National Links, Day 4

Perhaps the worst sports radio call ever: Guy calls up Dale & Holley on WEEI today, worried that Randy Moss’ accuser might show up at the Super Bowl and he won’t be able to get on the field because of the restraining order. True story.

I’d like to give Steve DeOssie a nod this week. His son is playing in the Super Bowl, and you wouldn’t really know it except co-hosts or callers keep bringing it up. He’s given his analysis of the Patriots and Giants just as he always would, even though you know he’s pulling for his son and the Giants to beat the Patriots (as he should be).

Speaking of DeOssie, if you watched the NFL Network’s replay of the Giants/Bills Super Bowl from 1991, at the end of the game, you saw DeOssie on the field with his video camera filming the action as his teammates celebrated. There were also a number of shots of a youthful Bill Belichick on the Giants’ sideline.

Wright Thompson has a fascinating look at the man behind the curtain, “Belichick’s Belichick”, Ernie Adams.

Lee Jenkins looks at the development of Tom Brady since his days at Michigan. Greg Garber also looks at what drives Brady. Charles Robinson says that the Giants are going to focus on keeping Brady IN the pocket and not letting him move around. Mike Celizic says that everyone, even opponents, are envious of Brady.

Thomas Milz tracks down Gisele Bündchen’s dad in Brazil to find out what he thinks of Brady.

I enjoyed this brief blog entry from Mike Sando, talking about lame questions that get asked of coaches and athletes.

Jason Whitlock picked the Giants last week, but says today that we should all be rooting for the Patriots. Skip Wood says that Rodney Harrison can takes hits as well as he dishes them out.

Len Pasquarelli looks at the important part that roles players perform for the Patriots. Ira Miller looks at the Patriots chameleonic offense. Clark Judge feels that Josh McDaniels doesn’t get enough credit and is deserving of a head coaching gig. Pete Prisco looks at McDaniels opposite number with the Giants, Kevin Gilbride. Vic Carucci says that ‘Brady’s Bearded Bunch’ holds the key to Sunday’s game. Frank Tadych looks at the bond between Brady and his line.

Mike Brilliant has a Celtics report card for the BSMW Full Court Press.

Tonight’s Patriots/Super Bowl Programming

6:00PM, NESN – Globe 10.0
6:00PM, CSN – Twin River New England Tailgate with Ordway, Smerlas and DeOssie – taped in Glendale
6:30PM, CSN – Mohegan Sun Sports Tonight – 30 minute special live from Glendale
7:00PM, NFLN – NFL Total Access at the Super Bowl – Live from NFL Experience
8:30PM, NFLN – Playbook Hosted By: Sterling Sharpe & Brian Baldinger
Topics:

  • A look at the Giants’ defense
  • A breakdown of the Giants front four including the different looks they use and why they might have trouble putting pressure on Tom Brady.
  • Why might the Giants secondary get exposed?
  • How can Antonio Pierce be the difference maker on the Giants defense?

9:00PM, NFLN – Super Bowl Classics – Super Bowl XXXIX: New England Patriots vs. Philadelphia Eagles with Paul McCartney Halftime Show
10:00PM, NESN – SportsDesk
10:00PM, CSN – Mohegan Sun Sports Tonight – 30 minute special live from Glendale
11:00PM, CSN – Road to Perfection Special – 1 hour live special from Glendale
11:00PM, NESN – SportsDesk
11:00PM, NECN – Patriots Football Weekly
11:30PM, NESN – Globe 10.0

Also:

7:30, NESN – Bruins @ Senators
8:00, TNT – Mavericks @ Celtics

* The Asterisk is Back!

People are obviously getting bored with the whole scene in Arizona, as a fresh and new storyline has emerged from the media minds – The Asterisk!

You probably saw this link this morning below to the AP article with the director of the National Institute of Sports Reform saying that the Patriots deserve an asterisk for the Spygate scandal. It means nothing that this gentleman is a Giants fan and season ticket holder. (Ironically, he’s originally from New England and roots for the Red Sox, Celtics and Bruins.)

That’s just the start, the humble and creative Jay Mariotti also attacks this fresh story writing:

We didn't pardon Martha Stewart or Sammy Sosa. Why does Belichick get a hall pass from the global media? Why isn't he required to explain himself? He was smacked with a $500,000 fine, the highest ever handed an NFL coach. The Patriots were fined $250,000 and stripped of a No. 1 draft choice. Some of us wondered aloud if an asterisk should be attached to a perfect season, just as an asterisk should be affixed to Bonds' home-run total.

