Q&A with NESN’s Dale Arnold

One of the most accomplished members of the Boston sports media is Dale Arnold. Arnold is currently working with NESN, hosting NESN Daily and pre/post game coverage of Bruins games. Previously he co-hosted The Dale & Holley Show show middays on WEEI, although he still hosts weekend shows, including NFL Sunday on Sunday mornings. Before coming onto the Boston scene he did play-by-play for the New Jersey Devils for two seasons. Arnold, a graduate of Bowdoin College is the only person in Boston sports history to do play-by-play broadcasts for all five of the area’s major professional sports franchises. Boston Sports Media Watch had the chance to catch up with Arnold, touching on a number of subjects.

Dale Arnold is the only person to call play-by-play for all five of the major Boston sports teams.

Dale Arnold is the only person to have done play-by-play for all five of the major Boston sports teams.

BSMW: What does it mean to be the only person in history to call play-by-play for all five major Boston sports teams?

In some cases, guys like Curt Gowdy, guys like that could have done anything but there was no soccer when they were around. I was lucky enough to be here when there were five teams to do. Now that there’s lacrosse I should have tried to work that in there as well. The fact that no one’s ever done it, all five teams, means a lot to me that I was able to pull it off.

BSMW: Do you have a favorite moment or game that you’ve called?

It’s so hard. There were individual things here and there. The Red Sox last game of the regular season in Baltimore (2011) wasn’t a favorite, but it was memorable. The Doug Flutie “icky balloky” game wasn’t a favorite, but it was memorable in that regard. I’ve had the opportunity to do some games that mattered in the NHL both here and in New Jersey. Truly if I looked back on the whole thing, from start to finish the most fun I had doing a game was a Maine Mariners-Sokol Kiev (from the then Soviet Union) game. It was the end of the Cold War, and the Russian’s just started coming over. I worked with a state department translator for about a month to get the pronunciations, and just being able to do that was unique at the time.

BSMW: You’ve called play-by-play, hosted radio shows, anchored television shows and worked pre and post game shows. Do you have a favorite or a preference?

Anybody who has done play-by-play will always tell you they always think of themselves as a play-by-play announcer. I mean I like a lot of the other things, I enjoy doing the radio, I’ve enjoyed hosting Bruins, but there is something about calling a game live, for guys who do it they’ll tell you it’s the most fun they have.

BSMW: Everyone knows what happened at WEEI a few years ago, are you happy with the way things turned out at NESN, or do you wish you were on the radio everyday?

I wish I was doing both. I’m thankful for NESN because they gave me an opportunity to stay in the market and do something that I really love, but it’s not like it’s an either or proposition. The time frame of doing Bruins and the time frame of when you host middays you could do both easily.

BSMW: How long did it take you to get over not being on the radio everyday?

I’m not over it now. It’s something that I liked, egotistically I thought I was reasonably good at it. I wish I was still doing it now.

BSMW: You’ve worked with a number of different people over the years, do you have a favorite person you’ve worked alongside?

Probably Michael (Holley). Neumy (Bob Neumeier), he and I got along great and I don’t mean to slight him when I say that, but Michael and I developed a pretty unique and pretty interesting chemistry. I thought it worked pretty well.

BSMW: What are your future plans? There have been rumors of you being interested in the play-by-play gig with the Patriots, would you be interested in going back there?

What rumors? … Nobody has ever asked me. I am not sure that there is a rumor that’s true, no one has ever asked me. As I’ve said, anyone who has been a play-by-play announcer thinks of themselves as a play-by-play announcer. I enjoyed the time I had with the Patriots, the three years I was there. I am certainly a different, and better broadcaster now than I was then, that was a long time ago. Like I said, nobody has ever talked to me about it, nobody has ever said anything to me about it.

BSMW: What are your thoughts on the NHL lockout and do you think there will be a season?

I do. Maybe I am just whistling past the graveyard here, I guess I think they are too close to kiss off a season at this stage. I mean my feeling is that they are not that far apart. I’m not sure they are as close as Donald Fehr says, but I also don’t think they are as far apart as Gary Bettman says. Everybody I’ve talked to in the hockey media, everybody I’ve talked to in the hockey community, is convinced that somewhere around December 31 or January 1 there will be a deal and they will be playing again.

You can follow Ryan Hannable on Twitter @hannable84

Q&A with Comcast Sportsnet host/Celtics reporter Gary Tanguay

Gary Tanguay is involved with a number of programs for Comcast Sportsnet including UNO Sports Tonight, Patriots Wednesday Live and Celtics pre and post game coverage. He also co-hosts 98.5 The Sports Hub’s pre and post game coverage for every Patriots game. In addition, he has also called some college football games for CSN. Tanguay is one of the most versatile members of the Boston media having hosted TV shows, hosted radio shows and also done play-by-play.

