Celtics Don’t Have The Magic

The Celtics lost a double-digit lead last night, and fell in Orlando to the Magic, 96-94. Kevin Garnett looked bad, failing to finish at least two lobs in front of the hoop, and getting beat baseline by Rashard Lewis on the game winning hoop. Garnett says his knee isn’t a problem, but it sure looked like it was.

Here are the top links from this Friday morning:

Celtics let another one slip away - A. Sherrod Blakely has the grisly details from the loss.

Loss to Magic highlights Celtics’ woes - Paul Flannery says that it doesn’t get any easier from here for the Celtics.

That’s the thing about Tom - Chad Finn has ESPN’s Tom Jackson trying to explain the undying love that he, and many others in the media have for Brett Favre.

Sharpe sides with Peyton - Bill Doyle has CBS’ Shannon Sharpe dishing out plenty of praise to Peyton Manning.

MLB coming to Connecticut? - Dom Amore examines some speculation from Peter Gammons that the Tampa Rays could end up moving to Connecticut.

Belichick, Brown go way back … - Albert Breer weighs in with a few thoughts on the Patriots adding former Notre Dame defensive coordinator (and Patriots player) Corwin Brown to their coaching staff.

Patriots in a rush for help - Ian Rapoport looks at Michigan defender Brandon Graham as one of several players available in the draft who could help improve the pass rush.

The unlikely path of Ryne Miller - Alex Speier looks at how the undrafted free agent has made himself a pitching prospect for the Red Sox.

Red Sox’ new metrics systems doesn’t compute - Ron Borges tries his hand at baseball, and mocks what he doesn’t understand.

B’s still have fight left - Mick Colageo says that the Bruins haven’t packed it in yet. 

Back to reality for Boston fans - Howard Bryant says Boston fans shouldn’t expect a repeat of the last decade.

Week Log: Where The Games Went On

We’re going to open the doors and let in a few more national bloggers than usual this afternoon as we take a brief look at the aftermath of last Sunday’s AFC and NFC conference championships, then it will be back to Boston where no such game was held.

NFL

Neither championship game disappointed National Football Post, which marveled at Peyton Manning’s ability to see Austin Collie in the one, and Jim Nantz’s ability to see through Brett Favre in the other. Sunday did disappoint some bold prognosticators, as The Trenches has the Vikings pronouncing themselves NFC champs, while The Huddle has the Jets doing the same in the AFC. Brings back shades of a cold night in Shea Stadium many Octobers ago, doesn’t it?

Sports Central says it’s all about Manning, who no longer panics when he needs points. John Chandler says Manning has surpassed Tom Brady, much as the Colts have surpassed the Patriots as the AFC’s signature team. Hell, even Indy’s cops are tough – especially if you’re wearing Jets green – as Deadspin will tell you. Speaking of violence, Shutdown Corner has Rex Ryan telling his team to wear their hideous greens with pride and punch out anyone who laughs. Ryan may have penciled himself in as this year’s Super Bowl favorite, but The Rap Sheet has him not so sure about being the next AFC East Division champ.

We’re Just Saying has the NFC Championship with all the elements of a well-written story – one that lived up to expectations. Hot Clicks is thankful for Favre’s season-killing interception because now we won’t have to endure the Brett lovefest for two more weeks, while Boston Sports Blog finds it a most comfortable ending to an intolerable story line. Surviving Grady says the Saints’ plan to brutalize Favre worked. Joe Posnanski reflects on some comical instances where Favre has refused to run in the past, and it makes him ask, Why? The Sporting Blog wonders if all the Favre vitriol is in reaction to the media’s over-the-top fawning over Number 4.

Last, but not least, some good Patriots introspection as Tom E. Curran looks at the D-Line for CSNNE’s Patriots Offseason Game Plan, and Chris Price’s Patriots By Position feature examines the linebacking corps on It Is What It Is. Both are appointment reading.

Bruins

We’re not in a good place here. Eight losses in nine games has The Old Bruins Fan talking about Armageddon. Wicked Bruins Fan laments a frustrating season where the quit is coming too often and way too early in games. I’m Just Sayin’ thinks that if the B’s don’t start playing with more emotion, a change may be needed behind the bench.

