A Fans Guide To Surviving The Patriots Media

We’re now roughly ten practices into Patriots training camp, have yet to see a preseason game or scrimmage, and yet you might already be sick of hearing about Brady’s contract, Burgess’ retirement, the franchise’s decline or the failure of the team in recent drafts.

If it is this bad now, how will it be as the season goes along, especially if the team does struggle in bringing along so many young players, and if the Brady contract doesn’t get done before the start of the season?

Fortunately, because there is so much coverage of the team out there, you can engage in some “selective consumption” to pick and choose the quality coverage and avoid the material clearly aimed at simply generating outrage or trying to tweak fans into commenting or talking about it.

Here on BSMW, I try to bring you the best links each day, so that’s a good place to start, but what else can you do so that you’re not ready to put your fist through your computer, foot through the TV or throw the radio out the window?

Here’s a guide to what you should be watching, and what you should be avoiding, broken down into Print, Radio and Television.

Note: Before I begin, let us once again dismiss the notion that Patriots fans don’t want the media to be critical, to question things or to not suggest that this team isn’t what it was five or six years ago. We can handle those things, and even welcome them when warranted. What we DON’T want is made-up “news,” fake controversies or exaggerated, over-the-top rantings on the failures of the team.

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Print

Read

Who else would I start with? Reiss has some new competition, but he’s still the standard on the Patriots beat. Some still try to accuse him of being a “Patriots PR Agent” or “Toady”, but that sort of comment is way off-base. Reiss just reports and analyzes. He doesn’t get too negative or too positive. He plays it down the middle, while avoiding some of the obvious negative items which are more media creations rather than real news items. He is critical of the team when the situation calls for him to be (he’s been critical of the lack of additions to the OLB and pass rush area) and praises the team when it is called for.

“Rap” is a bit goofy, and his blog isn’t always filled with strictly Patriots items, but don’t be fooled by his style, the guy is a top-notch reporter and gets the job done. Entering his second season on the beat at the Herald, Rapoport also seems to steer clear of the fake news items in favor of actual reporting and analysis. He is definitely someone you should be checking out every day.

If you’re into the training camp reports, looking for information on what has happened each day, the PFW blog consistently has the most detailed reports. They’re worth checking out every day just for that reason.

Avoid

  • Boston.com

Chris Gasper, Tony Massarotti and Albert Breer all in one place? Yikes. A bunch of angry Chicken Little’s is what you end up with. “The Sky is Falling -Whose damn fault is it?” is what you’re going to get a whole lot of over there. Breer seems more concerned with telling us about the three super teams in the NFL – The Jets, Dolphins and Cowboys, and how they do things right while the Patriots flounder ineptly. While Shalise Manza Young and Monique Walker are pretty good, the first three are big reasons to avoid Boston.com altogether.

  • Michael Felger

He still writes occasionally for CSNNE.com. His material is the same as what you hear on his radio program. It’s a damn shame, too, because Felger was at one time my favorite guy on the Boston sports media scene. Now he’s a one-trick pony, and has embraced and turned into the man he once battled on the airwaves and in print, Ron Borges. Who knew Borges was so powerful. It’s like he managed to turn Felger to the dark side of the force.

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Radio

Listen

  • Patriots Monday Interviews on WEEI.

If you’re a Patriots fan, you can’t listen to WEEI all day. You just can’t. So you’ve got be very selective. Dale & Holley are generally OK. The only time you should listen to Dennis & Callahan is the Tom Brady interview on Monday mornings, of if they have another guest – Boomer Esiason, Adam Schefter, etc. If you listen other times, you’re likley to get a Gerry Callahan whine/sneer and John Dennis 37-part question/soliloquy on a random topic. Listen to the Big Show only during the Bill Belichick interview on Monday afternoon.

  • Gresh and Zolak.

Yeah. They’re not that bad when they’re talking Patriots. Since camp opened, they’ve been broadcasting from Gillette, and have had a ton of player interviews as practice sessions end. If they start getting a little crazy, (today they were on the Brady contract) just flip over to Dale & Holley.

  • NFL Sunday on WEEI

I’ve always enjoyed this show, and I’m looking forward to its return, especially with Troy Brown joining Dale Arnold Christian Fauria and Christopher Price this season. As Arnold boasts, they’ll be the only show with two guys who have been in the huddle with Tom Brayd.

Turn Off

  • Michael Felger

See note above on Felger. His radio show is a daily juggling act of  speculation, conjecture, exaggeration and cherry-picked arguments.

  • Everything else

Really. As a Patriots fan, there isn’t too much out there.

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Television

Watch

  • Patriots All Access

Yes, it is produced by the team. It’s generally a puff piece, though Reiss and Paul Perillo in the final segment each week are willing to be critical of the team if warranted, and *gasp* actually pick against the team on occasion. Some of the segments (none involving Steve Burton) are pretty good. The highlights package from the previous game brings you sideline and locker room footage, Scott Zolak’s segments with Bill Belichick are good, especially on the telestrator, and the segment with Zolak and Fauria showing you something from that week’s opponent is educational as well.

