Gray Matters

The Patriots just continue to roll on, continuing to make the dire predictions of doom from after week four look silly.

The criticism of the team and how they played at Kansas City at the time certainly was legitimate, but what was ridiculous was the assumption that they wouldn’t get any better.

I’ve been consistent on this.

(Some of the replies to that tweet are great.)

A 42-20 win in Indianapolis last night was the latest step for a squad that has made the changes and adjustments needed to improve since the round beginning. 199 rushing yards and four touchdowns from Jonas Gray didn’t hurt, either.

While they could certainly stumble a couple more times before the end of the season, it seems safe to say that those who wrote them off were a bit premature.

It wasn’t perfect last night, but it was powerful.

As for this “road win” storyline, which permeated the talk over the last week, as in, “They aren’t a good road team…they haven’t won a big road game since 2011…” Name me a good road team in the NFL. Most good teams are .500 on the road.

A sampling from this morning:

Separation Sunday: Patriots seize command of AFC with decisive win over Colts – Chris Price, WEEI.com

Patriots continue their run with thrashing of Colts – Tom E Curran, CSNNE

Patriots keep getting better and better – Jackie MacMullan, ESPNBoston

Defense builds up speed – Karen Guregian, Boston Herald

Jonas Gray learned success in Detroit, and the world learned his name Sunday night – Kevin Duffy, MassLive.com

After win over Colts, Patriots are in the running with the best – Mark Farinella, Sun Chronicle.

Get the complete coverage at PatriotsLinks.com.

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Expert analysis from NBC’s Tony Dungy, Rodney Harrison  – Chad Finn looks at NBC’s coverage from last night.

Collinsworth and Michaels were certainly fawning over the Patriots last night, but Collinsworth also correctly pointed out what happened on Brady’s first interception, that with the pass rush coming he couldn’t see the safety Adams coming over to perfect position to make the pick.

On the second Brady interception, which looked to be one of the worst passes we’ve seen from Brady, the end zone view showed that Gronkowski was wide open and running away from the coverage. The issue was again the pass rush which resulted in the underthrown ball, and easy pick for the Colts.

The Inside Track in the Herald has speculation that WEEI might be trying to get the gang back together again.

Glenn Ordway ’EEI return in works?

Let’s say I’m skeptical.

WEEI Still Shuffling The Deck Chairs

WEEI officially announced yesterday what Chad Finn had reported weeks ago – that Jerry Thornton would be joining the Dale and Holley show as the “permanent” third host.

One head-scratcher from the release:

Thornton says he’s honored to join WEEI as a full-time cohost and writer. “It’s not often a cultural institution like ‘EEI takes a chance on a guy with no journalism background, no formal training and no discernible talent,” he said with his trademark humor. “I’m grateful to Entercom and glad a lifetime spent listening to the station and reading WEEI.com has paid off.”

Besides his reputation as a prolific sports journalist, Thornton is also known across New England as a very popular stand-up comedian.

This move concludes a long period of self-proclaimed “media whoring” by Thornton, who had been heard in the last couple years not only on Dale, but on 98.5, CSNNE, Glenn Ordway’s Big Show Unfiltered, and other outlets.

His time on the Patriots post game shows on CSNNE ended recently when he was replaced with 98.5 evening guy and Felger Youth Rich Keefe. Is it fair to assume that Thornton, who is an unabashed Patriots fanboy and was known to needle Felger for his hot takez, was removed at Felger’s behest and replaced with someone less inclined to cheerlead for the team and challenge him?

I’M NOT SAYING IT HAPPENED, I’M JUST ASKING THE QUESTION! (Is that how it’s done?)

Yes, Felger, who claims that Bill Belichick only surrounds himself with “yes-men” has done a pretty good job of doing the same thing himself. You’re absolutely right, Mike!

The addition of Thornton to Dale and Holley seems to be a final experiment in the “good guy” genre of sports radio. The threesome won’t offend many people, but won’t stir things up too much either. As such, they’re a nice antidote to the competition in their time slot, but as Finn notes today (Jerry Thornton added as third voice on WEEI’s ‘Dale and Holley’) this “permanent” move may only last the winter.

I seriously shudder at the notion of a Kirk Minihane-led afternoon show. We may as well give up all hope in the human race at that point.

