Fortnight From Hell

(Thoughts on this season that wasn’t from guest blogger Bob Ekstrom. Reach him at [email protected])

I have to give it to Bruce for being our first responder, trying to restore order to the chaos and carnage of last Sunday. Now it’s up to the rest of us to dig out of our personal rubble. For me, it was a hellish fortnight that began when I realized the road-warrior Giants were the designated visiting team in Super Bowl XLII, this being an even-numbered year. Then, Johan Santana signed with the Mets eight weeks after the Twins asked for Jon Lester’s medical records, a leading indicator that a trade for the Coco Crisp package was imminent. Days before the Super Bowl, the Lakers acquired Pau Gasol, thereby providing Kobe Bryant with newfound passion and earning him comparisons to our beloved Tom Brady. I never want to see those two names in the same sentence again, but it does seem plausible that Phil Jackson will break the tie with Red Auerbach yet. To kick it all, my son decided to paint his new room in Patriots blues, reds, and grays, courtesy of Lowe’s. It seemed we were tempting fate by immortalizing a perfect season upon his walls before perfection was achieved.

At about 6:30 Sunday night, the Patriots lost the coin flip and didn’t see the ball until his bedtime. Then, all hell broke loose.

Since Sunday night, I’ve searched for my therapy in front of the radio, rather than turning to websites or newsprint. Airwaves carry the voice of the real fan, and some were bound to express my sentiments. But now, I no longer want to hear that the Giants outplayed the Patriots. I saw that for myself. It doesn’t help me get over the fact that the Patriots should not have been outplayed, that the better team did not win. It may be sour grapes, but I’m a fan before a writer. Vic Carucci feels my pain, even as Logan Mankins says there are more important things than football. Are you kidding? Christopher L. Gaspar has Coach Belichick not dwelling on this one, either. Hey, I need these guys to be in the dumps until I’ve gotten up. Mike Vrabel and Dan Koppen understand that.

I also don’t need more complaints about the FG that was never attempted, or an O-line that provided as much resistance against the Giants’ rush as those turnstiles at the T do to the commuter rush. The bottom line is that our team got the footing for victory with 2:42 remaining, then ceded it. The end came 1:27 later, when a potential fourth-and-fifteen morphed into a first down with the Eli-to-Tyree catch, now preserved in Super Bowl lore as The Escape. 18 games, 58 minutes, and 45 seconds of perfection fell by the wayside when Rodney Harrison could not make that football do the same.

Karen Guregian puts Sunday’s loss in its quantitative perspective, but she also goes one better in addressing the emotional damage it could inflict on New England’s future. I’m down, but not that down. As one Giants fan pointed out in a call to WEEI this week, it took a super-human effort and all the bounces to set this team back. Already looking forward, Mike Reiss suggests that Randy Moss could be franchised, making the offense seemingly as potent next year. And, as they did after a fourth quarter defensive meltdown last year, Belichick and Scott Pioli should have one marquee defensive acquisition up their sleeves this year. Unfortunately, it might not involve keeping Asante Samuel.

Like my fellow Pats’ fans, I’m still alive, and if this one didn’t kill us, maybe it will make us stronger. For the time being, I’m still not ready to go into my son’s blue, red, and gray room quite yet.

Championship Sunday

(Super Sunday links are brought your way by guest blogger Bob Ekstrom. Reach him at [email protected]).

Rise and shine, New England. Time to get another Championship Day started, the third and final of a memorable 2007 as the Patriots look to follow the path of the Red Sox and avoid that of the Revolution. The winning path seems a bit more clearly delineated this morning after Senator Arlen Specter’s strangely-timed initiation of Spygate II days ago. The Giants will no doubt remember the fallout of Spygate I, when the Chargers became the first in a string of casualties that have led the Patriots to history’s door. Now, they have Specter pushing it open.

As with every Sunday morning, Scott Benson and the staff over at Patriots Daily bring you all the local Patriots coverage in Sunday’s Links. Grab your coffee and head over there; we’ll be here with some national coverage when you get back.

And what better place to start than in Arlen’s house. The Inquirer’s Bob Ford tries to convince himself and all of Philly that the 2007 Patriots don’t make honorable mention in his list of the greatest teams of all time. Ashley Fox thinks the Patriots themselves provide the best blueprint for an underdog to succeed in the Super Bowl. Bob Brookover finds one native that hasn’t been brainwashed into thinking the Patriots’ Super Bowl XXXIX victory over the Eagles was fixed, that being South Philly native and Pats’ fullback Kyle Eckel. On the other side of Arlen’s district, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette’s Gene Collier examines the Belichick vs. Coughlin match-up.

In the Big Apple, the Daily News’ Ralph Vacchiano says the Giants are ready for their shot at immortality, while Mike Lupica says tonight’s game is guaranteed to be unforgettable. At the Post, Paul Schwartz says the Jints cannot lose tonight, while Mike Vaccaro offers 42 reasons why they won’t. Steve Serby sees the Giants as some modern-day Persian emperor, bringing home the heads of Bill Belichick and Tom Brady to parade them throught the streets. Are you ready for tonight yet? In Newark, the Star-Ledger’s Steve Politi has a placeholder ready for Big Blue in the list of the greatest upsets ever. Jerry Izenberg offers an entertaining and first-hand look at the commercialization of the Super Bowl over his 42 years of coverage. And straddling the Giants/Patriots border, the New Haven Register’s Joe Amarante finds the super glue that binds both sides.

