Sports Media Musings: NFL Prospect Michael Sam Announces He Is Gay; The Media Debates How The Media Will Treat The Story

Today: In which we discuss Michael Sam’s decision to step forth as the first openly gay NFL prospect. Before doing so, let’s pass along some prerequisite reads from much smarter writers than myself.

Cyd Zeigler, of Out Sports, has the exclusive behind-the-scenes story of how Sam’s PR team chose to come out to the public with the news, including the thought process behind which outlets to confide in, etc. The piece deep dives into the decision to give the television component to ESPN, but the written news to the New York Times, in order to maintain control of the message. A must-read for media junkies.

LZ Granderson, who is a columnist at ESPN (and gay as well), says Sam’s announcement maters, but it’s hardly groundbreaking.

Mike Tanier is one of my favorite football writers in the country right now. Although, he’s quickly on his way to becoming one of my favorite writers, period. His piece on Sam is excellent.


The media (predictably) spent the immediate aftermath of Sam’s announcement debating — what else? — HOW THE MEDIA will treat the story. That statement reads cannibalistic, but the conversation felt genuine. Still, contemporary media’s penchant to hedge the future importance of something — anything, really — as its happening, rather than what it means in the here and now, is fascinating. Let’s play along, if only to work this out in our head and on your computer screen by answering three peripheral questions:

1. Is this a story?

Block everything surrounding this announcement out, and simply look at the decision as to whether or not this is “news.” The answer, of course, is that yes — this is a story. We’re traversing uncharted territory and establishing precedence here. To that end, there is immense news value, and plenty of angles to explore. Saying otherwise is ignorant at best and borderline insulting at worst.

Now, when someone questions the magnitude of the announcement or says “so what?,” they aren’t really downplaying its importance or significance, they are scaling back the scope of media reaction to show progress. The implication of that reaction is that we’ve come so far as a society that an openly gay football player assimilating himself to the NFL culture, by and large, shouldn’t be a big deal anymore. And that, really, silence on the matter — seamlessly moving on with our lives without skipping a beat — displays true acceptance, the kind which doesn’t need acknowledgement because This Is Just The Way Things Are. In theory, this is fine, but we live in the real world, where Sam’s decision engenders attention, both positive and negative.

As an aside, it’s interesting: Sam’s advisors planned the timing in a way that helps NFL officials absorb the news as much as possible before the draft. And while that method could prove effective in terms of his draft position, the media, as its wont to do, could find layers to explore, which will only build anticipation — effectively prompting the exact opposite outcome Sam was looking for. Time will tell, just something to consider.

2. What kind of legs does this story have?

It depends on the inevitable moment when an athlete or media talking head (probably the latter) says something stooooopid. So far the media has spent more time discussing whether or not this is a story (again: it is, you imbeciles), than the story itself. Because that’s how we talk about about everything these days. (e.g. WHAT DOES THIS MEAN?!)

By the way, Herman Edwards never stood a chance here. It’s not a good look, but I suspect, we’ll see worse down the road.

3. OK. That’s a given. Stop dancing around the question: Really, how long?

Fred Toucher compared this to the Manti T’eo scandal last year, which feels off. Toucher’s point is that the T’eo thing was THE story of 2013, but its attention died down shortly after the draft. His argument ultimately fails, however, because while both of these moments live in the era of the 24/7 news cycle, where we drop whatever has our attention for the next shiny object, they are rife with important differences.

Chief among them is that the “distraction” T’eo provided is his own humiliation; meanwhile, Sam’s pending employment (hopefully) fosters progress. This is a critical distinction. Sam is representing an entire demographic, one that this announcement profoundly affects not just today, but going forward. Forever, really. On the other hand, T’eo knowingly perpetuated a lie. It was salacious in every sense of the word, and the ubiquitous failings in the media to uncover the truth was certainly astonishing, but beyond that embarrassment, the story ultimately impacted T’eo and, I suppose, the fourth estate.

But, as with the previous question, the real implication goes beyond the surface of the question. What we’re really asking is “How long will this be THE topic that blogs, columnists, television panels, and radio shows are talking about?”

From an oversaturation standpoint, the period between now and the draft will see prolific overkill. That’s obvious. But it’s a special type of overkill: aimless overkill (my favorite kind!). Because no one, certainly not anyone in the media, is particularly adept at identifying draft value. (Think of how many impact guys come in undrafted every season, or how many third round draft picks outperform first rounders. Trying to reconcile his changed draft status — post-announcement — feels silly and pointless and empty, but simultaneously is an important question. Alas, #EmbraceDebate. Ewwwww.)

After Sam’s drafted – and, despite what one General Manager said in Peter King’s Monday Morning Quarterback column today, we’d be floored if he wasn’t drafted – the story will garner attention in training camp, but no more than other typical preseason storylines “Will RGIII will bounce back?”, “Is Rob Gronkowski healthy?”, “TEBOWWWWWWWWWW!” (I feel like a SportsCenter anchor just needs to yell “Tebow” once every 90 minutes in August – can’t just quit cold turkey). In the end, who cares? We just want to watch football.

As far as outlets ranging from TMZ to CNN? They’ll keep their eye on matters, but direct their attention elsewhere as soon as Justin Bieber enters rehab. So, basically, by Valentine’s Day.


At the very least, we’ll be taking a break from Pete Carroll: Leader of Men talk this week. Speaking of which, in my Metro column this week, I examine the Carroll era and rank the top-five expatriates of Boston Sports who we wouldn’t want to see a championship. Because lists are always fun. Especially negative lists.

Anyway, as always, thanks for reading. Feel free to say hello in the Twittersphere: @Hadfield__.

Sports Media Musings: The Narrative Problem; Revisionist History of the Pete Carroll-Patriots Divorce; Sochi Games Unplugged

Today: In which we play a game of Three & Out while cleaning out the notebook as we head into the weekend. As always, thanks for reading. Feel free to say hello in the Twittersphere: @Hadfield__.

FIRST DOWN: The Narrative Problem

HOT SPORTS TAKES are all around Boston these days, and it’s killing my wardrobe. Yes, my wardrobe. This morning “Dennis & Callahan” teased whether Tony Gonzalez, who apparently left the door open to stave off retirement one more season to play for a Super Bowl contender, would even consider New England as a destination. The statement was so outrageous that I spit my coffee out. Now, I have a coffee stain on my shirt. Thanks a lot, Hot Sports Takes. JEEZ.

To clarify, I’m not blaming “Dennis & Callahan.” They are just following suit, I suppose. But this idea that the NFC is now impenetrable needs to stop. The Seahawks and 49ers probably beat whoever comes out of the AFC this season. I have no qualms with that assessment, but the problem here is obvious: Football happens once a week, and in between games, we develop these “irrefutable” ideas/takes about teams and players, then either whimsically flip the idea or doggedly stress its absolute truth based on the result the following week.