A life-long Boston sports fan, he’s been labeled as a  “Green Teamer” for his passion and the way he covers the Celtics, but still Tanguay is a very accomplished, dedicated member of the Boston media. Boston Sports Media Watch had the chance to catchup with Tanguay, touching on a number of subjects, including his interested in the soon to be vacant Patriots radio play-by-play position.

Gary Tanguay is one of the busiest members of the Boston sports media on Comcast Sportsnet and 98.5 The Sports Hub.

BSMW: Growing up did you have a favorite team? Did you have a dream job? When did it finally become a reality that you would be covering the Patriots, Celtics and the entire Boston sports scene for a living?

Growing up I loved the Patriots, Celtics and the Sox. Believe it or not, where I lived in Maine we could not get TV 38, therefore I saw very little of the Bruins.  That’s why I am an awful skater. The other three teams I could see on network television plus Sox games were picked up by local stations at least once per week.

Fortunately, I am living my dream job. My goal was to work in Boston radio or television. I think it is the best media market in the country.

As an original member of the WEEI air staff in the early 90′s, I had a weekend show on Saturday’s following Jimmy Myers. I remember interviewing Will McDonough and Andy Moog. I guess that’s when it hit me that I had a shot at this.

BSMW: You’ve done play-by-play of games, hosted talk radio shows and hosted TV shows, is there one which you prefer best? Is there one you’re best suited for?

I have been very fortunate to experience all three and each offer rewards and challenges. I think trying different things makes you a better broadcaster. For me it’s a three way tie. I love doing them all.

BSMW: What was it like co-hosting the midday show at 98.5? Do you have any regrets during your time there?

Working with Zo on 98.5 was exciting and a lot of fun. There is nothing like the spontaneity of talk radio.  Many don’t know that I worked in radio for twelve years before I made the move to television. My first job was a weekend radio shift when I was 16 at WRUM, the local radio station in my hometown. No regrets at the Sports Hub. Gresh and Zo are doing a great job. I am still happy to be a part of the station on the Patriots pre and post game shows.

BSMW: With the number of guests you have on Sports Tonight, do you have a favorite? Is it sometimes difficult to get strong opinions from the guests to make good for TV? 

I have a lot of confidence in our guest lineup on Sports Tonight. All of them bring unique personalities to the table. You never know what Ron Borges is going to say, Dan Shaughnessy never pulls a punch and Bob Ryan bring a boat load of energy to the show. My favorite duo is Andy Hart and Paul Perillo of Patriots Football Weekly. Andy gets under Paul’s skin, which makes for great television. Fred Toucher has become a regular and that is always an adventure. One time, with the angelic Jackie MacMullan next to him, Fred was fairly descriptive on how he and his wife had to “figure out” how to have their first child.

At times we have to “coach up” new guests. When the red light is on it is our job to be entertaining and deliver opinions. They cannot be afraid to jump into the conversation and make their case.

BSMW: What does the future hold for you? Your name has been thrown around as a possible replacement for Gil Santos, would you be open to doing play-by-play full-time?

I work at a great place in Comcast Sportsnet. With our purchase of NBC, there is a great emphasis on growth and development. While other stations are cutting back we are adding shows and looking to become a larger player in the market. As far as Gil’s job goes, I will be one of many who will apply for the job. Whoever gets the nod will be a very lucky person.

You can follow Ryan Hannable on Twitter @hannable84

Red Sox sign Napoli, already looking ahead to Patriots-Texans

The Red Sox had been relatively quiet this offseason until Monday, the first day of the winter meetings, when the team made their first real splash by signing free agent 1B/C Mike Napoli. WEEI.com’s Rob Bradford was the one to break the story. The deal is for three-years and $39 million, with $13 million being split evenly between the three years.

With the signing the Red Sox now have four catchers on their roster in Napoli, Jarrod Saltalamacchia, Ryan Lavarnway and David Ross, which opens the door for the team to deal away either Saltalamacchia or Lavarnway. The consensus among the media as well as members of the organization is it will be Saltalamacchia who could have significant value out on the market.

Mike Napoli fills power need, but defense sacrificed- Nick Cafardo looks at the signing noting Napoli is a below average first baseman, but makes up for it with his bat.

Patience pays off with Mike Napoli- Chad Finn says the Red Sox stuck to their guns with Napoli not giving in to the fourth year and it paid off.

Red Sox finally make their big splash in the pool- Scott Lauber has his take on the Naploi signing.

Searching for Dwight Evans: Where the Red Sox’ quest for a right fielder stands- Rob Bradford looks at where the Red Sox are in terms of finding their right fielder for next season and what Monday’s events mean towards it. The team has a few options they are kicking the tires on.

Josh Hamilton next for Red Sox?- Gordon Edes thinks Josh Hamilton would be a good fit in a Red Sox uniform.