The one silver lining to this dreadful stretch for Bruins 2010 Draft Watch is the continued slide of the Toronto Maple Leafs. ESPN Boston has GM Peter Chairelli vowing not to toss in the Toronto first-rounder even as the B’s stay very much involved in the Ilya Kovalchuk sweepstakes. And forget Tuukka Rask, as Joe Haggerty has him also off limits in any trade deadline talks. With so much off the table, Hockey Independent is looking a level lower than Kovalchuk, where they find Hurricanes forward Ray Whitney an attraction. Kathryn Tappen says that, when it comes to trade rumors, there’s no telling what the B’s brass has up their sleeve so forget about it. And for those who believe in the existing corps of B’s, some good news as Tea Party Throwdown sees a change in attitude at Ristuccia of late. Let’s hope it transports itself to TD Garden soon.

Finally, it will be soldier before Bruin for Zach McKelvie, as Kirk’s Call has the frustrated defenseman spending the past four years learning how not to quit and not about to start doing so now.

Celtics

A tough stretch awaits the C’s – four games in five nights, three against title contenders. A. Sherrod Blakely says the C’s are fortunate to be relatively healthy for these games and able to make inroads against both the Cavs and Lakers over the remainder of the season. Rich Levine has the C’s faring well against the cream of the NBA . . . the few times they’ve faced it.

Of all the potential additions the C’s could make at the NBA trade deadline, ESPN Boston Celtics Blog thinks none will be more helpful than the return of Marquis Daniels. CelticsBlog says Daniels’ return might spell the end of Tony Allen’s considerable contributions and make his expiring contract a bigger asset as we approach the deadline. Despite his leading role in trade rumors, Celtic Dynasty wants to see Ray Allen finish his career in Boston.

Evans Clinchy has KG likening himself to a 1976 Ford Pinto upon his return to the lineup. Now hold on. What kind of wheels does KG have, anyway? The last time I checked, Pintos weren’t fit enough to make it to the corner store and tended to explode upon contact, so he may need to rethink that analogy. Celtics Green has KG’s return not worthy of a glowing endorsement on its face, but there’s plenty to encourage them about the modest two-game winning streak.

Green Street has Doc Rivers equating Rajon Rondo’s defense to Brett Favre throwing a football across his body. Mass Hysteria rails against the lack of nickname originality by suggesting a few for Glen – f/k/a Big Baby – Davis. Celtics Stuff Live doesn’t have any ideas for a new nickname and thinks his old one has never been more appropriate, which, by the way, is exactly why he now wants to change it.

Red Sox

It’s all about the ones that were signed and the ones that weren’t. Clearing The Bases says there’s not much difference between recently re-signed Jeremy Hermida and Dustin Pedroia . . . in salary, that is. Better Red Than Dead tells us how the additions of Mike Cameron, Adrian Beltre, and Marco Scutaro will save the Sox 56 runs in 2010 – on paper, that is.

Utility Lou scolds the Sox for using surgery as a bargaining chip with Jason Bay and wonders why they had a change of heart in November. Yet, Full Count has Peter Gammons denying that surgery was a requirment for Bay’s further employment and insisting the Sox had genuine health concerns. Boston Dirt Dogs checks in on the Sox medical staff that let Bay get away

Fenway Nation sees trouble a-brewing with Tim Wakefield wanting in on the starting rotation. Ian Browne says Terry Francona is not about to put the cart before the horse in prematurely setting his rotation. If Circling The Bases had their way, Wakefield would get 54 starts with the rest of the rotation serving as mop-up. When it comes to Wake, Red Sox Monster says Sox fans have taken for granted the one we love.

One If By Land regards a contract extension for Josh Beckett as borderline insane, even for the deep-pocketed Sox. The Bottom Line smooths over some of the ups and downs in Daniel Bard’s 2009 season.

If winter’s here, can Truck Day be far behind? Not for Toeing The Rubber, who is getting worked up about the 2010 season. Closing on a public service note, Extra Bases has the skinny on tickets, which will go on sale starting Saturday.

Thanks to those who have reached out with new material. We said hello to another five Boston-based blogs this week. Keep them coming. I’m at [email protected], or on Twitter @BobEks.