It’s a foolish exercise and lacks any perspective, but hey — sure, NO ONE IS BEATING SEATTLE, until the Seahawks lose, then the tide turns to IS THIS THE BLUEPRINT TO BEAT SEATTLE? Rinse and repeat, and so on and so forth. You know the drill. When the Super Bowl happens, we’re stuck on that same narrative until summer time, and forced to listen Steve Young talk about Pete Carroll like he’s a philosopher as opposed to a fucking football coach with a straight face. This is real life. This is happening.



The answer? Those things don’t exist in the offseason.

(As an aside: Yes, the Patriots are still Super Bowl favorites. There are 32 teams, and they consistently reach the conference championship game, year in and year out, 8 out of 13 seasons in the Brady-Belichick era.)

SECOND DOWN: That Mind Erasing Device From Men In Black Totally Exists

As previously mentioned, the talking heads are having a field day with Carroll, and some are questioning, or at least discussing, whether or not Bill Belichick should loosen his grip on his team. The problem is that those espousing such ideas blacked out the downside to Carroll’s approach and conveniently forget to mention that Seattle is the first true beneficiary of the CBA (Russell Wilson & Richard Sherman count for LESS THAN A MILLION dollars on Hawks’ cap). Although, I refuse to believe the talking heads would ignore facts to promulgate an idea or, GASP, agenda.

No. Never. The only explanation?

In case anyone was exposed to such a device, here’s a refresher. This is what happens when 10-6 turns into 9-7 which turns into 8-8.

I’m happy for Carroll, I really am. But I think his success is mutually exclusive in terms of how the Patriots should conduct affairs going forward.

THIRD DOWN: The Sochi Games Are Everything Right Now

Goalies taking a trolley between rinks, toilets that don’t work, and the Russian deputy prime minister indirectly admitting that the government has surveillance cameras set up in hotel rooms. So much wrong happening here. It’s fantastic, actually.

As insane as this sounds, I want to welcome the Olympics to the way in which we discuss sports in 2014. You’re a little late to the party, but that’s OK, kegs in the back, LET’S PLAY FLIP CUP!

What am I talking about? The way we talk about sports in 2014 has very little to do with sports. Bullying, the idea of tanking, the stoooopid Hall of Fame debates, everything about the NCAA, even over-the-top postgame interviews (OMIGAWD, DID YOU HEAR WHAT RICHARD SHERMAN SAID!? THUG … ACTUALLY, IF YOU MUST KNOW, HE WENT TO STANFORD. SO THERE.). These topics are related to sports, but unrelated to watching sports. The Olympics, though, are supposed to be different – the purity of sports, which is supposedly pristine.

Instead, it turns out, the Winter Games are just the rest of the sports world. Except maybe worse, like on steroids or something, because Russia is what happens when keeping it real goes wrong. When the games start, maybe that will change, but so far, it’s emblematic of the way we consume the rest of sports.


Reading In Between The Lines Podcast: Episode 1 – Dan Kennedy, Adam Kaufman

We’ll come back tomorrow with Media Musings.

Today: In an effort to serve the growing BSMW readership, I’m going to host a weekly sports/media/culture podcast (because I’m original like that) every Thursday afternoon entitled, “Reading In Between The Lines” (Get it? Sports ANDDDD writing pun — yeah, you got it!).

Now, a few quick caveats about the podcast, before you guys advise me not to quit my day job. First off, from a technology perspective, it’s an extreme work in progress. I bought a fancy-schmancy microphone with my Super Bowl winnings (PUMPED & JACKED), which is why I sound great in the introduction, but the recording software I’m using leaves a lot to be desired (hence the crappy interview sound).

But worse, as a host, I LEAVE A LOT TO BE DESIRED. I’m my own worst critic. It took me a while to figure out how I wanted to do “Sports Media Musings” here, as well as find my voice for my column over at Metro Boston. Sometimes, I look back to pieces I’ve written and a feeling of shame runs through my body. I suspect that’s the same feeling this first few months of the podcast will engender.  In general, with podcasting, I’m currently going through what Ira Glass calls the “creative gap” (Seriously, I implore you to watch this video, it’s 100000% true). I know what works, what doesn’t — and I expect everything about the product to improve.

Anyway, in Episode 1, I talk to Dan Kennedy, the author of Wired Cityand a nationally known media commentator who writes for the Nieman Journalism LabThe Huffington Post and other publications. He is also a panelist on “Beat the Press,” an award-winning weekly media roundtable on WGBH-TV (Channel 2). We discuss the Jenny Dell-NESN situation and the ramifications of John Henry purchasing the Boston Globe.

Then, at the 18:20 mark, I check in with Adam Kaufman, columnist for and 98.5 The Sports Hub personality, about Curt Schilling, angry reader comments, and the new Entourage movie.

I’ll come back in later today and provide time stamps so you can skip around. As always, thanks for reading listening! Say hello on Twitter: @Hadfield__.

Sports Media Musings: ESPN Lacks Focus In Super Bowl Coverage; NESN Adds Sarah Davis

Today: A game of Three & Out, in which we discuss ESPN’s Super Bowl post game coverage. As always, thanks for reading. Feel free to say hello in the Twittersphere: @Hadfield__.

FIRST DOWN: Peyton Manning, Good Guy.

Yes. That happened. For 60 minutes. This game served as a mix tape highlighting each of Peyton Manning‘s worst attributes. It all manifested itself, rather amazingly. Happy feet. Sulking. The Manning Face. The uneven throwing velocity. The Pick Six. Fear not: we aren’t here to pile on and pile on, and then when there’s nothing left to add, because there’s nothing else to do, pile on some more. There are plenty of other places to find that type of Anti-Manning Fetish around the Internet today. But it’s certainly worth noting that the historical ramifications of Peyton Manning’s season shockingly vanished, or at least have to be reconsidered after the 43-8 defeat at the hands of the Seahawks.

So, after that all occurred, when the dust began to settle, we traveled to the Worldwide Leader — for insight, to be told What This All Means.


“Steve Young is confused.” That’s the first thing I wrote down in my notebook. And confused, he was.

Now, there’s a delicacy here, a sense of diplomacy and self-restraint that only appears when we want to say something, without actually saying anything. His parsed words managed to retract ideas he, himself, expressed only moments before. His weariness to Go There is because he was talking about Peyton Manning and the “L Word.”

Young’s opinion started out fine: That Manning’s legacy is already profound because he changed the game by eliminating the barrier between coach and player through an ability to read defenses at the line of scrimmage. This feat, essentially, streamlined offensive strategy to the efficient standards at which units operate today. “He changed the game,” Young told us.