Okay, back to reality. Here’s a shocker from Miami, as the Herald’s Dan Le Batard thinks that, win or no win today, the Patriots season is already more impressive than that of the 1972 Dolphins. Better stuff some spare tires in the trunk, Dan, because tormer Dolphins coach Jimmy Johnson’s comments that a win puts Belichick’s season at the top in the annals of NFL coaching has him in a heap of trouble with those ’72 Dolphins. From Indianapolis, the Star’s Bob Kravitz cannot be more emphatic: forget about any upset today. Out west, the Union-Tribune’s Michael Stetz tells San Diego that tonight’s game should not compel them out of football hibernation, as the memories will be painful.

And since we’re looking to crown them as world champions, let’s see what a couple of international outlets are saying about our hometown team. The London Times has the Patriots as the most polarizing force in the States since the Civil War, but says they’ll be champs again sometime in the small hours of Monday morning. The Sydney Morning Herald gives ten reasons why the Super Bowl is can’t miss viewing, and the top three are because of your New England Patriots.

Bruins

The Bruins availed themselves of their last opportunity to fly under the radar of football-frenzied Hub fans, falling 3-1 to the Detroit Red Wings at TD Banknorth Garden last night. Despite the loss, Stephen Harris says the B’s turned in an admirable effort against the NHL’s best. Fluto Shinzawa has the B’s playing a perfect first period, but it wasn’t enough to stop the Red Wings winning streak, now at seven. Barbara Matson says the Bruins may have missed their chance in the second period, which included a fruitless 5-on-3 power play.

Bud Barth says that, at 6-2-1 over their last nine games, the B’s are headed in the right direction. In Harris’ Bruins Notebook, goalie Tim Thomas recounts the three goals he surrendered as the Red Wings snapped his career-best five-game winning streak. Shinzawa’s Bruins Notebook has B’s forward Marco Sturm becoming the NHL’s iron man among German natives.

Red Sox / MLB

It may have been too late, but Art Davidson has former Haverhill High School slugger Carlos Pena’s remarkable turnaround anything but too little, as he posted some staggering numbers with the Tampa Bay – drop the Devil – Rays in 2007, after finishing out the previous season in Boston.

As all of Red Sox Nation breathes a sigh of relief, Nick Cafardo gives Yankees’ GM Brian Cashman credit for not pulling off a Johan Santana deal. Michael Silverman says it’s good to be young, philosophies shared by both the Red Sox and Yankees front offices.

Be sure to stay tuned to BSMW for all the accounts on tonight’s big game. In the meantime, may Boston champagne bottles overflow as those of New York – and Miami – remain corked.

Here we go again

Saturday Links from Brian. Email him at [email protected].

Just when you thought Spygate was over, it rears it’s ugly head yesterday. Since the outset of this controversy back in September, a few media and football sources such as Tom Curran of NBCSports.com and formerly of the Providence Journal, have briefly alluded toward rumors that the Patriots taped the Rams final walkthrough before the Super Bowl in 2002. Yesterday, news of a former disgruntled Patriots employee Matt Walsh surfaced in a New York Times report questioning Roger Goodell’s destruction of the tapes confiscated by the NFL. Wouldn’t you know it, one day later, John Tomase has an “unnamed source” who confirms a member of the video/scouting department stayed behind after the Pats walkthrough and team photo to tape the Rams walkthrough. I don’t want to give this story too much play the day before the Super Bowl, but the storylines here are endless. Goodell claims the tapes destroyed were from the 2006 season and 2007 preseason, and that there was no evidence any of the tapes helped them in the Super Bowl victories, per Dan Ventura’s piece, and Mike Reiss’ hit on yesterday’s comments. But with Tomase’s story today, one has to wonder if there are more tapes that were not turned over, or did Goodell know about this and not want to put a black eye on the league? Furthermore, what is the credibility of this Matt Walsh, whose timing could best be described as curious? IMO, media members can speculate all they want and get unnamed sources until they’re blue in the face, but if there is no evidence, it’s all hearsay at this point.

Mike Florio over at ProFootballTalk.com discusses the fallout from the Herald piece today, particularly the frenzy to interview Rams from the 2001 team, but more importantly, that if there was any doubt the Patriots were going to win this game tomorrow, there no longer is and all this weak Plaxico-guarantee talk will take a much-needed backseat to the allegations of cheating on the eve of the game that began this dynasty. Steve Buckley claims Senator Arlen Specter, who brought this issue to the forefront once again, has a point in claiming Goodell’s actions underscore a cover-up, despite his obvious conflict of interest as a die-hard Eagles fan. My final thought on this; regardless of what the national media and public say about past Super Bowls, the Pats aren’t taping anyone this year under heavy scrutiny from the league, and thus far, have put forth the most dominant season in NFL history. Nothing will change that. I apologize for this, as I went into this with every intention to not give Spygate more play than the Bowl, but these stories were given heavy play in Boston, and duty calls. I’ll end this thought with Tony Massarotti’s piece on how everybody wants to attack you when you’re on top. Amen.

Over at Patriots Daily, Scott Benson recaps a crazy week in Arizona.

Oh yea, the game tomorrow. Karen Guregian has the Pats defensive front enjoying being overlooked with all the attention focused on the Giants front four. Mike Lowe also has Richard Seymour enjoying football for himself once again, as well as appreciating his return to the Super Bowl after being spoiled in his early years. Rob Bradford takes a look at the nasty, dirty tactics used in the trenches between offensive and defensive linemen, especially during fumbles. Rich Garven touches on the challenge Brady and the offense face against a very talented Giants secondary that has stepped up in the postseason. Christopher Gasper has a piece on the Pats dominance in the fourth quarter, particularly entering the 4th with a lead under Bill Belichick. Jim Donaldson has a great piece on Joel Collier, Pats defensive backs coach, lamenting the downfall of proper tackling in football over the years, hoping to correct one of the Pats few weaknesses this season. Mark Farinella has coverage of Belichick’s final presser, with BB saying he thinks the team is ready for Sunday, touching on his relationship with Bill Parcells, as well as a few other broader, league matters. But not Spygate, of course. David Heuschkel has more on Belichick’s final presser. Jackie MacMullan talks to a few of the departed former Patriots, asking them if they miss the success they had in New England. Dan Pires has Tom Brady not denying the significance of this game and what it means on many levels.

