2011 Boston Sports Media Year In Review

Note: also see Media Roundup: The Year That Was In Boston Sports Media – my SB Nation Media Column this week.

Hard to believe that another year is almost in the books. We’re also closing in on 10 years of BSMW, which will happen in April.

Looking back at 2011, what do you think were the biggest stories in the Boston sports media for 2011? Here is a look back at some of what happened this year, along with some of the most visited posts on BSMW:

In an effort to stymie lagging ratings, WEEI shuffles their lineup, booting Dale Arnold off the mid-day show, teaming Michael Holley with Glenn Ordway on a new “Big Show” and inserts Mike Mutnansky and Lou Merloni on the mid-day show. Dale Arnold’s final show on the mid-day was bittersweet.  

We still couldn’t get away from Spygate. Peter King brought it all back up again in a column on NFL commissioner Roger Goodell. Then Gregg Easterbrook moved the goal posts again.

NESN’s Executive Vice President of Programming and Executive Producer Joel Feld left the network after five years on the job.

There was a silly Gary Tanguay/Michael Felger dustup over CSNNE’s coverage of the Celtics.

The Sports Media’s Guide To Twitter – Some media members still believe they are in-demand content producers when tweeting about Jersey Shore.

Remember when Bill Belichick had the audacity not to show up for a media breakfast at the NFL owners meetings?

NH Sportswriter Blames Prostitution Arrest on Newspaper Cutbacks – The economy hit everyone hard.

Twitter wars between morning sports radio hosts are always entertaining.

WEEI’s D&C Strike Out at Competitors, Media Reporters – When they attack media reporters, it’s even more entertaining.

After trying the Ordway-Holley experiment for a few weeks, WEEI got even more desperate and added Mike Adams to the show.

In the midst of the Bruins playoff run, Jack Edwards agreed to a multi-year contract extension with NESN.

Apparently Mike Adams thinks I kiss Felger’s ass too much. Really.

The Bruins added to Boston’s championship decade by winning their first Stanley Cup since 1972

Former Boston Herald columnist George Kimball passed away after a long battler with esophageal cancer.

98.5 crushed WEEI in the spring ratings.

It was reported that the Celtics would Acquire Up To 20% Stake in CSNNE. That deal has not yet been officially announced.

Guest Column: The State Of The Media – 2011 – Former Channel 7 Sports anchor Roy Reiss wrote this guest spot.

Former Pats LB Tedy Bruschi Joins WEEI’s Patriots Monday – This was announced with much fanfare, Bruschi appeared on a few shows, and then stopped appearing. Efforts to find out why have been unsuccessful to date.

Guest Column – The Rise Of Armchair Sports Commentary – Former Boston Herald columnist Michael Gee wrote this one.

A reckless blogger claimed that Bob Kraft bullied the utility companies into restoring power to Gillette stadium first after the August hurricane. Oh wait, it was an actual newspaper reporter?

Old friend David Scott landed at ESPN in charge of PR for news content.

NESN Daily host Jade McCarthy announced she was leaving the network.

Barstool sports posted pictures of Tom Brady’s son at the beach, which kicked off a giant battle with WEEI, where El Presidente, David Portnoy had been appearing regularly. First Jason Wolfe denounced Portnoy, (In the same post, plans were announced for the Dan Patrick show to simulcast on CSNNE) and then Glenn Ordway talked the subject into oblivion, prompting An Open Letter To Glenn Ordway from this address.

Guest Column: This Just In – George Cain kinda-sorta-in-a-way saw this whole Red Sox September collapse brewing.

It was announced that the Felger and Massarotti show would be simulcast on Comcast SportsNet New England.

When the Bills beat the Patriots in September, the Buffalo media cheered and taunted the New England media. Seriously.

Meet The New Red Sox, Same As The Old Red Sox.

NFL Films featured Patriots coach Bill Belichick in a two-part documentary as part of the A Football Life series. Some wondered why the Richard Seymour trade and “lategate” from the 2009 season were not included in the film. I asked director Ken Rodgers that very question.  