Turn Off

  • Anything on CSN New England (Sorry, Skip)

The station allows Felger, Ron Borges and Gary Tanguay on the air at the same time! What else do you need to know? Most shows involving the Patriots devolve into a discussion of how they’re screwing Brady, how they’ve drafted poorly, and how Bill Belichick is the biggest megalomaniac on the planet. The New England Tailgate show with Glenn Ordway, Fred Smerlas and Steve DeOssie would be better if Smerlas wasn’t allowed to speak other on anything other than on-field items. Occasionally they can teach you something, but in general this show isn’t worth the weekly viewing.

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Obviously this is just scratching the surface of the available media coverage on the Patriots out there. There are plenty of reporters and programs that fall in between the two extremes, and some who go to both.

 Tom E Curran is the biggest mystery to me. Personally, he’s a great guy. Friendly, funny, accessible, I like him alot. He’s generally also very fair when it comes to analyzing the team. Then at times, he drinks his Mr Hyde juice, and transforms into another person altogether. It might be aftereffects of having been involved with Mike Florio’s website, and if so, Tom, I’m truly sorry and you deserve sympathy for PDSD, but if not, I’m truly mystified. How can you take Robert Kraft’s comments in which he talks about Brady practically as a son, and turn them into some evil, passive-aggressive, threatening message? I don’t get it. He’s not the only one beating this drum, either, and it’s just the type of thing this list is meant to steer you away from.

Choose the media options up above, and you might just survive the season.

Before I forget: Brady Contract Strife Set To Ruin 2010 Season For Patriots

  • Tony

    I assume not specifically listing Borges in The Herald on your "avoid, print" list is simply because it's already implied that reading or listening to Borges on any Patriots-related topic is a waste of our time?

    • Bruce

      Right. That and because he’s basically become irrelevant.

  • Eddie

    This week I guess 'EEI either thinks they have no competition or they're just conceding. Bob Ryan is the bright spot, subbing for D&C, but his brilliance is more than dulled by the insufferable Bob Neumeir. At one time Neumie was pretty good, now he's become a Felger wannabee. He's just throwing crap out there and hoping for a reaction. The mid day show features rotating amateurs. Somebody please tell Mike Muttnansky that he's not a comedian. This afternoon we have Smerlas and LJ on the Big Show………the bottom of the D-list. And they wonder why 98.5 has done so well.

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/mandb97 mandb97

      Eddie I will agree with you on 80% with what you say. Ryan is great and with Neumeier they should be hosting the morning show on WEEI permanently. Neumeier puts a topic out and lets listeners and co-hosts discuss and then puts his two cents in. It is not blowhard conjecture radio like Felger. As far as Mutnansky goes, he seems to have taken too many courses at the Glen Ordway/John Dennis School of Bad Radio. He has regressed significantly and it is a shame.

      • Classless

        agree on Mutt. He's a nightmare run-on sentence in Human form.

  • MissYouTanger

    I've taken up listening to music after 10 am in the office – and it's not bad. I long for the days of Gary Tanguay telling me that he KNOWS Jason Bay is going to end up with the Yankees. No specific reason – Gary just knew. It was a simpler time.

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/EvilStaceyJames EvilStaceyJames

    Ron's transitioning into academia anyway.

    • MissYouTanger

      Proving once again the old adage, "Those who can't, teach."

  • TTFK

    So after I got over the initial shock when I apparently picked the absolute worst time to listen to 98.5 for the first time, I have started listening to Gresh & Zolak while out on the road again. I am glad I did, as I find their interviews MUCH more spontaneous and entertaining. This goes double for when they have the old timers on. I’m glad that my earlier experience seemed to be an aberration with them.

    The callers also seem to be a solid step above what WEEI gets. 98.5 seems to get a lot more of the “make my point, ask my question and actually be capable of rational discourse” while WEEI seems to have an hourly call quota from area Methadone clinics.

    After 4pm, I do something comepletely different: I turn on the MP3 player. The only bigger pompous ass on the air than Felger is risking having to listen to Steve Schmuckley. Occasionally I’ll listen to the Big Show when other personalities are on (DeOssie, Merloni, etc.) but when flipping the dial feels like playing Russian Roulette with a musket, something will never feel right about it.

    My biggest wish is that 98.5 would find a way to get a better signal into Western MA. Occasionally I can pick it up out there when the stars align, but I’m often stuck listening to WEEI or nothing west of I91.

    • Eddie

      I totally agree about the quality of callers. The nut jobs seem to become nervier when the substitute hosts are on. The mid-day show was loaded with them today, led by the notorious Danny the Screecher from Quincy and the boorish Jack from Lynn.

      • MissYouTanger

        LouieFromTheCape is a Felger/Mazz fave – i'm hopeing he ends up like ButchFromTheCape.

  • supwithyou

    What about capeleaguer?

    • Bruce

      Very solid. He would be on the recommended reading list.