Celtics Hitting Big Stretch

The Celtics tip off a stretch of three games in four days tonight against three of their biggest rivals in the league. Tonight’s game against Orlando is followed by Atlanta tomorrow night and the Lakers on Sunday.

Scott Souza wonders why the league just didn’t go ahead and schedule the Cavaliers in for Saturday while they were at it. Jim Fenton also looks at the challenging stretch of games coming up. Chris Forsberg has the Celtics looking forward to this challenge. Steve Bulpett has the Magic looking for payback for the Christmas Day loss the Celtics handed them. A. Sherrod Blakely has tonight’s game a big one for both teams.

Mark Murphy has Doc Rivers holding himself accountable.

Paul Flannery makes his All Star reserves selections. Gary Washburn wonders if Rajon Rondo might get his first All Star nod when the reserves are named tonight on TNT.

Stan Grossfeld catches up with former Celtic Glenn McDonald, one of the heroes of game 5 of the 1976 NBA Finals.

Patriots

Speaking as Vince Wilfork, Karen Guregian says that the nose tackle should absolutely hold out if the franchise tag is put on him. Glen Farley has Wilfork wanting no part of the franchise tag. Mike Reiss offers his analysis of Wilfork’s statements yesterday on WEEI. On Patriots Daily we’re wondering if the Patriots should even re-sign Wilfork.

Jeff Howe says that Bill Belichick can’t go wrong by naming either Matt Patricia or Pepper Johnson as defensive coordinator. Christopher Price looks at the Patriots linebackers.

Albert R. Breer has scouts questioning the NFL ability of Tim Tebow. Ian R. Rapoport has Pete Carroll learning his lesson from his stint in New England, especially when it comes to personnel.

Tom E. Curran says that the Pro Bowl has just gone from bad to worse. Steve Buckley says that this Super Bowl doesn’t need Brett Favre.

The Globe Patriots notebook has Wes Welker’s ACL surgery set for Tuesday at Mass General. Guregian’s notebook has more on the surgery. Rapoport’s Senior Bowl Notebook has the Patriots warning prospects about the potential evils of social media such as Twitter and Facebook.

Misc

Fluto Shinzawa has the Bruins grinding it out at practice in an attempt to shake themselves out of their slump. Joe Haggerty wonders which door leads to success for the Bruins. James Murphy says that the return of Marc Savard will be huge on and off the ice for the Bruins. Steve Conroy has Peter Chiarelli declaring Claude Julien’s job safe.

Mike Fine has Tim Wakefield wanting to be a starter. Brian MacPherson has a good piece on catching prospect Luis Exposito. Tom Caron says that Mike Cameron will be a huge factor in the Red Sox clubhouse. John Tomase has Daniel Bard pleased to be working with Jonathan Papelbon for another year.

Former Harvard football captain Carl Ehrlich writes about his experiences playing football in Spain.

Bill Reynolds misses Pete Sheppard.

Afternoon Notes

A couple of notes from today:

The Beanpot is coming up over the next two Monday nights, and once again NESN has the complete coverage.

Coverage begins with Beanpot Hockey Tournament presented by SBLI beginning on Monday, February 1st.  The first game pits Boston College against Harvard at 5:00 PM followed by Boston University battling Northeastern University at 8:00 PM from the TD Garden. NESN’s coverage of the Beanpot championship game on Monday, February 8th will begin with Prelude to A Championship, a live, half-hour pre-game show starting at 7:30 PM.

Tom Caron and Andy Brickley will call all three games for NESN.

The championship game will also be available to 4.5 million homes in Canada on TSN2, which will rebroadcast the game in HD at 6:00 PM on February 9.

——
Pete Sheppard might’ve been the most high-profile radio guy to be laid off recently, but he’s not the only one. Yesterday WGAM Manchester/Nashua announced that producer P.J. Huot, who had been with the station since 2002, along with morning sports anchor Darrin Root and a traffic/production guy David Kimball had all been let go due to the economic conditions.

In addition, there is talk that the afternoon drive show with Mike Mutnansky could be cut back from 3-6PM to 4-6PM starting next week, though that is not set in stone just yet.