Losers All Around In Globe Article – I wasn’t a fan of the Bob Hohler Boston Globe expose with painted Terry Francona as a drug-addled philanderer who lost interest in managing the team. Another notch on Joe Sullivan’s lipstick case.

Bizzaro Boston: Shaughnessy Is On Point – Even a stopped clock is right twice a day.

Sports Media Musings: The Sports Lodge Is On Fire! – One of the most popular posts of the year, from Ryan Hadfield.

John Henry Speaks Out On Felger and Mazz – The Red Sox owner had enough of the trashing from the 98.5 afternoon show and showed up in their studios.

BSMW In The New York Times – Got a mention and some quotes in The Gray Lady.

Don Orsillo re-signed with NESN through 2015, while Heidi Watney was the latest departure.

John Dennis and Gerry Callahan talked for 12309474 straight hours about Jerry Sandusky, while inserting creepy jokes at least a couple times a show.

Michael Felger has a weird obsession with the New York Jets. If they don’t make the playoffs, is their way of doing things still the better way?

Remember the old 1510 The Zone? I caught up with a few of the cast members from that era.

Rumored Replacements For Heidi Watney at NESN – An announcement isn’t expected until next month on this.

BSMW Enemies List – Edition 1 – A lot of discussion spawned here.

John Dennis’ assertion that Jeff Green’s aortic aneurysm is a result of Danny Ainge’s arrogance might be a new low in sports media.

As the year winds down and the Patriots are the main topic of discussion, we have worries about Team X, complaints that you’re not allowed to criticize the Patriots and a handy flowchart of coverage options.

What does 2012 hold? I can only imagine.

Celtics Put Up A Fight, But Can’t Beat Heat

The aged and depleted Celtics put up quite a fight last night in Miami, giving the front-running Heat and their fans something to sweat about when they cut what had been a 20-point Miami lead to three points with two minutes remaining. However, in the customary fourth-quarter disappearance of LeBron James, rookie Norris Cole stepped up and made big shots which buried the Celtics in the end, giving Miami a 115-107 victory over Boston.

Last night had everything on display which makes people who hate the NBA, hate the NBA. You had the front-running Heat and their fans nearly choking away a game, relying on a rookie to bail them out in the fourth quarter, and then celebrating like they won the title. You’ve got the imminently unlikeable LeBron James and Chris Bosh (I found myself hoping Bosh would bite his own tongue off after sticking out after making a three.) the incredibly hatable Miami Heat PA announcer, and of course, officials like Danny Crawford and Dick Bavetta who can’t let the game just play out on its own, but have to insert themselves into it, and while attempting to “make up” for bad calls, just make things worse.

Time to make choices, not panic – While Bob Neumeier opened SportsNet Central on CSNNE last night asking if it was time to panic, Paul Flannery says that time has not yet arrived.

Celtics can’t let slow starts continue – Chris Forsberg says that eliminating slow starts has to be first on the list of priorities. A. Sherrod Blakely says that atrocious defense isn’t helping either.

Green plans to return stronger – Gary Washburn’s notebook has Jeff Green looking to come back from heart surgery better than ever. The Herald notebook from Mark Murphy has turnovers killing the Celtics.

Eight Patriots were named to the Pro Bowl yesterday, and that includes free agent signees Brian Waters and Andre Carter. It funny to me how we get columns like this – Haynesworth just another personnel whiff – but not much about the successes. Carter and Mark Anderson have 19 sacks between them. How much would that be worth if you paid top dollar for them? (How much are Freeney, Dumervil, Babin, Allen and Pierre-Paul – the other Pro Bowl Ends – making?) Waters was the only starter from opening day left of the offensive line during the second half on Sunday, and helped protect Brady in the comeback win.

Yes, there have been plenty of whiffs in free agency. There have been successes as well. You just don’t hear about them. Mike Reiss does give it a mention in his wrapup of the selections, and is especially happy for Matthew Slater.

Brian Waters has become steady presence for Patriots’ offensive line - Christopher Price says that Waters has been the Patriots best free-agent signing.

