The Ultimate Answer

Hello? Hello? Is this thing on? It’s been awfully quiet on the national scene since about 10pm Sunday night.

It really is hard to believe just how many media-created storylines have to be scrapped following Sunday night’s Super Bowl win by the New England Patriots.

You will never again hear that the Patriots haven’t won a Super Bowl since Spygate. (On the other hand, you can continue to point out that the Denver Broncos haven’t won a Super Bowl since they cheated the salary cap.)

You’ll never again hear that Bill Belichick could only win with Bill Parcells’ players. (A ridiculous notion to begin with. Bill Parcells couldn’t win with Bill Parcells’ players.)

You’ll never hear that Belichick didn’t win without Romeo Crennel or Charlie Weis.

You’ll never again hear that Tom Brady doesn’t have as many Super Bowl wins as Joe Montana or Terry Bradshaw.

You won’t hear about what a colossal mistake it was to let Wes Welker go and have Julian Edelman and Danny Amendola instead.

You won’t hear that the team made a fatal mistake trading Logan Mankins. (By the way, weird coincidence – Mankins was drafted three months after the Patriots won the Super Bowl in February 2005, and was traded away five months before the Patriots won the Super Bowl in February 2015. His Patriots career exactly spanned the gap between titles.)

No more “Gisele jinx” if that was such a thing. (From the above, it would seem more like Mankins was the jinx.)

That’s not even counting the endless stupid storylines that were generated just this season by no-nothing columnists and sports radio hosts. Brady’s finished! Rift between Brady/Belichick! Revis is disinterested! LaFell is a bust! Gronk can’t stay healthy for a full year! Browner is below average! Jimmy G! Broncos are ALL IN! WEAPONZ! Etc etc etc.

This was the Super Bowl that handled all family business. From the very start of the season this team was under siege. In intensified tenfold during the two weeks leading up to the game, thanks to whiny Ryan Grigson of the Colts.

Perhaps not coincidentally, Grigson was a scout with the Rams when they lost to the Patriots in 2001, and with the Eagles when they lost to the Patriots in 2004.

All Grigson has accomplished is making his team a target for the foreseeable future.

It’s hard to imagine a more satisfying win. Even the manner in which victory was sealed – snatching victory from what appeared to be heartbreaking defeat – was perfect. The rest of the country looking on, rooting hard against the Patriots, thinking they’re done, especially after the third unbelievable last-minute catch by the opponent in three Super Bowls, and an undrafted rookie intercepts the ball, crushing millions. The videos circulating of various Super Bowl parties are hilarious.

Coming into the game, I was glad it was going to be Al Michaels and Cris Collinsworth doing the game. I’ve had issues with Collinsworth in the past, but I thought the duo was more than fair in the Patriots games they did this season, including the Cincinnati game when they spend a good chunk of the broadcast mocking those in the media who were calling Tom Brady finished.

It was disappointing then, for me to hear them throughout the night placing such a focus on the underinflated footballs, even as the Patriots took the lead late in the fourth quarter. Earlier in the day, Ian Rapoport of the NFL had provided the most details yet on the case, which pointed even more towards this whole thing being a witchhunt, yet it wasn’t mentioned at all.

It still wasn’t enough to put any sort of true damper on the night.

It was truly a game for the ages, in which a new generation of NFL fans got to see Belichick and Brady ascend to the top of the game once again.

I’m still trying to process it all.

Video: What Just Happened?

My one caveat on this video, is that the one “fact” isn’t even fully confirmed. The original Chris Mortensen report looks shakier every day.

Hugh Millen Drops A Bomb. No One Reacts.

On the Dennis and Callahan show this morning they had former Patriots quarterback Hugh Millen on as a guest to talk about the Super Bowl matchup, as Millen is working in the Seattle as an analyst of the Seahawks and Washington Huskies.

While they were discussing the inflation of the footballs, Millen dropped that he played for a coach with two Super Bowl wins who put together a huge scheme to install speakers inside the helmets of the offensive linemen so they could be given instructions remotely. He said they had it in place and working.

