Patriots 2014 First-Quarter Review

This one’s difficult to write. I began it before halftime.

New England sits at 2-2, sandwiching two wins (at Minnesota and vs. Oakland) between a grim season-opener at Miami and a listless effort in Kansas City. (And after they got one-room-schoolhouse disciplined by the Chiefs, the term “listless effort” drips with kindness compared to most descriptions we could think of.)

Monday night’s palindromic 41-14 loss in KC will send this team in one of two directions: they’ll either figure it out, come together, and get their requisite double-digit wins, or they’ll continue on this path and fail to live up to expectations. After last night, fans find it difficult to consider anything other than the latter.

Some thoughts on the season so far:

RECEIVERS. Okay, what the hell? Last year  by Game Four, then-rookie Aaron Dobson had 11 receptions for 118 yards and a touchdown. This year he has one catch for 13 yards and a growing collection of healthy scratches. In 2013, then-rookie Kenbrell Thompkins had 15 catches for 257 yards and three TDs through four games. This year, six for 53, plus a couple of healthy scratches as well.

Last year by this time, then-rookie Josh Boyce had one catch for 24 yards, a virtual career compared to his zero for zero due to his current practice squad status. Danny Amendola in 2013? Ten catches, 104 yards, all from his very first game in a New England uniform. Amendola suffered a groin injury that made a bris seem preferable, forcing him off the field for the ensuing three games. This season he has three grabs for 16 yards (and as many last night as all of the above pass-catchers, i.e., zero).

So what the hell happened to the receivers? Why did what had the potential of a bust-out season become merely a bust? Some potential reasons below.

OFFENSIVE LINE. These guys have yielded to pressure like gullible teenagers. With rookies Bryan Stork and Cameron Fleming manning the center and guard spots, respectively, maybe they have the formation that will work out for the best (despite Fleming getting roundhoused like a palooka at one point).  The raw numbers from this year actually depict similar pressure on Brady as in the first few games of last year (as submitted by @PatriotsSB49 on Twitter), but – combined with some curious play-calling, the offense has seemed far more consistently feckless than they have in years.

PLAY CALLING: Hey, Josh McDaniels? Maybe run the ball. Maybe, when you travel to the loudest, or second-loudest, or however-loud-it’s-always-louder-than-Gillette-Stadium-gets stadium, maybe avoid passing on the first three downs, punting, then giving the Chiefs the ball for the rest of the quarter? Just an idea.

And, no go on those bubble screens any more? You know, the ones where Julian Edelman, your best receiver, gets the ball in space? No viability in putting Dobson out there for a pass longer than 15 yards? No sense in running your biggest back, Stevan Ridley, on third and two?

When the Patriots mix it up, they can use play-action, which seems about the only way the Patriots receivers can get open. How much yardage they gain on the ground doesn’t matter as much as the fact that they make the defense look for it. In Miami, New England passed 56 times and rushed only 20 (for 89 yards). At Minnesota, they had 37 rushes for 150 yards, actually averaging less than they did in Miami at just over four yards per carry, but with enough consistency to get the job done.

And why the hell isn’t Tim Wright getting more looks? Is he not a matchup problem for defenses? Can’t they just pull an Ochocinco and call a down-and-out for him twice a game? Seems like he should be contributing more at this point. I mean, not all new players can be Danny Woodhead and offer major contributions after one week in Foxboro, but a player who caught 54 passes for Tampa Bay last year should have more than four with his new team.

Christ, remember Danny Woodhead?

BRADY: Because of our first three topics, Brady hasn’t been himself (or, perish the thought, maybe this is what he has become START GAROPPOLO NOW Oh Heavens help us). He forces the ball to Rob Gronkowski despite Gronk getting double- and triple-teamed. He forces the ball to Edelman despite having enough field in front of him to run for a first down. His performance in KC (14 of 23, 159 yards, one TD, two INTs) shows the kind of pressure he was under.

Last year he seemed to trust Thompkins. He sure as hell trusted Amendola, at least for one game. Now, not so much.

PERSONNEL: Some iffy choices by the coaches (see receivers issues above). Plus, hard to imagine this defense performing worse with lineman Tommy Kelly aboard. Say what you want about Logan Mankins’ decline and his price tag, but he would have offered some stability to a crew that has seen more shuffling than your grandmother’s deck of cards on a rainy afternoon of Crazy Eights.

On defense (and I refuse to focus on defense, because seriously, I can’t), where are the playmakers? If Chandler Jones doesn’t sack somebody, does anything happen? Is Revis Island more like Revis Sandbar, showing up half the time and then disappearing? And can someone get Rob Ninkovich some new cleats?