Defense taking back seat to offense, character during Sox offseason- Sean McAdam notes the Red Sox aren’t factoring defense into their signings as much as in the past, instead focusing on offense and clubhouse guys.

The Patriots wrapped up their fourth straight AFC East title in Sunday’s victory over the Dolphins. It was their fourth straight and ninth in the last ten years. Much of the discussion on sports radio was how bad the AFC East has become, seemingly getting worse and worse each year. The Bills, Dolphins and Jets don’t seem likely to give the Patriots any competition in the near future either.

With their next two games against the Texans (next Monday night) and the 49ers (Sunday Dec. 16), two of the best teams in the league, it will become clear just how good the Patriots are and play a significant role in determine their seeding for the playoffs. The team reportedly will sign former wide receiver Donte Stallworth Tuesday as they are lacking depth at the wide receiver position with Julien Edelman going down with a foot injury Sunday.

It’s complicated, but Patriots are AFC’s No. 2 seed– for now- Shalise Manza Young looks at the tie breakers which currently have the Patriots as the No. 2 seed in the AFC. She also notes how important next Monday’s game with the Texans is.

Patriots report card- Ron Borges hands out his grades from Sunday. They aren’t as high as you’d think for a team who wrapped up the AFC East division title.

Coming attraction: Patriots-Texans will serve as preview for AFC Title game- Christopher Price thinks next Monday won’t be the only time the Patriots and Texans play this season.

Patriots-Texans has plenty to offer- Mike Reiss also looks ahead to the game, already digging into some matchups.

Also something to note, WBZ-TV’s Steve Burton had a report out of no where last night stating the NHL had made significant progress to end the lockout, which could be lifted by today or tomorrow. No one really seemed to backup Burton’s claim. We’ll see how it plays out, but it is hard to imagine he is right, although everyone hopes in fact he is.

Rondo, Brooklyn brawl at the Garden in Celtics loss

The Celtics fell to the Brooklyn Nets 95-83 Wednesday night at the Garden, but the big story was Rajon Rondo pushing/punching Kris Humphries after a hard foul on Kevin Garnett, which led to the two teams shoving one another and the ejections of Rondo, Humphries and the Nets’ Gerald Wallace. Rondo will certainly be suspended at least one game and much has been made of it towards Rondo’s reputation and supposedly being the leader of the team.

With the ejection, Rondo’s assist streak came to an end — a streak full of controversy.

Is there any coach better than Doc Rivers in postgame press conferences? Rivers was brutally honest regarding his team, calling them “soft”. The coach also called out a few players (not by name) for assuming just by wearing the Celtics uniform they will play like a Celtic instead of working hard and earning it. He also added, “the brawl was not toughness, we don’t have any toughness.” Rivers has always been forthcoming with the media about his team, but Wednesday night was one his best press conferences of all-time.

Celtics play the waiting game regarding possible Rajon Rondo suspension- Gary Washburn’s notebook has Rondo could be facing a multi-game suspension as he’s already been suspended by the league twice in the past ten months. Gary Dzen has the Nets’ players reactions from the scrum.

Rajon Rondo playing the fool- Steve Bulpett says Rondo’s emotions got the best of him and now a suspension looms.

Rajon Rondo shows some fight- Chris Forsberg has how the Celtics could turn this into a positive, making them into a tougher team.

Rondo’s assist streak ends after ejection- Jessica Camerato has more on Rondo’s assist streak coming to an end.

Division crown no longer a layup for C’s- Bulpett also has the Atlantic Division being a much more competitive division this year, with the Nets, 76′ers and Knicks all primed to compete with the Celtics.

A slow time on the local sports scene

With the Patriots playing on Thanksgiving they were on a mini-bye week this past weekend, the Celtics were off Monday and won’t be on the court again until Wednesday, and the Red Sox haven’t made any big splashes during the Hot Stove season. All of this put together equals a few slow days in the Boston sports media.

The only two notable news stories coming out of Monday were Jermaine Cunningham being suspended four games for violating the league’s policy on performance enhancing substances, and then a report from Kansas City stating the Red Sox have spoken to the Royals regarding a trade of Jon Lester for prospect Wil Myers – although the deal will in all likelihood never happen.

Here are a few of the notable links from this morning:

If BC finds the right coach, don’t get too attached- Christopher Gasper says since BC isn’t a football powerhouse, if they do get the right coach, don’t expect him to stay long as he will likely leave for bigger program after a few seasons.

Jermaine Cunningham’s PED use all about survival- Gerry Callahan doesn’t blame Cunningham for trying to get an advantage coming off a season where he recorded just one tackle.

Tom Brady getting better with age- Jeff Howe looks at the season Brady is having despite being 35-years-old.

Belichick is seeing secondary gains- Tom E. Curran has how the secondary is getting better each week.