Wounded Buffalo limps in – Greg A Bedard looks at the Patriots final regular season opponent.

Bill Belichick’s Style Means Patriots Won’t Let Up Against Buffalo and 19 Other Thoughts – Jeff Howe says that the Patriots will probably play this one straight.

’Twine tied early Patriots together – Ron Borges with a very nice piece on Houston Antwine, who passed away yesterday.

If you’re unfamiliar with Antwine, he was named All-AFL five times, an AFL All Star six times, and is a member of the All-Time AFL team as elected by the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

He’s also not in the Patriots Hall of Fame. It’s a shame that Antwine wasn’t honored before his passing. Drew Bledsoe could’ve waited 1 (or 10) more year(s).

According to Mark Farinella, the veteran’s committee of the Patriots Hall of Fame wasn’t expected to meet for another four years after putting Jon Morris in the Hall this year. I strongly urge Farinella, Borges and anyone else associated with the election committee of the Patriots Hall of Fame to seriously consider putting Antwine into the Hall immediately.

Patriots As Confusing As Ever, As Pursuit Of Top Seed Continues

The Patriots can clinch the top seed in the AFC with a win over Buffalo on Sunday afternoon. Despite obvious flaws and injuries that would cripple other teams, the Patriots continue to pull out victories, even when they dig themselves a deep hole.

What does January hold for the New England Patriots? No one has that answer right now.

Making The Grades – Dolphins at Patriots – Jeremy Gottlieb is worried/anxious/disappointed following this win. Other report cards: Ron Borges | ESPN Boston | Hector Longo | Boston.com

Holding their own – Greg A Bedard looks at the adjustments made to the Miami blitz by Bill O’Brien and the Patriots offense.

Pats take lumps of coal and deliver gold – Mike Reiss has some words of wisdom that I sorely wish some around here would take to heart.

Tom Brady, Bill Belichick Ruin Christmas With Comeback and Other Leftover Patriots Thoughts – I enjoy looking through Michael Hurley’s rambling Patriots thoughts columns.

A major plus for Pats ‘D’ – Karen Guregian says that the saving grace for the defense is turnovers.

Top priority is home field, but Bills loss lingers – Michael Whitmer says that the Patriots have some unfinished business with the Bills, who have already been chirping about sweeping New England. The Herald notebook from Karen Guregian has Stevan Ridley emerging as the crunch-time back.

Celtics, Heat resume legit rivalry – Chris Forsberg has the Celtics and Heat getting their first look at each other tonight. Gary Washburn and Steve Bulpett have the Heat humbled and focused this season.

Celtics following a familiar script – Bill Reynolds says that this is the early 90’s all over again.

Mike Boyle a good fit with Sox – John Tomase looks at the Red Sox new de facto strength and conditioning coach.

Travel plans for Bruins – Fluto Shinzawa has the Bruins wrapping up their holiday break.

Covering The Patriots? Here’s Your Handy Flowchart For Coverage

If you follow the Patriots, you’ve no doubt become aware of certain patterns in coverage and talk about the team. It’s almost as if it were scripted sometimes…

On the BSMW messageboard the other day, we were talking about these patterns and jokingly started a flowchart on the subject. The result is this. (Thanks to Greg for putting it together.)

You can click on the arrows in the upper right corner to get the full-size version. The link at the bottom allows you to download the PDF.

Download flowchart

Elsewhere, Chad Finn (Difficult call must be made) is as nice and respectful as he can possibly be while saying that the time has come for Gil Santos and Gino Cappelletti to leave the Patriots broadcasting booth.

That’s not going to be a popular column in some places, but the arguments are unassailable.

Media Roundup: NBA Media Weighs In On Boston Celtics’ Chances – I’ve got analysts from ESPN, TNT and NBATV weighing in on the Celtics chances this season.

“I Guess You’re Not Allowed To Criticize The Patriots.”

The above statement is the refuge of the weak-minded, it is usually stated in a condescending, exasperated tone.

