In case we had forgotten how much Tom Brady means to the New England Patriots, we were reminded Thursday night, as Brady led the Pats to a 28-21 win over the Pittsburgh Steelers to kick off the 2015 NFL season.

Just days after his four-game suspension was overturned, Brady put on a show in Foxboro, going 25-of-32 for 288 yards and four touchdowns – three to Rob Gronkowski, who finished with five catches for 94 yards.

Roger Goodell, meanwhile, was nowhere to be found.

“Boston sports talk radio has become entertaining,” Sports Illustrated writer Chris Mannix said on CBS Sports Radio’s Ferrall on the Bench. “Everyone that’s criticized the Patriots in the last six months – they’re daring those guys to come on the air. It’s interesting.”

Mannix, like many, believes the NFL mishandled Deflategate.

“I mean, yeah, if you’re going to chose between four games and none, take none – because four games is way too much,” Mannix said. “Do I think that Tom Brady did something and the Patriots did something? Yeah, sure. But it’s an equipment fine. It’s a fine.”

The last week has been a bit of a whirlwind for Brady and the Patriots. First, Brady was still suspended for four games, then U.S. District Court Judge Richard Berman overturned it, and then an ESPN report surfaced that essentially brought Spygate and other Patriots cheating allegations back from the dead.

“That’s weird,” Mannix said. “I can’t speak to the ESPN story, but there’s a lot of conspiracy about (how the SI) story comes out when this happens. That SI story has been in the works for like six months. That’s been our best NFL guys working on it and working on it. Greg Bishop – a terrific writer, our lead NFL guy – was working on it. I think (the ESPN story) tried to draw specific lines between Spygate and Deflategate. The other one, the SI story, it was more about the level of paranoia that the Patriots have kind of engendered across the league. People are nervous coming to Foxboro.”

Mannix, who also covers boxing for SI, was asked about Floyd Mayweather’s fight with Andre Berto on Saturday.

“Not a fan,” Mannix said. “What do you expect? It’s an 11-round-to-1 whitewash. You like to be optimistic and say it’s a great fight. Maybe Berto is more action-oriented than other fighters Mayweather has faced, but this is Mayweather. He picks you apart defensively. He pot-shots you, he hits accurately and he wins lopsided decisions – and Berto is not a defensive fighter. He’s going to get out-pointed big time.”

Some boxing writers believe that Mayweather will go for the knockout in this fight, even though he hasn’t recorded a KO since Victor Ortiz in September 2011 – and that came on a cheap shot.

“He doesn’t knock guys out,” Mannix said. “He doesn’t go for the kill because he doesn’t have to. He’s up big in these fights and he’s collecting a big check regardless.”


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