Mike Napoli will next meet with Texas- Peter Abraham in his notebook says the free agent C/1B will meet with the Rangers after meetings with Boston and Seattle.

 

Q&A with WEEI’s The Big Show co-host Glenn Ordway

One of the longest tenured members of the Boston sports media is WEEI’s The Big Show co-host Glenn Ordway. Since 1975 Ordway has been working in the Boston media, working for all four major sports teams in the process. In 1987, when Ordway was a Celtics commentator the team moved their radio programming to WEEI where he became executive sports director. He was later named program director in 1996 and started The Big Show, not looking back since, adding numerous television appearances and even his own show, New England Tailgate on Comcast Sportsnet to his resume.

Boston Sports Media Watch had the chance to sit down and catch up with Ordway to discuss his career, including the changes he’s needed to make over time as well as talking about some of the coaches he interviews on a weekly basis.

Glenn Ordway has been a member of the Boston media since 1975, working with all four major sports teams in that span. (Photo from the Boston Herald)

Over the years what is the biggest thing that has changed in the sports media, especially radio?

A lot has changed. Believe it or not in the old days we didn’t have the internet so you didn’t have the capacity to go and dig out stories else where. You were dealing with the Globe or the Herald and maybe the Worcester Telegram, that’s what you were dealing with years ago. Nowadays everything is instantaneous, the media is immediate. Stories break in 15 seconds on Twitter.

The two things that were key for doing talk shows years ago were the morning newspapers… In other words, you’d wake up at 7 o’clock in the morning and that’s the first time you’d learn about a rumor or trade. There was no at night, there was no SportsCenter, you weren’t getting any other that. The other thing that would happen is every once in awhile, somebody on Ch. 4, 5, or 7 on TV at night would break a story at 11 o’clock and I’d sit there and say, that’s my show tomorrow.

It’s much different. The sound that is out there, every game is either seen, or you record it — you can watch everything. The preperation for one of these shows is so much easier now than it was, and you can absorb and take in so much more.

What was it like transitioning from the two different co-hosts per day to now having one permanent co-host in Michael Holley?

It is a much different formula with three guys and a flash guy in Pete [Sheppard]. You have a lot of people talking. Yes, I know we were interrupting each other all the time, and it was by design, basically four guys sitting in a bar. That is what you do when you’re with your friends at a bar having a sports debate, you start jumping on top of each other.

On the other hand, for me it was a much different role because I was like the moderator and I had to poke at everybody. I had to jump in with an opinion so I could poke to get opposing views to create some type of entertaining confrontation. Because of that I developed that flip flop reputation and I am guilty as charged, no question about it. That was part of the role that I was in.

The role in this show now, is it is a two man team. So you need player A to have a strong opinion and you need player B to have a strong opinion and it comes out with the both of us challenging each other. I happen to have a partner that I have great respect for, and I think he and I really have found that niche in the show to be able to openly throw our opinions out there and not have to worry about it. It is a much different formula, much different.

How much attention do you pay to the ratings?

You have to. They are not everything because if you have ratings and you’re not driving revenue then you’re not really getting your job done. They go hand and hand. You have to watch ratings, and it’s not just ratings looking at the other sports station, the Sports Hub, you’re looking at what the music stations are doing, you’re watching the trends and trends change throughout the year.

Everybody busts us all the time, why do you take all your vacations in the summer? Because listening habits change dramatically in the summer time. People listen to far more music, people get away from sports, they get into nostalgic music, everything changes. Habits change so much so that’s the book that advertising agencies kind of dismiss. Spring and the fall are the two big books that people really pay attention to. You have to watch everything else that is going on.

Was Bobby Valentine one of the most awkward guys you’ve had on for a weekly interview?

I don’t think awkward would be the way I would say it — I would say the most unpredictable. You’d ask him a question and he was the one guy you never knew what the answer was going to be. I think I can ask a lot of people questions, people I interview on a regular basis, and have a decent idea of how they are going to approach the answer. With Bobby I never had an idea of how he was going to answer. That is why he caught me so off guard so many times.

What about Belichick, sort of the opposite?

With Belichick I kind of know the way he is going to approach it. So, you have to phrase the question in a certain way. You have to be ready to come back sometimes with a follow up. But, Bobby was great with follow ups because once you knew he was going to cross the line with the answer, you knew if you threw him a follow up he wasn’t going to stop. Bobby was not one of those to say, that’s it, I’m not going to talk about that anymore, he always wanted to say more about something. Bill wants to say less about something because he wants to protect his team.

On the other hand, if I were to ask a question to Bill about a play they had on Sunday and compare it to a similar play they ran in 2004, Bill would go back to that play in 2004 with tremendous clearity and he would detail every little thing that happened in that play, why it happened, and every player that was involved. When it comes to history and going into the past tense, because Bill doesn’t want to bring up the present or future, he gives you unbelievable stuff.