But Young then continued, stating that when you put yourself in that conversation, you hold yourself up to the ridicule and scrutiny in terms of your shortcomings. Here is where the backtracking began: “Wait,” Young stopped (I’m paraphrasing here). “I’m not saying Manning put himself in the conversation with words, but when you play so well, you do it with actions.”

Again, he was saying something without actually saying anything. Empty words, really. Young’s blurry statement, masked as an underlying critique, was unlike whatever the fuck happened during the Fox live broadcast, which has been ridiculed across the Internet today, when Joe Buck arbitrarily referred to Peyton Manning as “the classy Peyton Manning” in the waning moments of the game. It’s not that Buck is wrong. Dan Wetzel did an excellent job describing how Manning, even in defeat, was gracious. It was just a misplaced qualifier, given the timing.

And so he is: A classy fellow, that Peyton. A nice, affable guy; who most everyone in sports media has an unending affinity towards. But sometimes, nice guys do finish last. And that’s OK.

SECOND DOWN: The Seahawk Way

A respite in Legacy Discourse happens (thank God), but instead of game analysis, we’re treated to dynasty discussion. Hilarity ensues when Chris Berman – who’s notoriously ornery about working environments (see above) – asks for a graphic. Then, asks for it again. And again. He has a point, by God, HE HAS A POINT. (Excuse my cackling, you just know a poor P.A., who’s making .0007% of Berman’s salary, was reamed out after this mishap.)

Later, Tom Jackson tells us that the Seahawks are definitive contenders for the next seven years. Why seven? Because, that’s why. Young, Berman, and Jackson then go on to mock people who called Russell Wilson a “game manager.” Good thing ESPN doesn’t employ such “analysts” who would make such a designation!


// The best part of the coverage was Young. Because this blowout means something, right? But of course, it has to! So now we’re throwing out meaningless (and delusional) praise: Pete Carroll, Leader of Men, Promoter of Individuality, and Mental Health Lobbyist.




Am I the only person who thinks this is batshit crazy? I mean, I get it: Last year, Joe Flacco became elite; this year, Pete Carroll became a philosopher. There’s this insatiable need to assign importance by screaming, “It’s all happening! And it’s happening all the time!” And that quickly turns problematic. I’m hardly the first person to write about the media’s propensity to reclassify NFL head coaches as institutional deities, but Young’s rant here is almost surreal.


Are we even talking about football anymore? Whatever. Shine on, you crazy diamond.


(I thought these two traits were mutually exclusive, too!)

THIRD DOWN: Sugar, We’re Going Down Swinging

Quick Update: While the search for the next Red Sox reporter continues, NESN announced the addition of Sarah Davis as an on-air talent. Jenny Dell’s replacement is at-large. Somewhere. And when she — or he!! — is identified, expect the Internet to break.

Sports Media Musings: The Mailbag, Chapter VII

Welcome to the Monthly Weekly?? Sports Media Mailbag! Here are comments and emails from you, the readers, with insight on your favorite sports media personalities. To contribute to the mailbag, either shoot me an email at [email protected], hit me up on Twitter @Hadfield__, or leave a response in the comments section of any one of my columns.

Happppppy Friday, you guys. More importantly, happy Super Bowl weekend. Wes Welker, Pete Carroll, and Peyton Manning. Drink it in — tastes delicious, doesn’t it? So many weird feelings arise when thinking about each of them. Whenever I try to reconcile a rooting interest, it feels like I’m eight years-old all over again, and my best friend will appear out of nowhere to accuse me of having “girl cooties” or something.

This is the world we live in.

Hey, look on the bright side, at least we weren’t subjected to 63 combined hours of Spygate talk this week. (Fuck.)

Before we get to emails, I need to get something off my chest. I was on Twitter last night, and came across Ian Rapoport, former Patriots beat guy at the Boston Herald and current NFL Network reporter. I went down the “Rap Sheet” rabbit hole (because I lead a very desolate life and do such things on a Thursday night), and discovered that Rapoport and his wife made a Twitter account for their infant child, Max.

Is this happening now? Like that’s a thing people do, or are going to do in the future? Rapoport has a storied history of pissing people off on social media, like the time he live-tweeted Myra Kraft’s funeral, so maybe (Read: Dear God, hopefully), this is a case of Rapoport being a weirdo. I comforted myself with that rationalization until I realized Boston Herald radio personality, Jen Royle, has a fucking Twitter account for her bulldog, Truman, which I refuse to link to here based on personal values. (For the record I presume it was Royle who made the account. If it was someone else, I apologize. Also: Whoever it was, you’re a huge tool.)

If this is the (d)evolution of social media, I think it’s time I make the leap. Have to be progressive, you know? Comes down to who (or what) I can use to extend my brand Out There. After thinking long and hard about the situation, you may see a @Hadfield_Stapler account pop up on Twitter for my trusty stapler at work. It’s the logical choice: we’ve had a good run together, it never lets me down, and – best of all — I could really play up some fun sexual innuendos with the account. Just something to think about.

OK. Enough nonsense, on to your emails:

Is this Shaughnessy column real? TROLLING!!!!

–         Joe (via Twitter)

Banner week for Dan. Started things off with the David Ortiz piece, and finished strong, wondering (aloud) why Bill Bellichick hates Wes Welker. Because THEORIES.

Writes Shankeroo:

“Wes, why does Bill hate you?,’’ I asked Wes Welker.

Does anyone else try to imagine Dan asking this question in a Zoolander-esq tone? You really should, it makes reading his column a million times funnier. Trust me. Oh, and you’re welcome.

He caught a Super Bowl-record-tying 11 passes in Super Bowl XLII in Glendale, Ariz. But Belichick didn’t like him.

So now The Hoodie hated Welker after the 18-1 season? Really?

The Patriots franchised Welker and Belichick froze Welker out of the game plan at the start of the 2012 season. The coach was intent on proving that the system was bigger than the player. The Patriots could do without Welker. When Welker finally got a chance to again show us what he could do, he said, “It’s nice to stick it in Bill’s face.’’

“HE’S ON FIRE!” (said in the NBA Jam video game voice). Who doesn’t love the FREEZING WELKER OUT OF THE OFFENSE STORYLINE? Old reliable. Hey Dan, I was at training camp in 2012 – and guess what, Julian Edelman simply usurped Welker in the offseason. I wouldn’t expect you to know this, because you weren’t there.

Then he signed with the Broncos. What an ingrate.

On the word “ingrate,” can we all agree it’s a weird word choice here? You’re dating yourself, Dan. Don’t use it.

But perhaps the worst part of this mess is that Shank actually wrote a pretty solid piece about the media overreaction toward Marshawn Lynch’s silence the same day. SIGH.