Many of the local outlets have nice pieces on individual players today, with Shalize Manza Young starting us off with an uplifting piece on Tedy Bruschi’s journey. Hector Longo has a story of Larry Izzo’s long journey as an undrafted rookie free agent to All-Pro special teamer in his fourth Super Bowl. Nick Taveres has more on Izzo’s understanding of his role with the Pats and desire to be on a winner versus maxing out every last cent. Robert Lee has Junior Seau hoping to add the last piece to his storied career; a Super Bowl ring. David Heuschkel has more on Seau’s decision to return this season and how a win would be the ultimate joy for him. I don’t know about you, but I’m a little tired of listening to Matt Cassel talk about how ready he is to play every day, and wanting to get in the Super Bowl, per Lee’s piece here. Nick Taveres takes a look at the forgotten Patriot, Troy Brown, and his journey with the Patriots. Frank Dell’Apa has more on Brown’s long, strange journey in the NFL. Dell’Apa also touches on the versatility of Mike Vrabel, and how that makes him the perfect fit for the Patriots system. Rob Bradford has Vrabel supporting Andre Tippett’s nomination for the Hall of Fame this weekend. Amidst the guys who have been here before, Dan Ventura has a piece on the experiences of the first-timers this Super Bowl week. David Brown has a feature on Laurence Maroney’s ire toward the same reporters who doubted him when he was “tap-dancing” early in the season.

Ah, what would this weekend be without comments from the 1972 Dolphins. Just go play golf or cards or something. Just go away, you all come off as bitter, bored old men. Gasper has more petty, rambling comments from a few members of the Dolphins in his notebook. Mike Lowe has more on the Dolphins readying themselves for company in perfection. Dom Amore has more on the potential for two perfect teams. Mark Farinella has Jim Brown speaking to the Patriots before practice at the request of friend Bill Belichick. Longo’s notebook has more on Brown’s appearance at the final practice yesterday. Guregian’s notebook has Belichick pleased about where his team is from a preparation standpoint, and touches on the short injury report for the Pats. Heuschkel’s notebook has more on Brown’s speech and the final practice session.

Giants

Dom Amore has yet another piece on the Giants coaching tree, including comments from Coughlin and Belichick on their relationship working together. Jim McCabe has a piece on local guy Brandon London, a Framingham native on the Giants practice squad, whose job has been to play Randy Moss. Amore has Plaxico Burress missing practice again yesterday with both ankle and knee injuries, officially listed as questionable. Amore has more on the kinder Coughlin this season and where it has gotten them.

Whew. That’s all I got for today. For coverage of the Red Sox, Celtics, and Bruins, check out RedSoxLinks.com, CelticsLinks.com, and BruinsLinks.com. Feel free to shoot me any comments at [email protected]. Enjoy the weekend, be safe, and go Pats!

Down to Business

Morning Links submitted by guest blogger Brian. Reach him here.

One would think Media Day has special significance for some, especially those who dabble in the realm of sports media; unfortunately, that’s just not the case for me. Media members from every possible outlet throughout the country are allowed free reign to make wedding proposals, ask Bill Belichick music and movie questions, and in particular this year, try to elicit 19-0/dynasty comments from your New England Patriots. However, amidst a media contingent nearly double that of the Giants, the Pats players didn’t stray much from addressing the one-game season, albeit with some “humorous” back-and-forth throughout the course of the day. It’s unfortunate, because I was starting to like the jovial, endearing Bill Belichick we have seen the past few days, but I for one am excited to get down to business and start breaking down this game in the coming days. Sadly, no more images of Brady’s potential future wife.

Patriots

Over at Patriots Daily, Dan Snapp echoes my feelings exactly, and while wanting to start the game amidst the hype overkill, it is a great problem to have if you’re a Pats fan.

Dan Shaughnessy gets us started with a recap of the scene with snippets on Bob Kraft, Belichick, Brady, and Moss. Karen Guregian touches on the charming and talkative Randy Moss yesterday, who discussed his desire to retire a Patriot, as well as his plans to make his presence felt this Sunday far more than his previous two playoff games. John Tomase takes a look back at Moss’ big game against the Giants back in week 17. Shalize Manza Young has more on Moss enjoying his long-awaited first Media Day. Josh Egerman has Moss and Robert Kraft reflecting on the process that brought Moss to New England. Mark Farinella has more on the chatty and upbeat Moss from Media Day. Dave Goldberg takes a broader approach to the Patriots players performance yesterday, saying almost all of Belichick’s veterans are an extension of the coaching staff both on the field and off. David Heuschkel takes a deeper look into Belichick’s press conferences, and how the local media has adapted to dig deeper for meaning into his daily pressers.