I’ve heard this statement from a number of media members and supposed “fans,” usually when someone attempts to put a stop to the endless negativity and point out that, you know, the team is actually pretty good, and has as good a chance as anyone in the AFC to go to the Super Bowl.

Is there reason to be critical of the Patriots?

Lets get this straight: YES.

The team has definite flaws on defense, and their decision-making personnel-wise can certainly be questioned. Have they made the best use of the prime years of Tom Brady’s career?

All of those things are valid criticisms, yet how come it is ALL we hear on radio and television? Well for one thing, it is easy. Sports radio hosts are always going to take the easy position. For another thing, they know it will piss people off. Only in media is pissing off your customers considered good business.

I’m excluding the beat writers from this discussion. With rare exceptions, they are a hard-working, objective group, who do a fine job. The Patriots beat is filled with people I enjoy reading – even when they’re critical of the team. Mike Reiss, Tom E Curran, Chris Price, Ian Rapoport, Karen Guregian, Greg Bedard, Rich Garven, Glen Farley, Jeff Howe – they all do a very good job at covering the team, and all of them have been critical of the team from time to time. They’re not the ones I’m talking about here.

Things reached something of a tipping point yesterday, when someone I thought I was friendly with, referred to me as “Psychotic” on their radio program. The argument was the usual, tired, hyperbolic-ridden one – “Bruce attacks anyone who dares to criticize the local teams. He wants the media to be positive all the time.” If the Patriots were 3-11 instead of 11-3, you wouldn’t hear me complaining about the negativity. It would be warranted.

I’ve said it million times, and apparently haven’t been clear enough for some people. I don’t want to hear only positive things about the team any more than I want to hear hour-after-hour, day-after-day about how this defense SUCKS, this player SUCKS, this coach SUCKS at drafting, hour-after-hour, day-after-day.

The weird thing to me is that there are those who do exactly what I just described, yet when I throw my hands up in the air and say Enough! I get the “psychotic” label slapped on me. Makes sense.

It’s called balance, people. Balance. Try it sometime.

Links? Not a ton this morning.

Belichick talks in-game machinations – Curran has Belichick talking about adjustments on the sidelines.

Teams have hit ground running – Julian Benbow has the Patriots understanding that they need to play the run better right out of the gate this week.

Celtics will go as far as J.O. takes them – Peter May says that Jermaine O’Neal is the key to the Celtics title hopes. Wait, what?

Doc Rivers C’s through fog – Mark Murphy says that Doc Rivers is the best choice to coach this team both short and long term.

Where the Red Sox stand in the starting pitching market – Alex Speier with a Red Sox update.

Valentine’s coaching staff near completion – Peter Abraham has the coaching staff taking shape.

From The PFW Archives – Interview with Mike Freeman, CBS Sports.

This article originally appeared in the September 29th, 2010 issue of Patriots Football Weekly.

CBSSports.com’s Freeman Tweets It Like It Is

By Bruce Allen

Ask a Patriots fan who they like as a national sports columnist, and I don’t think Mike Freeman would be near the top of that list.

Come to think of it, I really don’t know who that honor would go to, but I do know it would not be Freeman, who has made a name for himself as a contrarian and pot-stirrer over the course of his career, most recently at his current employer, CBSSports.com.

In the past year, Freeman has written two columns highly critical of Patriots receiver Randy Moss, who has been a frequent target of Freeman’s criticism over the course of his career. Last season, Freeman claimed to have charted every Moss play during the game against the Atlanta Falcons, and claimed that on “a significant number of them” Moss didn’t put forth any effort. Freeman called Moss “one of the laziest” receivers in the NFL.

Following the opening game of this season, after Moss spoke about not having a new contract with the Patriots and wishing to remain in New England, Freeman weighed in again on Moss. He first acknowledged that the last time he wrote about Moss, the feedback from this region wasn’t positive. “It seemed the entire New England area wanted to Thelma-and-Louise me off a cliff.” he wrote, and added “Patriots fans sent me some of the nastier e-mails I’ve ever gotten. The New England organization was furious with me. When I covered a Patriots game the following week a close writer friend said he couldn’t talk to me in front of Patriots officials for fear of retribution to him. He was serious.”

