NECN’s Sports Late Night had its usual plentiful package of highlights from the sports world. Chris Collins was a busy guy today, not only hosting the show tonight, but reporting from the MLS championship earlier today. Other events featured included NFL, World Series, Celtics preseason, Bruins, and the Head of the Charles regatta. Ronnie Lippett was also in studio to analyze what the Patriots need to do. The running game needs to get going, a guy like Antowain Smith can wear out a defense come the 5th quarter. Lippett feels that guys have “taken it upon themselves to do their own thing instead of doing the team thing.” They need to refocus, and get back to the things that drove them last year. They have to “create big hits and bust those guys up.” He thinks they’ve relaxed, laid back after their success. He also called Donald Hayes a “knucklehead” for his comments to Nick Cafardo this past week. He’s surprised Hayes didn’t get cut. Collins thinks something could happen this week. Someone’s got to pay for this.
WBZ’s Sports Final was broadcast from The Place in Boston and Bob Lobel reflected on the things that have changed since the last time they broadcast from there, in May. He said Drew Bledsoe is a possible MVP and almost certain Pro Bowl starter. He kicked it down to Steve Burton in Miami, reporting on the Bills/Dolphins game. Burton caught up with Bledsoe, Eric Moulds and Peerless Price, a happy bunch after winning today. Moulds gushed over Bledsoe, Drew said he “sure as heck” wants to beat the Patriots in a couple weeks. Burton asked them if New England made a mistake getting rid of Drew, Bledsoe said they did what they thought they needed to do, he hasn’t talked to Belichick since the trade. He says Brady will be back, he is a hard worker and will be fine. Moulds and Price sounded like they’re looking past Detroit and onto the Patriots. Moulds says Drew is totally different from what he had been told, he’s always cracking jokes on them, and Drew said he loves playing with these guys. They’re improving every week and they can go a long way. Price says Drew earns his money, and Moulds says he’ll take Drew over Donovan McNabb any day of the week. Lippett does think they’ll get back on track for next week.
Lobel said afterwards that Drew is a totally different guy. He is relaxed, has no pressure on him, and is a totally different guy, and re-said that Drew is likely the MVP of the NFL. The Boston sports video was shown “for the last time”. I’ve seen this thing probably 6-8 times now over the last couple years and still get goosebumps.
Steve DeOssie and Scott Zolak were in for the next segment to talk about the reborn Drew Bledsoe. Dan Roche led the discussion back in the studio, and Zolak presented a Bledsoe-autographed Bills mini-helmet to Lobel in appreciation Zolak making it onto the video. Onto Drew…looks reborn, DeOssie noted that sometimes it takes a change of scenery to revitalize someone. Roche asked if the year off might’ve helped him, Zolak said it’s more about the guys he has around him. To try to stop Drew, DeOssie said you need to blitz him, confuse him in the secondary, but he’s learned over the years so it’s getting more difficult to fool him. Zolak said Bledsoe learned a lot from Brady last year, he’s emotional, running into the end zone on touchdowns, walking the sidelines. He’s also licking his chops to play the Patriots according to Zolak. Playoff talk ensued, its going to be real difficult to win a wild card, Patriots need to win the division, DeOssie said today might be the beginning of the end for Miami with Jay Fiedler out and Lucas looking horrible today. Zolak said Brady needs to put the bad things behind him, just listen to his coaches, he has good ones, get back to the short passing game. DeOssie added the Offensive line needs to be settled, and added they need to play like they did when they weren’t respected.
The last segment was a session with Terry O’Reilly, who is getting his number retired when the Bruins come home this week. O’Reilly said it is overwhelming to have his number up there with all the greats, Orr, Bourque, etc. He joked that this should give hope to all those boys who can’t skate out there. He was always the last one to make the team growing up, and really had to work hard every night. Lobel noted his offensive numbers are not overwhelming, but the penalty minutes are. O’Reilly noted the difference in the game then, that a “policeman” was necessary on each team at that time, that was his role. Back then it wasn’t considered smart to turn away from a fight or confrontation. Last year when Bourque’s number was retired, he thought about all the greats, and was in awe. There are few things in life that top him having his number raised with the greats is the greatest honor he’ll ever receive. The night he went into the stands in New York, he doesn’t regret, one the fans really attacked one of his teammates, and Terry went after the guy and handed him over to the Madison Square Garden security. He told a story about hitting some pucks before practice one day and having one bounce up and gave him a cut over the eye, and was all bloody. His teammates were coming into practice and he was coming off all bloodied without anyone else being on the ice with him. John Flore from the Sopranos was the last bit.