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The Patriots Twitter account apologized this morning for a racist Tweet which was generated through a campaign to thank followers for reaching the 1 million mark.

Followers were asked to retweet a tweet which would then generate a image with a Patriots jersey with the user’s Twitter handle on the back. Someone apparently used a newly created account with a racist bent to retweet which created the offensive tweet which was deleted, but not before it made the rounds on the internet.

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The Patriots come off their bye week with a Prime Time Sunday night matchup with the Indianapolis Colts on NBC.

Rodney Harrison and Tony Dungy held a conference call this week to talk Patriots/Colts.

Among Harrison’s comments:

And Belichick, he’s treating this like it’s a playoff game because it’s a very difficult place. They play with a different speed when they’re on that turf, and it’s just something about the fans and just how excited they get when they’re playing against Belichick and Tom Brady and the New England Patriots. So I guarantee you, I wanted to have a conversation with Bill, and he declined to have a conversation with me.

So I know how important this game is, because he’s really focused on this game. So I think he approaches it like it’s a playoff game.

Harrison impressed by Gronk’s comeback – Bill Doyle has more on Harrison’s analysis of the game and the Patriots tight end.

Get all the Patriots coverage at PatriotsLinks.com.

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The Bruins are coming off a second straight brutal loss, this time to their rivals the Montreal Canadiens.

After so much talk about Tuukka Rask’s struggles against the Canadiens, the local talkers were predictably outraged when the Bruins sat him last night.

Sample the reaction at Bruinslinks.com.

Red Sox Set To Light The Hot Stove

The baseball general managers meetings start today in Baltimore, and the Red Sox have plenty of work to do to put 2014 behind them and look to rebound in 2015.

Red Sox have pieces to retool roster – Peter Abraham looks at the roster and the possibilities.

Red Sox setting up for busy offseason -Gordon Edes has Ben Cherington looking to repeat his magic of 2013.

Big business for Red Sox at meetings – Scott Lauber looks at the massive to-do list facing the Sox GM.

It seems almost a given to many that the Red Sox will turn things around in 2015, and that Ben Cherington will add the needed pieces to restore the team to respectability. While some howl over the need for cynicism when looking at sports, where’s the critical thinking aimed at the Red Sox? I don’t see it, especially compared to other teams in this town. I’m it has nothing to do with the fact that the team owner also owns the most dominant newspaper in town and the TV outlet which the team’s games appear on.

The Celtics sit at .500 after a pair of wins over the weekend, including in Chicago Saturday night without Rajon Rondo or Marcus Smart. Smart will be out for a few weeks with a sprained ankle, an injury suffered Friday night against the Packers, and which looked much worse than it turned out to be.

For depleted Celtics, Bulls provided a benchmark win – Gary Washburn says that the win in Chicago was an important one in the development of the team.

Get all the current Celtics news at CelticsLinks.com.

The Patriots will get back to the field this week as they prep for the Colts in Indianapolis on Sunday night.

A nice bit from Patriots All Access last week was a glimpse at the party held at Robert Kraft’s home the night before the Denver game for the players who were on all three Super Bowl winning teams. It was great to see some of the players whose time here didn’t end in the greatest manner (namely Ted Johnson and Richard Seymour) back and speaking about their time here. Johnson had his son with him, and the piece had him introducing him to his former teammates and telling him about ones who weren’t there (Adam Vinatieri).

They also had plenty of stories from that time, pranks played on each other, etc. It would be nice to see more from that event, and given that the cameras were there, it seems possible more footage may be shown in the future.

The Bruins are toughing their way through an injury-riddled portion of the season, and currently sit five points out of the lead in the Atlantic Division. Defenseman David Warsofsky was the latest to go down, suffering a strained groin which will keep him out 2-4 weeks.

Catch up with the Bruins at BruinsLinks.com.

Listening to Mike Ditka can be tough to take – Chad Finn’s Monday media column has the Bears legend archaic views painful to endure.

Al Michaels on everything from calling O.J. after the murders to Bill Simmons – Richard Deitsch talks to the broadcasting legend.

Bye Week Banalty

Enough with the Mike Felger Pity Party! Enough with the Tim Benz pity party! Enough with the Gary Tanguay pity party!

