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….