WHDH’s Sports Xtra had Gene Lavanchy leading off with Revolution highlights. Kip Lewis led a game recap comparable to the weekly Patriot wrapups. After Celtics and NFL highlights, a talk with Ty Law talking about the team losing some of its edge. He doesn’t know if they started believing the hype or what, but now maybe they’ll do better with being the underdog again. Changes need to be made everywhere. Need to go back to what they do best: Hard nosed, smashmouth football. Asked if people are figuring out their defense, Law said they haven’t been able to stop the running game and it all starts there, missed tackles are key, but everyone needs to be around the ball, last year there where alot of missed tackles, but there were 7-8 other guys right there to make up for it.
An interview with Terry O’Reilly was also featured on this program. He talked about always being the last guy on the team growing up, and that the coaches kept him because he worked so hard. His skills were very rough, was a goalie until he was 12, started skating as a forward the next year, and turned pro at 19, so not a lot of development time there. The only skater worse them him in the league was Terry Crisp. O’Reilly had to put more into the game because of his “skating skill deficit”. He was also asked about the Madison Square Garden incident, and wants to go on record to say it wasn’t him with the shoe, it was Mike Milbury. He also talked about being in a fight with a guy, and O’Reilly’s shoulder popped out, and the other guy (Ryan Walter?) instead of “wiping the ice with him” let him go. He was clearly fighting back tears when talking about how he’ll feel when his number goes up on Thursday.
Fred Smerlas and Tim Fox were in to talk Patriots next. With some time to look at the team, Smerlas looked back to last year. It took time to come together, despite many doubters of Brady. Now, they need to get back to fundamentals and realize they don’t have the talent to overcome penalties and mistakes to win. Fox said they’ll be doing some self-scouting and figuring out the problems. Smerlas brought up the name of Donald Hayes, and they all talked about how terrible it is that he can’t learn the plays, and isn’t taking blame for it. As for the mental mistakes, Fox feels that sort of thing can spread from one player to the whole team. Smerlas said an established player needs to do something this week, set the tone. They then looked at the upcoming schedule. Lavanchy says they need to go 3-1 in these tough games to have a chance to make the playoffs, Fox feels at the least they need 2-2. Smerlas said the Patriots need to come out and establish themselves physically and mentally. Make a stand. Terrell Owens was brought up next. Fox doesn’t know how his coach puts up with him. If he were facing him, he would’ve gotten him later in the game. Smerlas agreed that in his day, Owens would’ve had to pay the price.
The next segment was on Mike Port, and trying to make a case that he should be named Sox GM. Lavanchy said if the world was a fair place, Port would already have the job. Port said he’s not letting the process control him as he goes about his duties from day to day. Lavanchy noted he’s the only person who has actually said he wants the job. They went through the candidates that have turned down the Sox, and Lavanchy again said the best person for the job is right there, doing the job. He went through Port’s role in building the Angels farm system which produced Salmon, Anderson, Erstad and Percival. Port handed off credit for those to those around him. Then they looked at his midseason trades for Floyd and Howry. Lavanchy also lauded Port for working well with Lucchino and that he’s honest and “doesn’t try to fool the fans with doubletalk.” Lavanchy ended up with an appeal to Larry Lucchino and urged him to hire Mike Port as the team’s GM.
On Fox25’s Sports Sunday Butch Stearns led off pumping up the MLS championship. Levan Reid reporting from Gillette. Then it was onto the NFL highlights, Stearns says the Bills and Bledsoe are a better team than the Patriots and Brady. Right now. Drew talked after the game how huge a win this was for the Bills, but if they had lost it wouldn’t change their mindset, they feel that they can play with anyone.
Jerry Remy, who played for the Angels talked about the atmosphere out there, there’s no passion, a little better now. Then only big crowds when Nolan Ryan was pitching, or Boston or New York came to town. It’s much different from the east coast, he’s grateful to them as they’re the team he came to the big leagues with. Still some out there that he was associated with out there, and he feels good for them. The Angels don’t strike out, they put the bat on the ball, keep innings alive. He was teammates on the Angels with Bobby Bonds, and Barry would be around sometimes. Bonds doesn’t have the best reputation, but he plays the game hard every night, and he respects that.
An interview with Curt Gowdy, done by Rob Nikoleski was up next. He spends 6 months here and 6 in Florida, he recalled his first talk with Ted WIlliams about fishing. Ted was a perfectionist. Everything had to be just perfect. Gowdy was the voice of the Red Sox from 1951-65 and then went to NBC for the baseball game of the week, and called AFL games. He was there for the “Heidi game” and recalled having to re-call the game because the network didn’t tape it after they went to the movie. He remembered thinking the Jets could beat the Colts, but Howard Cosell told him the Jets had no chance in the Super Bowl. On nationally televised Red Sox games, he recalled being accused of being a homer, and having nasty things written to him and about him in the papers. He wanted to quit, but his wife talked him out it, saying he had the best job in the world. He agreed and stayed on the job.