I’m not sure where the basis of the pity party comes from other than here:

Amazing. Gary Tanguay web articles are now used as show fodder.

All of this while the hosts who spent hours speculating every trade/release possibility and coming in with crazy theories about rifts between the coach and quarterback are whining because they are now being called on their comments. They’re playing semantics – I never said Brady should be benched/traded, I was just ASKING THE QUESTION. We’re being attacked! We never meant they would actually trade Brady, just asking IF they should! I WAS RIGHT AT THE TIME.

Then they turn and call Patriots fans sensitive. The irony should not be lost there.

I’m glad that my personal listenership to this garbage has dwindled to practically nothing. I’ll listen to D&C&M for periods in the morning, then Gresh and ZO, and back to Dale and Holley in the afternoon. Thats about it, and my trigger finger is pretty quick.

I’ll also say this for about the millionth time, it feel like. I don’t have any problems with legitimate criticism of players, teams, franchises, etc. The problem comes when people rush to judgment, eager to be the first to declare the game, season, era, QB, coach DONE usually in the most vociferous and obnoxious victory-lap-taking manner.

They’re proven to be dead wrong, year after year, but it deters them not in the least. They know that each day brings a day closer the actual end of the Brady and Belichick era. Someday they will be right!

Whatever.

The group that enjoys consuming the non-stop creating of fictional yet plausible storylines to be screamed out each day and evening on radio and television eat it up and can’t get enough. I don’t get it.

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Sports media: Early reports on Bob Neumeier are encouraging  -Chad Finn has an update on the health of the long time sports anchor and reporter.

Be very leery of folks like Dan Shaughnessy pumping up an acquisition of Giants third baseman Pablo Sandoval. I can guarantee you this is being do to set up Sandoval as an out-of-shape guy who doesn’t work hard and was given big money. Regardless of what the facts actually are, you can bet on a few references to Joe Offerman.

Finally:

ComcastSportsNet, in conjunction with the Boston Celtics, will debut a 30-minute TV special on Celtics rookie Marcus Smart, giving viewers and in-depth look at the Point Guard’s journey to the NBA both on and off the basketball court. The special, titled The Education of Marcus Smart, will air at 7:30PM on Saturday, November 8th following Celtics Pregame Live (7PM) and just prior to the Celtics vs. Bulls matchup (8PM).

The Education of Marcus Smart, narrated by CSN’s Celtics play-by-play voice Mike Gorman, outlines Marcus’s journey from his childhood in Texas through current day as a rookie Point Guard for the Boston Celtics. The show illustrates how Smart has overcome adversity both on and off the court from a very early age. Growing up just outside of Dallas, Texas, basketball was always part of Marcus’s life. His oldest brother Todd – who was diagnosed with cancer before Marcus was even born — was a local high school basketball legend and Marcus’s hero. After an 18 year battle with cancer, Todd passed away, leaving his 9-year old brother Marcus inspired to follow in his footsteps and commit all of his energy to the game of basketball.

 

Another Tomato Can By The Wayside

The once left for dead Patriots are now in danger of peaking too early, as they dispatched Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos 43-21 at Gillette Stadium yesterday.

It’s been a remarkable turnaround since the early going of the season, but if you are surprised by the fact that they got their act together, I’m not sure where you’ve been for the last 13 years.

A lot of the criticism heaped on the team in the early going was justified. Those people now get upset though when their opinions are brought up again. We’re not supposed to have opinions???? I was just going on the information at that time.

The problem isn’t with the opinions. The problem is the cocksure certainty with which they’re delivered. Of course it is going to get thrown back in your face when you voluminously declare a team not good any more or a QB in sharp decline and both statements are quickly proven woefully inaccurate.

The “last thing you saw” opinion is also tiresome. People are writing today that yesterday proves Brady Is Better.  Well, I’d like to believe that, but what were other people saying when Manning beat Brady in the AFC title game in January?

We don’t know anything right now about how the rest of the season will turn out. But there is content to be cranked out, and hot takez to be spouted on the air, and fake arguments to be had by all.

Here is a sampling of the coverage today:

Frozen Fraud: Peyton Manning comes up short again in cold of Foxboro – As much as I enjoyed this article from Chris Price, I’m leery of calling Manning a fraud.