——

The biggest interview on Boston sports radio today was Vince Wilfork talking with Michael Holley and Lou Merloni on WEEI this morning, where the nose tackle voice his displeasure at his contract situation and that he does not want to be franchised.

Meanwhile on Patriots Daily, the question is asked: Should The Patriots Re-Sign Vince Wilfork?

Still Reviewing A Patriotic Decade

With the 2009 season coming to a close on Sunday Bowl Sunday, and thus putting the wraps on another decade of football, there is still quite a lot of looking back over the last 10 years by the media.

Today, Ron Borges names his all-decade NFL team, with former Patriot players Ty Law, Adam Vinatieri and Larry Izzo on the team, which would be coached by Bill Belichick. You’ll notice Tom Brady wasn’t on that list, and Borges explains why Peyton Manning is his QB of the decade in a separate column. He admits it was a very close, difficult decision, and he would be happy with either quarterback on his team. Kerry Byrne takes a look at the top 10 moments of the Patriots dynasty.

Ian R. Rapoport looks at Charlie Weis and Romeo Crennel reuniting with Scott Pioli out in Kansas City. Tom E. Curran takes a look at the defensive line, while Christopher Price looks at the defensive backs. Mike Reiss has his Patriots mailbag.

You’ll be hearing this a lot this offseason: Jeff Howe says the Jets are going to be very good for years to come. Michael Felger says that both the Jets and Colts are miles ahead of the Patriots. Monique Walker has the Colts saying they’re happy to take a Super Bowl berth over a 16-0 regular season.

Mike Reiss did it last week, and today Albert R. Breer also talks to UMass offensive lineman Vladimir Ducasse, a native of Haiti.

Karen Guregian and Adam Kilgore has Matt Light talking about his dislocated kneecap that he suffered in the Denver game this season. Rapoport’s notebook says that Wes Welker’s ACL surgery still has not been scheduled.

Celtics

A. Sherrod Blakely has the Celtics headed into their biggest three-game stretch of the season, with the Magic, Hawks and Lakers on tap between now and Sunday. Julian Benbow has more on this stretch of potential statement games.

Scott Souza has Ray Allen hoping to remain with the Celtics after his contract expires this summer. Mark Murphy also has Allen looking to stay here, and remaining unfazed by trade rumors.

Robert Lee looks at the All Star hopes for Celtics other than Kevin Garnett, who was voted in as a starter. Evans Clinchy says that the Celtics have felt the loss of Marquis Daniels, and look forward to his return.

Red Sox

John Tomase has Tim Wakefield once again in the position of having to prove himself. Art Martone has Wakefield planning on being in the starting rotation.

Michael Silverman and Amalie Benjamin have the Red Sox and Jeremy Hermida agreeing on a one-year contract.

Mike Fine says that the Red Sox like their organizational depth at the catcher position. Joe McDonald says that the Red Sox are expecting big things from prospect Ryan Westmoreland this season, at whichever level he ends up at.

Bruins/Misc

Steve Conroy has Milan Lucic still trying to return to top form. Joe Haggerty says that center Steve Begin hopes to return this weekend. Kathryn Tappen says that the Bruins players are the only ones capable of turning this team around. Fluto Shinzawa has Tuukka Rask struggling when called upon to relieve Tim Thomas in the middle of a game.

Bob Ryan offers a number of thoughts on the sports world.

NESN Announces Red Sox Spring Training Plans

We’re just a few weeks away from the start of spring training, and this afternoon, NESN announced their plans for expanded Red Sox spring training coverage which will begin with an evening edition of Red Sox Spring Break LIVE on February 18th at 7:00pm.

The show will be hosted by Tom Caron and Peter Gammons.