Yeah, Belichick gets a hall pass all right. What is the fascination with making Belichick “explain himself?” What is that going to accomplish? The Patriots were punished to a degree never seen in NFL history, and yet the self-important types like Mariotti insist during Super Bowl week that Belichick come cowering to them and explain everything. The Dan Patrick radio show talked about how the Patriots perhaps shouldn’t get an asterisk for their wins this season, but perhaps their previous wins are tainted.

If people have an issue with how the matter was handled and the fact that the tapes were destroyed without anything being revealed about what was on them, shouldn’t they take this up with the league? Why are they demanding more from the team? The team did everything the league asked, they turned over the tapes, they took the judgment, ended up giving their first round pick and paid huge fines, Belichick apologized – via a press release, and all involved are “moving on.” Some self-important guardians of the gate are unable to.

This topic was picked up by Dennis and Callahan on WEEI this morning, as Gerry also wants an explanation. He then went off onto an ill–conceived rant about how he knows that the Patriots were stealing signals for the purpose of using them in the same game. He insisted that the Patriots were stealing the signals in the first half and deciphering them all in time to use for the second half of games. He cites as proof the fact that the Jets changed their signals in the second half. If the Jets had time to come up with a completely new set of signals, then certainly the Patriots had time to figure out their first half signals.

Makes sense, right? Err, not really. Wouldn’t it make sense for the teams to have several sets of signs already prepared, so they can change them up at any time, rather than making a new set in 10 minutes during halftime?

Howie Long had some great comments on this matter:

"Do you honestly believe the New England Patriots were the only team filming other teams' sidelines?" Long said during a press conference Tuesday leading up to Super Bowl XLII here Sunday. "Let's be real. They say a memorandum was sent out. A memorandum that said what? 'We really mean the rule that was in place last year. We really, really mean it.' I don't know if that's a box (the NFL) wants to open.

"I'm also not naive enough to believe that the Patriots were even close to being the only team doing that. I think it's a far more common practice than anyone wants to talk about. And if you're offended by that, and if you really want to dive into that, then dive into the whole league.

"I think it's kind of a code that (NFL coaches) don't talk about it. It's the white elephant in the room that everyone walks around."

Jimmy Johnson related a story the other day about how when he went to Miami, they told him about how they had discovered a way to manipulate the time limit on conversations to the quarterback headset – a huge advantage.

Leonard Shapiro warns Patriots-haters not to expect any Spygate talk in FOX’s telecast Sunday, as the network doesn’t want to get into the topic. Another good quote from Long in there:

You have a commissioner who came in as Wyatt Earp and he's laying down the law. And I also believe that if they (the Patriots) didn't already have two No. 1 picks, I'm not sure they (the NFL) would have taken a No. 1 pick away from them.

Charles Bricker says teams have always cheated because its a way to get an edge, and that Belichick is not alone.

Media Day, Part II

Yesterday was really the second media day, as this time it was at the team hotels, rather than at the stadium.

On Patriots Daily, Christopher Price has a look at why people shouldn’t make snap judgments about Bill Belichick and Tom Coughlin. He also has five things to look for this week.

Gerry Callahan says that win or lose, good or bad, the Patriots will make history on Sunday. I’ve got a few Super Bowl storylines you’re not reading over in the Metro. Josh Egerman has Tedy Bruschi talking about how special this Super Bowl is to him. The AP has the head of the National Institute of Sports Reform – who just happens to be a Giants fan and season ticket holder, saying that the Patriots records this season should be marked with an asterisk.

Bob Hohler has the family of Marquise Hill still struggling to come to terms with his death. Shalise Manza Young has more on Hill, who, shortly before he died, told Randall Gay that the Patriots would win the Super Bowl this year.

Rob Bradford has a mini-feature on offensive line coach Dante Scarnecchia, who has coached 24 season with the Patriots, and still has the zeal for the job to come in at 3:00 am most days. Jackie MacMullan also checks in with a profile of “Scar.” Farinella has more on the longtime Patriots offensive line coach who is a father figure to some of his players. Jim Donaldson has more on Scarnecchia, who will be 60 in two weeks, but shows no signs of slowing down.