HEART. Or, as we say around here, HAHT. Where is it? Why does it seem that, when they get behind, most Patriots players seem to look around, waiting, hoping someone else makes a play?

Think about it. Taking size out of the equation, if you found yourself in a vicious cockfight, which New England player would you want by your side?

I’d take Edelman. Matthew Slater. Rob Goddang Gronkowski, who – bless his soul – had the good taste and wherewithal to avoid a Gronk spike Monday night after his late TD.

Who else? Jones? I’d say so. But Vince Wilfork? Ninkovich? I have to think about them. I would not have to think about putting Mankins on this list.

Brady? In a fight? I don’t know. Maybe he’s gotten weary. Maybe too much has been put on him. The coaches can’t – or won’t – depend on the running game. The O-line can’t give him the consistent time and comfort he needs in the pocket. The defense can’t get him the ball back quickly, if Monday night’s fecal-sluice-bag of a game is any indication.

The 2013 Patriots made it all the way to the AFC Championship with an injury-depleted roster. With many of those injured players back playing, the 2014 Patriots suffered their worst loss since 2005 on their way to a .500 record through the season’s first quarter. I don’t know exactly what’s happening. Maybe they don’t, either. But in Buffalo in two weeks – after a presumed loss to Cincinnati and a 2-3 record – they’d better figure it out.

Chris Warner can be consoled at [email protected] and on Twitter at @cwarn89

Now That This Jeter Nonsense Is Behind Us…

Derek Jeter will go into the baseball Hall of Fame. He deserves to be there.

But “Greatest Yankee” ?

Deserves to be the first unanimous selection to the Hall of Fame” ?

Worthy of an over-the-top sendoff at Fenway Park, and a tongue-bath from Dan Shaughnessy and the rest of the Boston Globe (and media)?

I don’t think so.

I understand the appeal of Derek Jeter, I do. As someone with more than a passing knowledge of the history of baseball, I see his place in the game. For the past two decades he was very much the face of the game. Shortstop and Captain of the New York Yankees. World Series champion. Clutch hitter.

Had he been the shortstop for the Houston Astros for this time period would we be having this conversation? If we swapped out Jeter and Craig Biggio, It would’ve been Biggio who was feted at Fenway to end his career.

The baseball media is blinded by Jeter. As great as his career was, it was made even bigger by playing for the Yankees and by the fawning media coverage he received.

I am not denigrating the career of Jeter. I am saying his great, Hall of Fame career was made even greater by his team and that media.

Media that Jeter treated very well and worked very well, mind you. Witness Peter Abraham – What it was like to cover Derek Jeter

If the Yankees were in a losing streak or caught up in some controversy, he would be sure to make himself available to the media before and especially after games. Jeter would stand at his locker and patiently answer every question until they ran out. Then he would look at the reporters around him and say, “All set?” before walking away.

And…

Jeter was extraordinarily patient, too, making sure nobody walked away feeling they were belittled. Even silly questions got some kind of answer. He had a good sense of humor when the cameras were off, but never was it mean-spirited.

Had Jeter played here, Dan Shaughnessy would’ve spent the last two decades ripping his night life, lack of range and his “selfishness” for refusing to cede his position when Alex Rodriguez joined the team. Fact, not opinion.

Instead, as a Yankee, Jeter gets nothing but praise from the likes of Shaughnessy. That much is obvious and Shaughnessy is not the only one that has done this. That is what made this weekend’s coverage so farcical.

OK, enough before lightning comes down from the heavens and strikes me dead.

The Red Sox season is over, (144 days until spring training starts!) and this offseason will  be very interesting. Ben Cherington has a lot of work to do.

Meanwhile, check out this WBUR profile of reporter Jonny Miller, who will no doubt be the first reporter to arrive for Spring training. Miller is the voice you hear usually asking the first question at Red Sox press conferences, and has been on the job for 42 years while living with cerebral palsy.

*******

The Patriots are in Kansas City tonight for the Monday Night Football matchup with the Kansas City Chiefs. While the game will be on ESPN, it will also be broadcast locally on WCVB channel 5, which will start out with “SportsCenter 5 Countdown To Kickoff” at 8:00pm.

WCVB’s SportsCenter 5 anchor Mike Lynch – @LynchieWCVB – will report live in-studio from the Channel 5 sports desk. Plus, SportsCenter 5 reporter Bob Halloran – @BobWCVB – will be reporting from Kansas City, covering all the pre-game action live from the field. He will be joined by the Boston Globe’s Chris Gasper.

WCVB’s postgame coverage will be provided by the SportsCenter 5 team in NewsCenter 5’s late newscast immediately following the game.