I played for a team, the coach has two Super Bowl wins, and there was an elaborate scheme to put speakers into the offensive lineman’s ears, and they had these custom made speakers, it was a covert operation, they would install it in a back room in the locker room on the road and what have you, and they did that week after week and presumably in the Super Bowl.

He also said the same team had offensive linemen who were caught with a substance on their jerseys and that the coach just shrugged when they were caught.

Millen declined to actually name the coach, but he played for Mike Shanahan in Denver in 1995. Three of Shanahan’s linemen were caught with Vaseline on their jerseys during a 1998 playoff game against the Chiefs.

Millen did also have a brief stint with the Jimmy Johnson-coached Cowboys, (the Patriots traded him there following the 1993 season) so it’s possible, he was referring to Johnson, but Gerry Callahan made a “beedy eyes” reference to Shanahan and it seemed like Millen went along with it.

We know that the Broncos were also caught cheating the salary cap those Super Bowl seasons. So here are two confirmed and one alleged (very serious) cheating incidents that the media and public will never pay attention to.

Can you imagine the uproar if any of these incidents happened with the Patriots? We’re on week two of the world going insane over allegations that the footballs the Patriots used were a tick under regulation inflation.

WEEI Audio – Former Patriot Hugh Millen on deflating footballs and the Seahawks 1-29-15

Media’s Legacy Is Forever Tarnished

Doesn’t anyone want to talk football? – Bill Parcells.

Apparently not this week, Bill. Most people would seemingly rather speculate on a topic in which not one single confirmable fact has been released.

They’d rather use unconfirmed and unsubstantiated reports as a means to declare the reign of the greatest head coach and quarterback combination of all time a total sham.

They’d rather rush to judgment, declaring the parties GUILTY without having any idea what really happened.

They’d rather mock the efforts of actual explanation instead of trying to understand the possibilities.

When they get any pushback, they hide behind the “covering the story” explanation.

Have you ever seen a more condescending Tweet than that? “Covering it?” I had to respond.

I’m blown away by the idea that these people think that what is going on right now is simply the media “covering” a story.

Consider. In a column published last Thursday, which was entitled Arrogance demands consequences, Jackie MacMullan used the following phrases to describe Bill Belichick.

  • “arrogance.”
  • “incredibly audacious, stupid and paranoid”
  • “ludicrous”
  • “forever forfeited the benefit of the doubt when it comes to his own integrity”
  • [NFL] “should lay the hammer down.”
  • “he should be suspended for the Super Bowl.”
  • “about the integrity of the sport and the arrogance of a football coach who, if guilty, will have once again shown that he thinks he is bigger than the game”
  • “the win will be declared a tainted one by many. The noise will continue, and the chants of “Beli-cheat” will endure.”
  • “not just his legacy that will be stained”

Keep in mind, at this point, the only thing that had surfaced was rumors, a report from Chris Mortensen which had still not been confirmed by anyone, and is in fact being countered in some circles.

As many times as MacMullan stated “if” in the column, it was also clear that not for a second did she doubt that Belichick was guilty.

On the national level you get articles like from Mike Freeman – Is the NFL Going to Let Brady and Belichick Play It for a Fool? written the same day as the MacMullan column.

Here are some clips from that:

  • No one believes any of this except Patriots fans. No one. It’s a joke. It’s worse. It smells like a cover-up. 
  • This was a chance for Brady to come clean. Instead, he pulled a Lance Armstrong.
  • Not a single, objective soul believes them.
  • The Patriots just aren’t believable, and for that reason they deserve the same type of suspension the New Orleans Saints received post-Bountygate. Because if you believe the Patriots, the footballs deflated themselves or some poor ball boy or equipment person did this on their own. Both things are total science fiction.
  • What the Patriots did was sleazy. No, it doesn’t compare to football players abusing women or other malfeasance, but it does compare to one of the league’s most infamous cases, Bountygate.  For that reason, the NFL needs to suspend Belichick for a season, the way Sean Payton was, and Brady for half a season.
  • Those spy cameras didn’t turn on themselves, and the footballs didn’t deflate themselves.
  • The punishment needs to be harsh and swift because there’s a lot at stake here. There is plenty of evidence for the NFL to act now. Those suspensions should begin immediately. Yes, for the Super Bowl.