Speaking of which, this happened …

A HOT SPORTS TAKE turned #Humblebrag? YES, WE CAN! YES, WE CAN!

You wrote: “Meanwhile, Katie Nolan going after Reilly is pragmatic. It makes you wonder why FS1 doesn’t take advantage of the endless opportunities to land punches on the four-letter network more often.”

This was really a topic on First Take on Monday:

– bsmfan

“Could Charlie Whitehurst lead this Seahawks team to the Super Bowl?? Matt Flynn???”

Sounds like NESN did the right thing. You wrote:

” the relationship between Dell and Middlebrooks hampers objectivity, and, furthermore, hurts other female sports reporters who are trying to be taken seriously. NESN’s decision is more than fair to Dell.”

I forget the source but there were quotes from other females around here about the issue. If the quotes you pasted from the SI column don’t convince you, I’m not sure what will.

–         Guest

I’m not saying anyone who tells you otherwise is an idiot. But they’re not smart, at least in terms of media relations, anyway. And man, if I see one more person read or write that Jenny Dell isn’t covering the White House or some other outlandish beat as grounds to keeping her on the Red Sox telecast, then I’m going to throw up in my mouth. I cannot stand when people use extreme opinions to back a premise that makes no sense; the exercise doesn’t prove you’re clever, and serves no purpose – well, besides derailing the conversation around the issue.

On the Dr. V-Grantland fiasco: I, too, thought Tim Marchman’s piece [on Deadspin] was very good but agree that it slip into the default anti-Simmons mode a bit (Simmons did appropriately apologize and take ultimate responsibility as editor in chief, so it’s kinda intellectually dishonest to call that “self-obsessed;” would he rather Simmons blame others?)

But I don’t get your T’eo parallel. That Deadspin story refuted the lie, started and perpetuated by T’eo. Meanwhile, Grantland went after the transgender angle in part because it made the story more salacious.

So if Dr. V had committed suicide because of the public shame of being a fraud, Grantland would be the recipient of much less public scorn. But since they followed the transgender angle, they are being blamed, in part, for her taking her own life. That may be unfair, but we have no way of really knowing in the truth. And had T’eo committed suicide after the Deadspin article, it would have been tragic but Deadspin wouldn’t have been blasted in the same manner.

Where’s the tl:dr guy when we need him?

– HighWireNickEsasky

In both cases, we’re dealing with subjects who perpetuated a lie. Let’s start there and make one thing clear: In many circles Dr. V is being made a martyr, and I think that’s kind of absurd. She was a con artist. Of course that doesn’t exculpate Grantland. The fact that Grantland, and the author of the story, Caleb Hannan, were way off-base in their lack of understanding of the ramifications of outing Dr. V to her business partner is mind boggling.

But beyond that mistake, I refuse to kill Grantland, especially after the publication admitted their faults. It’s not as if they were malicious in their reporting, and I’ll be perfectly honest, I would make the same mistakes as a reporter. I think 99.99999% of media outlets would. Keep in mind, the backlash never came until after the transgender community illuminated the problems with the story.

And the Manti T’eo thing is just an example. What if, after A.J. Daulerio paid for and then published photos of his Green Bay Packer that he sent to Jenn Sterger, Brett Favre committed suicide? Or what if his wife took her life? Or one of his kids?

Again, Deadspin espoused the story just like everyone else. They loved it. Then, when they saw an opportunity, they attacked Grantland because that’s what Deadspin does. Fuck, when Grantland launched, Deadspin would post “corrections” blogs for copy editing mistakes. And that’s OK. Little guy takes shots at big guy. I get it. To a lesser extent, it’s what Katie Nolan (justifiably) did to Rick Reilly, and what “Toucher & Rich” regularly do to “Dennis & Callahan,” and what I do here.

I’m even OK with Deadspin being super critical after initially promoting the piece – but, shit, don’t then make this a macro-indictment of Grantland and Bill Simmons. Slow down, breathe, and be honest with yourself as a “media critic.”

Speaking of T’eo …

I hear Jerry Remy’s been schtupping Wally for a year and a half. Can we fire him now?

–         Dave R.

We’ll always remember the Catfish story, because it was glorious and weird and all-encompassing. It was THE sports story of 2014, which seems goofy, but truthfully is kind of a nice change of pace, considering the Penn State scandal was THE story of 2013.

But let’s say T’eo has a great season in 2014-15. His career arc will change because he’s young and has plenty of life left to live. We’ll care less and less about his fake online girlfriend (still feels weird typing). The point is this: when discussing Jerry Remy’s return to the broadcast booth, you have to think in terms of the news cycle we live in nowadays. We have to weigh whether or not this will matter come summertime, because there will always be a bigger, otherworldly story that will capture our attention next. You know it, I know it.

With all that said, the answer is “Yes, the Remy situation will still be on our minds.”

Now, I refuse to call Remy selfish. He wants to call Red Sox games, which makes sense — it’s a pretty sweet gig. I blame NESN here. If the trial had happened already, maybe – just maybe – we could move on, and enjoy baseball games to a soundtrack filled with banter between Don Orsillo and Remy.

That’s not the case, though; the trial is in front of us, not behind us. Remy is a public figure, more recognizable in Boston than Phil Pressey, or Avery Bradley, or Stephen Drew, or Steve Gregory. To me, this all goes back to something I’ve written about in other places before. I’m a big believe in what I call the Bill Clinton Corollary.

The parameters are simple: As far as public figures go, whether it be athletes, actors, musicians, or, to a lesser extent, politicians, I only care about their behavior as it pertains to me. These guys aren’t coming over for Sunday dinner. I’m not catching a movie with them. They aren’t dating my sister. We aren’t friends.

As a broadcaster, Remy is an exception to this rule because his personality is thrust into his role. It matters. In the end, it’s tough to predict a story’s staying power in 2014, but while the legal system untangles the Jared Remy murder trial, we’ll be reminded of the horrific ordeal, and that will hurt the NESN broadcast. NESN should have taken the bat out of the Rem-Dawgs hands.

A few years into F&M’s reign of terror and I’m ready for a new drive time show. I haven’t listened to those clowns in well over a month because of their complete and utter disdain for the Celtics. I’m not asking them to like basketball but it’d be great it they wouldn’t openly defecate all over those who do like the game.

I hope Glen does come back, and he gets paired with someone good so I can try to listen to local sports talk in the afternoons again.

– OpinionNotFact

A few readers seem to be rallying behind the idea of a Glenn Ordway redux at WEEI. Have to say, I cannot support it. Mike Salk is not the answer, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t have been asking the question. I know select readers — like LateToDinner — think removing The Big O was ill-conceived, but he was losing the ratings war. It’s like having Ryan Fitzpatrick as your quarterback. Yeah, you may win some games — maybe even make a run to the playoffs — but what are we really doing here? You want to win the whole thing. To matter you have to be the best.