His column then went on to talk about how far the Patriots go to protect and baby Moss, and that he repaid them by throwing them under the bus. He predicted that Moss will go into a shell at some point this season.

When I approached Freeman about being interviewed for this piece, he was a little wary of PFW’s association with the Patriots, but agreed to answer a few questions via Twitter direct message, joking “it’ll be your first Twitter interview.” And so it is. (If you’re so inclined, you can follow Freeman at @realfreemancbs.)

Prior to coming to CBS, Freeman had worked for some of the biggest names in the newspaper business, including The New York Times, Washington Post, Dallas Morning News, Boston Globe and Florida Times-Union.

After a couple of back and forths, (in one of which he stated that college fans were much more brutal to him overall than Patriots fans were.) Freeman knew what I wanted to talk about “You’re circling too much. Do this Muay Thai style, not MMA style. Come right at me. I know you want to ask about Moss.”

OK, So I did.

Just why does he have such a problem with Moss, a sure-fire Hall of Famer, and one of the greatest receivers to ever play the game? “Many longtime NFL writers outside of (New England) are huge admirers of his talents and not-so-huge admirers of his antics.” Freeman then added “I’ve covered the sport for 20 years and never seen a guy with so much ability simply waste it. He could have been better than Jerry Rice.”

Freeman noted that in both of Moss’ previous NFL stops, things got ugly at the end. Is there the potential for the same thing to happen here in New England, or can the presence of Bill Belichick and Tom Brady stop that from happening? “I’m not sure anyone can control Randy Moss but if anyone can, it’s Belichick.” Freeman says. He then adds “He’s underrated in how he motivates players.”

The rest of our conversation may come as a surprise to those of you who have a certain image of Freeman. He was very complimentary of Bill Belichick and owner Robert Kraft.

“Belichick is the best coach in the history of the NFL.” He declared. “I’ve written that and stick by it and I think the Spygate stuff was bull—-.”

Whoa. A national media member making that statement on the record? Amazing. So what exactly was, um, “bull” about it? “The reaction to it. Anyone who covers the NFL knows every team does what Belichick did. Every team.”

You’ve heard fellow coaches such a Jimmy Johnson make that statement, but a member of the media? You’re not going to find many, at least on a national level that are willing to say that.

Freeman also said “I admire Belichick’s intellect and how he appreciates and respects NFL history.” He then committed another act of treason to his fellow media members: “I don’t care that he can be crusty with the media.”

Are you warming up to this guy yet? What are his feelings on ownership?

“I also think Kraft is as good an owner as I’ve seen. What he’s done to transform that organization (and stadium) is amazing.”

Freeman has a unique perspective on the transformation here in New England. He was an intern at the Boston Globe, and covered the Patriots way back in the early 1990’s, prior to the Kraft family buying the franchise. He remembers what the team and stadium were like at that time.

“There are only a few organizations in sports history that have come from the depths like (the) Pats. It’s a testament to Kraft and Belichick.”

Coming back to the current edition of the Patriots, it is hard to find a consensus on what they are, and how good can they been. Freeman told me that the “National perception is playoff team” but that he had slightly higher expectations for this year.

“My title game prediction is Baltimore-NE. You have a healthy Brady, you have a chance.”

And that is even with Randy Moss.

Be Afraid Of “Team X,” Be Very Afraid

While the Patriots are now in the driver’s seat for the top seed in the AFC, a new threat has emerged to their Super Bowl hopes.

Team X

We’re not sure who Team X is, but believe me, you need to be terrified of Team X.

Team X is yet another creation of Michael Felger. Team X could be any one of the following: The Pittsburgh Steelers, Baltimore Ravens, Houston Texans, Denver Broncos, San Diego Chargers, Cincinnati Bengals, New York Jets, or Oakland Raiders.

Felger says he wouldn’t pick any of those team individually in a game against the Patriots, especially at Gillette, but he would pick Team X.