Here is the schedule for Red Sox Spring Break LIVE in February:

DATE PROGRAM TIME
Thu, February 18 Red Sox Spring Break LIVE 7:00 – 8:00 PM
Replay 10:30 – 11:30 PM
Sat, February 20 Red Sox Spring Break LIVE 9:00 AM – NOON
Replay 2:00 – 4:00 PM
Sun, February 21 Red Sox Spring Break LIVE 10:00 AM – NOON
Replay 3:00 – 5:00 PM
Wed, February 24 Red Sox Spring Break LIVE 10:00 AM – NOON
Replay 1:00 – 3:00 PM
Replay 5:00 – 7:00 PM
Fri, February 26 Red Sox Spring Break LIVE 9:00 – 11:00 AM
Replay 5:00 – 7:00 PM
Sat, February 27 Red Sox Spring Break LIVE 9:00 AM – NOON
Replay 5:00 – 7:00 PM
Sun, February 28 Red Sox Spring Break LIVE 10:00 AM – NOON
Replay 1:00 – 3:00 PM

NESN will also broadcast nine Red Sox spring training games, starting with the annual game with Boston College on March 3rd. Here is the full slate of games:

NESN’s 2010 Spring Training Game Broadcast Schedule

DATE PROGRAM TIME
Wed, March 3 Boston College at Fort Myers 6:00 PM
Sun, March 7 Baltimore at Sarasota 1:00 PM
Sat, March 13 Pittsburgh at Fort Myers 1:00 PM
Sun, March 14 Minnesota at Hammond Stadium 1:00 PM
Wed, March 17 New York Mets at Fort Myers 1:00 PM
Sat, March 20 Baltimore at Fort Myers 1:00 PM
Sun, March 21 Houston at Fort Myers 1:00 PM
Sun, March 28 Minnesota at Fort Myers 1:00 PM
Mon, March 29 Tampa Bay at Fort Myers 7:00 PM

Don Orsillo and Jerry Remy will team up for their tenth season together in the NESN broadcast booth with Red Sox reporter Heidi Watney joining them for her third season with the network.

Tuesday Top Ten

Here’s the top ten Boston sports articles this morning from around the newspaper and web world…

A Ticket to ride - Frank Dell’Apa has Kevin Garnett returning to form as the Celtics beat the Clippers 95-89.

Warriors may offer Ellis for Ray Allen - Comcast SportsNet’s A. Sherrod Blakely reported that the Warriors might be interested in moving Monta Ellis for Ray Allen. He also says that this is not a deal Danny Ainge has given any serious thought to considering. (Don Nelson doesn’t appear to take it serious either…so where did this rumor come from?)

Allen’s first option to stay in Boston - Gary Washburn has Allen hoping to stay right here with the Celtics.

Five questions for the Celtics - Paul Flannery looks at some things that the Celtics need to address in the second half of the season.

Critics bite at Tim Tebow - Ian Rapaport talks to the Florida quarterback and Heisman trophy winner, who admits that he’s talked to Bill Belichick and asked him for advice on the pro game.

Brady always seems at ease - Mike Reiss admires Tom Brady’s polish and genuineness at a charity event yesterday, where he also talked a little football.

Could this be a gift from Saban to Belichick?? In the Boston.com Extra Points blog, Albert Breer looks at the Patriots possible interest in Alabama nose tackle Terrence Cody – all 370 lbs of him.

Opportunity may come knocking for Hermida - Brian MacPherson has Jeremy Hermida OK with being the Red Sox fourth outfielder this season.

Healthy Daisuke Matsuzaka Hungry for Redemption in 2010 - Adam Hirshfield has the Red Sox pitcher telling a Japanese magazine that he injured himself while training for the WBC last year.

Going backward on the blue line - Fluta Shinzawa has the Bruins swirling down the Eastern Conference standings, thanks in no small part to the play of their defensemen.

Why The Media Loves Brett Favre

Why does Brett Favre have the undying support of so many members of the national media?

Why, despite a full decade of coming up short on the biggest stage, or throwing an ill-advised pass which is intercepted at the worst possible time, does the national media as a whole love and worship him, and certain people in that group find it nearly impossible to criticize him?

I’ll tell you why. It’s very simple actually. He treats them well, makes them feel special, and fills their notebooks. In fact, if an athlete wants to be adored by the press, he’d do well to study what Favre has done.  I’ll give you a few examples.

1) He spends extra time with the TV broadcast crew on Friday/Saturday.