Mark Farinella has Brady coming off as the real winner yesterday, with his smooth and thoughtful responses on every topic. Tony Massarotti talks more about Brady’s performance yesterday, as he handled all types questions with ease. Barry Wilner highlights the two “seasons” the Patriots endured this year, as the first half was filled with blowouts and superlatives, while the second half of the season had close games and “blueprints.” Troy Bown…remember him? Steve Solloway has Brown discussing his fifth Super Bowl with the Patriots, and reflecting back on previous games where he had a much larger role. Mark Farinella has Brown appreciative of the opportunity to be at yet another Media Day, even with his diminished, aka nonexistent role. Shalize Manza Young has more on Troy Brown’s emotions yesterday. David Brown has an interesting piece on Vince Wilfork’s freakish athleticism. Steve Buckley has Tedy Bruschi thinking back to Media Day in 2004, when he took on Warren Sapp for disparaging comments about guard Russ Hochstein. Tony Massarotti has Asante Samuel playing the role of Ty Law as shut-down corner in the Super Bowl. Buckley also does a nice piece on Jarvis Green’s friendship with Marquise Hill, and how the team has tried to keep him in their thoughts in Arizona. Jim Donaldson does a piece on Patrick Sullivan, the son of former owner Billy Sullivan, and his feelings on the Pats success since the Kraft family took over.

Yesterday was also a day of both teams trying to scrape up some bulletin board material, and neither team is going to have a shortage of that, thanks in part to some loose lips and ridiculous book promotions through the local media. See what happens with two Parcells disciples? Karen Guregian has the Pats players planning to do their talking on the field, after hearing about Plaxico Burress’ prediction of a 23-17 victory for the Giants. Dan Ventura has some of Burress’ coaches and teammates unaware of his victory prediction. For all you superstitious Pats fans out there, turn away now, as the Boston Globe and Herald were yesterday promoting books celebrating the Patriots undefeated championship season. In fact, Carol Beggy has a brief piece on the Herald’s “hypocrisy” for calling out the Globe yesterday, while they themselves had a championship book available through Amazon.com as well. The Giants also have a championship book on the website for pre-order. Riveting material here for the respective bulletin boards. Although John Tomase has a quick hit on the Giants choice of black suits upon their arrival in Arizona, as it represents a funeral for the Patriots perfect season.

Jennifer Toland’s notebook has more on the wedding proposals during the circus yesterday. Guregian’s notebook has the Pats secondary discussing the challenges they face in trying to contain Plaxico Burress, who burned them in the first game this season. The Projo’s notebook touches on Brady’s ankle, as well as the front office enjoying the moment of Media Day, and of course references the book pre-sale issue. Heuschkel’s notebook discusses Dean Pees and some potential bad blood between him and the former Uconn coach in 2003, and Matt Light accusing Bob Costas of coaxing Osi Umenyiora into his comments on “Inside the NFL” last week.

Giants

Don Amore has a piece on the spark Ahmad Bradshaw has provided the Giants. Shalize Manza Young has more on Burress’ prediction and some Pats non-reaction. Don Amore also has Burress confident in his team’s chances this weekend. However, Steve Conroy has the Giants glad that everyone is, wait for it…”disrespecting” them, and not giving them a chance as they fly “under the radar.” I’m sorry, but you can’t have it both ways, and it looks like the Giants want to have every angle possible, from “nobody gave us a chance,” to guaranteeing victory by a certain score. I guess this is what happens when the media gives all 53 players a chance to answer 300 pointless questions. Amore has a nice piece about the support Eli Manning received from John Mara following their playoff loss to the Eagles last season. Robert Lee discusses the story of Zak DeOssie, son of Steve DeOssie, and former ball boy for the Patriots during their Super Bowl run in 2001, now long-snapper for the Giants against his hometown team. I’ve always found this to be a fascinating story, as the elder DeOssie has done a nice job in balancing pride in his son with his allegiance to the Patriots. Although it would be nice to be a fly on the wall during some private conversations about football between the two. Conroy’s notebook discusses the changed Tom Coughlin this season, and the flu that has passed through the Giants locker room this week.

Red Sox

Oh yea, the Johan Santana sweepstakes came to close yesterday too, with the Mets landing the best lefty in the game. Gordon Edes talks to some Red Sox executives about the deal yesterday, and doesn’t get the sense they are terribly disappointed they didn’t make the deal, especially since he won’t be wearing pinstripes. Michael Silverman applauds the Sox front office and baseball ops for pushing the envelope with this deal and keeping Santana away from the Yanks.

Celtics

And the Celtics played last night too! Minus the services of Ray Allen and KG, the Celts rallied for an absolute beating of the Miami Heat down in Florida, 117-87. Steve Bulpett breaks down the impressive performance from the Celtics bench last night. Marc Spears has more on the big win coming after the heartbreaking loss to Orlando on Sunday. Bulpett’s notebook has Ray Allen headed to the hospital to receive fluids for the flu. Spears notebook also discusses Allen’s flu, along with the potential landing spot for Damon Stoudamire.

Over on the BSMW Full Court Press, Shirley Coshatt compares the ’08 Celtics to the ’86 Celtics.

Bruins

The Bruins also played and won in Boston last night, 3-1 against Nashville. For complete coverage of last night’s game, check out www.bruinslinks.com.

That’s all for this morning, Bruce will be posting updates throughout the day. Feel free to shoot me any comments at [email protected]

Back in the Driver’s Seat

(This morning’s links brought your way by guest blogger Bob Ekstrom. Contact him at [email protected])

After a four-game stretch in which they doubled their loss total on the season, the Celtics won their second straight last night at TD Banknorth Garden, 116-89 over Philadelphia. The Green, again led by Ray Allen with 23 points, outscored the 76ers 62-32 in the second half, turning a once 12-point deficit into a runaway.

Mark Murphy starts off the coverage with some inspirational words from Allen, along with a big contribution from the newest dad on the roster. Scott Souza has Leon Powe’s entrance doing wonders to neutralize the boards, where Philly had been dominating the C’s once again. Bill Doyle says Doc Rivers made the right move when he looked way down his bench and called Powe’s number last night. Jeff Howe credits Rivers for letting his squad self-administer the halftime adjustments that got things turned around. Oddly, the Globe’s coverage of last night’s action consists only of this Marc J. Spears entry in their Celtics Blog, but while you’re there, catch up on plans for Rajon Rondo’s return.