Karen Guregian has Laurence Maroney getting some love from Barry Sanders. Mark Farinella has Maroney feeling right at home in this week of hype. Kevin Paul Dupont looks at the importance of Kevin Faulk to the Patriots. Rich Garven says that the Patriots running game has picked up the pace after a slow start to the season.

Mike Reiss has Chad Johnson saying that he’d love to play for the Patriots. John Tomase outlines the 19 steps to perfection that the Patriots will have taken if they can win on Sunday. Robert Lee has a look at the challenge that the Patriots secondary will face on Sunday. Tony Massarotti says that comparing the Giants to the 2001 Patriots is a flawed argument. Jeff Goldberg looks at New York in an unfamiliar role as an underdog to Boston in a sports rivalry.

Christopher L. Gasper has a look at Matt Light, who makes humor a big part of his life. Nick Tavares has Matt keeping things Light. Young looks at the offensive line, which has quite a protection racket going. David Heuschkel checks in with the Pats defensive line. Tavares says that Jarvis Green shouldn’t be overlooked

Steve Buckley has Tom Brady talking about the fact that he knows that Eli Manning is getting advice from big brother Peyton this week. Tomase looks at the Giants tactics of being the Men in Black at the Super Bowl, and what effect it has on the Patriots. Dan Shaughnessy says that Plaxico Burress’ prediction just gives the Patriots another score to settle. Heuschkel says that the Patriots have just shrugged off the prediction from Plaxico.

Michael Vega examines the Patriots’ strategy on kickoff coverage. Guregian notes that Brady’s ankle was not on the injury list yesterday. She also has Moss talking about why he isn’t a member of the Green Bay Packers right now. David Brown says that the Patriots will have plenty of work to do this offseason.

Bradford has a quick look at Stephen Neal and his wrestling background. Rich Garven has more on Neal, who is past the individual glory and focused on team success now. Egerman has Neal going from the mat to the field in his career. Buckley checks in with Matt Cassel, who is ready to step in at QB whenever he is called upon. Brown has more on Cassel, who feared he’d never get a shot at the NFL after being a college backup. Hector Longo looks at the Super Bowl long snappers. Dan Ventura has a look at Kelley Washington, who has been huge on special teams for the Patriots this year. Chris Kennedy has James Sanders stepping into the role of safety which was thought to have been Eugene Wilson’s to keep.

Guregian’s notebook has the wacky Donte’ Stallworth setting ground rules for Super Bowl week with his alter ego, Nicco. Gasper’s notebook has more on Brady’s ankle, and notes the Bruschi retirement rumors. Farinella’s notebook has Moss talking about his desire to stay in New England. Heuschkel’s notebook also has Moss hoping to retire as a Patriot. Toland’s notebook has Brandon Meriweather living a dream as a rookie in the Super Bowl. Egerman’s notebook has Brady’s ankle not even getting a mention on the injury report.

Giants

Jennifer Toland has Grafton native Steve Spagnuolo trying to come up with a plan to beat the Patriots. Steve Conroy examines the Giants 1-2 punch at running back in Brandon Jacobs and Ahmad Bradshaw. Jim McCabe has a look at offensive lineman David Diehl, who has played all over the line in his five seasons with the Giants. Dom Amore looks at the wounded veteran who has been an inspiration to the Giants this season.

Ventura checks in with former Patriot Grey Ruegamer, now with the Giants. John Powers has Bradshaw overcoming a troubled past to get on the right track with the Giants. Shawn Courchesne paints Tom Coughlin as an organizational man.

Ventura has Plaxico Burress still talking a good game yesterday. Mark Blaudschun checks out the Giants secondary. Bradford has Donovan McNabb offering some advice to Eli Manning for playing against a Belichick defense in the Super Bowl. Amore has a pair of Southern Connecticut alums having a big influence on Eli Manning.

Conroy’s notebook has a look at Giants rookie tight end Kevin Boss. McCabe’s notebook has Burress showing up late yesterday, but sticking by his prediction. Amore’s notebook has Burress sitting out practice yesterday as well.

Elsewhere

There’s a pretty big game at the Garden tonight as the Celtics take on the Dallas Mavericks. Marc J. Spears says that the Mavs are happy to hand the bulls-eye that has been on their back over to the Celtics. Check the rest of the Celtics coverage at CelticsLinks.com

Check the Bruins at BruinsLinks.com and the Sox at RedSoxLinks.com.

Want to get an early start to spring, and see the Sox for their first regular season game on US soil? Come check out the BSMW TravelClub trip to Oakland for the first few days in April.