When a broadcast crew is assigned a particular game, a portion of time is set aside for them to sit down and talk with a few key members of each team. It’s usually the quarterback, perhaps the head coach, and a few other players of note for that game. They come in, and talk for usually a set amount of time, say, 30 minutes or an hour. I’ve heard stories of Favre spending three hours in these sessions, to the point that the crew need to leave. He’ll just sit there and answer any question, shoot the breeze, spend as much time as they want. The broadcasters love this. Many players dread these sessions, and it probably comes across in those sessions. But Brett gives them all they want and more, so they’re going to praise him up and down during the telecast on Sunday.

2) He has media members over to his home, during and after the season.

This is another sly-but-calculated technique of Favre. Open up your home. Let the media see you away from the field. Feed them. The media loves to be fed. Let them sit on your couch and hang out with you. Let them see you interacting with your family, with your dog, mowing your lawn. This humanizes him even further to them. He’s no longer “Brett Favre, Star NFL QB” but now “Brett Favre, ordinary guy.” If someone invites you to their home, treats you nicely, are you then going to rip them in front of millions? You’re at least going to cushion your words of criticism.

3) He’ll text message them to make them feel special.

Wow…Brett Favre sent me a text message! He’s thinking of me! He’s my friend! Or maybe he’ll pick up the phone and tell you that he’s just sitting at home, watching American Idol while his daughter chases the dog all over the house. Humanizing. Personal. Not going to rip this guy.

4) He shows his emotions – freely.

Up or down, you know how Favre feels. Whether he’s celebrating on the field, or crying at the end of the season, his emotions are all out there for the world to see. In an era where athletes are “professional” and it’s just a job, and they don’t let the world inside, Favre lets it all out. That makes him something different to the media which craves this sort of thing. Favre also lets the media inside his personal life. He’s had some tragedy and tough times in his life – his painkiller addiction, his father’s death, his wife’s breast cancer. These incidents, sad as they are, are in no way unique among NFL players. Parents die, loved ones are sick, addictions are overcome all the time, but again many of today’s athletes are intensely private about these types of things. Favre isn’t. The media loves these stories of overcoming adversity, and just eat it up. They also remember these times later when he fails, and it tempers their criticism of him.  The press hates Bill Belichick for being robotic in press conferences following games – it gives them nothing to work with. Brett shares all that, and again, it makes him human to them. They love that.

5) His press conferences are long and “folksy.”

Favre is the master of the “aw shucks” persona during press conferences. These are usually marathon sessions in which he answers every possible question. He again does so in a “regular guy” manner getting verbose, and spinning new ways to spout the time-tested clichés of athlete press conferences. He is also an expert at making it look like he’s taking all the blame and none of the credit, when subtly, it is the exact opposite. He helps the media do their job. They’re going to then feel bad turning around and ripping him.

In addition to the above, he’s crafted his public image carefully as well by the endorsements he does. I can really just think of two current commercial series with him, and they both portray him in a certain way. The jeans commercial, where he’s playing touch football with his buddies in the back yard…”regular guy.” The commercial where he is trying to select a new TV and can’t make up his mind – a self-deprecating reference to his constant inability to make up his mind on his latest retirement. Likeable. Poking fun at himself.

I’m not blaming Favre for doing any of these things. In fact, you’ve got to admire how hard he works to keep the media on his side, and why it becomes so hard for many of them to come out and just rip him. As you can see, it isn’t rocket science, either. Treat people nicely, help them out wherever you can, make them feel special, and you’re going to instill irrevocable loyalty in them.

Don’t expect things to change this offseason, no matter what ultimately happens, and don’t expect it to stop after he retires, either. We’re stuck with him for a long time. He and the media enable each other.

Championship Weekend Thoughts – Part I

I went through all the newspapers and online sites this morning, looking for interesting article. It was a decidedly uninspiring bunch.

Don’t believe me? You can look at CelticsLinks.com, or BruinsLinks.com or Red Sox Links or PatriotsLinks.com and see for yourself.

I do recommend checking out Chris Warner’s East-West Shrine Game Review. Last year’s game had Myron Pryor, Brian Hoyer and Sebastian Vollmer playing, who knows which future Patriots were on display?