Matt Chatham uses his experience playing for Bill Belichick to decipher clues from the head coach from the past week on what we can expect from the team – Expect the Patriots to Change  (The site has had some issues this morning, keep checking back until it is back. It’s worth a look.)

Get all the coverage tonight on PatriotsLinks.com.

In defense of Joe Buck and Troy Aikman – Chad Finn rates the FOX broadcast duo only behind Al Michaels/Cris Collinsworth.

Bill Simmons: A deeper examination of his suspension from ESPN – Richard Deitsch looks further into the suspension and answers questions from readers on the topic.

Today is Celtics media day, check out Baxter Holmes and his long-form piece on rookie guard Marcus Smart:

Celtics rookie Marcus Smart’s hard past drives his future

When Bill Simmons Said He Would Go Public If Disciplined.

As you’ve no doubt heard a million times already, Last night ESPN suspended former Boston Sports Guy Bill Simmons for three weeks following his podcast comments about NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell. The criticism of Goodell probably isn’t what got Simmons suspended, as others at the network have expressed similar (though more guarded) sentiments about the situation.

What got Simmons suspended was his dare to ESPN management:

I really hope somebody calls me or emails me and says I’m in trouble for anything I say about Roger Goodell. Because if one person says that to me, I’m going public. You leave me alone. The Commissioner’s a liar and I get to talk about that on my podcast.

He  later repeated Please, call me and say I’m in trouble. I dare you.

ESPN took him up on his dare, and now Simmons is suspended until October 15th. No writing, appearances, Twitter or Facebook.

The network is making an example out of Simmons after being criticized for its discipline of employees in the past, especially given the outcry when Stephen A Smith was given just a one-week suspension for his comments about Janay Rice.

This is actually not unlike the reaction of Goodell following criticism over the two-game suspension to Ray Rice, he then dished out a much harsher punishment and vowed to revamp the league’s entire policies. It’s worth noting that Simmons has received a longer suspension that was originally given to Ray Rice for his actions.

The issue zoomed to the top of topics trending on Twitter last night, with the hashtag #freeSimmons leading the way.

The question now is, does Simmons actually “go public” on this matter? What does that entail? Will he follow through on it?

More from SI’s Richard Deitsch – ESPN suspends Bill Simmons for criticism of Roger Goodell

Long Way To Go For Patriots

Going into yesterday, most people expected the Patriots to beat up on the Oakland Raiders, who were making their second East coast trip in three weeks, and heading out to London for next week’s game.

The Raiders put up a fight, and the Patriots continued their struggle to put the ball in the end zone yesterday, and wound up with a 16-9 New England victory. They held off a last-second Raiders drive when Vince Wilfork grabbed a deflected ball to come up with the game-sealing interception.

It wasn’t a satisfying win, but it was a win, and we’ll take it. Get all the coverage at PatriotsLinks.com.

Ray Lewis is not a good TV analyst – Chad Finn nails it here, especially in light of Lewis’ mind-boggling quote from yesterday – “There’s some things you can cover up. And there’s some things you can’t.“

A salute to the great sportswriter Joe Murphy – The legendary Eagle-Tribune columnist passed away on Saturday at the age of 89. Michael Muldoon had written this column back in May remembering Murphy, who in many ways was a prototype of the cynical, opinionated sports columnist of today.

ESPN’s Cris Carter’s on-air growth showing in NFL coverage – Richard Deitsch looks back at a crazy week of NFL media.

On Friday, ESPN’s Outside the Lines released their devastating report on how the Baltimore Ravens and the NFL handled the Ray Rice case.

Rice case: purposeful misdirection by team, scant investigation by NFL

Done by Don Van Natta Jr. and Kevin Van Valkenburg, the report had the Ravens scrambling and promising a detailed reply this week.

While there is a ton to digest in the report, from a media perspective, and keeping a theme going that I’ve had on this site over the last few weeks, here’s another damning bit of evidence against Peter King and his role as Roger Goodell’s mouthpiece.

From the ESPN report:

By early July, NFL beat reporters kept hearing Rice would get a six-game suspension. But privately, Ravens officials said they felt confident Rice would get only two games. One source who spoke to Cass said he had heard at least two weeks before Goodell announced the penalty that Rice would receive only a two-game suspension. Rice’s friends say he didn’t hear his suspension was two games until July 23, the day before Goodell announced it.

This is from King’s MMQB in MAY:

Rice likely faces a short (maybe two-game) suspension from the commissioner for being a first-time offender under the personal-conduct policy. He’s got a strong résumé and is greatly admired for his work in the community. He shouldn’t be thrown out with the trash. But he’s got to realize that the performance the other day was tone-deaf.

