Let The Madness Begin

Super Bowl week is finally upon us, and the insane hype and media madness that comes along with it. Lots of material out there, I’ll try to sort it out and get you some of the better stuff.

Bowl of Crow served – On November 7th, Ron Borges declared the Patriots Dynasty dead. Today, he says he was wrong, and in fact, even with a loss to the Giants this Sunday, he says the dynasty lives on. What?

Did Ron look around, and realize that Michael Felger and others have completely swiped his anti-Patriots schtick? Perhaps he feels the need to go the other way now, just to stand out? Perhaps 10 years later, we’re now going to once again see Felger/Borges on-air battles, but with the roles completely reversed? I kind of doubt that, but I don’t doubt that Ron realized that a Pro-Patriots column would get a lot more attention this week than his usual style.

Mike Felger spending last night talking Spygate? Predictable.

The Globe is wisely separating out the Super Bowl hype and the regular Patriots news and reporting. They’ve started the Double Coverage blog for the former while keeping the Extra Points blog for the latter.

Bill Belichick in good humor at Indy – Mike Reiss has the Patriots coach making a “4th and 2″ joke upon arrival in Indianapolis. Tom E Curran has Belichick in a much lighter mood than the last time his team was in this game. Shalise Manza Young has the coach taking a relaxed approach.

Bill Belichick: Everybody’s critic - Jackie MacMullan has the coach humiliating his players every Monday morning in film sessions, saying that the “Belistrator terrorizes them with their human foibles, cutting a franchise quarterback down to a high school wannabe, making his linebacker and his safety feel as though they still haven’t made a single significant play in their Patriots careers.”

Mangini Makes Sense Of Giants Vs. Pats – Jeff Jacobs has Eric Mangini talking about the matchups, most of which seem to favor the Giants. For the Patriots to have a chance, Deion Branch needs to recapture past Super Bowl form.

Despite perception, Patriots and Giants defenses are pretty evenly matched – Paul Kenyon says the matchups might be more even than most people think.

Patriots still motivated by loss to Giants – Rich Garven says that the Patriots will use XLII as motivation.

Pats have more at stake than revenge  – Bill Burt says that the Patriots aren’t motivated by juvenile vendettas.

Sunday’s showdown will go a long way toward Brady’s legacy – You’re going to hear and read a lot about legacy this week.  

Supersized issues facing Pats – Karen Guregian runs through the biggest issues facing the two teams.

Belichick’s 10 most unorthodox moves – Mike Rodak examines some of the coach’s biggest gambles.

Welker a target during, after game – The Globe notebook has the receiver a big part of the Patriots success both now, and hopefully for the future. The Herald notebook from Karen Guregian has Jerod Mayo not taking the bait from Giants offensive players slighting his unit.

  • latetodinner

    A few media thoughts to start Superbowl Week (can I say Superbowl without paying the NFL royalties?)

    – For the longest time i have thought Mike Adams was the dumbest guy on sports radio. No longer…Craig Mustard surpassed him with his comments on the Tim Thomas non controversy this weekend. For those that did here it, he thinks Thomas should be punished for not going to the White House but he fully supported Theo for not going a few years back. I really do understand hosts who drive conversation by taking contrarian positions but if there is no rhyme or reason to it then it is a waste of everyone's time. How he still is employed on weekends at WEEI is beyond me. He adds nothing to sports landscape in Boston. You are telling me WEEI does not have better prepared unproven talent they can pull from for a weekend show. It was pathetic.

    – listening to the Boston media cover the Pats trip to the SB and I get the feeling the ones on the radio at least, are doing it with fear. Its like they do not want to talk about the SB. All year they have been crowing about how bad this defense is, and now the team is in the superbowl. So if the Pats win it, a lot of people will have had their credibility shot. I think you saw this a little bit in Borges' Mea Culpa column. These guys are afraid of being exposed. Listen to Mazz, whose tune has changed over the last few days. He now couches everything in the conditional tense…maybe, could be, if, might. Same with Felger, Big O, Mutt, and Gresh. Zolak who has been the most level headed this year (you have no idea how hard it was typing that sentence) regarding the Pats, has been a little more confident and accurate about what will happen. It is pretty fascinating to watch.

    -ESPN having a DR explain Gronks injury is priceless. The Pats released no info, yet the Dr (clip on Mike Reiss' blog) had diagrams explaining the damage. Why expose yourself when you don't have the information. I don't get it.

    – Only in NY can wishful thinking at a Pep rally get blown up into a slight. Well if that is all the bulletin board material the pats give the Gints this week…that's great because the Gint's have been running their mouths for a week now.