Does Ordway have the backing of a few big sponsors? Sure. But if WEEI figures out a better alternative and that alternative resonates, brings listenership up, and helps dethrone “Felger & Mazz,” I’m pretty sure advertisers will come around to whoever that personality is, too.

Reminds me of “Mad Men” when Don Draper says something like, “Happiness is simply the moment before you want more happiness. You’re hungry even though you just ate.”


OK, that’s all I have for this week. Before I let you go, I need to deliver some SHAMELESS Self-Promotion:

I’m a realist. This Super Bowl situation sucks, I totally get it. But as an eternal optimist, I offered up three reasons why football will be better than ever next season in my column for Metro Boston last week. And in the meantime, since we have to endure the wrath of Sunday, I wrote a guide detailing the 10 types of people who attend Super Bowl parties that you’ll want to avoid while watching the game this weekend. Both are light reads, because sports are supposed to be fun, ya know?

Anyways, as always, thanks for reading. Feel free to say hello in the Twittersphere: @Hadfield__.

Report: Jenny Dell Removed From NESN Red Sox Broadcast

Over at, Chad Finn is reporting that NESN has removed Jenny Dell from her post as sideline reporter of the Red Sox telecast. Instead, Dell will serve as an anchor for “NESN Sports Today.” While NESN did not directly link the issue, the general consensus Out There is that her public relationship with third baseman Will Middlebrooks led to Dell’s removal from the broadcast.

Writes Finn:

Recently, Dell has been filling in as anchor on “NESN Sports Today,” a perfectly viable role but one that according to another industry source is her penance for . . . well, one thing or the other.

Dell, the popular in-game reporter for the past two years, is dating Red Sox third baseman Will Middlebrooks. The relationship wasn’t exactly a well-kept secret around the team for some time, but the official acknowledgment of it via a Middlebrooks tweet on New Year’s Eve brought fair questions about the ethics of a reporter dating a player.

Detractors will claim Dell is not exactly covering Syria or the White House (because inaccurate, circular logic requires insane examples to back up an even more insane premise), but this is Journalism 101. As I outlined earlier this week — and which was also noted by Finn — the relationship between Dell and Middlebrooks hampers objectivity, and, furthermore, hurts other female sports reporters who are trying to be taken seriously. NESN’s decision is more than fair to Dell.

To review, the following is from Richard Deitsch’s media column over at

Appearances of interest conflicts matter, or they should to any editorial entity that cares about disseminating information. Such a relationship — if NESN stays the course — also hurts the efforts of female sports journalists. On this note, here were some answers to my question from women sports journalists in the field:

Boston Globe sports reporter (and former Red Sox beat writer) Amalie Benjamin: “Never. Ever. And more, it hurts the credibility of every female reporter doing it the right way.”

USA Today’s Lindsay Jones: “Never, never, never. Did I mention never?”

SI’s Joan Niesen: “Under no circumstances. None whatsoever. No, no, no.”

Dell would have entered her third season as part of the broadcast team after replacing Heidi Watney at the end of the 2011 MLB season.

*Bruce usually handles news like this. I’ll write at more length about Dell, how it relates to Jerry Remy, and more in tomorrow’s mailbag. To contribute, fire off questions/funny comments to [email protected] or, if you fancy yourself the progressive type, shout at me on twitter @Hadfield__.

Sports Media Musings: Katie Nolan vs. Rick Reilly; “Salk & Holley” Go Shankin'; Ordway Downplays WEEI Return

Mailbagin’ it Friday: To contribute, fire off questions/funny comments to [email protected] or, if you fancy yourself the progressive type, shout at me on twitter @Hadfield__.


Anna Kendrick is my number one right now. She’s a fun follow on Twitter, and seems like a great hang who’s down to earth. Can’t fight love; it’s just how I feel, man. But Katie Nolan rocked my world Wednesday afternoon. I’m still reeling.

The Framingham native and Fox Sports 1 personality launched a diatribe toward ESPN’s Rick Reilly during a Crowd Goes Wild segment. The spot was in response to Reilly taking a cheap shot at Nolan’s colleague, Regis Philbin, during a SportsCenter segment at Media Day, in which he called Philbin a “little man with makeup” that no one knew.

A few things here:

1. First and foremost, what happened to Reilly?  This guy was once considered one of the greatest sports writers in the game. That’s not an overstatement. Now, he’s a punch line. Other more-accomplished writers have wondered about his fall from grace. Is he just sick of his job? Does he hate it? Or, most damning, is he just a jerk? Truthfully, I always thought the whole thing was overstated. But, man, it’s been a train wreck for him, and part of you wonders if he dished Philbin because, deep down, Regis was the only target (he thought) was a slam dunk.

2. It wasn’t. Reilly going after Philbin is laughable. It was a case of an out of touch guy who lacks any semblance of self-awareness taking a pot shot at a dude who’s on his way out (Regis was never a good fit for FS1, and confirmed he is leaving the network). It’s sad, really: Reilly doesn’t realize his career outlook is closer to Philbin than it is someone like Nolan. An agism joke gone awry.

3. Meanwhile, Nolan going after Reilly is pragmatic. It makes you wonder why FS1 doesn’t take advantage of the endless opportunities to land punches on the four-letter network more often. Who wouldn’t watch a satirical version of First Take? Smaller entities – even ones with gobs and gobs of money – are perceived as underdogs, they win sympathy points, and the general public will support their crusade (You could make a strong case this is how “Toucher & Rich” took down “Dennis & Callahan.” I’d disagree. The 98.5 guys won out on wit, talent, and ingenuity, but I’d also argue that it certainly helped expedite the process.)

4. The suits at ESPN cannot be happy about Rick’s decision. In terms of payoff, his reportedly lavish contract is more on par with the likes of Barry Zito than it is Tom Brady. Guy has never fit in since joining the Bristol campus. So not only is he a sunk cost on the balance sheet, but his screw up led to some visibility for FS1, which like CBS and NBC’s 24/7 sports networks, has mostly been a non-factor since launching. I doubt this incident provides any sustainable momentum for FS1 (I still don’t know what channel the station is on here in Boston), but it was a gratuitous dig that prompted a response which went viral.

5. Back to Nolan for a second: I’ve been sporadically following her stuff since her days at Guyism, because I’m secretly a tool who reads sites like Guyism in my spare time. Judge me. Anyway, this was completely different, I’d be lying if I said I didn’t immediately think: “Could it be? A Miss Media Musings exists????” Just excellent stuff in her rant.