So King knew that the suspension would be “maybe” two games before the Ravens or Rice did? How exactly did he know this, way back then? The reasons given are also what Goodell cited. He’s awful. The worst.

<insert picture of smoking gun here>

I also love the audacity of King to suggest someone else is tone-deaf. King has mastered the art of tone-deafness. Finn touched on it in his Sunday Mailbag yesterday.

Let’s look at today’s MMQB for some more tone-deal, ugly-American examples:

Walking back from Central Park around noon Saturday, I spied a crazy-long line outside the Apple Store on Fifth Avenue. The line weaved in a maze of crowd-control stanchions, hundreds of people in the maze, and at the end of the maze, the line went east down 59th Street, a full city block to Madison Avenue.

It wasn’t too tough to guess what it was for—the rollout of the iPhone 6. I asked one of the security dudes: “How long a wait if I went to the end of the line right now?”

“Six hours,” he said.

So I went to the end of the line and asked a couple of young guys, 20 or 23, waiting with their heads in their iPhone 5s, “Did you know you’ve got about a six-hour wait in front of you? That’s what the security guy told me.”

“They told us it was about five,” one of the guys said.

Well, that certainly makes all the difference.

The guy who Tweeted delightedly about being able to inform a restaurant host about Robin Williams’ suicide now eagerly runs to the back of the line in Manhattan – where he lives – to inform the people there that they have to wait six hours. That last line is vintage Peter King.

6. I think if you’re waiting for me to call for Roger Goodell to be fired, you’ll have to wait a while. I’m not into mob rule either.

So people who are saying that Goodell needs to be gone are part of a “mob.” This is like when Peter referred to the “shrill cries” for his own job. And of course he isn’t going to call for Goodell to be fired. He’s got too much at stake himself.

Peter is also not into mob rule, but he is the one leading the crusade to change the name of the Washington football team.

a. My best to the family of Dave Rahn, former 49ers PR man, who died of melanoma Thursday. Dave was a good, good man with a terrific work ethic, and he was as professional a person as I’ve dealt with in this business. Rest in peace, Dave.

Well, that’s a nice sentiment, Peter.

b. I’ve had two significant melanoma surgeries, and it’s nothing to fool around with. Sunscreen and regular checkups are the only way to beat it—or to compete with it.

Of course. It’s always about Peter. He can’t even pay tribute to a man who died of cancer without making it about himself.

Tone-deaf doesn’t begin to cover it.

Week Wrap – Fat Cat Media Feels A Little Heat

In the wake of the NFL scandals of the last couple weeks, some of the long time and prominent media covering the league have been made slightly uncomfortable by having the light shined on their “coverage” of the league, which in many cases seems to consist of writing what Roger Goodell tells them to write.

Is there now a trust gap with Peter King? – Matt Yoder of Awful Announcing looks at the suspicions people are having of King, especially after his column this week which had a tough headline – It’s Past Time, Commissioner – but then leads off with the following paragraph:

A source with knowledge of NFL commissioner Roger Goodell’s mindset this week said something Wednesday that is very bad news for the 2014 playing status of Carolina defensive end Greg Hardy: “Roger has determined that he will be a leader in the domestic-violence space.”

So many questions. What exactly is  the domestic-violence space and how does one become a leader in it? A source with knowledge of the mindset? Was it Goodell himself, whispering in Peter’s ear? How can someone have a knowledge of someone else’s mindset?

Dave McKenna of Deadspin also wrote on this – Will The Elite NFL Media Still Be Stooges After The Ray Rice Scandal?

He targets not only King, but Chris Mortensen and Adam Schefter as well. These types are not used to being criticized, especially King, who acts ridiculously out of touch and childish when challenged in the least bit.

If he’s feeling the heat, that’s a good thing.

When is Dan Shaughnessy going to feel some heat? Self-plagiarism gets old after a while. When was the last time the man had an original thought?

WEEI beat WBZ-FM in the summer book:

Some might say winning the summer ratings book is like going 4-0 in the NFL preseason, but it’s a start.

The media columns today:

Play-by-play man Allen Bestwick will miss NASCAR duties – Chad Finn has the Rhode Island native getting a bit wistful as ESPN’s run broadcasting NASCAR winds down.

Holy Cross radio voice Bob Fouracre recovered, ready to go – Bill Doyle has the football announcer coming back from colon cancer surgery.

In the actual sports area, we’ve got the Raiders coming to town for the Patriots home opener on Sunday. CBS has the 1:00pm game with Greg Gumbel and Trent Green getting the call. Evan Washburn will be the sideline reporter.

Catch all the coverage at Patriotslinks.com.