In his Celtics Beat, Steve Bulpett says it was only a matter of time before seldom-used Leon Powe made his contribution felt. Murphy’s Celtics Notebook has more on the purification of Ray Allen’s game.

Patriots

Anyone who tuned into yesterday’s love-in on WEEI’s The Big Show or checks out Johnny Diaz’s account of the local television blitz is witness to the 24-7 attention paid to the Patriots’ side of this Sunday’s AFC Championship equation. In a slight course change, this morning’s press has focused a bit on the other side. Jim Donaldson recaps the two underdogs’ chances for victory this Sunday. Jim McCabe says that the Chargers’ strong finish has given head coach Norv Turner a little job security. Jeff Horrigan says LT is now fully healed – maybe not his hyperextended knee, but his psyche after the beating it took a year ago when Pats players danced on his sacred lightning bolt. Karen Guregian has Tomlinson in tomorrow, but refers to a San Diego Union-tribune report of more extensive damage to Philip Rivers’ knee that lists him as doubtful. Either way, Tom King says the Patriots will be prepared for whoever is under center. We even have a Chargers Notebook in the Globe, where McCabe and Amalie Benjamin collaborate to bring you the latest on Rivers’ knee. Smerlas and Sheppard must be rolling in their beds right about now.

Back to the home team. Among the random thoughts Bill Reynolds proffers in his FWIW column is one concerning Randy Moss’s concentration factor on Sunday. Amalie Benjamin has the Patriots fending off a multitude of distractions in preparation for Sunday’s game. Bob Ryan says that, with all their experience, there’s nothing that could faze this squad going into a Big Game. Guregian believes Tom Brady’s focus on the field sets him apart and even has trash-talking Shawne Merriman agreeing Brady is something special. Rich Garven has Ben Watson rediscovered after a season in the lost-and-found. Michael Vega says Lawrence Maroney has summoned up the authority at an opportune time, with forecasts of 30 mph winds threatening to keep things grounded tomorrow. And from behind enemy lines, the Union-Tribune has Rodney Harrison dispensing advice to Rivers on remaining level-headed.

Red Sox

Only 26 days until pitchers and catchers report, and you’re thinking the Sox are a little thin at catcher, right? Well, if the Mirabelli re-signing didn’t do anything for you, try Joe McDonald, who will tell you about a veritable traffic jam of catchers down in Pawtucket. Gordon Edes’ Extra Bases blog offers the latest on Kevin Youkilis and Kyle Snyder filing for free agency, as well as Javier Lopez coming to one-year terms. In his Baseball column, Rob Bradford reminds us how long it’s been since any Red Sox player has gone through arbitration hearings.

Odds & Sods

Talk of pitchers and catchers can only mean one thing: Major League Soccer is only two and a-half months away. Mike Biglin has a nice feature on Michael Videira, the former Milford star who was drafted by the Revolution with the 18th overall pick in yesterday’s SuperDraft. But this doesn’t mean you’ll be seeing him at Gillette Stadium next year.

In case you missed it, an Atlanta Journal-Constitution story that picked up steam yesterday says that former Georgia Bulldog great Herschel Walker will reveal he has multiple personality disorder in an upcoming book due out this August.

The Herald’s ever-vigilant Inside Track has the latest on Gisele Bundchen’s lunch.

Here’s hoping your lunch is a bit more filling. Enjoy the game tomorrow and start your post-game coverage right back here on BSMW.

Is it Sunday Yet?

Afternoon links by guest blogger Brian

Checking in with some afternoon links for everyone, focusing on a national perspective on this weekend’s game, as well as the Randy Moss situation Bruce touched on earlier. It sounds like this is going to be one of those “he-said, she-said” stories until we get more information, and knowing the Pats, I don’t think we’re getting much more.

Mike Reiss has an update on the situation with Moss’ most recent comments after declining to answer questions.

Mike Florio at ProFootballTalk.com was the first national outlet to pick up on this story, as his latest post tracks the evolution of this story since this morning, with a much needed legal perspective.

Len Pasquarelli has a piece on the playmaking abilities of the Patriots receivers not named Moss or Welker, with Jags corner Terry Cousins offering an opposing player perspective.

Michael Silver has an excellent piece about the top seeds in the AFC over the last three seasons, and how following devastating defeats at home, at least two of the three teams seem to have learned from their mistakes and won the Super Bowl the following season, for various reasons. As a Pats fan, let’s hope this trend doesn’t prove to be true and we have to wait until next year. All this being said, he closes with his belief that the Pats will buck the aforementioned trend.

In case you missed it, our good buddy, Gregg Easterbrook, checks in with his perspective on a potential Favre vs. Brady Super Bowl matchup, while on one hand calling it “arguably the best quarterback pairing in Super Bowl History,” then in the next paragraph immediately predicting that the game’s story line would be that “traditionalists could root for a small town over a big metropolis; a team with an old-fashioned image would face the team that represents hypermodernism.” I’m not really sure what that even means, as I didn’t know Foxboro, or New England in general, is the center of modernism and metropolis. Furthermore, this quote seems to imply an underlying financial distinction between the two teams, with one characterized as “old fashioned,” and the other as “hypermodern.” I wish he would elaborate on this juxtaposition a bit more…why are we “hypermodern?” This quote seems to imply that the Packers have gone about their road to the Super Bowl in a different way than the Patriots…how so? Don’t all teams operate within the same salary cap structure? Regardless of a franchise’s history and the stadium they play in, aren’t the players of every team subject to the same system? Do Packers players play the game differently because of the history of the franchise, or get paid differently? I guess my point is that if Ryan Grant played for the Patriots, is he “hypermodern” now? Maybe I’m the only one confused here…moving on…

Scouts, Inc. (subscription only) has a breakdown of this weekend’s Pats/Chargers matchup.