There are times when you really listen to Bill on Monday, that if you read behind the lines, there is stuff there, but you have to read between the lines. If he is not answering a question a certain way, or if he does, like the way he answered the question this past week on [Aqib] Talib and how much playing time he was going to get, he gave me the answer, but it was reading in between the lines.

What about the future for you personally, you’ve been doing The Dan Patrick Show nationally lately, do you like that?

I love it. Those guys are great — the Danette’s and Dan is a great friend. I like those guys an awful lot, I like doing the show. I love doing what I am doing right now. I’ve got to tell you, this is fun every single day. It’s fun waking up preparing for the show, doing the show, I have no regrets. I could actually have to work someday, this is fun. I have done an awful lot of things in the business, dealing with pre and post with the Red Sox, people forget I worked with the Bruins for two years, and the Celtics for 14. I am having fun right now.

But, there are challenges down the road. There are a couple of projects that I am working on right now that will hopefully come to fruition. So there are a bunch of other things I want to do, you always want to try and find new challenges and things to do. But, this is a blast and working with Michael has been a whole new level of enjoyment for me.

 

Q&A with Boston Globe NFL/Patriots reporter Greg A. Bedard

Since returning back to his Boston roots two years ago, Greg A. Bedard has found his niche in the Boston sports media market and has emerged as one of the best Patriots reporters in the area. His Wednesday columns in the Globe where he analyzes the past weeks game has become a must read and is heavily discussed amongst other media members and on sports radio. Boston Sports Media Watch had the chance to catch up with Bedard and get his thoughts on his past football reporting, as well as what it’s been like returning home and becoming a member of the Boston media.

Greg A. Bedard has returned home to his Boston roots and has become a prominent member of the Boston sports media.

1. You were an athlete up until college at Rutgers, did you always have a passion for sports writing and think of it as a potential career? Was football always the number one sport for you?

Part of the reason I chose Rutgers was because of baseball. I was a decent first base prospect at Lincoln-Sudbury and wanted to stay in the Northeast. Rutgers and Seton Hall were the top two programs in the region at the time, and that’s what my decision came down to after my visits.

In school, I knew I wanted to do something with sports and the media, I just didn’t know what exactly. SportsCenter was kind of a big deal at that time, so I started on a communications track. After I quit baseball because of injuries, I started looking more towards the print side. Rutgers had a very good daily student newspaper, so I answered one of the ads looking for new writers. My first article was on the women’s golf team (fun fact: my future wife’s name appeared in it), and I volunteered to cover the softball team. I was instantly hooked. I covered them like they were the Red Sox – I’d skip classes to cover road games (like I needed an excuse) – and I knew I found my calling.

While I was the beat writer for Terry Shea’s first football team in 1996, that I wound up covering football was very much by accident. Baseball was always my sport, and probably still is. The Palm Beach Post very easily could have named me backup Marlins writer in 2004. Thank goodness they decided on the Dolphins. Covering the NFL is a much easier life if you want to have a family. I don’t know how the baseball guys do it. But if the Globe asked me to cover golf tomorrow, I wouldn’t have a problem with it. I’m not one of these guys that’s married to a team or sport. The work is what’s important to me. The shape of the ball doesn’t really matter.

2. You’ve were a beat writer for both the Dolphins and Packers before coming to the Patriots. In terms of the day-to-day operations, player availability, locker room access, etc. how much different are the Patriots than the other teams you’ve covered?
Night and day. With the previous teams I covered, the players actually were in the locker room during media availability time. Rarely did you have to request that a player show his face. If you don’t do that with the Patriots, you’re probably not getting an interview. Most days you’ll see about six players in there, and if they talk there’s 25 reporters around.

Assistant coach access under Dave Wannstedt, and then with the Packers was awesome. With Wannstedt you could grab anybody you wanted coming off the field. The Packers had assistant coach access three days a week – about 30 minutes with all of them in a hallway, so you could get individual face-to-face time often – and you could talk to the three coordinators after games. That was absolutely invaluable to my development as a football writer. After a while you developed a rapport with the assistants and you could ask them about why certain plays did or didn’t work, and which players screwed up and why. You didn’t quote them, but at least you were getting accurate information to relay to the fans.

I learned more about the game in those 3.5 years in Green Bay than any other time in my career. Between the players always being available, to the assistant coaches, I could ask real questions about the game and learn about it.

Trying to learn about the game of football while covering the Patriots is like trying to get water out of a rock. I don’t have a problem with how they do things – it’s within the rules – but I’m certainly glad that I was able to work in other markets before coming here.

3. How much different is it working in the Boston media market than in the Miami and Green Bay markets?

I’d say the biggest difference that I have noticed is in the percentage of fans that are critical of the team, or that want debate about the team and the decisions it makes. And I think it’s directly tied into the length of time since the last championship.

