TIME Tom Brady

This NFL Player Moved the Most Merchandise Between March and May

New England Patriots v New Orleans Saints
Stacy Revere—Getty Images New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady.

Roger that, Brady sold lots of jerseys and hats

Those who thought that “Deflategate” would have hurt Tom Brady’s popularity will be surprised when they scan the NFL players union’s latest top 50 player sales list.

The New England Patriots quarterback topped the list as the player who sold the most officially licensed merchandise from March 1 through May 31, 2015. It was the first time Brady has ever ranked as the number one player, and also unseated his Super Bowl XLIX quarterback counterpart Russell Wilson of the Seattle Seahawks. Licensed product categories, as spelled out by the NFLPA, include men’s, women’s, and youth game jerseys and t-shirts, player murals, and figurines.

Brady’s leader position can be boiled down to the headlines he has generated as the centerpiece of “Deflategate,” the controversy over deflated balls used by the Patriots in their AFC championship game. Brady and NFL commissioner Roger Goodell are currently tied up in a court battle over Brady’s looming four-game suspension over the controversy.

The apparent hit on Brady’s reputation, however, hasn’t dented his earning power. None of his sponsors, which include Under Armour [fortune-stock symbol=”UA”], Movado and Ugg, have pulled out of any deals with Brady, who earned $7 million from endorsements last year. One of them, Under Armour, is launching a new campaign that will feature Brady in the coming months.

“The way he is used is a little bit more like a model than some athletes,” Bob Dorfman, the executive creative director at Baker Street Advertising, told CNBC. “He’s good looking; it’s almost more fashion model kind of stuff … he still looks good wearing UGG boots; he still looks good wearing a Movado watch.”

TIME Football

Tim Tebow Breaks Up Fight Between Ravens and Eagles

Tim Tebow of the Philadelphia Eagles warms up prior to the game against the Indianapolis Colts on Aug. 16, 2015 at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia.
Mitchell Leff—Getty Images Tim Tebow of the Philadelphia Eagles warms up prior to the game against the Indianapolis Colts on Aug. 16, 2015 at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia.

The players parted like "the Red Sea," according to onlookers

Tim Tebow might be famous for his prayer crouch, dubbed “Tebowing,” at NFL games. But the Philadelphia Eagles player might want to add “diplomacy” to his list of skills.

Tebow’s team was co-practicing with the Baltimore Ravens on Wednesday when, for unclear reasons, a fight broke out between the teams. The quarterback then stepped in, according to Sports Illustrated, and cooled tempers. Bleacher Report‘s Mike Tanier wrote that the players “[parted] like the Red Sea” when Tebow intervened.

The former Florida Gators star is attempting to earn a place as a third-string quarterback with the Eagles.

[Sports Illustrated]

TIME Football

Deflategate Judge Says Tom Brady Suspension Could Be Tossed Out

Tom Brady
Steve Helber—AP New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady tosses a pass during a joint practice with the New Orleans Saints at the Saints' NFL football training camp in White Sulphur Springs, W.Va. on Aug. 19, 2015.

The judge cited several weaknesses in the way the NFL handled the controversy

(NEW YORK) — Tom Brady might have reason to practice more intensely after a judge made clear Wednesday that the New England quarterback’s four-game suspension for underinflated footballs is in jeopardy.

U.S. District Judge Richard M. Berman warned an NFL lawyer during oral arguments that there was precedent for judges to toss out penalties issued by arbitrators in the scandal now known as “Deflategate.”

Berman cited several weaknesses in the way the NFL handled the controversy that could result in a victory by Brady and the NFL Players Association.

The suspension was upheld by NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell last month after he concluded Brady conspired with two Patriots equipment employees to deflate footballs before New England easily beat the Indianapolis Colts in January’s AFC championship game.

If there is no negotiated deal, Berman said he hopes to rule by Sept. 4, six days before the Patriots host the Pittsburgh Steelers in the NFL’s season-opening game. He encouraged a settlement, calling it a “logical and rational option.”

Neither Brady nor NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell was in court Wednesday. Brady returned to Patriots practice after participating in negotiations along with Goodell and lawyers on both sides a day earlier. The Manhattan judge said both would be required to attend an Aug. 31 hearing.

During more than two hours of arguments by attorneys, the judge noted other arbitration decisions have been rejected when a key witness was not allowed to testify as he questioned why NFL Executive Vice President Jeff Pash — who worked on the NFL investigation — could not be interviewed by union lawyers during the suspension’s appeal.