The Red Sox season is winding down, but the last week is actually pretty entertaining to watch with the lineup almost exclusively made up of young  and new players like Betts, Bogaerts, Cespedes, Castillo, Middlebrooks, Bradley Jr and Vasquez, as well as the young pitchers. Good experience for them. RedSoxLinks.com

The Bruins have started training camp, and have the first holdouts of the Peter Chiarelli era in Torey Krug and Reilly Smith. Get the latest a BruinsLinks.com.

Shame On You For Not Having an Opinion!

I don’t know about you, but I’m a little sick of opinions. They may be repackaged these days as #HOTSPORTZTAKES but really in many instances, they’re just a way to justify saying something stupid.

Wait, did I just give my opinion?

Oh well.

The NFL is a mess. That much is obvious. What is also obvious is that the media will insert themselves into the narrative for their own gain. This is not breaking news. We’ll get pieces threatening to stop watching the NFL. (Hi Adam Kaufman!) which, when I see, only makes me hope this means they’ll actually stop writing and talking about the NFL too.

We get Kirk Minihane going on a week-long binge of attacking those who don’t express their opinion. All of a sudden Minihane is Senator Joseph McCarthy seeking out members of the communist party. Tom Brady hasn’t said he’s against child abuse. So that must mean he is for it….How long have you supported wife beating, Rodney Harrison?

Oh wait, my bad. Kirk says his issue is not that Brady isn’t willing to give an opinion (but really, that IS what Kirk’s problem is) but that he thinks Brady is wrong to say that his opinion isn’t going to make a difference.

That’s a matter of opinion. A really, really dumb opinion.

Will the NFL and the Vikings change their stance based on what Tom Brady says? No. Of course not. The only reason any changes are happening right now is because sponsors and advertisers are either pulling out their money and support of the league or are threatening to do so. Does Brady speaking out influence that? No. Is it an impossible scenario? I guess not, but likely? No. What influences those entities is cries from the consumer and threats that they will stop purchasing the product.

Minihane and ProJo Red Sox writer Brian MacPherson went on a Twitter string together about how Brady’s comments were “Pretty weak” a “total whiff” and “shockingly out of touch.

What they don’t get though, is that had Brady made a comment about it, even a simple condemnation of the act, it becomes HUGE. Not a little 10-second thing to deal with as Kirk would have you believe.

Rich Levine outlines this scenario better than I ever possibly could. Which is why he’s making the big bucks and I’m a lowly part-time media blogger.

Why Tom Brady doesn’t speak out

Read it.

Also on CSNNE, a cerebral piece by Tom E Curran.

Free speech is also about right to stay silent

As Curran says:

Brady offering anything wouldn’t cause an epiphany for Adrian Peterson. It would, however, cause moans of pleasure in our business because it would add content and a new angle. Of course, Brady – and any other marquee player – taking a pass provides us this content anyway. (Which is what this column is…)

Which is all most in the media really want.

Even nationally, Brady is taking heat. Witness these two blog posts:

Tom Brady deliberately remaining quiet on NFL’s many current crises

The Patriot Way: Tom Brady Declines to Take a Stand On Ray Rice, Other NFL Scandals

The second article suggests that Brady doesn’t want to speak because he doesn’t want to offend Peterson because the Patriots plan to sign him once he’s released by the Vikings, because the Patriots have a history of bringing in troubled players.

The writer isn’t wearing a tinfoil hat in his photo, but I think he was while writing that post.

What I don’t get is the target Brady has on him for this. Where are these articles about Peyton Manning? Aaron Rodgers? Has Calvin Johnson weighed in? (Er, check that.) How about the never reticent Richard Sherman, who has no problem talking about other people? Are there articles being written about them?  No? Why not?

NESN Hires Guerin Austin As Bruins Rink-Side Reporter

From NESN:

September 15, 2014 – NESN, New England’s most watched sports network, announced today that Guerin Austin (@GuerinAustin) will join the network as a reporter/anchor/host. She will begin her tenure at NESN serving as the network’s Bruins rink-side reporter and doing features on NESN Sports Today and NESN Live.

Austin’s portfolio of experience includes five years in Washington, D.C., where she served as host of Caps Red Line, a weekly behind-the-scenes look at the Capitals airing on the NHL Network, and as a morning host/reporter at the FOX affiliate in Richmond, VA. She also served as the in-arena host for Capitals home games at the Verizon Center.

The 2004 Miss Nebraska USA got her start in television as an on-air host and associate producer at the ABC affiliate in Denver, and at the CW station in Omaha, Nebraska. Originally from the Seattle area, Austin grew up in skating rinks, from competing as a figure skater to watching her dad and brother play hockey. She lived in Connecticut for two years training at the International Skating Center in Simsbury.