Dolphins fans had a very low level of trust for what the organization did, for good reason, so they questioned everything. In Green Bay, which hadn’t won a title since 1996, I’d say about 20 percent of the fans didn’t want to hear anything bad about the team. The rest expect excellence year in and year out, because they feel the Lombardi Trophy and NFL championships are their birthright. They want perfection out of their team. In New England, I’d say it was closer to 75 percent when I got here in 2010, and it has slowly declined slightly. Again, it’s directly tied into the time since the last championship. And it will take another step when Tom Brady is no longer here, especially if they don’t win another Super Bowl before then.

My perception, and I don’t know if it’s reality, is that the pressure on the media here is very intense. Everything is scrutinized. People are keeping track of what you say, how you say it and they keep score. Consumers also love to put you in a box. You’re either this kind of reporter, or you’re that kind of reporter. Nuance is a foreign concept. It’s funny that fans accuse the media of being lazy and guilty of stereotyping, when they do the exact same thing to the media.

In regards to the media itself, I think the relationships are a mixed bag. In South Florida, we all tried to beat the crap out of each other during the day in a highly competitive market, but we had no problem having a beer afterwards. In Green Bay there were hard feelings between the media outlets, specifically the Green Bay Press Gazette towards the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. I never understood that. There’s plenty of coverage to go around, and we didn’t even compete for print readers.

It has been fine here; no real issues. The one thing I don’t have a lot of respect for, in any place I’ve been, is media-on-media crime and/or trying to shoot down other people’s reports. I don’t really understand that either. If you have something to report, then report it. Don’t just use somebody else’s report as a jumping off point. Twitter does make things tougher, but I just try to worry about what I can report and proceed like I’m in a vacuum. That’s easier said than done sometimes.

4. You’ve become known for your columns on Wednesday’s following re-watching game tape giving insight not found anywhere else. Have you always done this? Talk more about what goes into the game study, how long does it take, etc.

I knew nothing about this kind of journalism until I went to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel and saw that Bob McGinn was doing it, and had been doing it for like 20 years. But as soon as I did, it was like I was awake for the first time — “Why didn’t I ever think of doing this? This is where it’s at.” Studying film, trying to quantify certain things that aren’t officially tabulated (pressures, knockdowns, etc), and then explaining things simply for readers goes to heart of journalism, especially in the televised sports era. Everyone has seen the game. Many have heard the sound bytes from press conferences, but what fans really want to know is why? Why did the Patriots struggle offensively for a half? Why did they lose? Why couldn’t they defend this route? Etc.

When I came here, I thought two things: that it would go over well here because the Patriots aren’t going to tell you what they did well, and they certainly aren’t going to point out what they did poorly. If I could take what I knew about the game, and relay that to the fans by explaining what went right and what went wrong in each game, then I thought it would be successful. And I also promised myself when I came here, knowing the market like I do, that I wouldn’t just offer up opinions on a whim. I would try like hell to quantify everything I could. You can’t just write, “Tom Brady is struggling,” and not have any real evidence outside of statistics, which often lie in football and are certainly no way to measure about 80 percent of the game.

As far as the process itself, it takes me about eight to 10 hours to get through a game. Having the coaches film (some of the time) certainly helps. Having watched film with NFL coaches, college coaches and analysts like Greg Cosell at NFL Films, I have a decent size depth of knowledge – but it’s not even close to the actual players and coaches.

I try to be as clinical and try to mimic the coaches as much as possible. Even with the TV copy, I watch with the sound off. And I watch all the offensive, defensive and special teams plays in succession. This is why I sometimes reach different opinions than fans, especially about individual players. There are about 70 plays for the offense and defense in each game. Why should the 68th play matter than the fourth? Devin McCourty gets a pass interference penalty late in the game, but should that wipe out the 95 percent of plays in which he performed his duty well? NFL coaches grade out a player for the entire game, so why should I be any different?

I watch each play about 10-12 times, trying to determine whether each player, within reason, has performed their duty. I have a spreadsheet with about 35 different categories that I use on each play. Then afterwards I tabulate the positive and negative plays for each player (basically, did they exceed or fail at what I think they were supposed to do), and that gives me a rough idea about how they played. What I see on that paper and on my spreadsheet leads me to write in one direction or another. I usually have a vague idea about what I might want to write about, but it can easily and often changes (much to chagrin of copy desk in all likelihood). I try to be as much of a blank slate as possible and let the data take me one way or another. Every single game is unique. I try to identify what that is for the reader.

For example, last year after I had done my tabulations for the Chargers game, I noticed that Albert Haynesworth, after a very strong opening game in Miami, had zero plus or minus plays on my sheet. That was unusual. Why was that? That led me to watch all of his plays over again, and to the lede of my column where I wrote the Patriots were going to need better and more consistent play from Haynesworth.