Don Banks has a piece on sweet redemption for Tom Coughlin and Norv Turner this postseason.

In case you missed it, Jason Cole has a nice feature on Bill Belichick’s affinity for linebackers, dating all the way back to his days with the Giants. Cole makes note of the contract given to Adalius Thomas this past offseason in response to the Colts game last year. Who?

I don’t care what Greg Doyel says about Phillip Rivers infusing fun into the “No Fun League,” I still think he acts like a jerk who hasn’t accomplished anything in this league. Take this quote from Doyel; “This is one of the more fun guys in the NFL. He’s everything we say we want in a professional athlete. He talks to the media and says what’s on his mind. He shows unscripted emotion on the field. He pumps his fist and flaps his gums. He’s a professional football player, and you can tell how much fun he’s having. ” Oh he’s having fun? Well then, he can do whatever he wants, even if he is disrespecting the opposing team, or at times, his own teammates. At least he’s having fun.

Mike Freeman chimes in on Phillip Rivers with a counter argument to his colleague’s opinion. From a Patriots perspective, keep talking San Diego.

Jerry Crasnick takes a break from all the boring PED talk and checks in with 9 non-Red Sox/Yankees personnel about their choice between Clay Buchholz and Joba Chamberlain. Sox fans won’t be too excited to hear the results, but the chatter between Crasnick and some regional fans is pretty good.

Buster Olney (subscription only) has more non-news on the Johan Santana front, reiterating that at this point, he wouldn’t trade him and would at least enter the season with him as a Twin.

That’s all for today, feel free to shoot me any comments or additional articles that you would like to see in here at [email protected]

Off to the AFC Championship

(This morning’s links are provided by guest blogger Bob Ekstrom. He can be reached at [email protected])

It doesn’t get much busier around the Hub than yesterday, as the Patriots, Celtics, and Bruins were all in action. As always, Boston’s media coverage was out in full force, bringing all the games to your desktop this fine Sunday morning. Better get a cup of coffee, as there’s a lot of clicking ahead.

We’ll start off in Foxborough, where the Patriots, on the strength of Tom Brady’s 26 of 28 passing for 3 TDs and Lawrence Maroney’s 122 yards and one TD on the ground, got by the determined Jacksonville Jaguars, 31-20. Check out Scott Benson’s thoughts on last night’s performance over on Patriots Daily.

Christopher L. Gaspar has the Patriots opening the playoffs right where they left off the regular season with his full account of the on-field happenings. Karen Guregian notes that Tom Brady’s near perfect night keeps the Patriots’ season on the path to perfection. Douglas Flynn has the Pats overcoming some sloppy play and finishing strong to close out the Jags. Rich Garven says that, unlike other recent performances in which the Pats hung on to victory, this one was about pulling away, After a halftime reaming, David Heuschkel has the defense responding nicely by limiting the Jags to two second half field goals. Despite some rough patches, Shalise Manza Young keeps the big picture in focus, saying a win is a win. Bob Ryan says the Jags surely walked the walk, but it wasn’t enough to answer Brady and the offense. Mike Reiss says the Jags executed their plan to a T, but the Pats took what they were given all the way to victory.

Steve Buckley places Brady’s performance on a higher plane, both athletically and spiritually. Dan Shaughnessy reflects on Brady’s performance last night, which came two dropped passes short of perfection. Chris Price tops his weekly Ten Things We Learned with Tom Brady’s continual ability to surprise us.

While Brady carried the night, Tony Massarotti was impressed with Lawrence Maroney’s timely resurgence. Jackie MacMullan says Maroney’s performance was the perfect complement to Brady’s passing game, while Robert Lee has Maroney nearly too tired to talk after his heavy workload. Jeff Goldberg says Maroney’s star outshone the Jags’ tandem of Fred Taylor and Maurice Jones-Drew. Bill Doyle thinks the Jags made a big – albeit understandable – mistake not accounting for Benjamin Watson. Jim Donaldson has the nearly-forgotten Randy Moss staying upbeat heading into next week’s AFC Championship.

Donaldson can’t savor this victory because of the bad taste the defense left in his mouth. The poor defensive effort made Michael Felger’s weekly quest for the dark cloud inside the 17-0 silver lining an easy one. Michael Vega has the defense taking on Jacksonville’s best shot and vowing to do better. In his Patriots Beat, John Tomase has today’s Colts vs. Chargers participants licking their chops for a shot against the Pats’ defense, which he rates in the “lower third of good”. Lenny Megliola has apparently already seen the game as he has Peyton Manning and the Colts at Gillette Stadium next Sunday.

Tomase votes Brady’s hidden ball trick that led to the Patriots’ third TD as his Play of the Game. The play didn’t make Massarotti’s Best and Worst, but he wasn’t wanting for plenty of other nominations in this one. While Jags’ QB David Garrard was working over the Pats’ cornerbacks, so was Karen Guregian, who says Asante Samuel’s agent sees rich days ahead, and for his client too. In her Patriots Notebook, Guregian has Ellis Hobbs’ limited duty attributable more to preparation for the Colts than to injury. Bill Doyle brings Junior Seau one step closer to his first Super Bowl appearance in 13 years.

Celtics

The Celtics dropped their second game in the last three last night in Washington, falling to the Wizards, 85-78, after being outscored 15-4 down the stretch. Marc J. Spears has the C’s hitting a bump in the road. Steve Bulpett says that, in getting out-muscled and out-hustled by the Wizards, the C’s may have lost their swagger in addition to the game.