Is there any going back from a piece like that?

No. This whole thing has been disgusting from the get-go. We still don’t have any facts that have been confirmed, but the scientific analysis of what could’ve happened, as well as the whisper mill have turned the situation much more into the Patriots favor over the last couple days.

Jets connection appearing in Deflategate probe – Tom E Curran

Did NFL run sting operation on Patriots to trigger deflate-gate? – Dan Wetzel

Mike Tanier’s Monday Morning Hangover: Caught Up, Pumped Up for Super Bowl XLIX

There’s more, here and there, while we still can’t say what actually happened, what we can say is that once again, the media completely embarrassed themselves in trying to rush to judgment.

Media Hypocrisy, Cowardice, Never Bigger Than When Patriots Are Involved.

Big Bad Bill Belichick.

He really does bring out the absolute worst in the media. Things that would be ignored, or laughed off if they were done by any other team, result in hysterical, hair-on-fire denunciations if the Patriots are involved.

He causes the media to become unable to think for themselves, and become subject to a mob mentality in which they are all sheep, following along with the loudest voices, afraid to produce an original thought.

The NFL, specifically its Commissioner, is a laughingstock in all of this, while pledging a transparent investigation, they instead allow late night leaks of salacious details to good ol’ boy reporters. They pledge to get all the details and facts from Foxboro when they can’t even ascertain whether a video was received by the league office showing a player knocking a woman unconscious. They want us to trust their investigation when they hire a former associate to investigate (and exonerate) themselves over said video incident.

As usual Roger Goodell has lost control of the situation, and will be in full reactionary mode once he decides to take action.

For Goodell, he can get himself into the good graces with the media by inflicting the harshest possible punishment upon Bill Belichick and the Patriots. This satisfies the bloodlust of the media and the public outside of New England, and gets Goodell back into the good graces of the media after his PR fiascos earlier in the season.

What I’m saying is be prepared for the worst possible outcome from this.

Belichick suspended for Super Bowl? Entirely possible. Suspended for next season? Entirely possible. Multiple first round draft picks taken away? Entirely possible.

If, after all of that Robert Kraft kowtows to Goodell and tells us all what a great job he’s doing one more time, I’m going to be gravely disappointed in him and what he stands for.

All of this for making the football a bit softer so the QB could grip them better. (and that’s even speculation, we don’t actually know the facts here yet, just that the balls were under regulation by 2 PSI.)

It doesn’t matter that the best quarterback in the NFL told CBS earlier this season about liking to overinflate balls and pushing the limits and seeing if they can fool the officials, all so he can grip them better.

It doesn’t matter that a two-time Super Bowl winning quarterback insists on his footballs being doctored for months before he will use them in a game because he wants to be comfortable gripping them.

It doesn’t matter that a Super Bowl winning quarterback has admitted to paying $7500 to have the 100 footballs used in the Super Bowl he played in altered  so that he could grip them better.

It doesn’t matter that the Minnesota Vikings and Carolina Panthers were using heaters to warm up footballs on the sidelines this season. (which would impact the hardness/grip of the football, by the way)

Nothing matters other than the fact that the Colts were getting their butts kicked and wanted to find a way to try and get in the Patriots heads. They didn’t actually anticipate it going this far, very similar to the Jets when they reported the Patriots for taping in an incorrect spot.

Nothing matters other than the fact the owner of the Colts, coming off a season in which he was suspended for six games, gave a crony columnist a middle of the night tip, which initially the columnist thought to ignore, but instead realized that since it was the Patriots, he’d get a lot of play out of it, and ran with it, and now says Belichick should be suspended for the Super Bowl and for that is a national star.

