A Couple Of New Years Eve Links

Just a couple of links this afternoon as the year winds down:

Media Roundup: Boston Sports Media Figure Of The Year – My SB Nation Boston media column tells you why Michael Felger is the figure of the year in the Boston sports media.

For outdoor game, NHL outdoing itself – Chad Finn’s media column in the Globe has the NHL getting thing right in learning to promote its product.

Bill Belichick deserves Coach of the Year honor – Gotta love Ron Borges, even while praising Bill Belichick and promoting him as Coach of the Year, he can’t help himself by putting in this line: No system and no coach can overcome an absence of talent, as Belichick’s 52-62 record and one playoff appearance in seven years with anyone but Brady at quarterback proves.

Take away the 5-13 record compiled by Borges favorite Drew Bledsoe, and Belichick’s record is closer to even.

Patriots Already Beating Jets in Future, Through Draft – Decent post on the NY Times Fifth Down blog about the Patriots approach to team building contrasted with the Jets.

Celtics Down Pacers, Six Patriots To Pro Bowl

The Celtics played tough defense in the second half as they pulled away from the Indiana Pacers 95-83 on the road last night. Check all the links at CelticsLinks.com.

Six Patriots were named to the Pro Bowl yesterday, with QB Tom Brady leading the way, and followed by defensive captains Vince Wilfork and Jerod Mayo, with guard Logan Mankins and rookie Devin McCourty also well deserving of the honor. Safety Brandon Meriweather is a head-scratching decision. Who voted for him?

McCourty’s selection means that we might have a new version of the Ron Borges 2001 draft day quote on Richard Seymour.

We can make this one real simple.

Devin McCourty better be Darrelle Revis. Or Nnamdi Asomugha. Or quickly show the promise of Mike Jenkins or Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie.

Again, it’s not because the pick was criticized – it’s the mocking certainty of the statement and entire article that stands out.

Poring over the Patriots’ potential playoff opponents – Karen Guregian stacks up the playoff teams from easiest to toughest.

Six Patriots get Pro Bowl nods, including Brady, Mayo and McCourty – Christopher Price looks at the Pro Bowl honors.

End justifies the means – Shalise Manza Young’s notebook observes that draft status doesn’t dictate playing time, production does. The notebook from Karen Guregian has Pepper Johnson talking about his respect for Bill Belichick.

In down time, Rondo is wising up – Gary Washburn looks at what the Celtics point guard is doing with his time off the court due to his injury.

Marquis Daniels saves the Celtics – Paul Flannery has the Celtics reserve saving the night for the Celtics.

Daniels’s height carried weight – Julian Benbow’s notebook has more on the contributions of Daniels.

Recchi’s last-minute goal gives Bruins a 4-3 win – Joe Haggerty has the veteran scoring with 20 seconds left to lift the Bruins.

Merlot and behold – DJ Bean has more on the win.

Red Sox Subtly Integrate Giant HD Screens in Fenway Park – Tom Leblanc looks at the new high definition screens going in at Fenway.

Why The Patriots Media Policy Is The Right One

This tweet from Globe football writer Greg A Bedard caught my attention last night:

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Bedard went on to explain a little bit more of what he was referring to, by saying that he wasn’t talking about the Packers, and adding:

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It appears he was attempting to say that the Patriots should treat their players like adults by trusting them not to say dumb stuff to the media.

This continues a glorious Boston Globe tradition carried on by the likes of Nick Cafardo, Jerome Solomon and others of complaining about lack of access to the Patriots and implying that the Patriots players are somehow held under some sort of bondage and indentured servitude down there at Gillette Stadium.

My first instinct upon reading the above tweets was to reply that the Patriots methods seem to have worked pretty well for them. But why? Is their method of dealing with the media the correct one, perhaps not for all teams, but for them?

I believe it is. Here’s why:

1) They don’t give opponents anything to take and use against them.

Some might believe that “bulletin board material” is overrated. To some extent that is true, but it is also true that professional athletes are a prideful bunch, and very much into “respect.” If they’re not getting it, they’re going to be motivated to prove themselves. Rodney Harrison was the master of this, he used slights, perceived or real, to give himself an additional shot of motivation. The Patriots don’t provide bulletin board material. Tom Brady starting that Terrell Suggs and the Ravens talk a whole lot for only having beaten the Patriots since he’s been there is about as far as they go. In most cases, they go the opposite route and praise the opponent – something that some media members (Bedard included) have complained about as well.

2) They don’t give away information that could be used in game planning against themselves.

In recent weeks, Rex Ryan has given out small details on how his team plans to attack an upcoming opponent. (Including the Patriots prior to their45-3 loss to New England.)  He talked about how they would defend Tom Brady. He said they wouldn’t kick to Devin Hester. He revealed that Mark Sanchez has cartilage issues in his shoulder. Why? Why would you give out any information about your team? Much of this is tied to injury matters, but it applies to general strategy as well.

3) Giving out no injury information is better than giving out incorrect injury information.

So if Bill Belichick goes up to the podium and says that player X has a strained knee ligament and will be out for two weeks, and then those two weeks and more go by and there is no player X on the field, wouldn’t that be pointed out by the media? You bet. They’d wonder if they had been deliberately misled, and speculate about what else they had been sold a bill of goods on. Why would Belichick give an answer about an injury, especially immediately following a game when not all the information is available? Even when the injury is fully diagnosed, different players heal at different rates, so it is unfair to place some sort of artificial deadline on a player recovery. It’s better to give the minimum required (league mandated) information rather than creating an expectation of a return time.

4) Having one voice for the organization prevents conflicting messages and keeps things consistent.

Yes, assistant coaches are now required to be made available to the media. When they get that chance, don’t they sound a lot like Bill Belichick? Of course. Whether he’s speaking or not, the messages coming out are the same. That consistency keeps things simple and protects the players and coaches from revealing too much.

5) The players can stay focused on the task at hand.

The players know what is expected of them when speaking with the media. If they feel uncomfortable dealing with a topic, they know the “pat” answer that can be given. If they’re more comfortable dealing with the media, they have freedom to speak – for themselves, not on behalf of the team. Some players use that freedom and speak more, others stick strictly to the company line.

Mike Reiss had a post today about a Patriots Today clip that showed a sign reminding the players what is expected of them. I think it applies to their media policy as well:

WHEN YOU LEAVE HERE …

* Don’t believe or fuel the hype

* Manage expectations

* Ignore the noise

* Speak for youself

In summary – The Patriots avoid giving themselves a lot of headaches or complications by the way they deal with the media. They keep things simple, and allow themselves to focus on the field. Their job after all, isn’t to please the media, but to win games. If they feel this is the best way to do it and it works for them, then they should keep doing it. I’m not saying it’s the only way to operate, but it works for them. It’s not about letting the players act like adults. It’s about staying consistent as an organization. If the end result is success, I don’t think the players much mind the “shackles” they are forced to operate under.