“Guerin has a wide-range of experience as a television reporter/host, including several years working with an NHL team,” said Joseph Maar, NESN’s Vice President of Programming and Production/Executive Producer. “She is a versatile on-air personality with a range of skills from speaking French to producing features. We are very excited to welcome a reporter/anchor of Guerin’s caliber to NESN and our Bruins broadcast team.”

 

NESN's Guerin Austin

Patriots Look To Avoid 0-2 Start

After last Sunday’s debacle in Miami, the Patriots will attempt to pick up their first win of the season, and avoid putting themselves into an early season 0-2 hole when they take on the Vikings in Minnesota. It won’t be easy, as the Vikings have some dynamic talent on both sides of the ball, and they are coming off a runaway win in St. Louis last week.

CBS has the game on Sunday at 1:00pm with Ian Eagle and Dan Fouts on the call, and former NESN Red Sox reporter Jenny Dell will handle the sideline duties. It will be our first chance to see her on a Patriots broadcast.

The game will be played outdoors at TCF Bank Stadium, the home of the University of Minnesota, where the Vikings are playing the next two seasons while their new stadium is built.

In the few scattered times that the Patriots have been discussed this week – there have been a few other NFL things going on if you hadn’t heard – I’ve seen confusion and discussions over the Patriots rotation on the offensive line in Miami. Many people, including beat reporters, seem confused about  reasoning behind the shuffling. A look through Mike Reiss’s blog archives and snap counts show that this was not that unusual for the opening game. Rosevelt Colvin was on 98.5 this morning and also said that in the first game of the season, the team would rotate players on the offensive line to break them and not put too much load on them to play a full game right off the bat.

Look for the offensive line to solidify over the coming weeks.

Check all the coverage leading into Sunday at PatriotsLinks.com.

One quick Red Sox note – It might be blasphemy here, but I’m looking forward to seeing Mookie Betts play second base - hopefully for the rest of the season.

OK, two. Does Giancarlo Stanton already play for the Red Sox? I know him getting drilled in the face last night was gruesome, and he is an MLB Star, but with all the rumors about the Red Sox interest in him, (feels a lot like all those Adrian Gonzalez rumors we heard before the team actually acquired him.) you’d think he already played here. Both radio stations are talking about it, the Globe runs its “On Baseball” column about him, it’s a little unusual for an out-of-town player.

Media

CBS’s James Brown on the mark regarding Ray Rice – Chad Finn applauds the network host’s comments on the NFL and domestic violence last night.

He also notes the return of Curt Schilling to ESPN, Dan Koppen’s work on CSNNE, and Glenn Ordway’s Big Show Unfiltered finding its first terrestrial home at ESPN New Hampshire (900 AM and 1250 AM) starting next week.

From hardcore to hard knocks: Alum lands at NESN – The Emerson College Newspaper The Berkeley Beacon profiles alum Doug Kyed who the Patriots beat reporter for NESN. Kyed faced a tough choice – hard rock stardom, or attending Bill Belichick press conferences.

Opinion: Time For NFL Owners To Step Up

We welcome this guest editorial from Michael Walsh.

It is easy to forget that Roger Goodell is only the most powerful man in sports because the true oligarchy of power needs a public face. The inept, incompetent, and possibly unscrupulous Goodell only holds power because 32 of the richest men in America give it to him.

And now, as the disgrace of the league’s handling of Ray Rice knocking his fiancée out cold grows larger and larger with each breaking news story and subsequent denial or “admission” of failure, calls for Goodell’s resignation are growing louder and louder, and not just from fans on Twitter, but from the league’s partner, and often times enabler, ESPN, as well as the National Organization of Women.

Unfortunately, everyone has it wrong. Stop calling on Goodell to go.

Start calling on his bosses to do the right thing and make him go.

Make no mistake: Roger Goodell works for them. Those 32 insanely rich men. They have hired him to do their dirty work, protect “The Shield”, and most importantly, increase their bottom dollar.

And boy has he. Just a few of those accomplishments include a CBA that grossly favors the owners, a new Thursday night game revenue stream, and local cities falling over themselves to let the taxpayers fund their stadiums. The NFL isn’t an ATM, it is a mint. They are printing money, and their stated goal is to grow and grow the game, and by that they simply mean to increase their profits to even more obscene levels.

Goodell has been such an able employee, and just as importantly, been the face to take all the cries of hypocrisy and greed sent the NFL’s way, that they rewarded him with $44 million in salary last year. All of this to a commissioner whose gaffes and missteps are well-documented. High profile columnists, players both former and active, and fans on social media are happy to point them out.

Ho hum. Print that money. Thank you Roger. You’re doing a great job.

That is the message 32 of the richest men in America keep giving Roger Goodell.