Patriots make short work of Broncos – Jackie MacMullan closes with TJ Ward saying that the Broncos are still the better team.

Oh yeah, about Ward:

Manning unarmed against Patriots’ defensive schemes – Tom E Curran says that Manning’s arm just isn’t what it once was.

Black and blue-prints: Patriots’ plan to beat Peyton Manning a success – Karen Guregian has Bill Belichick taking lessons from Pete Carroll on how to beat Manning.

Bill Belichick gets an A for scheme of his D – Chris Gasper has Belichick avenging scoreboard operators everywhere.

Richard Seymour ‘excited’ to ring in Patriots’ Super success – I enjoyed Ron Borges’ visit with the former Patriots lineman who returned yesterday to be honored with his former teammates.

‘Interchangeable’ defense sparks Patriots – Mike Reiss looks at the parts on defense which frustrated Manning.

Get the rest of the coverage at PatriotsLinks.com.

Patriots-Broncos matchup deserved all the hype it got – Chad Finn’s Monday media column looks at the game from the TV perspective.

ESPN’s latest 30 for 30 sparkles, football still ratings king – Richard Deitsch’s media column looks at the week in review.

Thoughts For Neumy, Alex Speier To Globe?

It’s a busy morning in the Boston sports media world.

We’ll lead off with thoughts for former WBZ and current CSNNE sports anchor Bob Neumeier, who suffered a stroke on Wednesday.

The news was broken by Michael Felger on yesterday’s edition of Felger and Mazz. Keep “Neumy” in your thoughts in the coming days.

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Glenn Ordway mentioned on his Big Show Unfiltered broadcast yesterday that WEEI.com baseball writer Alex Speier is heading to the Boston Globe.

While no official confirmation is in the offing at the moment, the move would be a tremendous addition for the Globe, as has been well documented here, I believe Speier is the single best baseball writer in this town.

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The Dennis and Callahan and Minihane show wrapped up their final simulcast on NESN this morning, marking the occasion by doing the show in full costume.

To replace Dennis and Callahan and Minihane, NESN will launch their own morning show – NESN Sports Update.

Baseball still a major draw on television – Chad Finn looks at the World Series ratings, and has a few other notes.

Get all your Patriots/Broncos news at PatriotsLinks.com.

The Bruins topped the Sabres last night, check out coverage at Bruinslinks.com.

The Celtics travel to Texas this weekend, check their stories at CelticsLinks.com.

Celtics Start Things Off Right

The Celtics began their regular season last night with a 121-105 drubbing of the Brooklyn Nets at TD Garden. The Celtics placed eight players in double figures last night.

While the Celtics may be fourth in Boston in terms of coverage and popularity st the moment while they rebuild, there is certainly much to be interested in as the team enters its second year under Brad Stevens.

DISH Network subscribers continue to miss out on the Celtics, as the Satellite provider dumped CSNNE in August, and it appears the sides are still very far apart. CSNNE struck back this week with a series of radio ads, but the station was still dark for DISH subscribers for opening night.

CSN New England Tips Switch Campaign Against Dish

Last night also saw another return to the Garden by Kevin Garnett, who was impressed with the young Celtics:

Kevin Garnett still bleeds green (Bulpett)

Rajon Rondo makes all the difference – Jackie MacMullan looks at the triumphant return of the Celtics PG. No mention of the trade demands she claimed earlier in the summer.

Get all the coverage from last night’s win at CelticsLinks.com.

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Are we almost done with the Tom Brady vs Peyton Manning comparisons for this week?

I don’t know about you, but it’s been old for a while now. Can we agree that they’re both among the all-time greats and just try to enjoy the experience of seeing them play?

It’s an easy topic for sports radio, which is why they’ve clung to it. It’s much easier to recite the same arguments over and over than it is to actually analyze the upcoming game.

You’re better off turning off the radios.

Heated rivalry turns corner with Darrelle Revis, Aqib Talib – Jeff Howe with a nice look at how each cornerback has been used this season and what we might expect for Sunday.

Pats should beware of Broncos’ Miller & Ware – Tom E Curran and Mike Giardi look at challenges from the Broncos defense.

Patriots face dynamic duo in Denver’s Miller and Ware – Glen Farley has more on the pass-rushing threats.