Nothing matters other than the fact that Belichick isn’t cuddly with the media, and most out there would like nothing more than to see him fired and disgraced, so they’re put aside any objectivity they may (unlikely) have possessed and have gone all-in on the idea that this is a huge cheat masterminded by Bill Belichick who personally oversaw the deflation of the footballs. (also unlikely) That’s the true endgame here.

The national media, in addition to the piling on of Belichick also goes after the fans who make the points above. They call it excuse making, and saying that those incidents don’t matter because the rules were broken here, and the Patriots were caught. OK. That’s legit. Punish them according to the severity of the alleged crime. But why can’t the hypocrisy be pointed out at least? We’re supposed to take this incident seriously – to the point of huge suspensions/punishments – but it’s OK to completely ignore the other incidents that have taken place?

 sometimes you can get lucky and put an extra half a pound of air in there to help Aaron Rodgers out.

Hypocrites. Cowards. Frauds.

*******

Related: The Ballghazi Takes Are Here, And They Are F****** Insane

#DeflateGate is over. This Is The Smoking Gun.

So messing around with the inflation of the ball is something only cheating Bill Belicheat and the Cheatriots would do, right?

This is from the Packers/Patriots game earlier this season. (h/t to @pedroiar for the link)

Nantz: We talked to Rodgers about ‘How do you like your football?’ because you know, you can rub them up before the game, this is something you really kind of created this for everyone else in the league.

Simms: I don’t know if I did, because the quarterbacks got tired of complaining. But he said something that was unique. ‘I like to push the limits to how much air we can put in the football – even go over what they allow you to do. See if the officials take air out of it,’ because he thinks its easier for him to grip, he likes them tight of course he has very big hands and you can tell that by watching him play.

- Play call -

Nantz: …You’ve never heard of a guy really desiring the football to be fat and overinflated, correct?

Simms: Everybody wants it smaller and soft so they can dig their fingers into it. (More on Rodgers’ hands)

Nantz talks more about Rodgers’ hands

Simms: You know, the officials do check those footballs, and sometimes you can get lucky and put an extra half a pound of air in there to help Aaron Rodgers out.

Let’s just move on and talk about what should be an awesome Super Bowl, shall we?

Send In The Clowns. Wait, They’re Already Here.

“Shame” isn’t a word in the vocabulary of the seek-attention-at-any-cost segment of the Boston sports media.

They don’t care how bad or dumb they look, as long as you look.

Whether it is Dan Shaughnessy or Gary Tanguay or whomever, they’re going to do what it takes to get your attention, no matter how idiotic or stupid it makes them look.

Great way to make a living. I’m pretty sure if these guys had lived in the era before TV, Radio and the Internet, they would’ve been circus clowns. (Hey, doesn’t Shaughnessy….never mind.)

For the latest well documented examples:

The Boston and Indianapolis media are both going certifiably insane – Matt Yoder on Awful Announcing looks at the just…embarrassing antics going on this week.

People around the country hate Boston sports fans, and in many ways it’s because of the quasi-media types in that link.

Others who aren’t embarrassing themselves in that manner, aren’t really too interested in the AFC Championship Game taking place this Sunday at Gillette. Evidence of “meh” attitude manifested itself as I was in the car this morning, and each time I turned to one of the stations, there was talk of other things, notably, the Rt 93 protesters and the Academy Awards nominations. While I’m sure there was plenty of football talk, I didn’t hear it.

Andy Gresh is on the way out at The Sports Hub – Chad Finn confirms my suspicions of yesterday. He also reports that Gary Tanguay will also be out on the Patriots pre and post game broadcasts.

I can hardly wait to see what crew Jonathan Kraft trots out on the shows for next season.

Links.

New England Prepares for New Indianapolis – It’s easy to declare that since the Patriots dominated the Colts in recent matchups, not much is going to change, Matt Chatham explains why that is definitely not the case inside Gillette Stadium.

LaFell’s rise crucial to Pats’ success – Jackie MacMullan has a feature on the Patriots receiver, who last spring thought he would be playing in the AFC Championship this week. For Denver. Against the Patriots.