Berman said arbitration proceedings, while more relaxed than court proceedings, are still required to follow due process rules to ensure fairness.

He said a reference to the Jan. 18 game against the Indianapolis Colts was “conspicuously absent” in a conclusion from the NFL investigation that found Brady was generally aware of a plot to deflate game balls below what rules allow.

Finally, Berman said he could not understand how the commissioner opted to keep a four-game suspension over some other penalty. He asked what portion of it was for involvement in a deflated football scheme and what part was because Goodell concluded Brady didn’t cooperate with the probe.

He also was troubled by Goodell’s defense of the penalty on the grounds that it was comparable to penalties on players who use performance enhancing drugs.

When NFL lawyer Daniel Nash said both violations are an effort to gain a competitive advantage, the judge responded: “I still don’t see how the four games is comparable to a player using steroids.”

“It goes to the integrity of the game,” Nash said.

The judge used stronger language than he had when he seemed to lean against the NFL at a similar hearing a week earlier, though he cautioned that he had not yet made up his mind which side would win.

___

Associated Press writer Jake Pearson contributed to this report.

TIME Football

Judge Undecided in Tom Brady Deflategate Case

Tom Brady
Mary Altaffer—AP New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady arrives at federal court in New York on Aug. 12, 2015.

"I think there are varying strengths to both sides here"

(NEW YORK) — A federal judge told New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady and NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell at a hearing Wednesday that he had not decided who would prevail in their fight over deflated footballs at the AFC championship game.

“I think there are varying strengths to both sides here,” U.S. District Judge Richard M. Berman told the men and their lawyers at the center of a scandal known as “Deflategate.”

Goodell and Brady, along with their lawyers, met separately with the judge before the start of their hearing in Manhattan federal court.

They arrived more than an hour before the start of the morning hearing. Goodell was greeted by a smattering of boos as he walked inside. Four minutes later, Brady arrived flanked by four security guards. Both men went through a security sweep like everyone else going to court.

Dozens of fans and journalists waited for two of the NFL’s most famous faces at the front entrance of the courthouse, including some fans wearing deflated football hats they were hoping to sell.

The court hearing is the first since the league and Brady with the NFL players’ union traded filings in the dispute over whether Goodell was justified in suspending Brady four games after using underinflated footballs during the AFC championship game in January.

The league is asking Berman to declare it followed its collective bargaining agreement properly when it punished Brady.

Goodell concluded Brady “knew about, approved of, consented to, and provided inducements and rewards” to support a scheme in which a Patriots employee deflated balls on game day. Brady insists he knew nothing about it.

Berman asked Goodell and Brady, along with lawyers, to appear before him privately a half hour before the public court session. He said he wants to learn the status of negotiations. He also asked them to continue negotiating before the hearing.

At a news conference outside Chicago on Tuesday, Goodell said the league plans to cooperate fully with Berman.

In a July 28 decision upholding the suspension, Goodell heavily criticized Brady for having an aide destroy a cellphone containing nearly 10,000 text messages from a four-month stretch including the AFC championship game, when the Patriots defeated Indianapolis 45-7.

He accused him of obstructing the NFL probe about a controversy that represented “conduct detrimental to the integrity of, and public confidence in, the game of professional football.”

In court documents, the union’s lawyers said the suspension was unfair and violates the labor contract and complained that it would cause irreparable harm to Brady by forcing him to miss games.

They called a June appeal hearing before Goodell “a kangaroo court proceeding, bereft of fundamentally fair procedures.”

___

Associated Press writer Tom Hays in New York and AP Sports Writer Jimmy Golen in Boston contributed to this report.

MONEY Sports

2 Ways It Just Got Easier (and Cheaper) to Watch NFL Games

student on couch cheering at Football on TV
Getty Images

Are you ready for some football?

Football fans have a couple of new reasons to cheer. For this upcoming season, DirecTV’s NFL Sunday Ticket package — which allows subscribers to watch every out-of-market NFL game live — will be significantly cheaper for college students and more accessible for everyone.

First, AT&T, which recently received approval to purchase DirecTV, announced that fans who live in an apartment, condo, or townhouse who are not DirecTV subscribers will be allowed to stream all NFL Sunday Ticket content online. (Previously, for the most part, the ability to stream NFL Sunday Ticket was limited to DirecTV subscribers only.) Streaming NFL Sunday Ticket packages start at $49.99 per month, for four months.