BONUS: All that said, my heart stays with Anna. She gets me. In my head we’d totally be the couple that finishes one another’s sentences. We’re dating. Again, only in my head. But still. It counts. If it doesn’t work out, it’s nice knowing there are other fish in the sea. Anna is “approachable girl hot,” you don’t take “approachable girl hot” for granted. You just don’t:


Speaking of easy targets, “Salk & Holley” had a strong segment in which they questioned Dan Shaughnessy’s piece about David Ortiz’s comments regarding his contract extension in an interview with Steve “HOCKEY LOCKOUT IS OVER!” Burton. The duo, who have not been shy about calling out Shank since the Boston Globe columnist turned up the volume of his Troll-Amp to an Iron Maiden-esq 11 during the NFL playoffs, aptly pointed out Shaughnessy’s misrepresentation of Papi’s statements.

Whatever happened to simply honoring your contract? Especially when you are nearing the end of your career?

There’s reaching, then there’s reaching. Ortiz was asked a hypothetical – about the future – he answered it. It’s clear, at this juncture, that Papi complaining is nothing new. Rinse, dry, repeat – all of that. It’s annoying, and definitely selfish, but he’s not rallying a mutiny here, or stating a plan to hold out come Spring Training time. But that didn’t stop Shank from doing what Shank does. Not when there’s faux outrage to be had!

Swell. Way to go, Big Papi. Everybody loves you. But you have no leverage. Please stop talking about a contract extension and honor the deal you signed.

Wait, did Ortiz say he wasn’t planning to honor the deal? I’m confused.


I killed Colin McGowan for his off-target, take-down piece about Kirk Minihane, Jenny Dell, and the sanctimony of “conflict of interest in sports journalism” the other day. It’s only fair to applaud him for his column about the media reaction to Marshawn Lynch’s eerie silence during media day. McGowan does well here in a missive that’s well worth your time. A few favorite excepts below:

It’s astounding that some people still don’t know to not use the word “articulate” in reference to a black athlete anymore, but that adjective has been invoked a lot this week. Journalists are, in their own blinkered way, trying to pat Sherman on the head for being good copy and allowing them to write easy Richard Sherman Is Not a Thug articles.

Predictably, he has been widely admonished by the people who had to stand around with tape recorders while he gave brief non-answers.’s Gregg Doyel called Lynch’s Tuesday session “embarrassing.” The Daily News‘ Greg Meyers opined that it’s “really not all that hard” to answer simple questions. Strong take dispenser Pete Prisco tweeted that Lynch would be “begging for attention” in five years.

I don’t know about you guys, but I for one was waiting with bated breath for Lynch to tell me about the importance of execution, staying focused, and trusting the game plan. It’s downright disrespectful that he robbed the masses of that insight.


My thoughts on the Boston Herald story claiming WEEI wants Glenn Ordway back on its airwaves? News like this engenders the same feeling we get when we hear Eric Mangini or Paul Westphal is a rumored coaching candidate: irritation.

It’s not that Big O is terrible. He’s fine. The rumor just lacks imagination. I feel like I’m talking to a buddy who wants to get back together with his longtime ex-girlfriend. Guys, there’s a reason you broke up with him in the first place. And seriously, that’s the best you can do? A retread? Run it back with the same formula? This isn’t Hollywood.

For what it’s worth, as much as Ordway downplays the report, you know he’s hot and bothered by the prospect of a return.

As always, thanks for reading. Feel free to say hello in the Twittersphere: @Hadfield__.

Sports Media Musings: #MediaDay Saves the Super Bowl

Today: In which we avoid the Tweet below, and write about the goofiest day in sports media. Because sports are supposed to be fun, man. We’ll mailbag it later this week. Fire off funny emails and questions to [email protected] or tweets to @Hadfield__.


The transcendence of the Super Bowl just wasn’t palpable. Maybe Shankeroo was right: I couldn’t muster up the energy – the will, really – to write and think and care about Seahawks-Broncos, because I’m just a fanboy whose soul was crushed in Denver a few weeks ago.

Nah, that can’t be it. Maybe it was the increasingly smarmy corporate feel of the event. Although, the controversial New York City setting could be a more likely candidate. The incessant discussion around the forecast certainly hasn’t helped. Come to think about it, the nonsense surrounding the Richard Sherman Is A “Thug” Camp versus The Richard Sherman Is A Passionate Guy (WHO WENT TO STANFORD!!) Camp kind of curbed my appetite. And there’s no chance that anything I could put down would, you know, stay down because the “Peyton Manning: FOOTBALL DEITY” characterization is already as nauseating as the pending Super Bowl commercials, and the other commercials that won’t even air.

But one thing changed all this: MEDIA DAY, because I’m pretty sure I love Media Day. Or #MediaDay, as the current parliament refers to it.

#MediaDay is Super Bowl week unplugged; the spectacle in its pure, unabashed form. We hate the circus-like atmosphere, but really we love it, because #MediaDay serves as the saving grace, where thrills and frivolous shit occurs, causing the ACTUAL media to complain about THE DEPRAVITY of a woman in a wedding dress showing up to propose to a player, when, in actuality, the outrage is more likely due to longer lines at the buffet and bruised egos.

Because, like, seriously, the Super Bowl should be about the game, and only the gatekeepers of the fourth estate could deliver us the coverage we need. Forget the hoopla! The show-stoppers! Wouldn’t you rather spend $80 to go hang out in a hotel with Jerry Rice and Peter King?

(Careful, though, this event is only for those of legal drinking age — PK may love his coffeerdness, but don’t think for a second that he’s not a salty dog, waiting to unleash nuggets of knowledge, over some Long Island Ice Teas. And once the ball gets rolling, we could hear a Haiku – or TWO! — to capture the moment, because literary prowess and events sponsored by Citibank go hand-in-hand.)

#MediaDay is the sports world and the mainstream world colliding without pretense. Agendas are clear. And what these sports writers don’t realize is the moments that make #MediaDay awesome is not dissimilar to the manifestation of the same narratives, full of the usual clichés and platitudes, that they push on readers/audiences on a regular basis.

There are things at stake here, everyone. Two examples are as follows:


An oldie, but a goodie: I’m not talking about Peyton Manning vs. Russell Wilson, or the macro issue in terms of stylistic MOBILE vs. POCKET PASSER QB play. No, no, no. What I’m talking about is Ines Sainz bequeathing her throne as the scorching hot foreign reporter to the new breed of TV Azteca reporter, Mariana Gonzalez. The torch was passed yesterday.

It was simply Mariana’s time. We were all witnesses.


What did we hear throughout New England’s run this year? The genius behind Bill Bellichick is his ability to plug in nobodies and not miss a beat. Chris Jones became a commodity by the AFC Championship game. The lesson? When you’re injured and hurt, you don’t make excuses, you coach others up. TEAM BUILDING.