Once a forgotten man, Danny Amendola has risen to occasion for New England Patriots – Kevin Duffy with a piece on the oft-maligned receiver, and looks at his history with Julian Edelman and LaFell, which predates their time with the Patriots by years.

The Belichick-Brady Legacy Is Defined by Wins, Not Tapes or Tucks – Mike Freeman with a great column on the duo, and has some nice Spygate debunking.

Are the Colts 22 points better now? Here’s what the stats say – Alex Speier looks at whether the Colts can beat the Patriots simply by playing at the level that they’ve improved to in recent weeks.

Get everything else at PatriotsLinks.com.

New Deals For Some Sports Radio Hosts, Others In Limbo

A little bit of focus on the media in this post, specifically the sports radio side.

98.5 Afternoon hosts Michael Felger and Tony Massarotti signed a new multi-year contract with the station. As Chad Finn put it, the deal means the duo “will continue their highly rated brand of Boston sports fan antagonism for the foreseeable future.”

Then this morning, Dale Arnold announced that he had signed a new deal with WEEI:

Finn also wrote about this deal, and noted that while Michael Holley’s contract expires next month, the sides are optimistic that something will be worked out.

Now for the uncertainties. There have been quite a bit of hints and whispers going around about a major change coming to one of the shows on the two sports radio stations. Kirk Minihane has mentioned it several times on the air, Finn has alluded to it in his weekly Boston.com chats, and on Twitter:

Finn wrote about Holley above, so it doesn’t appear that the change will happen on that show, and it seems unlikely that Marc Bertrand would leave Felger and Massarotti to go directly head-to-head with them. Bertrand would be a lead host on a show, not a co-host, so he’d be leading the discussion and in and out of commercial breaks.

So what opening could there be, where Bertrand could step in? By process of elimination, Finn has said that Tim Benz is probably not going anywhere, it wouldn’t be on Dennis and Callahan, nor WEEI nights where Mike Adams and Mike Mutnansky are pretty entrenched at this point.

So it’s probably 98.5. I don’t see Bertrand moving over to a morning shift role in place of either Toucher or Rich and not on the evening for Adam Jones either, though he was up for that role when Jones first got it.

That leaves Gresh and Zo.

We know that last winter, Andy Gresh had his contract option picked up. Was it a one-year option? Seems like it. Gresh took over from Gary Tanguay in April of 2010. So did Gresh originally sign a four-year deal with an option for a fifth which is expiring soon? That seems reasonable.

My conclusion from this is that 98.5 will replace Andy Gresh with Marc Bertrand.

Why would they do that? I’m not sure. Ratings have been good. Is there a dispute with Gresh? Or do they just want to give Bertrand his shot or risk losing him?

I don’t like the move. I’ve said many times that Gresh and Zo is the best Patriots/NFL show on the local airwaves. I don’t want it broken up. I hope they work something out with Gresh, but with the amount of rumors and hints out there, it seems like this is going to happen.

That’s how I see things shaking out.

This Week’s Meme: YOU People Think The Colts Have No Chance!

Given the relative ease in which the Patriots have dispatched the Colts as of late, it might be easy for some to dismiss Indianapolis’ chances in the AFC Championship Game this Sunday at Gillette Stadium.

This attitude is now being transferred to the region as a whole. Shows are being introduced and based on the strawman of “Are we taking the Colts too lightly? Are we assuming too much in just saying the Patriots are going to the Super Bowl?

Or as Steve Buckley closes his column today:

You? You probably think the Colts can’t win.
You should worry a little about that.

Of course, it matters not one bit how the fans and media view the Colts. It’s how the Patriots coaching staff and players view them, and they seem to be taking them seriously.

While Dan Shaughnessy has made his annual proclamations about the opponent on the radio and on television, he hasn’t yet put them into column form. It’s probably only a matter of time. Each of the past two seasons, he’s made a similar proclamation about the opponent, which has generated all sorts of attention for himself, and gotten him booked on all sorts of shows all over the country. (Usually where he ends up saying something like “I don’t know a ton about football.”)

