipo to start the quarter. After several lead changes Harris sank a pair of free throws to put the Magic in front at 85-79 with just 1:55 to play. Wall cut it to three with a 3-pointer, but Harris responded with tip-in on the other end. Wall was fouled on a 3-point attempt on the Wizards next trip down the floor, but got only two of his three free-throw attempts to fall. A missed jumper by Oladipo on the Magics ensuing touch gave it back to Washington and Wall then tied it at 87 with 10.6 remaining. Oladipo got up a 3-pointer from the top of the key as time expired in regulation, but it bounced off the side of the rim. But in the end, the Wizards felt as though Beals big block was the biggest reason they were able to walk out with their first victory in Orlando in over four years. "Hes making a name for himself," Gortat said. "Hes one of our rising stars." NOTES: Orlando dropped to 1-5 in overtime games this season. ... Orlando is 0-32 when being outrebounded this season. ... Hall of Fame baseball player Cal Ripken Jr. sat courtside. Youth NFL Jerseys China Wholesale Nike NFL Jerseys Wholesale NFL White Jerseys Wholesale Stitched Jerseys Wholesale NFL Jerseys Cheap Jerseys NFL Jerseys From China
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