Saturday Links from Brian. Email him at [email protected].
Just when you thought Spygate was over, it rears it’s ugly head yesterday. Since the outset of this controversy back in September, a few media and football sources such as Tom Curran of NBCSports.com and formerly of the Providence Journal, have briefly alluded toward rumors that the Patriots taped the Rams final walkthrough before the Super Bowl in 2002. Yesterday, news of a former disgruntled Patriots employee Matt Walsh surfaced in a New York Times report questioning Roger Goodell’s destruction of the tapes confiscated by the NFL. Wouldn’t you know it, one day later, John Tomase has an “unnamed source” who confirms a member of the video/scouting department stayed behind after the Pats walkthrough and team photo to tape the Rams walkthrough. I don’t want to give this story too much play the day before the Super Bowl, but the storylines here are endless. Goodell claims the tapes destroyed were from the 2006 season and 2007 preseason, and that there was no evidence any of the tapes helped them in the Super Bowl victories, per Dan Ventura’s piece, and Mike Reiss’ hit on yesterday’s comments. But with Tomase’s story today, one has to wonder if there are more tapes that were not turned over, or did Goodell know about this and not want to put a black eye on the league? Furthermore, what is the credibility of this Matt Walsh, whose timing could best be described as curious? IMO, media members can speculate all they want and get unnamed sources until they’re blue in the face, but if there is no evidence, it’s all hearsay at this point.
Mike Florio over at ProFootballTalk.com discusses the fallout from the Herald piece today, particularly the frenzy to interview Rams from the 2001 team, but more importantly, that if there was any doubt the Patriots were going to win this game tomorrow, there no longer is and all this weak Plaxico-guarantee talk will take a much-needed backseat to the allegations of cheating on the eve of the game that began this dynasty. Steve Buckley claims Senator Arlen Specter, who brought this issue to the forefront once again, has a point in claiming Goodell’s actions underscore a cover-up, despite his obvious conflict of interest as a die-hard Eagles fan. My final thought on this; regardless of what the national media and public say about past Super Bowls, the Pats aren’t taping anyone this year under heavy scrutiny from the league, and thus far, have put forth the most dominant season in NFL history. Nothing will change that. I apologize for this, as I went into this with every intention to not give Spygate more play than the Bowl, but these stories were given heavy play in Boston, and duty calls. I’ll end this thought with Tony Massarotti’s piece on how everybody wants to attack you when you’re on top. Amen.
Over at Patriots Daily, Scott Benson recaps a crazy week in Arizona.
Oh yea, the game tomorrow. Karen Guregian has the Pats defensive front enjoying being overlooked with all the attention focused on the Giants front four. Mike Lowe also has Richard Seymour enjoying football for himself once again, as well as appreciating his return to the Super Bowl after being spoiled in his early years. Rob Bradford takes a look at the nasty, dirty tactics used in the trenches between offensive and defensive linemen, especially during fumbles. Rich Garven touches on the challenge Brady and the offense face against a very talented Giants secondary that has stepped up in the postseason. Christopher Gasper has a piece on the Pats dominance in the fourth quarter, particularly entering the 4th with a lead under Bill Belichick. Jim Donaldson has a great piece on Joel Collier, Pats defensive backs coach, lamenting the downfall of proper tackling in football over the years, hoping to correct one of the Pats few weaknesses this season. Mark Farinella has coverage of Belichick’s final presser, with BB saying he thinks the team is ready for Sunday, touching on his relationship with Bill Parcells, as well as a few other broader, league matters. But not Spygate, of course. David Heuschkel has more on Belichick’s final presser. Jackie MacMullan talks to a few of the departed former Patriots, asking them if they miss the success they had in New England. Dan Pires has Tom Brady not denying the significance of this game and what it means on many levels.
Many of the local outlets have nice pieces on individual players today, with Shalize Manza Young starting us off with an uplifting piece on Tedy Bruschi’s journey. Hector Longo has a story of Larry Izzo’s long journey as an undrafted rookie free agent to All-Pro special teamer in his fourth Super Bowl. Nick Taveres has more on Izzo’s understanding of his role with the Pats and desire to be on a winner versus maxing out every last cent. Robert Lee has Junior Seau hoping to add the last piece to his storied career; a Super Bowl ring. David Heuschkel has more on Seau’s decision to return this season and how a win would be the ultimate joy for him. I don’t know about you, but I’m a little tired of listening to Matt Cassel talk about how ready he is to play every day, and wanting to get in the Super Bowl, per Lee’s piece here. Nick Taveres takes a look at the forgotten Patriot, Troy Brown, and his journey with the Patriots. Frank Dell’Apa has more on Brown’s long, strange journey in the NFL. Dell’Apa also touches on the versatility of Mike Vrabel, and how that makes him the perfect fit for the Patriots system. Rob Bradford has Vrabel supporting Andre Tippett’s nomination for the Hall of Fame this weekend. Amidst the guys who have been here before, Dan Ventura has a piece on the experiences of the first-timers this Super Bowl week. David Brown has a feature on Laurence Maroney’s ire toward the same reporters who doubted him when he was “tap-dancing” early in the season.
Ah, what would this weekend be without comments from the 1972 Dolphins. Just go play golf or cards or something. Just go away, you all come off as bitter, bored old men. Gasper has more petty, rambling comments from a few members of the Dolphins in his notebook. Mike Lowe has more on the Dolphins readying themselves for company in perfection. Dom Amore has more on the potential for two perfect teams. Mark Farinella has Jim Brown speaking to the Patriots before practice at the request of friend Bill Belichick. Longo’s notebook has more on Brown’s appearance at the final practice yesterday. Guregian’s notebook has Belichick pleased about where his team is from a preparation standpoint, and touches on the short injury report for the Pats. Heuschkel’s notebook has more on Brown’s speech and the final practice session.
Dom Amore has yet another piece on the Giants coaching tree, including comments from Coughlin and Belichick on their relationship working together. Jim McCabe has a piece on local guy Brandon London, a Framingham native on the Giants practice squad, whose job has been to play Randy Moss. Amore has Plaxico Burress missing practice again yesterday with both ankle and knee injuries, officially listed as questionable. Amore has more on the kinder Coughlin this season and where it has gotten them.
Whew. That’s all I got for today. For coverage of the Red Sox, Celtics, and Bruins, check out RedSoxLinks.com, CelticsLinks.com, and BruinsLinks.com. Feel free to shoot me any comments at [email protected]. Enjoy the weekend, be safe, and go Pats!