    – If I were Chad 85, I would go to the Pats this offseason and say I want to come back next year for $1 mill. He does not need the money but he does need to prove he can play in this offense. The guy works hard, there is a just a disconnect. Let him work to prove he can over come it. He won't do it but if he did it would go a long way in the eyes of the fans.

  • Tyler

    Starting with her piece on RayRay's OCD a few years ago, Jackie Mac has been cranking out at least two supurb reads every year. This 'Belistrator' piece puts her ahead of schedule in '12.

  • bsmfan

    As sad as the thing with the Cleveland Plain Dealer beat reporter being thrown off covering the Browns is, could it ever happen here?

    Bob Kraft doesn't seem like someone apt to do this until Felger really piles on like he did the Thomas issue.

    The thing I think some sports talk guys forget is that they're working for outlets that, at the core, want to and need to be viewed as serious peddlers of information. Sports Talk can get crazy at times but if it's credibility delves into the "Coast to Coast" realm (apologies if you are a fan, but I think you know what I mean), would you want your team or brand to be associated with it?

    The situation there is beyond sad but I think many news outlets are going to have to draw a very fine line between journalism and someone writing a blog. Felger would be great here. Between that and his treating of Thomas like a political issue, I've lost a lot of respect. Your article touched on this pretty well and the other personalities in the area who do the same.

    Bob Ryan also picked the Giants on the ESPN SportsReporters show. I know he's not making his pick well known here and probably hoped that Boston fans don't tune into ESPN at 9AM on a Sunday morning. (He also had the benefit of the closing sets of the Djoker/Rafa match on ESPN2 that was beyond amazing.) He was marveling at Eli Manning and the Giants, which is fine, but not something I see him doing in or on Boston media. The funny thing was that they were just discussing the rematch, not making predictions, which they will obviously do this weekend on their Sunday show. Granted, Lupica, who was on there as well, was quite orgasmic in already crowning Eli the winner, Eli better than Brady and Manning, and Coughlin as replacing Hoodie on the Mt. Rushmore of Coaching.

    • latetodinner

      I mentioned this in a different post. If I were Bob Kraft I would seriously consider buying a media outlet and starting my own sports talker. He could move the broadcast rights to the Pats and Revs to it immediately giving him some decent broadcast properties and if he wanted to he could bid on either the bruins or celts (I don't think the Sox would move off WEEI but I could be wrong). More importantly he could start getting ahead of all the tabloid treatment his team gets in the local market.

      As I think about it I am not sure he actually has to buy his own station he just needs to threaten 98.5 that he will if they do not muzzle Felger and Mazz or at least get them to be more balanced. They are on the flagship of the team and I do not hear them ripping the Bruins day in and day out. I think Kraft has a very good grievance considering the money he is making them.

      • bsmfan

        I thought about the same since you've mentioned it before. First, is Kraft the kinda guy who gets into a market/industry if he doesn't know it? It's one of the cardinal rules that Buffet has and most shrewd CEOs follow. Even if you have a "wonder boy" GM and basically think it's the way you overcome this problem, like certain owners seem to employ, I'd wonder if he would do it.

        Do any other networks do this in the football world? Are they even allowed to do it? It seems like all the regional networks own this, between FOXSports and Comcast (NBCSports).

        Kraft already has the "Kraft Sports" group that they produce the "Bellistrator" and other things on Patriots.com. Don't they also do some radio things with the Patriots Football Weekly staff?

        With SportsHub continuing being #1, I would think that the only changes might ever come on the day that WEEI wakes up from its hibernation and starts changing. With emails like this:
        http://www.bostonherald.com/blogs/news/mediaBiz/i

        I don't see that coming anytime soon.

        • latetodinner

          Its not going to come. Although the Patriots produce several hours of streaming audio and video content through Patriots.com I don't see them buying an outlet. The issue is leverage. The Patriots are the customer and the vendor (98.5) is treating them poorly. Why would you stay with them unless you saw meaningful changes. If it was my business and I perceived a business partner was purposefully casting my brand negatively I would be proactive and use my leverage to get them to stop. If the team were the Victor Kiam Pats and were going 2-14 every year then this is a much tougher argument…but they aren't. They are successful, they are earning CBS a lot of money and there should be at least some effort at fairness.

