In today's episode of Season Ticket, The Boston Globe's Chris Gasper (@cgasper) welcomes NFL Reporter Albert Breer to talk about the Patriots' commanding win over the Falcons on Sunday Night Football and their biggest competition for the AFC crown. Then they get into league-wide issues, including Colin Kaepernick still being out of a job and the NFL's poor ratings. Finally, Gasper discusses new Red Sox manager, Alex Cora.
- Albert Breer , Senior NFL Reporter, The MMQB and NBC Sports Boston
On the Atlanta Falcons' Super Bowl hangover
Albert Breer: I certainly think there's a psychological element that the Falcons were dealing with last night. And you can see it in the way their last three games went. They blew leads in each of those three games...It just felt like they were spooked. And I, personally, thought by now they would be by [their loss in the Super Bowl]. They aren't.
"He can sell ketchup to a woman in white gloves."Albert Breer, on Cowboys owner Jerry Jones' focus on making profit
On the strongest teams in the AFC
Albert Breer: I still think the Patriots are the favorite. [But] I think the team to watch is Pittsburgh. We've all made a lot of Ben Roethlisberger at their quarterback [position] and Antonio Brown [at wide receiver]. But what I think what a lot of people have missed is the defense is slowly getting better...The defense won that game in Kansas City two Sundays ago. And I think what we're seeing now is a group of young players playing with more confidence. And it looks, at least to me, all that draft capital they've spent on the defensive side of the ball is paying off.
Chris Gasper: Yeah, I think the Steelers are the biggest threat to the Patriots. They're the team with the highest ceiling.
On Cowboys owner Jerry Jones saying the anthem protests are hurting the league
Albert Breer: I don't think there's any question that it's effecting business. Maybe not at the fan level, but absolutely at the sponsor level, the advertiser level.
Chris Gasper: That matters even more, right?
Albert Breer. That's more important...And the message [Jerry Jones] gave his players was, "We're in business with you. You literally take a percentage of what we make. No matter what side of this you stand on, we know this is not good for business." ...This isn't ideological for Jerry Jones. The only church that he's praying at here is the US Mint. I've covered the guy on a day-to-day basis. He can sell ketchup to a woman in white gloves. He always thinks with the bottom line in mind.
"There's no amount of money that makes [NFL players] immune to social injustice in America."Chris Gasper
On the NFL's strategy for President Trump's statements against the league
Albert Breer: They're gonna try to ignore him. And that sounds crazy because he's the President of the United States. But their strategy going forward is, "Ok, you did what you did in Alabama, and that was an absolute neutron bomb...But now you've done it every day for the last three weeks. So it sort of loses its effect." And I think what they're hoping is that they'll be able to ignore this going forward. And guys who still wanna protest can protest but they don't want it to be a news story every week because that's not good for business.
On Colin Kaepernick still being out of the NFL
Chris Gasper: I think it just speaks to football culture. The old trope these guys have about, "Well this is a distraction." And the message of that is, you know, "You are a football automaton and all you're supposed to do is focus on football. And you're not supposed to have any interest outside football." I'll tell you what, for a lot of these players it doesn't matter how much money they have. There's no amount of money that makes them immune to social injustice in America. And that's why these guys have a different point of view than [Cowboys owner] Jerry Jones.
On the NFL's recent ratings decline
Albert Breer: They've got a television contract coming up in four years that may not look anywhere close to the same as this one does. And, will it affect whether they go to Netflix or Amazon or Hulu or Google instead of going to ABC, NBC, CBS, ESPN, FOX? It's fascinating because...so much of [their] revenue has come from television. So much of their success is tied to television. Now, for the first time in forever, that upward trajectory that everything they put on the air has been on forever isn't there anymore...It's new for the NFL because they've just never dealt with a decline like this.
"[Alex Cora] really checks all the boxes for a modern manager."Chris Gasper
On new Red Sox manager, Alex Cora
Chris Gasper: He's the first Hispanic manager in Red Sox history, which I think is significant given the breakdown demographically in Major League Baseball today. He was really the number one choice for the Red Sox here...he played here, he understands the market, he was a media member for ESPN, again, he's bilingual, which is something that is appealing to them. He's worked in a front office capacity in the Puerto Rican Winter League. He is good with analytics. He really checks all the boxes for a modern manager here. He's not that far away from his playing career—he's only 42 years old.