Patriots-Broncos through stats-based lens – Mike Reiss checks some of the relevant stats heading in.

Brady vs. Manning? It might come down to defense – David Pevear says this one might look different than past matchups.

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Remember Jimmy Young and Jimmy Myers?

The Boston sports broadcasting alumni are doing a weekly sports show on YouTube, called The Jimmy’s Sports Talk. Each Monday from 6:30 to 8:30 at the Nobscot Cafe in Framingham they are doing a live show.

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Oh yeah, there was some baseball game on last night? The San Francisco Giants won their third World Series in the last five years.

Your move, Red Sox.

Tom Brady’s Trade Value Will Never Be Higher

I mean, what else could the sports radio trolls conjure up today?

The previously washed-up Tom Brady submitted an almost perfect performance yesterday against the Chicago Bears at Gillette Stadium, as the “Let’s face it, they’re not a good team anymore” Patriots won their fourth in a row, this time a 51-23 shellacking of a Bears team in turmoil.

Now all the focus is on the Denver Broncos, who come to town on Sunday for a game which may decide home field in the AFC.

Pats, Broncos hitting crescendo heading into showdown – Tom E Curran looks ahead. He also has Darrelle Revis already eyeballing Broncos.

Tom Brady caps off brilliant stretch – Mike Reiss has the Patriots QB keeping things steady during the highs  and lows of this season.

Rob Gronkowski, Brandon LaFell have morphed New England Patriots offense from pedestrian to potent – Kevin Duffy looks at the two targets that have transformed the Patriots offense in recent weeks.

Brandon LaFell no second prize – Karen Guregian notes that the receiver has proved he was worth the signing.

Brady: I’ll take my offensive weapons over Manning’s – Wait, what? Brady has WEAPONZ? Since when, Phil Perry?

This is why Patriots picked up Darrelle Revis and Brandon Browner – Ben Volin looks at the Patriots two biggest offseason acquisitions starting to hit their stride.

Lots of big ‘D’ contributors for Patriots – Adam Kurkjian notes that it wasn’t just the cornerbacks who stepped up yesterday.

Get the rest of the stories at PatriotsLinks.com.

Brandon Marshall a top topic on NFL TV shows – Chad Finn says that the Chicago WR’s weekly stint on Around the NFL should be interesting this week.

NBA may be at a high point – Finn’s Friday column was on the NBA and its television deals.

A new era for ESPN’s NBA Countdown; bashing Jay Cutler – Richard Deitsch’s media column looks at tension last season between Bill Simmons and Sage Steele on the ESPN NBA show, and a ton of other items.

“I don’t believe in damned curses…” Did something happen 10 years ago today?

Chili Monday In October

There is a chill in the air this morning as the temperatures were in the low 30’s as many began their day throughout New England.

In a related move, the Red Sox made a little news last night, as Chili Davis agreed to become their new hitting coach. Hopefully he does better than the last highly-regarded coach that came over from the A’s.

The Patriots-free weekend made for some interesting viewing and media consumption. The biggest story was Peyton Manning and his quest to overtake Brett Favre as the NFL’s all time leader in touchdown passes.

Manning and the Broncos crushed the San Francisco 49ers last night 42-17.

Notes/Links:

“Friday Night Lights” Author Fails in NY Times Column on Sports Culture – Matt Chatham goes scorched earth Fire-Joe-Morgan Style on a recent Buzz Bissinger column.

What brings Buzz nuzzling in for relevance now is his opinion piece featured in this weekend’s NY Times titled “The Boys in the Clubhouse.” Buzz has no credible experience in sports. but has staked his career on pretending to have sports world insight. As clueless as he is on the subject, he can prose a bit, so his parlor tricks speak well to crowds of similar inexperience.

Definitely worth the read.

Dan Shaughnessy decided to do an all “positive” column this weekend. It was about as dreadful and disingenuous as you would imagine. I don’t recommend it.

Today Steve Buckley says that the Patriots are much more interesting and “fun” to follow this year because it is not a given that they are going to win every game. That’s a media take if I’ve ever heard one. Stories and talking points are tougher to come up with when a team is dominant, easier when the team has ups and downs. Besides, how long has it been since it was a “given” that the team was going to dominate each week?