  • http://intensedebate.com/profiles/kzf1 kzf1

    Great post, Bruce! You're totally right on the unlistenable Felger and the Boston.com writers. Too bad they throw stuff at the wall to see what sticks.

  • Tanguaysucks

    Thats a pretty good summary and I couldnt have said it better myself. For such a large market with all four major sports we really scrape the bottom of the barrell when it comes to sports journalism in this town.

  • frank

    Great job Bruce you nailed it, as usual.

    • http://intensedebate.com/profiles/minimack42 Angry Old Bastard

      yes, I'll second that……Helluva a job, Bruce. ……It's just about exactly what I would have wrote…..(ya know, if I could write)……great job……also agree with the above poster about Neumy….I'm usually a fan of Neumy but he dissapointed me this week…….After Brady's press conference he went into some long rant basicly acting like he could read Brady's mind based on a 10 minute press conference……It was, "THROW CRAP AGAINST THE WALL" radio at it's finest (or worst)

  • josh

    You should add Pfw in progress to the listen radio part.

  • pfw in progress fan

    the PFW podcast is really good too. as good if not better than the practice report blog you mentioned

  • StringerBell

    Noted superfan Rocco Graziosa does not approve of your post, Mr. Allen.
    http://sonsofsamhorn.net/topic/59046-the-patriots

    • Bruce

      I’m crushed.

      • Eddie

        There are a couple of people on that site that admire Felger so much that it's uncomfortable to read. I'm not surprised that your piece got a reaction. I agree with you, by the way. Felger is an insipid ass. He'll soon join the ranks of Borges as irrelevant.

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/EvilStaceyJames EvilStaceyJames

      Bruce may have lost the middle school gym coach market forever…

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/mandb97 mandb97

    This list is perfect Bruce. I agree 100% with all of your suggestions. I would also add some other media. I would also suggest some other media from around New England especially from Maine. Kalle Oaks and Randy Whitehouse, when not writing about high school sports or auto racing (What else are you going to write about in Lewiston, ME?) write terrific columns on the Patriots for the Lewiston Sun Journal. Also, Steve Sollaway of the Portland Press Herald is a fine writer. If you want some sports talk but cannot pick-up the signal? Listen to http://www.thebigjab.com/ which is the website for WJAB 96.3 FM in Portland, ME. Listen to the local shows only. In New Hampshire, Brian McPherson left to go to the ProJo in March and unfortunately the Union Leader has not replaced him. Bruce are there any good columnists in New Hampshire?

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/mandb97 mandb97

    I almost forgot. I suggest everyone read Bruce's column on Patriots Daily. It is great. Nothing like throwing a little snide back at some of those in the Boston Media who like doing it so much. Are you reading Maz, Shaughnessy, Borges, Felger and others?

  • Guntfather

    The Phantom Gourmet has some of the best Pats coverage out there in the opinion of this unbiased observer.

  • Flipper

    Bruce- you note that Patriots All Access is a "puff program" produced by Kraft Sports (ergo, the team), but you don't make the same distinction for Patriots Football Weekly. It's the house paper of the team, and subject, deserved or not, to the same scrutiny over objectivity we would apply to All Access.

    • Tony

      PFW may be a house organ but the writers there do seem to have a little leeway to be critical.

      Paul Perrillo hardly comes off as a cheerleader for all things Kraft-related.

    • http://intensedebate.com/profiles/bruceallen Bruce Allen

      Yeah, I figured that most people realized that PFW was a Patriots-owned publication. My bad for not repeating it.

  • Dan

    I agree with your view that Felger cherry picks his arguments.
    If you listened on Monday you would've heard the clearest example of Felger cherry picking in the name of bashing the Patriots.
    On the same day that the Jets were making national news for their lowball treatment of who they claim is the best defensive player in the league, Felger conveniently ignored the subject for the whole 4 hours on air.
    Felger always uses the Jets as the team to compare the Patriots to when it comes to signing players but in this case he seems to have forgotten about his Jets.
    Pathetic lack of integrity.

    • Classless

      It's not lack of integrity. He just knows it'll rile up the natives when he smooches the 2 biggest rivals of the Patriots. It's simply smart business because if you're happy, you don't comment or call in. Only rare ones (like Mike Reiss) maintain a following despite their fair and balanced coverage.

  • Timbuk3

    Thanks for this article, good stuff.

    However, I really do look forward to New England Tailgate every week. They carry the mood of the team on their sleeves. It is funny and entertaining except when the Patriots are losing then you can just see them devolve into a trio of sad sacks.

    Sarcasm is a form of humor, but it's the lowest form. Fred Smerles is genuinely funny.

    The other local bright spot is definitely Christian Fauria. Friendly, insightful, glib and credible. Who else has played in the superbowls and can analyze and speak so clearly and eloquently? He's the best.

  • Joe Schmoe

    I just want to put a plug in for Jerry Thornton on Barstool Sports. He's one the most insightful Pats writers out there. If he was on a mainstream site I think he'd have a good following. Then again, I still like Felger, so do with that recommendation what you will.