Players are going to challenge some of your conclusions – and that’s something I welcome because it helps me get better – but if there’s one thing I’ve learned covering the league it’s if you rely on the film and facts gleaned from it, then it’s very hard to go wrong, and for players or coaches to take much issue with your work. Your knowledge of the game and the team will be very accurate. The film never lies. In my opinion, you absolutely must study film if you’re covering an NFL team. Luckily, the Globe gives me the time to do that. Not all media outlets do. And it’s difficult to find the time as a beat writer. I’m lucky that Shalise Manza Young does her job so well, because it allows me the immense time it takes to do mine. It’s a similar setup to what we had at the MJS – Tom Silverstein and I did the beat, which allowed Bob to do his analyzing. I’m very grateful to Shalise and the paper for that.

5. Growing up in the Boston area and reading the Globe growing up, is this a dream job for you, or would you like to one day cover the NFL nationally?

Two very good questions. I’m not sure I have the answers, but I probably need to figure them out to determine my future, whatever that might be.

I wouldn’t call this a dream job to me at this point in my life, but it was certainly very desirable. Sports editor Joe Sullivan, when we talked about the job, said, “You’d be a direct descendant of Will McDonough,” I mean, what person who grew up around here wouldn’t be completely floored hearing that? I can tell you that on the other end of the phone, I had a huge smile on my face. Still, it was far from a done deal that I was going to take this job. There were two big factors, which continue to be the driving forces in my career: the ability to do good, meaningful journalism – not just feeding the beast based on a timetable (though every outlet has to do some of that; I just didn’t want that to be me) – and to be a good husband and father. I would give up money and success to have adequate time with my family. The Globe was able to hit on both of those factors, and coming “home” (though my parents and brothers are elsewhere) was an added bonus. But it was incredibly tough to leave Green Bay. In the end, all things were equal and “Mama” (the Globe) called. It’s hard to say no to Mama. It was the right job, at the right place, at the right time. If it were the Patriots’ beat writing job, I wouldn’t have taken it. I don’t need to ram my head against the wall repeatedly.

As for where I go from here, if anywhere, I don’t know. I’ve never felt a huge draw to a TV gig (I know, with my looks, this is very surprising). I know I don’t want to be traveling every week and at the whim of some producer (poor Albert Breer, but he’s young and childless so more power to him). Sure, some sort of national job where I didn’t have to move would be enticing. But, like in Green Bay, I could see myself staying here forever. I guess, in a perfect world, I’d do something similar to what Willie did – have the Globe as a base and add some steady television work that fits into that. I’d certainly like to expand on the radio work I do on WEEI. I’d love to spend two hours on the radio getting into deep discussions about the Patriots with smart hosts and callers.

But it’s not something that I think about very much. I’ve got a good gig doing meaningful work for readers that seem to appreciate it for the most part, and I’m able to balance my family about as well as you can in today’s media age. Would I like to get paid more? Sure, who wouldn’t? But so far, so good.

‘A win is a win’ as the Patriots sneak past Buffalo

Despite a terrible display of tackling, execution, and pass coverage the Patriots were able to barely get past the Bills 37-31 following a Devin McCourty interception in the end zone with less than a minute to play and Buffalo threatening to score. The Patriots defense seemingly took a giant step back following the blowout win over the Rams in London two weeks ago. The Patriots allowed a franchise-most 35 first downs in the win, it was also the most the Bills have earned in a single game. Although the unit allowed 481 total yards, they did force three turnovers, which ultimately was the key in the victory, but will this get the job done come playoff time?

Sports radio was full of callers and opinions regarding the defense, most negative as they made Ryan Fitzpatrick look like a Pro-Bowler and the Bills look like a team far better than their 3-6 record. This was relatively unexpected as the team had two weeks to prepare coming off a bye week.

One question I had was where was the blitzing which worked two weeks ago against the Rams? Following its success in London, I expected to see more of it beginning Sunday, but instead there wasn’t much at all. Obviously the Patriots’ front-seven is the strength of the defense, why not give those guys a chance to make plays instead of dropping seven into coverage? What good is Brandon Spikes or Dont’a Hightower dropping back into pass coverage? Let them loose and give them the chance to make plays. It could even take some of the pressure off the horrid secondary.

For full Patriots coverage, check out Patriotslinks.com.

Position of power- Shalise Manza Young looks at how the Patriots have taken control of the AFC East after all four teams were 3-3 just three weeks ago.

Patriots get closure for the moment- Chad Finn says despite all the negatives, a “W is still a W.”

Patriots report card- Ron Borges hands out his grades for this week and for a win they are not very good.

Aqib Talib returns to work- Jeff Howe has how Talib is now with the Patriots and it couldn’t have come at a better time.

Bill Parcells: This Patriots team is better than 2011 edition- Christopher Price talks to Bill Parcells and gets his thoughts on this years team.