Spears’ Celtics Notebook updates us on the absence of Rajon Rondo in last night’s lineup. In his own Celtics Notebook, Steve Bulpett says Rondo could be out a while. Peter May offers a nice feature on Paul Pierce getting his just reward after nine years in NBA purgatory.

Bruins

The Bruins came away with a 4-3 overtime win against the Flyers yesterday afternoon in Philadelphia. Steve Conroy runs down the action clear through the 43-second overtime period.

Kevin Paul Dupont’s Bruins Notebook updates us on the B’s injury status after two more bodies went down during yesterday afternoon’s first period. Conroy’s Bruins Notebook has more on the end of Milan Lucic’s modeling career after breaking his nose yesterday. In his NHL Notes, Stephen Harris recounts Andrew Ference’s long road to recovery. Bud Barth might be thankful the B’s won yesterday’s match outright as he trashes the statistical anomaly that is the shoot-out goal.

Odds & Sods

Look, up on the Jumbotron. It’s Travolta. It’s Timberlake. No it’s one more distraction from the game on the floor. The Globe’s Wesley Morris has more on Gino Time, the latest rave at TD Banknorth Garden.

Kevin Paul Dupont has former NHL great Brett Hull saying enough is enough with all this politically-correct reticence among today’s players.

Haven’t had enough stories on Roger Clemens’ butt yet? Well, you won’t want to miss the latest controversy first reported by the New York Times yesterday.

I hope you have a great remainder of the weekend and get some time to enjoy today’s Colts-Chargers game. Thanks again, Lenny, for spoiling the outcome here. And for any Giants fans out there, may good fortune rest on Eli’s arm later today.

Five Nights, Four Cities, Four Wins

(This morning’s links are provided by guest blogger Bob Ekstrom. He can be reached at [email protected])

The Celtics’ front office could not have been smiling much last summer when the schedulemakers slotted them for a grueling four-game road trip out west during Christmas week. Yet, their impressive 110-91 victory over a hot Lakers squad last night capped a 4-0 road trip that has become the crowning validation of Danny Ainge’s rebuilding program. Yes, folks. If you didn’t believe it before, the C’s are back.

Coverage so far this morning is thin, with most outlets on AP AutoPilot. However, the Herald and Globe each had their beat writers out west. Mark Murphy starts us off with his account of a nice effort last night, capped by Paul Pierce getting it done on both sides of the court during the third quarter, and the Lakers’ mercifully changing out of their ridiculous shorts at halftime. Marc J. Spears has Phil Jackson needing to wait until the C’s leave town before passing Red Auerbach on the career coaching victories list.

Both Spears’ Celtics Notebook and Murphy’s Celtics Notebook get us updated on Rajon Rondo’s injury Saturday night that caused him to sit out against the Lakers. Over on Full Court Press, Kevin Henkin suggests some New Year’s resolutions for The Green.

Your 16-0 Patriots

It’s a day of reflection around the Boston media in the aftermath of the Patriots’ historic regular season.

Over on Patriots Daily, there is a sampling of reaction from network analysts on the Patriots finishing off a perfect 16-0 regular season with the Saturday night win over the Giants.

In the papers, we’ll start things off with Micheal Felger’s weekly report card. ‘Unflappable’ is Christopher L. Gaspar’s take on the perfect season. Karen Guregian uses the same description in one of her pieces this morning, while John Tomase says it’s all about talent. In Guregian’s Patriots Notebook, Karen scolds the Pats for some breakdowns in composure Saturday evening.

Mike Reiss found delight in the unpredictable courses of the Pats’ regular season. Now that they’ve fulfilled an early season prophesy, Douglas Flynn says there’s no relaxation in Foxborough after the Patriots posted the first undefeated regular season since the 16-game schedule. Jackie MacMullan has more on the Patriots’ unfinished act. Yet, Tony Massarotti has Coach Belichick still taking time to smell the roses. Rich Garvin offers up a little credit to Giants’ head coach, Tom Coughlin. Lenny Megliola reflects on how the planets aligned to make Saturday evening’s victory an ending to remember.

Jim Rome calls it self-glossing. Michael Holley blows that little bicycle horn, while The Big O blares that 18-wheeler horn. Nevertheless, Chris Price and the Boston Metro ran my three-part series on the Giants’ influences in New England last week. Catch the final act, where I give you Zak DeOssie’s account of his first year in the NFL.

Sorry to be so brief this morning, but I’ve been on my sickbed all week. I won’t have any updates for you this afternoon, either, but I do have a sincere wish for the very best New Year for our beloved Boston sports teams and each of you who’ve made this past year so incredible at BSMW.

It’s Beginning To Look Like . . . Panic?

(This afternoon’s links are again delivered by guest blogger Bob Ekstrom. Contact him at [email protected])

For those of you kind enough to take time from your last-minute shopping to check out what’s new in the world of Boston sports, thanks for dropping in. We didn’t get to some fine columnists north and west of the city this morning, so we’ll take you there now.

Patriots

The tone continues to be decidedly negative across the Pats’ fan base this afternoon, as it was all morning. On WEEI’s Dale & Holley show, guest hosts Paul Perillo and Butch Sterns have spent the mid-day hours talking Patriots Monday callers off the ledge after yesterday’s poor second half. And the print media has been stoking the fire as well.

Up north, Ian Clark suggests that if the Patriots are tired of humble pie, they may not want to turn the ball over three times after halftime any more. Tom King has Brady & Co. leaving nothing under our trees with a bad finish against the 1-14 Dolphins. Jennifer Toland says the Pats’ half-hearted effort was good enough to stay perfect. Alas, Russ Charpentier throws a wrench into the fretting we so love by offering us virtually nothing of negative value. And a happy holiday to you too, Russ.