That’s a pretty steep price to pay if, say, you’re a college student. So, secondly, a special offer is being rolled out to college students, cutting the price of the same streaming package in half. A year ago, DirecTV introduced a pilot program allowing students at 10 universities to stream NFL content. Now, the NFL Sunday Ticket package is being opened to students enrolled at all American four-year colleges, at a price of $24.99 per month for four months.

To sign up for either streaming option, head to nflst.directv.com.

TIME twitter

Twitter Is Ready For Some Football

Football
Boston Globe/Getty Images Indianapolis Colts linebacker D'Qwell Jackson

Now you can obsess about your fantasy team even more.

In just less than a month, America’s national distraction begins in the form of a new National Football League season. And Twitter is ready for it.

The social media company and the NFL announced today that they’d formed a partnership to have NFL news and content shared on Twitter’s platform. This will include infographics, breaking news and custom game recaps, according to a company news release.

“Twitter users and brands cannot get enough NFL video and news, and they’ll now get more of it, and faster, than ever before,” said Glenn Brown, head of Twitter Content Partnerships and Amplify. “Over the past two years, NFL content on Twitter has seen best-in-class user engagement rates, and the expanded partnership will bolster the fan experience on the platform.”
The NFL’s slate of preseason exhibition games began last night. The regular season begins on September 10 when the Super Bowl Champion New England Patriots take on the Pittsburgh Steelers.
TIME Football

Celebrities Remember NFL Great Frank Gifford on Twitter

Gifford died suddenly on Sunday at the age of 84

NFL Hall of Famer Frank Gifford’s sudden death has brought an outpouring of condolences and remembrances on social media.

Hosts on the Today Show—where Gifford’s wife, Kathie Lee, has co-hosted a segment with Hoda Kotb since 2008, tweeted expressions of support and sadness.

Celebrities, including Hollywood actors, NFL players and presidential candidates, poured out their sympathies as well.

Kathie Lee responded to the outpouring of support.

TIME

NFL Replays Are About to Get So Much Better

CORRECTION-AMFOOT-NFL-SUPER BOWL
TIMOTHY A. CLARY—AFP/Getty Images

It’s going to be a good year to be a football fan

Starting this season, NFL players will be wearing microchips in their equipment to track their on-field performance, and that’s good news for football fans, too: The data they generate will be made available in the form of replays, Gizmodo reports.

But it’s not all good news for fans of the sport. The publication notes that only fans with Microsoft products will be able to tap into the information, as the “Next Generation Stats and Replays” will be available through the NFL’s Xbox One App.

As the article notes:

Microsoft is a huge NFL sponsor, and for this season at least, this data will be exclusive to Microsoft products. We’re told there won’t be anything for iPad or any Playstation 4.

“You can watch the game by yourself with your cable, but on Xbox, we’re going to make that game better,” said Todd Stevens, executive producer at Microsoft, in an interview with Polygon.

“You’ll see next-gen stats in other places,” Stevens added. “Like, you’ll see the broadcasters do it a little bit more this season. You’ll see some stuff on NFL.com that’s super light-touch. But they don’t have the power of the Xbox to where we can instantly marry those highlights, that are super successful, with that data.”

The NFL partnered with Zebra in order to tack RFID chips to players’ shoulder pads.

TIME NFL

What the NFL’s First Female Coach Thinks About Tom Brady and Life in the Locker Room

Jen Welter talks to TIME about her coaching philosophy, the challenges ahead, and the league's latest controversy

The Arizona Cardinals introduced Jen Welter this week as a preseason and training camp coaching intern for the team’s inside linebackers, making her what is believed to be the first woman to hold any kind of coaching position in the NFL. Welter is used to breaking barriers: In 2014, she became the first woman to play a contact position in a professional men’s game, when she suited up at running back for the Texas Revolution, a team that plays in the Champions Indoor Football League.

Welter, 37, played 14 seasons in the Women’s Football Alliance, won two gold medals with the American team at the International Federation of American Football’s Women’s World Championship. She was linebackers and special teams coach for the Revolution last season.

TIME spoke to Welter on Tuesday from the Cardinals practice facility.

It’s 2015. The NFL has been around for a long, long time. What took so long for there to be a female coach?
How many times have we heard that the final frontier of women in sports is football? It really has been that gladiator sport, that last bastion of women don’t go there. It is a game where people believe that you have to be big and tough and strong and to have played the game and been in the trenches. And the truth is that women haven’t been playing football nearly as long as men. And the history of women in football is relatively short. So it’s understandable that it would take time.