          As for your question about whether a team owns a media outlet…the NFL ownership rules are funky compared to other sports. To the best of my knowledge the NFL does not allow corporations to own teams…they are all owned by private individuals, with the exception of the Green Bay Packers that is a publicly traded club owned by the municipality of Green Bay Wisconsin. Also because of the nature of the TV rights broadcasts there is no way to leverage a local network (like NESN or CSSNE) with Pats rights. The only place it might make sense is in radio because of the "free" advertising all of the non stop talk affords you. If you can stream a patriots show on patriots.com then I don't see why you could do so on a radio station.

        • bsmfan

          Agree on your first paragraph. Another question would be the profit. Right now, Kraft is trying to do whatever he can to somehow get the state of Mass to allow him to open or do something with a casino. Next to narcotics trafficking, printing your own money, a casino is it. With the family atmosphere promoted at and around Foxboro, I still don't understand how this would work with the type of people Casinos attract.
          If Kraft is as close as he is to getting Wynn and a Casino here, why even bother with a radio station?

          The closest thing I could see would be his own version of NESN, which, as you point out, is impossible.

  • bsmfan

    When he does go into the Spygate stuff, I don't know why they don't replace "Felger" with "Florio" — only three letters to replace in the chyron.

    • Steve

      Not to be a Felger apologist for the second straight week, but from what I saw of his show last night he was bringing up that Spygate could be a topic for the national media because of their perception of Belichick. He didn't pile on at all or saying anything inflammatory about it, and he also didn't spend much time talking about it anyway. I also heard him call the Baltimore scoreboard thing "silly" and give the Pats an awful lot of praise for getting back to the Super Bowl again. As usual, he was actually pretty objective when talking about the Patriots if you actually listen to what he had to say. I will open myself up to getting abused again by hyper-sensitive Patriots fans, but I don't see anything wrong with what he said. I think the Spygate story was and is ridiculous and that the Patriots got unfairly screwed over. But as we know, there are Patriots-haters out there who don't feel that way and WILL bring it up this week (we all know we hear it every year from Jets fans so it's nothing new). So I don't see what's wrong with him suggesting that it could become a story which is all he did.

      I am beginning to feel like following the Patriots is becoming like a political debate. You're either 100% with us or 100% against us. There is such a large base of Patriots fans are so sensitive to any criticism, and it's unlike any other fanbase in the city. And certain keywords (Spygate, bad secondary, healthcare, immigration) simply set people off. Last week I suggested that it is ok for us to find things to be critical of, even after a win, and 90% of commenters seemed to think I deserved to rot in the bowels of hell for not thinking every single thing the Patriots have ever done is perfect. It really is like a left-right thing in this country. People make up their mind before hearing what someone has to say. Why can't we listen to the argument before rushing to judgment?

      • latetodinner

        Steve…you are wrong. People, at least the regulars on this board, have no problem with people being critical of the Patriots WHEN IT IS DESERVED. The issue, as we go over it time and time again, is that the coverage the Pats get from their local media is decidedly negative compared to way the Sox, Celtics and even Bruins are covered in this town. A few examples:

        – Bill Belichick is skewered for his drafting…yet he has his team in the Superbowl. Danny Ainge is lauded for his drafting prowess…yet what player has he hit on in the draft. The last superstar the Celtics drafted was Paul Pierce and that was done before Danny got here. What have the Celtics won…1 title in Ainge's tenure. The Pats are playing for their 5th in BB's.

        – Bill Belichick the coach is crucified for an occasional bad decision, 4th and 2 from 5 years ago is still brought up. I defy you to find a negative word written about Doc Rivers.

        – Tom Brady's legacy is being question on the Radio this week…if he wins a title he goes down as the greatest ever, if he loses then he is 3-2 in the superbowl…as if winning 5 AFC championship games is a negative all of a sudden. Compare that to the way the Red Sox are covered. David Ortiz is revered in this town by the media…for what…a few clutch hits 7 years ago? The guy is a proven and admitted PED user. Yet he is somehow a hero…only in the Boston media.

        I could list countless examples. My bigger point is the Patriots have always had a hard time generating positive media coverage since the 1996 Parcells/Kraft breakup when the Globe clearly sided with Parcells. When Belichick replaced California Clueless and clamped down on the info flow out, the resentment festered. I suggest that with the possible exception of Philadelphia no city's media contingent hates the success of one of their major sports franchises more than the Boston press corps hates the Patriots. You can wish it away, and think Felger has legitimate points but it means ignoring the underlining context and motivation.