Eric McHugh has the Patriots coming up a little short of the green in their march on the record books, but David Heuschkel has them within an easy chip shot. King has more on the Patriots closing in on their historic quests. Jeff Jacobs has the Pats’ beat going on. Rich Garven gives us his weekly rundown of milestones accomplished. Toland also checks in on Troy Brown’s return, while Heuschkel reflects on Lawrence Maroney’s career day.

Odds & Sods

We had a bad link in Stephen Harris’ Bruins Notebook this morning, so let’s bring it again.

There’s a few presents left around the tree for us all on this Christmas Eve afternoon. Joe Sullivan brings us a nice story from the past. Mike Loftus has the Bruins’ Bobby Allen home for the holidays. Here’s a feel-good piece from Shawn Courchesne about Theresa Deleston’s influence on her son, UConn safety Dahna Deleston. And we’ll close with something for the tree from Tim Weisberg.

Thank you again for dropping in and from each of us at BSMW, enjoy a healthy and happy Holiday. We’ll see you back here on Wednesday morning.

A Tale Of Two Halves

(This morning’s links are brought to you by Bob Ekstrom. As always, he can be reached at [email protected])

Okay, I get that being the Goliath of the most lopsided matchup in NFL history means you probably need to play only one good half of football anyway, but one has to wonder where the rule ends and the exception begins with our 15-0 New England Patriots. Are they still the Pats of October, or have they, in their quest for immortality, atrophied into the team we saw for three quarters against the Eagles, or 59:16 in Baltimore, or the enitre time the offensive unit was on the field against the Jets? Are they now the team that cast us into football purgatory – and showed us what it’s like to be a Dolphins fan – for two painful quarters in an albeit lopsided 28-7 win last night?

At the risk of pulling a Felix Unger, who usurped his sportswriting housemate’s opinions when the latter feigned a tooth extraction and Unger interpreted for him, let’s get it straight from the experts. We’ll start with Scott Benson over on Patriots Daily, who has some morning-after thoughts on the game. Also there is Karen Guregian, who has the spirit this fine Christmas Eve as she recounts all the good in yesterday’s performance and reminds us there’s no ‘L’ in “Win’. Shalise Manza Young says that, if you like beauty, yesterday’s four TD first half was something to behold. Then there’s Douglas Flynn, who is thankful Brady’s health didn’t go the way of his stats. And, even if you’re among the lucky ones not commuting into work this morning, you’ll still want to catch Boston Metro’s Chris Price as he brings us his weekly Ten Things We Learned after yesterday’s game.

Unfortunately, this one didn’t end at halftime. Christopher L. Gaspar has the Patriots leaving us at the threshhold of history with a flat second half. Mike Reiss puts forth the proposition that yesterday’s sloppy seconds were intended for some probing eyes in attendance. Michael Felger smells something funny after yesterday’s final gun and thinks the Pats’ offense might have stepped in it.

Jackie MacMullan tries to convince us that winning is more important than the individual records in reach for Brady and Moss. Her energies would seem better spent on Steve Buckley, who tells us records are important to these Patriots. Robert Lee has Tom Brady thinking too much about Randy Moss’s chances for glory. Jim Donaldson says it’s really all about 19-0 in the Pats’ locker room, while Lenny Megliola has some players reveling in their chase for the history books.

With two consecutive 100-yard games, Lee says this is Lawrence Maroney’s tyme to shyne. Flynn has more on David Ortiz’s newest hero. Karen Guregian’s Patriots Notebook has the Foxborough crowd appreciative of Troy Brown for at least one more time. Manza Young has more on a geeked-up Troy Brown.

Tony Massarotti strikes two nerves with me when he touches on Stephen Gostowski and Brandon Meriweather in his best and worst roundup.

Celtics

Right now, the Celtics look to be in the Patriots’ October state of mind with another impressive performance at home in a 103-91 win over the Magic last night. Marc J. Spears has the recap, including four C’s hitting 21 points or better. Mark Murphy says the balanced scoring attack took the magic out of Orlando.

Steve Bulpett features Rajon Rondo, one of last night’s stars with his 23-point, 6-assist effort. Scott Souza says threes were wild yesterday at the TD Banknorth Garden.

In Spears’ Celtics Notebook, Marc reports on Santa Rivers coming a little early this year. Over on Full Court Press, Kevin Henkin airs a few year-end grievances.

Bruins

Guess who Boston’s lone loser was yesterday? No, you don’t need the caption above to tell you it was the Bruins. Yesterday in Pittsburgh, the B’s went down for the fourth straight time – sorry, but BSMW doesn’t give style points for OT losses – and second in four days to the Penguins, 4-2. Stephen Harris takes one for the home town in bringing you the action from Mellon Arena.

Now that they’ve gone winless for a week, Kevin Paul Dupont has the Bruins officially on Christmas holiday after yesterday’s game. Harris’ Bruins Notebook provides the latest medical report, where the B’s have lost 124 player-games due to injury.

Odds & Sods

Rob Bradford plays an early Scrooge with his account of Big Papi saying good friend Johan Santana will not be coming to Boston this Christmas, or any other time.

Check out the very humble Roger Clemens mailing in yet another denial, this one against the visual backdrop of a personal banner. The video is so clear that the asterisk after his 300-win tag line appears visible until further inspection reveals it to be nothing but a Yankees logo. Oh, well, same difference.

As with every Monday, Christmas Eve or not, we’ll be back about mid-day with more links we just can’t get to. For those of you who can’t join us, on behalf of the entire staff at BSMW, have a healthy and happy Holiday tomorrow and thanks for getting us nationally recognized this year. And we still have a week to go!