But now we’re getting into the days when I had the longevity, because the sport was around enough, to have played for 14 years. You start to say, “Hey, wait a minute. These girls aren’t going anywhere.” And it took that credibility of guys seeing you be in the game for that long, and being dedicated and realizing that you do know it, you do love it, and you’re not just around it for the wrong reason. To start to put women in positions where they could contribute to football. And I think that that’s the blessing. It’s not going to change overnight. But it takes a history.

Given that football, as you say, has that gladiator, macho culture, and is the ‘last bastion of women don’t go there,’ why do you think NFL players will listen to you?
It’s not about what I think. It’s that I’ve been in this situation before. I have coached guys before. It wasn’t that I went in day one and tried to change them in football. I was there, I was consistent, I added to their game when I could. I took a lot of time to get to know what the needs of the players were. And once I saw the needs of the players, I would step in and help them. Some of the moments were more on the sports psychology side to be honest. Telling him how to be that ‘it’ player, or if you did this after the play, you know that message it would send. It’s just getting one or two of those guys to listen and buy in. Then when somebody sees that happening and they get better, oh my goodness it gets to be really competitive. Everybody wants that.

We had a joke—it wasn’t a joke, it was a very known secret I guess, on the defense that caught on was ‘Coach Jen’s Notes.’ I started with the linebackers but as the season went on I ended up working with the d-line and linebackers. And the guys were like, ‘hey, don’t you have notes for us?’ And I said, ‘you want my notes?’ They said, ‘yeah coach’. And I feel like, and I say this very jokingly, but it was serious cause at first it was almost like they didn’t want anybody to know they were getting notes from me.

And yet by the end of the season I had players who were leaders on my team, when a new guy came in, they’d be like, ‘listen, you need to give your email to coach Jen. She does the game breakdowns, her notes are the best, and you need to look at them.’ And it became an expectation. But it takes those leaders to really buy in.

I’m patient. I’m not going to jump up in anybody’s face and make them try and listen to me. As a player I would have respected that. So I think having that background as a player and knowing what I would look for and how to be respected, I think that that’s what these guys will respond to. At least I hope so.

Is your goal to be NFL head coach?
If that is the direction is where God puts me on this path, that’s what I will do. I lovingly say that I believe God put blinders on my life in terms of what I could accomplish and be capable of, because if I would have looked up and said to somebody, “I was going to do this,” they would have told me I was crazy. As soon as I started playing football, I knew it was my destiny. I couldn’t ever picture it.

As somebody who has a doctorate in psychology, people hire me all the time to talk about goal setting and breaking things down step by step. I couldn’t see this goal to have it. I just had to literally put my head down and trust the path, and do the right things everyday to be successful. And trust that process. And so if in doing this, that’s the path I’m meant to be on, then that’s exactly where I’ll go. But I can’t see that yet.

What do you anticipate being the toughest part of the job?

The toughest part, I think, is really guys knowing how they can act around me. Yesterday somebody said, “Come on gentlemen, let’s go.” And they were like, “Oh my gosh Jen, we’re so sorry.” And I said, “Just say guys it works for everybody.”

I’m used to rolling with the punches. I’ve been around guys in professional football for two years now. I’ve had friends in it forever. But it takes times for guys to see that and know it. And I laugh a lot. I smile a lot. I love those moments. I know they’re challenges to most people and they’re scary, but to me those are the priceless moments. I think it was a big turning point for the guys when I played. We were with the running backs and the coach was like, “Hey running backs, do you have your balls?” And one of the linebackers said, “Yeah, all but Jen.” And I looked at him and I said, “That’s okay, baby, when I need ’em I’ll get yours from your wife’s purse.” And just that moment of not being offended, of rolling with the punches and laughing, it opened up so many. Because they realized that they didn’t have to not be guys around me.

I don’t want to change who they are. I don’t want them to be like, “Oh my gosh coach, blah blah blah.” My guys would get protective at times. If I walked into a conversation they’d say, “Earmuffs, coach.’ I’d be like, “Okay.” And we would joke about it. On the outside, dealing with those issues is a horrible challenge and we don’t know how people are going to do it. Or deal with it. But when you do it, and you get through those moments and you share that laughter, those are the things that truly bond your team and are priceless. Those are the moments you love and you cherish and you laugh about years and years later.