Team X plays a slow game, keeping Tom Brady off the field. They don’t turn the ball over. Team X will beat the Patriots.

So be afraid of Team X. Be very afraid.

Also you should be very concerned about the contracts of Wes Welker and Rob Gronkowski.

OK. Got it. I will now walk about in fear of Team X and worry about those contracts incessantly.

Now let’s get to some grades for the Patriots/Broncos game:

Making The Grades – Patriots at Broncos – Its a split decision on PD. The first quarter Patriots? An F. The rest-of-the-game Patriots? A solid B.

Patriots Report Card – Ron Borges is in the holiday spirit with some of his grades. Is this the same guy on that video yesterday? It’s a little different when things are in print and a little more permanent, I guess.

Patriots Report Card: Brady, Hernandez head the class – Kirk Minihane says we still have no answers about this team.

Hector Longo’s Two-Minute Drill – Jerod Mayo and Vince Wilfork once again lead the list of “no shows.” (Hector, I’m sorry you felt “mocked” last week. Not my intention.)

Patriots Report Card: Aaron Hernandez Breaks Out, Special Teams Deliver Against Broncos – Jeff Howe gives his grades, and gives you a chance to give yours.

Patriots Center – ESPN Boston has “B’s” across the board, except for that rush defense.

Patriots report card Game 14 – Give out your grades on Boston.com.

Grogan’s Grade: Week 14 – New England at Denver – Steve Grogan is pleased with the effort.

An old look pays off big – Ian Rapoport says a switch back to the 3-4 made a huge difference for the Patriots.

Holiday roll – Kevin Paul Dupont has the Bruins winning their 5th straight game.

A new look for Celtics rotation. – Paul Flannery looks at the Celtics bench.

Awful Early, Patriots Rally and Dominate Tebow, Broncos

The internet was an ugly place during the first quarter of yesterday’s Patriots/Broncos game. As the second quarter began, the Patriots made adjustments on defense, with several players crediting Matt Patricia with making adjustments on-the-fly, adjustments that worked and turned the game around. (Funny, I just read on Friday from a Patriots beat writer that Matt Patricia is in over his head with the Patriots {1:21} .)

Tom Brady and the Patriots offense was magnificent all game, and the Patriots won going away, 41-23 over Tim Tebow and the Denver Broncos.

Patriots fans should be 49ers fans tonight, as a San Francisco win over Pittsburgh would give the Patriots the inside track to the top seed in the AFC.

Patriots’ defense figured it out – Mike Reiss has the defense figuring things out after struggling early. More on the defense from Greg A. Bedard | Karen Guregian | Tim Britton | Tom E Curran

Here are Tom Curran and Ron Borges talking about the defense after the game. The best part of the video is watching Curran’s face as Borges goes on his insane rant.

Ten Things We Learned Sunday: Brady, Patriots prove Tebow, Broncos not ready for prime time – Christopher Price has the Patriots making a statement with the win. Michael Hurley also offers a number of thoughts on the win.

For the Gator glory, it’s Hernandez this time – Michael Whitmer has Aaron Hernandez outshining his college teammate, Tim Tebow yesterday. More on the big day by Hernandez from Chris Forsberg | Mary PaolettiTim Britton | Pat Rooney

Anderson piles up the sacks – With Andre Carter going down with an apparent season-ending injury, Chris Forsberg has Mark Anderson stepping in and coming up big.

Protect Brady and Lombardi Trophy is theirs – Bill Burt goes a little overboard.

When the going got tough, the Patriots got going – Tony Massarotti is desperately trying to claw his way off the top of the enemies list. (Though John Dennis may have already wrapped up the award for this week.)

Tom Brady center of attention again – Steve Buckley has Tom Brady quieting the hype on Tim Tebow.

Jeff Green’s condition puts it all in perspective for Celtics – Steve Bulpett has Celtics players very glad Green’s condition was found in time.

Celtics rookie Moore impresses in debut – A. Sherrod Blakely has the Celtics second round pick impressing his veteran teammates.