Why Are Pats Fans Such Crybabies? – I would normally not link to Eric Wilbur in this space, but Eric was nice enough to solicit my opinion for his weekend column on the subject of Patriots. Naturally he and I see things very differently, but he let me have my say, and I respect that.

If Jets don’t want Rex Ryan, TV will take him – Chad Finn looks at the possibility of a media career in the near future for Rex Ryan.

Only in the world of the Boston sports media would you rather have Aqib Talib than Darrelle Revis. A year ago this topic would’ve been laughed off the air. You’d rather have the guy who always gets injured right when they need him the most?? You’re insane! Not to mention all the talk about Talib’s background, and whether he was a bad influence in the locker room. He’s a poor (cheap) man’s Darrelle Revis! Now he was a leader of men, while Revis is a robot who plays on autopilot.

Rajon Rondo feels positive vibe – This really doesn’t read like a guy demanding to be traded. So whatever happened to that big Jackie MacMullen off-air “scoop?” Are was she just saying stuff to sound in the know?

Patriots Swat Away Jets Upset Plans

All season long we’ve been hearing about how terrible the Thursday night football games have been. Teams have been ragged, worn down, and not sharp when playing just four days after their previous game.

Last night the Patriots looked ragged, worn down and not sharp. The Jets hung tough all night long, running the ball at will against the Patriots, who were playing their first game without Jerod Mayo this season.

For many of those following or covering the team, the Thursday factor is no excuse. It may be for other teams, but for the Patriots, last night was just another example of how poor the team is. (“Putrid” according to a Boston.com headline.) Gary Tanguay was shouting on the postgame  “WINDOW CLOSED!”

It’s funny, as much as Shaughnessy and others like to claim how weak the AFC East is, the division games are usually some of the toughest on the schedule. Buffalo excepted, most of the time. Games with the Dolphins and Jets are more often than not, ugly slugfests. Winning two division games in four days is OK with me, no matter how it happens.

This morning some tried to create a controversy out of the ending of the game, when the officials moved Donta’ Hightower from over the long-snapper on the final field attempt.

Why did official help Patriots avoid penalty before Jets’ field goal got blocked?

The NFL pretty quickly shot this one down.

On WEEI this morning, they demanded to know why Belichick didn’t challenge the David Nelson catch with 23 seconds left to go, which looked like a bobble while standing out of bounds.

They had to be reminded by the producer/engineer that coaches can’t challenge under two minutes. They then changed it to demanding that Belichick should’ve used a timeout there to allow the officials time to look at it. They then quickly moved over to talking about how 1-5 over the next six games is possible.

So, Jason Cole, what happened to the “surprise” that the Patriots and Darrelle Revis were cooking up for the Jets last night?

Get the coverage this morning over at PatriotsLinks.com.

Media Columns:

Jim Nantz, Phil Simms part of the CBS showcase – Chad Finn on the CBS tandem, and notes on the MLB playoffs and NBA preseason.

Socci thinks Thursday NFL games come up too fast – Bill Doyle has the Patriots radio voice talking about the challenges of games like last night.

This week’s Sports Illustrated has a excerpt from Bill Parcells’ new book. – Parcells: A Football Life

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Exclusive Book Excerpt: The Belichick-Parcells Split

Before he built the Patriots powerhouse, Bill Belchick was the Jets’ head coach – for a mere 24 hours. His shocking resignation and flight to New England produced one of the most memorable press conferences in NFL history and sparked a fuel with rival Bill Parcells that still rages on. SI has an exclusive excerpt on the behind-the-scenes closed door coaches’ meetings, Charlie Weis’ plea for the head coach position and all the events leading up to the press conference from Parcells’ new book, Parcells: A Football Life

“I didn’t begrudge Bill getting another job somewhere else. In fact, I’m probably the one that got it for him.” – Parcells on Belichick

“I knew I did the right thing and I didn’t know where my career was going.” – Belichick

“I’ve told many coaches that friendship and loyalty is going to be more important than ambition. Some guys don’t realize that until after they’re done. I don’t bear animosity toward Charlie. I can say that with a straight face because I know what he is. His actions back then don’t bother me anymore” – Parcells on Weis’ departure from the Jets