As I’ve said before, it’s genius, really. We should be honored to be in the presence of a trolling master. He’s the Tom Brady, the Bill Belichick of trolling.

Catch all the Patriots stories today at PatriotsLinks.com.

Let’s get onto the top five links of the morning:

Reversal of fortune: Why Tom Brady finally could be poised to post big numbers in an AFC title game – Christopher Price looks at Tom Brady’s historical struggles in the AFCCG, and why this time could be different.

Pastrnak’s love of game shines through – Joe McDonald with a look at the Bruins rookie, who has sparked the team with his scoring.

New Red Sox scouting director on lookout for next Kevin Youkilis – Alex Speier with a look at Mike Rikard, who will seek to find gems in the lower end of the draft.

Brian Bannister joins Red Sox analytics team – Scott Lauber looks at the hiring of the former pitcher-turned-advanced-statistics-analyst.

Remade Celtics turn it up a notch – Steve Bulpett examines how the remaining Celtics are still playing hard despite the non-stop personnel movement around them.

Onto Another AFC Title Game.

After Saturday’s epic 35-31 win over the not afraid Baltimore Ravens, the Patriots are set to host the Indianapolis Colts this coming Sunday in the AFC Championship game. This will be the ninth time the Belichick/Brady duo has played in this game. In a bit of symmetry, yesterday’s Colts win over the Broncos meant that Peyton Manning has gone one-and-done nine times in his career.

The Patriots/Ravens game had a bit of everything you could want in a game, big plays on both sides, stirring comebacks, and razzle-dazzle trick plays, and controversy.

We hear a lot in certain circles about Tom Brady’s performances in the postseason, but this one will certainly go down as one of this best, despite a baffling interception which led to a Ravens touchdown just before the first half.

The biggest conversation following the game has been the Patriots use of an offensive formation in which the Patriots had just four true offensive linemen in the game, and made running back Shane Vareen an ineligible receiver. Ravens coach John Harbaugh was caught off guard by the play, and protested vehemently, coming onto the field and drawing an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty.

The NFL has since stated that the formation was legal and all reporting requirements for the play were done correctly.

It didn’t stop the Ravens from complaining about it.

“They couldn’t just drive the ball down on us regular. They had to do something tricky,” cornerback Lardarius Webb said.

and

“They did a great job of running the tricks,” cornerback Lardarius Webb said. “They had to trick us to beat us.

That would be like the Patriots saying “The Ravens couldn’t beat us just rushing the passer regular. They had to disguise coverage and try to trick us.

Get all the Patriots coverage at PatriotsLinks.com.

Hot Mess NFL Rulebook Strikes Again – Matt Chatham has a detailed look at the play, and uses it as an example to show how convoluted the NFL rulebook is.

Manning flames out, Patriots will face Colts – Tom E Curran wacks all the sports radio talking points about the Broncos going “all in” this season.

Announcers’ script sounded forced – Chad Finn looks at the awkward segment of NBC’s broadcast in which they showed Roger Goodell at the game and had Al Michaels and Cris Collinsworth quickly review the Mueller report and praise Goodell.

TV guide for Oregon-Ohio State; Michaels, Collinsworth help out NFL – Richard Deitsch looks ahead to tonight’s College Football National Championship and also has more on the NBC script.

Boston Celtics Complete Three-Team Trade – Danny Ainge continues to wheel and deal and shuffle his roster. The team announced officially that they have traded Jeff Green to Memphis, and have received Tayshaun Prince and a future first round pick from Memphis, and also guard Austin Rivers from New Orleans. Rivers is expected to be traded again, on to the Clippers, where he will play for his dad, former Celtics coach Doc Rivers.

At some point I’d like the Celtics to trade for a player that might be worth keeping around, but other than possibly Jae Crowder, Ainge seems more focused on obtaining picks.

Catch up with the Celtics at CelticsLinks.com.