New CBA leaves minimal options – Mark Murphy says that the Celtics will get no relief from the NBA for losing Green. They can only sign players for veteran minimum contracts.

Celtics Green Lost For Season, Mayo Locked Up With Pats For Five

The Celtics announced today that Jeff Green has been diagnosed with an aortic aneurysm148190220939046912, and will miss the 2011-2012 season. He is expected to make a full recovery and is expect to be ready to play next season.

Here’s some reaction to the news:

What Green’s loss means to C’s – Chris Forsberg, ESPN Boston.

JEFF GREEN WILL MISS THE 2011-12 SEASON – Paul Flannery, WEEI.com

Green to have surgery for aortic aneurysm; out for year – A. Sherrod Blakely, CSNNE.com

Jeff Green will miss entire season – Gary Washburn, Boston Globe.

ESPN’s Ric Bucher adds some thoughts on what the Celtics will do with Green’s contract:

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And then we have:

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Yeah. The aneurysm is totally on Danny. Totally. John Dennis is rapidly climbing the “Enemies List” for this week…

I mean, really? I think we have a candidate for stupidest tweet in the history of Twitter.  Jeff Green should be pissed because Danny’s hubris gave him an aortic aneurysm. Can he sue?

Of course, the big part of this is that this physical potentially saved Green’s life. That shouldn’t be overlooked.

With the Patriots, Adam Schefter reported this morning that the Patriots have agreed to a five-year contract extension with Jerod Mayo.

Rather than been viewed as a positive, some are viewing this as bad news for Wes Welker, whose contract is up at the end of the season.

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I don’t think Welker is going anywhere. Either the Patriots will tag him, or he’ll get a new deal. Many view Mayo as underwhelming, but his coaches and teammates rave about him, and he’s showing signs of becoming the playmaker his critics say he isn’t. It’s a great move to get him locked up through his prime.

Providing the Friday Megalinks

Let’s get to the megalinks today. Lots to get to including some interesting news that is breaking today.

First, the Weekend Viewing Picks are back after a week’s absence. Check out what sports and entertainment viewing recommendations I’ve made.

Now to the links.

National

Developing today is that former Bruins defenseman and CBC and NBC NHL analyst Mike Milbury allegedly assaulted a 12 year old boy during a youth hockey game last week. WCVB in Boston has broken the story and we’ll what develops. Milbury has been charged by police, but still worked on Versus this week. He’s been removed from NBC for now

Michael Hiestand of USA Today says expect more reality TV like HBO’s 24/7 in sports.

Jen Floyd Engel from the Fort Worth Star-Telegram writes for Fox Sports that Craig James’ US Senate run should be music to college football fans who have had to endure his analysis on ESPN.

In a related note, Dan Fogarty of SportsGrid notes that James is taking leave from ESPN due to his run.

Sports Illustrated’s Richard Deitsch says the NFL, the TV networks and the fans are all winners in the latest 9 year rights deal.

Richard says as he becomes more popular, it’s only natural to see more media coverage of Denver Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow.

Tim Baysinger of Broadcasting & Cable writes that Pac-12 Networks about to take operation next year, has secured headquarters in San Francisco.

John Eggerton of B&C says the American Cable Association is sounding the alarm bell on the new NFL TV deals.

Todd Spangler from Multichannel News writes that AT&T U-Verse customers in Connecticut will see MSG Network and its companion networks in HD starting in January just after Verizon Fios picked them up as well.

Eric Deggans of the St. Petersburg Times writing in the Indiana University National Sports Journalism Center looks at some of the negatives of the new NFL TV deals.

CNBC’s Darren Rovell tells us to prepare for DirecTV and NFL Sunday Ticket in cars. Yes, cars.

Leave it to Deadspin. Tommy Craggs has video of a young Seth Davis of Sports Illustrated and CBS Sports appearing in an edition of HBO’s Real Sex from the 1990’s. Hilarious.

Matt Yoder from Awful Announcing breaks down the new NFL TV deals.