There was quite a bit of debate heading into yesterday’s AFC championship game as to what team Patriots fans should root for. To me, it was easy. Many of my friends chose the Jets, figuring that they didn’t want to see the Colts creep closer to the Patriots in the Super Bowl tally.

I didn’t see it that way at all. The thought of two weeks of Rex Ryan and Bart Scott and Darrelle Revis and Fireman Ed left me queasy. As it is, I’m pretty sure we’re going to hear about the Jets all offseason, and I expect a lot of third place predictions for the Patriots in the AFC East come August. The Jets are the next dynasty. Get ready for it.

I chose to root for the Colts because nothing they do will take away from what the Patriots have accomplished already. I frankly don’t care about the comparisons. I will say I enjoy watching the Colts when they are not playing the Patriots. How can you not? Peyton Manning has almost completely transformed his postseason, big game image and reputation. You have to respect him for that.

He’s come so far that I’ve almost started viewing he and the Colts like those mid-to-late 90′s Michael Jordan-led Chicago Bulls teams. I’ve always been a die-hard Celtics fan, and perhaps because if the team was actually competitive during that time I might’ve felt different, but I enjoyed watching the Bulls dispatch whomever the latest and greatest challenger was, be it the Trail Blazers, the Sonics, the Jazz, the Knicks, the Pacers, the Heat, whomever.

The New York Jets beat the Bengals and the Chargers…not exactly two proven postseason winners, and suddenly the entire national media was jumping on their bandwagon. The New York papers, a couple of which pretty much ignored the Jets the entire season, suddenly had Rex Ryan and Mark Sanchez as their cover boys. Sanchez was pretty good yesterday, but for most of his rookie season he’s been closer to JaMarcus Russell than to Peyton Manning.

So with all that, there was a certain satisfaction in seeing Manning and the Colts coldly, precisely pick apart the Jets, especially in the second half. It was enjoyable.

Make no mistake though, I’ll be rooting against the Colts in two weeks.

In the second game, the choice was much easier. Saints all the way. A franchise that has never been to the Super Bowl, a city that has been through way too much the past decade, and a team with a style of play that is fun to watch. Plus there was the Brett Favre factor.

Had Favre made it to the Super Bowl, ESPN might’ve just imploded in upon itself with all the hype for the next two weeks. It didn’t matter which AFC team was in. If it was the Jets, you’d get two weeks of Rex Ryan coupled with Favre, plus the “rookie QB vs the 40-year-old QB.” With the Colts it would be all Peyton vs Brett - two good ol’ Southern boys who love to sling it.

Just thank the man upstairs that it didn’t happen that way.

Favre, as we know, reverted to form at the exact moment you would’ve expected him to. The biggest moment. A moment in which he did not need to throw the ball, but not only threw it, but tried to force it across his body, which resulted in an interception. Yes, he wasn’t the only one at fault. The Vikings had a lot of goats yesterday, but they were still in position to attempt a field goal that could’ve sent them to the Super Bowl but instead ended up going to OT.

Despite the pick, you’re still going to hear plenty of Favre love from the media. Why?

That will be the subject of the second post today, coming at about noon….

Glenn Ordway Tries To Clear The Air

Since the announcement on Wednesday that Pete Sheppard was being let go from WEEI due to economic issues there has been a lot of questioning and speculation about what the “real” reason for the move was.

I did it here at BSMW. Chad Finn (sort of) did it in the Globe this morning. Other sites and messageboards have been doing it.

When the Big Show opened this afternoon, Glenn Ordway attempted to set the record straight, and very seriously said that it was solely due to the economy. He even said he could understand why people might be skeptical because of gags that they’ve done in the past. (Such as Mike Adams “locking himself in the studio.”)

It was unlike Ordway, as he didn’t take shots at those of us who have been wondering about the episode, just stated repeated that this is just a product of the economy and while WEEI has done better than a lot of companies in terms of not having to make large-scale cuts, they haven’t been immune from the effects of the economic downturn.

He seemed sincere, and while we know Ordway is an actor, and in the entertainment business, I guess I’ll take him at his word. (That weasel Jason Wolfe is another matter, however.)

But even with that, I still don’t think Curt Schilling left WEEI entirely because of the Sheppard layoff.