        • bsmfan

          Actually, when the first "ScoreboardGate" stuff came out, Felger did try his best to mitigate it. We all agree it was a non-issue but he did put the caveat, and I think Sunshine.com or Andy Hart reiterated that SpyGate will always make people question "things" going on at Foxboro. The first few days, as the story evolved with their kicking guy goign on WIP in Philly, a good job was done discussing the issue and concluding the same that even Mike Florio, in all of his efforts on PFT to "document the story", did.

          Thankfully, all leagues treat ANYTHING like this as a serious issue. If you want to get silly and make claims, be prepared to open up your purse. Without all leagues taking this seriously, including in the NHL when Tortorella made his claims at the Winter Classic, you'd have message boards and sports talk doing their "Coast to Coast".

          On the drafting, I posted this on another topic but I'll bring it back up. The one caveat with this article that CHFF and Kerry seem to be pretty "homely" to the Pats.
          http://coldhardfootballfacts.com/Articles/11_3749

          Take a guess who is #1. No, it's not the Redskins or Raiders.

          On Danny, I wondered when there might be a paper here that started to take a different take on Doc or Danny. I know that things might get "rougher" as the season progresses and depending on their seeding, if they make the playoffs at all. It seems like if Doc were to ever become a "free agent" that he'd have half the league on the phone offering him Phil Jackson money, no?

        • latetodinner

          My point was not so much to explain the actions as to point out the differences in coverage. let me give you another one.

          The Boston media openly questioned Claude and his ability to coach the team after they lost 4 straight to Philly in 2010 blowing the 3 game lead. As late as a month before the 2011 playoffs there were stories about replacing him for that run. Today…crickets. Has he gotten better as a coach? BB goes to 5 SB's in 11 years and the media still is actively arguing someone else should be drafting and in charge of personnel. Never mind the morons who suggest that the Pats should get an established Defensive Coordinator like Rob Ryan to "fix" the defense. It is crazy how different the Pats coverage is that the Bruins. Celtics and Sox.

          The spygate stuff is so ridiculous. Why no one in town has written a definitive be all to end all explaining where the camera was, how the film was used and showing how dumb the controversy actually was, is beyond me. Think of it another way, the Red Sox had the largest collapse in MLB history. There was clearly some disconnect in that clubhouse and with management. It is a huge scandal and at best it had 5 weeks of coverage. There is actual meat there. What did Tito know, when did he know it, how was Theo engaged, what was Lucchino's role…etc. We hear nothing now from the press. Spygate happens 5 years ago…the Pats clearly over came it because it was minor…and yet it still will not die, locally. Why is that?

        • Steve

          You bring up very valid points and I tend to agree with you on a lot of topics. It is very obvious to most where media allegiances lie. I'm just trying to give Felger a little credit for actually generally being objective when it comes to his analysis, positive or negative. He does have his biases and his faults. He hates the Celtics and admits it. He and Mazz were great for a week or two on the Sox, but after weeks 3, 4 and 5 the same daily diatribe got tiresome. But for the most part, even with his contrarian view, he actually looks at things from an objective viewpoint and will listen to an argument for the opposition, even if he disagrees. It's one thing that was sorely lacking in this town for such a long time. And as you astutely point out, is still lacking from many scribes and radio folk (including Felger's partner, Tony, who has become considerably more obnoxious and simple-minded in the last year).

          I remember reading Breer's post-draft analysis of Devin McCourty and being disgusted at the sheer ignorance of it and arrogance of it- who the hell are you to decide if a draft was successful before you've seen the guys play at a pro level? Borges went on Sports Sunday after the Broncos regular season game and tried to dismiss anything positive they did simply because he thought the Broncos sucked. Who cares? They won by 18 on the road! That is the kind of Patriots talk I think you are frustrated with and I completely, 100% agree.

          But win or lose, it is the media's job to look at both the positive and the negative and give the average fan a little insight. I think Felger does a good job of it, and it's why I think Tom Curran, Greg Bedard, and Mike Reiss are the only Patriots writers worth reading. I thought Curran's post AFC Championship piece was spot on: This is a very unperfect Patriots team, but they're still one win away from a perfect ending to the season.

          My original point is that I feel like there is a very large group of Patriots fans (and it sounds like you may not be one, but many exist) who would see that he said they were unperfect, and dismiss the article as blasphemy. Those are the fans that give Bostonians a bad name and make sports talk radio tough to listen to sometimes.