#MediaDay, again, is this trope personified: Enter a guy like DeSean Jackson, who showed up to the event, accompanied by none other than Terio, an Internet folklore, the product of a viral meme, who was more than ready to fulfill his destiny and drain every part of the last 15 seconds left of his five minutes of fame. Because #MediaDay is the best.  

How does this relate to the Patriots and next man up? Well, DJax & Terio teaming up, as a power duo, is perplexing on the surface, but if you’re a NFL wide receiver and your ex-girlfriend recently makes headlines from being caught sitting shotgun with Justin Bieber, as he gets arrested for drag racing in Miami, the only play is to align yourself with the likes of Terio. Can’t let the people know you’re hurt. And the only way to do that is roll with Terio. It’s called tact, guys. #Knowledge.


OK. Kidding aside, here’s why I love #MediaDay. For most of us, watching sports is an act of escapism. To that point, by definition, fandom is an irrational endeavor. These elements combined – the urge to get away and the irrationality about the whole thing – makes it pretty obvious as to why sports fans generally hate the Super Bowl.

Put simply: when a sports story goes mainstream, it sucks because people (most of whom aren’t fans or familiar with sports and its appeal) have to weigh in and dissect WHAT IT ALL MEANS. Suddenly, instead of talking about the games or Tom Brady’s deep ball, we’re talking about the dangers of bullying, faux Internet girlfriends and Catfishing, and other Tebowian matters.

This terrible discourse is best summed up by the current subject of “tanking.” Media personalities talk about the art of tanking more than we watch the Celtics play. We moralize about the merits and pros/cons of losing on purpose, and how that’s antithetical to the driving influence behind sports, which is competition. Meanwhile, here’s a metaphoric gun, load it up and shoot me. If you can, I want the bullet in the face, please.

While there is nothing more mainstream than the Super Bowl, #MediaDay manages to turn all the sanctimonious bullshit upside down. It’s ridiculous and stupid and people spend more time talking about the antics then the players and game itself. It’s a reminder of the silly premise behind professional sports: that in the end, we all just want to get away and watch grown men jump and run and hit and throw until someone is crowned champion. In a weird way, I love #MediaDay for the same reason I love sports: it’s a big waste of time full of characters and crazy moments.

Sports Media Musings: Internet Tough Guys

Today: A round-up of media matters, starting with INTERNET TOUGH GUYS.

1. The John Dennis vs. Fred Toucher Twitter fight was a thing that happened.

(If you care about such matters, below are a few scattered musings.)

Screen shots courtesy of Barstool Sports:


… The obvious reaction: This episode played out like an argument in the comments section of a YouTube video, and ended the only way these such things can end, with John Dennis deleting his tweets from his timeline. Classic Dino.

… “Toucher & Rich” are born to be shit-stirrers, they play the underground card – WE’RE THE COMMON MAN! – very well, but fact is, their show has been number one in the market for an elongated stretch. It’s just funny because poking fun at the likes of John Dennis, kicking someone who’s purportedly down and below your level, would normally be seen as catty – that is, if it was any other media figure than John Dennis, who comes across as a loathsome dude.

… I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – “Dennis & Callahan” won’t win a battle of wits against “Toucher & Rich.” They just aren’t likeable; instead, the Men of Guest Street should focus on their true advantage: an ability to deliver compelling discourse about sports, which is something “Toucher & Rich” struggle with at times.

… “Dennis & Callahan” has been much better in recent months and the ratings back this statement up, but that doesn’t warrant Dennis challenging Toucher to a back alley brawl.

… Reading this over, it’s important to remind oneself that these guys talk about sports for four hours a day. Sports, everyone.

… John Dennis is totally one of those old guys who believe if you delete tweets from your Twitter timeline that it means it never happened. NOTHING TO SEE HERE. Meltdowns on the Internet, and especially on social media, live forever. Nobody forgets.

 2. Kirk Minihane’s screed about how NESN should deal with Will Middlebrooks and Jenny Dell’s relationship made plenty of noise across the Internet.

(If you care about such matters, below are a few scattered musings.)

… Minihane is absolutely correct in his premise. This is, cut and dry, a conflict of interest.

… Sports on Earth contributor, Colin McGowan, thinks Minihane was over-the-top for the sake of being over-the-top, and this was, perhaps, even self-indulgent.

There are numerous caveats and considerations in the article, but they’re ultimately buried beneath certainty. It’s a Hot Take that knows it’s a Hot Take, but self-awareness doesn’t save it.

Maybe the tone of Minihane’s column was a tad acerbic and provocative, but the piece prompted discussion and felt authentic. Moreover, both those adjectives – acerbic and provocative – is how I’d describe Minihane in general. I’ve always felt the greatest compliment you can give to a writer is an ability to develop a voice similar to how you talk. I’ll chalk that up McGowan’s unfamiliarity with Minihane. And that’s fine. But I think it’s important to note Minihane wasn’t flipping his tone just for this topic and the ensuing clicks and comments.

Where McGowan truly loses me, and, I suspect, most people is here:

There are times, sure, even in a field as frivolous as sports journalism, that seriousness is required and a discussion of The Way Things Should Be can be edifying rather than self-indulgent. A sideline reporter is dating a player. This is decidedly not one of those times.

Yes, Jenny Dell isn’t Jim Gray or Pam Oliver, but lines have to be drawn. That there is any support for continued employment is baffling.

… That’s because there is credibility at stake here – yes, even for a place like NESN – and if Dell stays with NESN, and rumors persist that she could be heading elsewhere, the Internet will increasingly develop a jaundiced eye towards female sports reporters.

… The outcome of that cynical thought-process: Jeff Pearlman’s tone-deaf piece about Erin Andrews. Mind-blowing. Perlman later posted an apology.

… Don’t believe those ramifications? The following is from Richard Deitsch’s media column over at

Appearances of interest conflicts matter, or they should to any editorial entity that cares about disseminating information. Such a relationship — if NESN stays the course — also hurts the efforts of female sports journalists. On this note, here were some answers to my question from women sports journalists in the field:

Boston Globe sports reporter (and former Red Sox beat writer) Amalie Benjamin: “Never. Ever. And more, it hurts the credibility of every female reporter doing it the right way.”

USA Today’s Lindsay Jones: “Never, never, never. Did I mention never?”

SI’s Joan Niesen: “Under no circumstances. None whatsoever. No, no, no.”

3. Watching the Internet deliver op-ed after op-ed about Richard Sherman made me dry heave.

(If you care about such matters, below are a few scattered musings.)