Now that you’re in the NFL, I have to ask: what do you think about this Tom Brady ruling?
You can’t ask me about Tom Brady and want me to say anything about him other than I think he’s an absolute phenomenal player. … And he’s such a humble, good guy that loves the game of football. I hate to see anything tarnish that reputation. I can’t speak to a ruling like that. And I think that there are so many things in football that need to be fixed, that we’re spending, and pardon the pun, but I really am tired of hearing about Tom Brady’s balls. I’d rather move on.

It is kind of serendipitous though or funny or God’s irony that the same day we announce a woman coach in the NFL, we can’t get off Tom Brady’s balls.

Do you think it’s unfortunate that it kind of overshadowed you?
It’s those things that happen years later. Hopefully people will forget about Tom Brady’s balls long before they’ll forget that a girl is coaching in the NFL.

What got you into coaching football in first place?
It was actually former Dallas Cowboy (and first-year Texas Revolution head coach) Wendell Davis who approached me initially about coaching. We met and sat down and had a conversation. He knew I had played for the team the year before. He was just trying to get an understanding of the team, asking me a lot of questions about how things were and what was good, what was bad. As we started talking he started grilling me about football ins and outs, Xs and Os. Like, “What, am I being tested right now? All right. If you’re going to put me on the spot right now, I’ll step up.” And we really got into some great football talk.

Two days later he said, “You know Jen, in the car ride when we left”—and he was with his defensive coordinator at the time—he said, “all we could talk about was how we needed you to coach our football team. How she’d be fantastic.” And I told him, “No. Oh no.” And he was like, “Well, why?” And I said, “I still might play and I might do this.” He said, “Jen, I’m going to be perfectly honest with you. You’re not going to get this opportunity from another guy. So you need to just step up and take it. There’s never been a girl who’s coached before and you’re the right one so do it.” And Wendell just has this way about him. I did turn him down on that phone call but on the next one, he broke me down and I said yes. He really twisted my arm, but he was right. And I’m very thankful for that.

What do apply from your psychology doctorate into coaching?
Everything. My masters is in sports psychology. My doctorate, though it’s in general psychology, we focused entirely in sports. I took everything I learned, cause I was playing, I took everything I learned in psychology and looked for an application to sports and to athletes in general. And I think the biggest thing that most people don’t realize is that athletes are humans too. We see them as players, but we tend to be very bad at looking past the helmet and seeing the people. And a lot of the challenges I saw with my players last season were less about the Xs and Os, and more about life. And I hope, as a coach, that I can help these guys be better men, not just better football players. That’s the goal.

San Antonio Spurs assistant coach Becky Hammon just won a summer league championship. You’re the NFL’s first female coach. The U.S. women’s soccer team captivated the nation, Serena Williams is going for a Grand Slam. Do you think women and sports are having a huge moment, and if so, what long-term can come out of it?
I think the difference with women’s sports now is that people are finally paying attention. Women have been talented athletes and very powerful in sports for a very long time. But they haven’t had the support around them. You know, my first Super Bowl check [Welter refers to the titles she won in the Women’s Football Alliance as Super Bowls] was for 12 dollars. I had to fundraise $3,000 to represent my country as a pioneer as a woman in football. And we thought when we won gold medals we were changing the world for women’s football. We got back and no one even knew what we did.

It takes the support. It’s not just the talent. The talent has been there, there have been amazing women in sports for so long. Unfortunately no one knew they existed. And what’s changing now is that people are getting excited about women in sports. And they realize that for our girls to grow up, and grow up into very strong, successful women, they need to see positive role models. Not just Instagram pictures.

This interview has been edited and condensed.

TIME Football

Patriots Owner Robert Kraft Regrets Not Appealing NFL Penalties

"This was never about doing what was fair and just"

(FOXBOROUGH, Mass.) — New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft says he was wrong to trust the NFL in the deflated footballs case and that he regrets not appealing the penalties against the team.

Appearing at team headquarters Wednesday, a day after NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell upheld a four-game suspension of Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, Kraft angrily targeted the league for its handling of the case.

Kraft said that the league’s claim that Brady trashed his cellphone was just the latest in a series of statements and leaks designed to impugn the integrity of Brady and the team.

Kraft said, “I have come to the conclusion that this was never about doing what was fair and just.”

Brady was suspended four games and the team was docked $1 million and two draft picks after the league found improperly inflated footballs were used in the AFC championship game against the Indianapolis Colts.

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