In the wee hours of this morning, I wrote some thoughts on the NFL TV deals and HBO’s 24/7 season premiere among other things.

Sports Media Watch says new NBA on TNT analyst Shaquille O’Neal will not join Turner Sports’ coverage of the NCAA Tournament in March.

At Puck The Media, Steve Lepore wonders what’s up with a new program listing for NHL Network.

East and Mid-Atlantic

Chad Finn of the Boston Globe feels five NBA games on Christmas Day are too many.

Richard Sandomir of the New York Times mulls over the numbers in the new NFL TV deals.

Richard reviews the upcoming Army-Navy documentary produced by CBS Sports/Showtime.

George Vescey has written his last “Sports of the Times” column for the New York Times.

Newsday’s Neil Best says New Yorkers will not see New England-Denver on CBS this Sunday.

Neil notes that TNT’s Charles Barkley now endorses Weight Watchers.

Neil looks at Jeff Van Gundy’s frequent flyer mileage as he works two NBA games on Christmas Day.

New York Post curmudgeon Phil Mushnick says NFL TV analysts give Tim Tebow way too much credit.

Justin Terranova of the Post has ESPN/ABC announcer Sean McDonough complaining about too many bowl games.

Terranova has five questions for NFL Today analyst Shannon Sharpe.

Pete Dougherty of the Albany Times Union looks at one local radio station’s move to dump the New York Mets in favor of the Boston Red Sox.

Ken Schott from the Schenectady Gazette likes the new edition of HBO’s 24/7 Flyers/Rangers.

Keith Groller of the Allentown (PA) Morning Call says there’s nothing like the NFL as a ratings draw.

In Press Box, Dave Hughes of DCRTV.com has the latest sports media news from the Baltimore-Washington, DC area.

At the DC Sports Bog, the Washington Post’s Dan Steinberg notes that John Riggins has ended his daily sports talk show in favor of a new outdoors career.

Jim Williams from the Washington Examiner says the Nationals could see a hefty increase in their rights fee from MASN.

South

Tom Jones of the St. Petersburg Times talks with NFL Network analyst Mike Mayock who will call Saturday’s Dallas-Tampa Bay game with Brad Nessler.

David Barron from the Houston Chronicle has some quotes from Fox NFL Sunday analyst Jimmy Johnson.

Mel Bracht of the Daily Oklahoman has quotes from TNT’s Charles Barkley on the two Los Angeles NBA teams.

Mel has TNT’s NBA analysts discussing the Oklahoma City Thunder’s chances this season.

Mel notes that ESPN/ABC’s Mike Breen and Jeff Van Gundy will be quite busy on Christmas Day.

Midwest

John Kiesewetter of the Cincinnati Enquirer looks into the sudden quitting of one local sports talk show host this week.

Michael Zuidema from the Grand Rapids (MI) Press talks with Fox Sports Detroit NBA analyst Greg Kelser about the Pistons.

Ed Sherman of Crain’s Chicago Business has his winners and losers in sports business and media.

Dan Caesar of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch notes that CBS’ Dan Dierdorf gets to call a rare “home” game on Sunday.

West

Kevin Acee of the San Diego Union-Tribune writes that the Chargers have avoided a blackout for Sunday night’s game against the Ravens.

John Maffei of the North County Times says Louisiana Tech is happy to finally to have some exposure on the ESPN mothership after being relegated to ESPNU 9 times this season.

Jim Carlisle of the Ventura County Star writes that the Los Angeles Clippers are no longer a media laughingstock.

Jim looks into the new NFL TV deals.

Jim has his weekend viewing picks.

Tom Hoffarth of the Los Angeles Daily News talks with former DC NFL team QB Mark Rypien and his daughter Angela, who’s now one in the Lingerie Football League.

Tom talks with TNT’s Charles Barkley.

Tom has a few more hits that didn’t make his Barkley column.

Canada

Bruce Dowbiggin of the Toronto Globe and Mail reviews the season premiere of HBO’s 24/7.

And that’s going to do it.