        • latetodinner

          Steve:

          We agree on your first 3 paragraphs. It is the last one where we disagree. i think most Patriots fans are smart enough to know the team is flawed but because they are fans want to see well written or intelligent discussion not only of the flaws but of the positives. At the same time we don't want to hear how the Giants defense is the second coming of the 85 bears (they aren't) or how Eli and the 3 receivers are unstoppable (they are). Lastly, to continually dredge up negatives like spy gate diminishes any credibility Felger may earn because he is a better listener than Ordway. Its still the same schlock just with a different coating of paint.

          Lastly, Boston fans do not have a bad name…the rest of the country has an inferiority complex!

        • Steve

          You're right. We do disagree. You are giving way too much credit to the average Patriots fanboy. It gets back to my political point. Both fans and lots of media (Shank, Borges, Breer, Mazz, etc) take one extreme or the other. They seem to lack to ability to hear an intelligent opinion from the other side and respond with infantile putdowns insults and blatant homerism (fans) or hate (media).

          I had a dozen-plus people on this very message board try to tell me the Patriots secondary was good against the Ravens, using the justification that the Ravens only scored 20 points. It was not. The front 7 was outstanding. The secondary allowed 306 passing yds to a slightly above average quarterback with average receivers. Anquan Boldin and Torrey Smith were WIDE OPEN on several passes that Flacco missed on, and had Lee Evans held on to the ball (yes I know nice play by Moore, but still) then the Pats are going home. Were there a few individual good plays like Moore's? Yes, of course. But for the most part the secondary itself (not the D as a whole) was very subpar. It's really not up for discussion if you watched the game closely and see Ravens receivers running wide open all day long. Yet no one would listen to that point last week, and accused me of being a Patriot-hater and a member of the fellowship of the miserable, yada yada yada. It's ignorant and shows lack of football intelligence. The general feeling was, they won, you have nothing to complain about. Ok, maybe fair, but can we not criticize? Do we not try to improve? Is that how you live your life? Never striving to get better?

          I simply expect more from Boston fans and Pats fans seem to be so sensitive (maybe it is because of the media, maybe from the Patriots-hate from the average NFL fan). I heard plenty of fans rightly blast the Sox collapse. I heard plenty rip Ainge (rightly) for the Perk trade. We don't need to RIP the Patriots for a win. Obviously. But it is fair to point out flaws. That is all.

        • latetodinner

          Steve:

          I really hate arguing x's and o's on this board because it is a media board but for the sake of this discussion and because you are parroting an argument I have heard several times on the radio I will address it directly. You claim that the Ravens receivers were running free on the Pats secondary…that they played horribly. How do you know? Do you know what the schemes were? What the assignments were? What the defensive philosophy and game plans were? Perhaps the Pats were willing to give extra space in the secondary in exchange for stopping Ray Rice in both the running game (21 carries for 67 yards) and in the passing game (1 catch 11 yards). Maybe, just maybe the Pats knew that any chance Baltimore had at controlling the game ran through Rice. Maybe just maybe they were willing to give the Ravens receivers room because they did not think Flacco could consistently beat them with mid level throws without making mistakes (they were wrong on that one by the way). Maybe they played Cover 2 and at times a base 3-4 to make sure they had enough bodies to defend Rice because they knew that if Baltimore controlled the line of scrimmage they were done.

          I was not in the stands and have not seen the 11 on 11 coaches film so I do not know for sure what happened and why. I do know that giving up 306 yards is not horrible especially since Balt was trying to play catch up at the end and they could not run at all. Furthermore we all agree that Moore made some good plays. I thought from my observation on TV that Chung had a good game. Arrington looked to be in position most times. It was the nickel and dime backs who looked over matched…Edelman especially. But what do I know. I was not in the huddle calling coverages.

          Its easy to say they sucked on defense, but in the end they beat the second best team in the AFC this past year. When you want good sports talk that is critical…maybe we should be asking more about what actually happened on the field, stop looking at naked statistics and more at context. Start asking why instead of blatantly saying it sucked. I also expect more from Patriot fans and more importantly the media that covers them. its all there if you actually look.

  • Angry Old Bastard

    Borges can't even eat crow without being an arrogant oaf. Notice how he took credit for "motivating" the Patriots with his "Dynasty Is Dead" column?…he may very well have been joking about that but you never know with that narcissistic bastard. Either way that's an OLD "sports hack special"….write a negative column about a team, then when team shows you to be TOTALLY WRONG try to take credit for motivating team….COMICAL…what a bunch of D-Bags

  • mallen

    I wonder if the folks in Foxboro see some value in the continuing life of Spygate. It is rather like being a pitcher whose is rumored to have a spitball or other illegal pitch for "situations." It works on the mind of the opponent, even if it is not really there.