… While covering the Celtics, I listened to guys regurgitate “athlete-speak” (“We just have to execute our game plan”) night after night. That, I suppose, is the reason I’d always stick around for Kevin Garnett’s post-game remarks, because he’d talk about real shit, often using crazy analogies that never quite made sense. It was the best. Can’t have it both ways.

… Reasonable people know this was a non-story. This was an athlete, fired-up after making the biggest play of his life, expressing that jubilation, and consequently letting the world watch emotion manifest itself in real-time. Nothing more, nothing less.

… Certain local sports radio hosts have proved themselves to not be “reasonable people.”

… Literally everyone had to have a take on this. A few that stood out: Will Leitch’s take, I felt, was spot on. Rembert Browne provided an interesting counterpoint to the logic behind the narrative: “There is more to Sherman than meets the eye; after all, HE WENT TO STANFORD!”

4. Former Boston Sports Media contributor and current ESPN PR guy, David Scott, teamed up with Dan Wetzel of Yahoo! Sports to write a screenplay which turned into a feature-movie.

(If you care about such matters, below are a few scattered musings.)

… Wetzel continues to be one of my favorite columnists in the business. This column after the Patriots’ Super Bowl loss to the Giants is a clinic on great sports writing.

… On a personal level, Scott Shots was a regular read and definitely a precursor to my own work here at BSMW.

5. Lots of fallout from Grantland’s controversial feature, “Dr. V’s Magical Putter.

(If you care about such matters, below are a few scattered musings.)

… Please note: There were ethical breaches and a myriad of other issues about the piece. We won’t dive into the minutia here.

… Initially, the piece was widely accepted as a fantastic feature. It was not until the transgender community pointed out its insensitivity and shortcomings that the Internet gathered their sharpest pitchforks and stormed Grantland demanding blood.

… The reaction prompted Bill Simmons to write a “letter from the editor” response. The letter was candid and sufficient in our eyes; however, Simmons loses me here:

Caleb’s biggest mistake? Outing Dr. V to one of her investors while she was still alive. I don’t think he understood the moral consequences of that decision, and frankly, neither did anyone working for Grantland.

Whaaat? Neither the editors, writer, or any of the other 15 other people who read the piece, thought there was an issue there? Really????

… Writing for Deadspin, Tim Marchman has a great breakdown of the failings here; that is, until he can’t help but go all-in on Simmons and Grantland, conflating the story with a larger issue:

The breakdown that took place here could have happened at any shop staffed by reporters and editors who aren’t as sufficiently attuned to trans* issues as they could or should be, which is to say nearly any of them, including this one. This particular breakdown, though, was a fractal of the Grantland problem in general, which is to say the Bill Simmons problem.

… For the record, I love Deadspin. Like most everyone else, I effusively praised the Manti T’eo story in this very space last year. Let’s use that story as an example, though: what if T’eo had committed suicide after Deadspin broke the hoax? Is Deadspin at fault?

Not to mention, this is a freakin’ Gawker site, a publication that once paid for photos of Brett Favre’s little Viking. I think many prestigious publications make the same mistakes that Grantland made here, but the problem is many publications aren’t Grantland, meaning the backlash isn’t as severe.

As always, thanks for reading. Feel free to say hello in the Twittersphere: @Hadfield__.

Sports Media Musings: Small Talk For Small Minds

Note: Should have enough of juice for Friday’s mailbag, but if you have something on your mind, don’t be shy. Fire off an email to [email protected] or, if you fancy yourself the progressive type, shout at me on twitter @Hadfield__.

[Update]: Dan Shaughnessy appeared on an Indianapolis radio station. It was everything you’d expect and more: “I’m begging [the Colts] to come in here and play up to [their] potential; in my view, [the Patriots] are one of the worst 12-4 teams ever assembled,” Shank drolly remarked.

Yup. Sounds like analysis devoid of bias. High fives all around at Morrissey Blv. this afternoon.


Listen to the spot here.

[End Update]

During the NFL regular season, you never go Full-Troll. Never do it. Everyone knows that. The playoffs, though, are a different animal altogether. To get attention away from the subject (e.g. the games) and onto what’s truly important (PAGE VIEWS! NATIONAL EXPOSURE!! CALCULATED OUTRAGE!!!), the usual suspects collectively put their best Tina Turner wig on and start singing. Yes, singing: “TROLLIN’, TROLLIN’ … TROLLIN’ DOWN THE RIVERRRRR.”

You see, we’re told the Patriots must win, and win CONVINCINGLY, on Saturday night against the hapless Colts. What’s more, style points do, in fact, matter. Opinion says so, because whoever said “you are only as good as what your record says” clearly didn’t know what the fuck they were talking about. The media needs it to look good; this way, next week if the Patriots lose, we can denigrate yet another AFC Championship appearance by chalking the “success” up to crappy competition. PASS THE TOMATO SAUCE.

It makes sense, really: the stakes are higher, fans fervent with excitement, and, thus, the #HOTSPORTSTAKEZ are passed around like a bottle of Fireball Whiskey on a Wednesday afternoon bender at Ryan Hadfield’s apartment. That analogy works, kind of, because a) We feel drunk consuming the storylines going into Saturday night’s tilt; b) the media has relieved us of any stress; this won’t be a football game, it will be a party.

So, TAKE A SWIG OF SOME OF THIS AWESOMENESS. Tastes good, doesn’t it? By the way, isn’t it JUST pathetic how Deion Branch is collecting a $23,000 pay check to play for Indy on Saturday? LIKE REALLY DEION: you’re going to throw away something intangible (YOUR LEGACY) to pick up a five-figure payday!  Please. During the snow storm last week, we didn’t feel like leaving our palace, so we used a few g’s as toilet paper. Seemed pragmatic at the time. Opportunity cost, ya know?! Neither here, nor there — back to Branch: Who’s outraged? I’m bothered by this and YOU should be too. Be upset. Deion is stabbing YOU in the heart.

Come on, plenty of bottle left, DRINK UP. Wait, you think we’re crazy? Well, for your information, the definition of crazy is repeatedly doing the same thing while expecting different results. So, yeah, maybe we are a little crazy … like a curly-haired poodle, that is!

Indy Star columnist just RT Shaughnessy’s latest, “Colts won’t be a challenge for the Patriots” to 40K followers. Globe wins internet today.

— Mary Paoletti (@Mary_Paoletti) January 7, 2014

The Boston Globe wins, but we all lose, because it didn’t stop there. The Indy Star columnist wrote an entire rebuttal.

The hangover is subsiding now. We’re starting to ponder: “Hmm. He roots for the story, which, in this case is himself. Maybe we’re still drunk, but we tend to think this form of incestual commentary is – oh, I don’t know – rather self-serving.” Yet, he is the voice of the fan, we’re told.

If true, please pass the Fireball. We need another drink.

As always, thanks for reading. @Hadfield__