Well no more. That can no longer be the case. Not when the leader of the most powerful, richest sports league in America has so monumentally screwed up something so important.

Ray Rice spit on his fiancée, twice, then hit her in the face with violent, malicious punches, twice, before dragging her like a sack of potatoes out of the elevator. And it is all on video.

What Ray Rice did is despicable. How he has acted since then is despicable. Ray Rice may or may not be scum, but the evidence there is pretty overwhelming.

And the NFL and Roger Goodell have enabled him and every other piece of scum out there. Domestic violence cannot be trivialized, it cannot be brushed aside, it cannot be explained away. The NFL owed it to every women in this country to do right by them, and they didn’t. Whether out of unimaginable incompetence, or, more likely, willful malice in trying to protect “The Shield” (their pocketbook), the NFL took what happened to a battered woman and made it an assault on all women.

So it is time for one of the 32 richest men in America to stand up and be the first to say that the man they pay to do their bidding has to go. It is time for one of them to publicly, with his name attached and his face on camera, to say that Roger Goodell failed his biggest test, that he failed every fan of the league, every daughter, every mother, every sister, every wife and girlfriend, as well as every son, father, brother, husband and boyfriend that love and worry about those people being the next sack of potatoes on a videotape that people with power don’t care to watch.

One owner needs to take the first step that will do whatever needs to be done to salvage something good out of all of this horribleness, no matter how much money it might cost 32 of the richest men in America.

What is the price of right and wrong? Surely the job of one terrible commissioner isn’t enough, but it sure would help in making amends for the damage already done.

Step up. One of you. Step up on your own and say he needs to go. The rest will follow. Then the league will go on, and hopefully the message will be sent that not only the behavior, but the enabling and incompetence that followed is not acceptable to the National Football League, and that women are valued and the league will go to any lengths to defend them from violent animals without having to worry about what 32 of the richest men in America might do to undermine that.

Thoughts? You can email Michael Walsh at [email protected]

Peter King Needs To Turn The Finger-Wag On Himself For Once

The rise of Peter King in the sports media world is a curious one. The 57-year-old King really vaulted into prominence when he began writing the weekly Monday Morning Quarterback column back in the 1990’s. The Internet was still new, and getting this fast overview of the weekend’s football action was a popular idea that took off.

peterkingPrior to this, King had been a fairly ordinary sportswriter, with stints at The Cincinnati Enquirer and Newsday prior to joining Sports Illustrated in 1989, he wrote several books during the 1990’s, but it was Monday Morning Quarterback which really lifted him above his peers in terms of popularity and stature.

He had been a solid reporter, and in addition to the football reporting, people seemed to enjoy his “10 things I think I think” and non-football thoughts of the week, tales of travel woe, as well as updates on his favorite coffee stops, and later, his choice in (inevitably citrusy) beer. The MMQB success made him a sought-after guest on sports radio programs – here in Boston his guest spots on the midday show with Dale Arnold and whomever his current partner was at the time were very popular segments – and also TV shows, such as Inside The NFL, then still on HBO.  When the NFL came to NBC, he was a big part of that, providing in studio reports on Football Night in America.

Then, last year SI, following in the footsteps of Bill Simmons at ESPN, gave King his own website, and team of writers at themmqb.com. He was (and is) at the pinnacle of his career and power.

Yes, power. One of the more annoying things that King has developed over the years is his penchant for the finger-wag at those he feels are deserving of his scorn. He somehow has come to believe that he is a moral arbiter of society, taking people to task for failures in their own lives and professions. In addition to lecturing people inside the league, he’s weighed in on people’s lives outside of football, he’s scolded Red Sox players, and generally acted the part of the ugly American in dealings with any sort of service industry employee. He went to visit troops overseas and gave away details of the location of the camp. These things are all annoying, but mostly harmless.

He has also, like many in the media, gotten close to the subjects he covers and spends a lot of time pumping them up. He was a regular at Brett Favre’s house. Who can forget him eating popcorn in Jerry Jones’s office? Or spending  a week “embedded” with official Gene Steratore and his crew? Or the numerous exclusive sitdowns  (6000 words!) and gushing profiles of NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell?

For some, those columns on Goodell serve to solidify the notion that King is nothing more than a publicity agent in service of the Commissioner. Events of this summer are further disturbing in exposing King’s reporting as being shoddy, incomplete and dishonest.

When the original two-game suspension was handed out, King wrote a column explaining what Goodell’s thinking was in suspending Rice for really only four days – the Ravens played Sunday and play again on Thursday night. The article, complete with bullet-points, was written at the time in which the public had only seen the tape of Rice pulling his fiance of the elevator, seems to be a direct missive from the Commissioner. In fact, King doesn’t say “I think this is what Goodell’s thinking was here.” he says This is why Goodell was softer on Rice than a four-game suspension.

The bullet points, which included he’s never done it before and he does a lot in the community rang hollow to many people who responded back to King in anger. He attempted to defend himself by citing “evidence” that he hadn’t mentioned in the first column.

Note the wording here.

There is one other thing I did not write or refer to, and that is the other videotape the NFL and some Ravens officials have seen, from the security camera inside the elevator at the time of the physical altercation between Rice and his fiancée. I have heard reports of what is on the video, but because I could not confirm them and because of the sensitivity of the case, I never speculated on the video in my writing, because I don’t think it is fair in an incendiary case like this one to use something I cannot confirm with more than one person. I cannot say any more, because I did not see the tape. I saw only the damning tape of Rice pulling his unconscious fiancée out of the elevator.

(Emphasis mine)

So much here. King never explains why he didn’t think it was “fair” to mention the tape on Thursday, but it was OK to mention it four days later. He also definitively states that the video had been viewed by both the NFL and the Ravens. (Later, we learn that he actually did not know this for sure.) He then goes back and forth with a bunch of contrasting phrases I have heard reports/I could not confirm and I never speculated/I cannot confirm.

I’m trying to make sense of this. He states the tape was viewed. He heard reports on its contents, could not confirm so he’s not going to speculate. It’s especially unfair to use information that can’t be confirmed with more than one person – essentially giving us unwashed masses a lesson in the ethic of journalism here.

EXCEPT – he lied. He uses the information in an effort to defend himself, but it was information that he in fact did NOT confirm with more than one person.

You may know this as the John Tomase rule.

King however, wasn’t that humbled by the blowback. He concluded that section by writing:

In retrospect, I would have added a paragraph or two to the story at the end about what I thought, because that is clearly what so many of you expect from me.

Two things – I look at that sentence as just dripping with condescension. Isn’t he admitting right here that the talking points in the original Goodell defense were not his own, but were actually Goodell’s? The original article was written in such as way as to make you think that King is merely observing the whole situation from on high, detached from the situation and saying “This is what Goodell is thinking.” In reality, they were Goodell’s thoughts. and now Peter is distancing himself from them and saying he should’ve offered HIS thoughts too, as they would be very different from Goodell’s. The impatient “clearly what so many of you expect me from me” bit makes me ill.

How do we know he lied? He copped to it yesterday in this curiously titled addendum to the Ray Rice coverage.

He writes:

Earlier this summer a source I trusted told me he assumed the NFL had seen the damaging video that was released by TMZ on Monday morning of Rice slugging his then-fiancée, Janay Palmer, in an Atlantic City elevator. The source said league officials had to have seen it. This source has been impeccable, and I believed the information. So I wrote that the league had seen the tape. I should have called the NFL for a comment, a lapse in reporting on my part. The league says it has not seen the tape, and I cannot refute that with certainty. No one from the league has ever knocked down my report to me, and so I was surprised to see the claim today that league officials have not seen the tape.

I hope when this story is fully vetted, we all get the truth and nothing but the truth.

For King to write within the same paragraph that something had happened and then say “I don’t think it is fair in an incendiary case like this one to use something I cannot confirm with more than one person.” is completely mind-blowing.

His defense is “no one ever told me I was wrong“? (Aside: How tone-deaf does someone have to be to use the phrase “knocked down” in referencing to his own reporting on a case which involved a woman getting knocked unconscious and dragged across a lobby?) This is the guy lecturing on ethics and the importance of multiple sources?

Then the last sentence. Isn’t that YOUR job, Peter? To advance and vet the story?

He continued on the topic with his mailbag today. Many readers were still upset, and King attempted to placate them and apologize – but not really.

I’ve been a reporter for 34 years and I’ve made my share of mistakes. This certainly was one of them. And I realize that a lot of people will not trust what I say on this issue, but I can assure you that it was simply an honest mistake. As far as resigning, if my bosses inside Sports Illustrated and Time Inc. don’t want me to report anymore, they’ll tell me. But I won’t be voluntarily quitting. I’m not sure what good that would do, other than to satisfy some fairly shrill cries for my head.

After looking at the above, can we really call this “an honest mistake?” Not at all. It was deliberate. There was no “honest mistake” involved in the least.

How about that last line? Again, the tone-deafness of Peter King is just insane. Does the term “fairly shrill cries” fill you with warmth at the thought of a humbled man looking to make good on his errors? Or does it leave you with the picture of a testy, impatient man scolding “leave me alone you screeching vultures?”

Way to go, Pete. Get your house in order.