Patriots roll up 25 missed tackles vs. Bills- Tom E. Curran looks back at the horrible tackling which took place Sunday.

Bills rush attack highlights sloppy defensive day for Patriots- Mary Paoletti says the Patriots struggled against the run, and covering running backs against the Bills.

The Celtics got past the Bulls 101-95 in a well-balanced, team effort. Get all your Celtics coverage at Celticslinks.com.

Celtics sneak past Wizards, Sox to make noise at winter meetings?

The Celtics snuck past the Wizards 100-94 in overtime Wednesday night at the TD Garden. It was their second win over Washington in five days. Kevin Garnett led the team with 20 points and 13 rebounds, while Rajon Rondo was right behind with 18 points and 14 assists. The team returns to action Friday night when they host the 76ers.

Celtics win over the Wizards not much to be proud of- Gary Washburn says the Celtics underperformed in their win Wednesday night.

Despite win, C’s effort not there- Steve Bulpett says the Celtics’ effort was not there in last night’s win.

Wizards see Celtics as ‘vulnerable’- Jessica Camerato gets reaction from the Wizards following the game, some not too impressed.

Why Tommy Heinsohn is a Celtics institution- Dan Shaughnessy looks the career of the former Celtics great and now long-time commentator on Comcast Sportsnet.

Earlier this week it was thought the Red Sox wouldn’t be making any moves this week at the winter meetings, and while they might not be making any major moves, the team has reportedly shown interest in some relatively well-known, older, free agents. The team did announce they have hired Juan Nieves, the White Sox’ bullpen coach since 2008, as their pitching coach. This did come as a surprise to most as it was thought Rick Peterson would be the guy.

For John Farrell and Juan Nieves a working relationship 25 years in the making- Alex Speier looks at the relationship between the manager and new pitching coach.

Outfield chatter surrounds the Red Sox- Nick Cafardo says the Red Sox have begun kicking the tires on outfielders at the winter meetings.

The Red Sox’ search for outfielders is getting more interesting by the day- Rob Bradford also looks at the team being interested in outfielders and what may come from that.

Free agent Torii Hunter among hunted- Scott Lauber looks at one player the team could be interested in– Torii Hunter.

Former Angels Hunter, Haren could be on Red Sox radar- Sean McAdam says some former Angels could potentially come to Boston.

There was a funny moment out of Gillette yesterday when Tom E. Curran asked Tom Brady why “he dresses so weird?” The question did get a laugh out of the quarterback. The question came following Brady’s look at the Aerosmith concert on Monday. Click here to see video of the exchange between Curran and Brady.

Photo from @Patriots

Ortiz press conference, Patriots back to work

The Red Sox held a formal press conference Monday to announce the two-year $26 million contract David Ortiz signed with the team this weekend. According to WEEI.com, the contract includes incentives for the amount of time he spends on the disabled list due to the Achilles injury he suffered this past season. He could make up to $15 million this season. This was the first major move the team has made this off season following the hiring of manager John Farrell.

Much has been made of the signing, as many have said the team should have let the 36-year-old walk and go elsewhere, but to me the Red Sox made the right decision. One of the major pieces the 2012 Red Sox didn’t have was power in their lineup and the lack of a true power hitter. Ortiz was that guy, but he only played in 90 games. If the team let Ortiz leave, their next true power hitter would most likely be second-year player Will Middlebrooks, who for right now is a quality No. 6 or 7 hitter. The Red Sox would not have anything even resembling “pop” in their lineup.

Some have also said part of the reason the Red Sox re-signed Ortiz was PR related, and there is no question that is the case. There is no denying how much Ortiz means to Red Sox Nation and the city of Boston. Besides Ortiz, the Red Sox don’t truly have a face of the team. Dustin Pedroia would be next, but his image took a hit this past year. Coming off of two extremely disappointing seasons, the Red Sox could not have afforded to lose Ortiz. While some may question the reasoning and emphasis in PR, this is who the Red Sox are, and they made the right call in bringing Ortiz back.

Sox and Ortiz are together- Peter Abraham says Ortiz got the two-year deal he wanted all along.

Long road back for Sox begins at GM meetings- Nick Cafardo writes the Red Sox will need to be active, starting at the GM meetings, in order to be a contender next season.

Papi’s powerful enough to link past greatness to future success- John Tomase looks at what the next few years should be like for Ortiz.

David Ortiz defends vs. Bobby Valentine- Scott Lauber has Ortiz’ reaction to Bobby Valentine’s comment that he “quit on the team last year.”

David Ortiz and the Red Sox’ quest to restore and elite offense- Alex Speier looks ahead to next season and how the team needs to get their offense back on track.

The Patriots will officially return to work today following their bye week, and it couldn’t have come sooner because I don’t know how much more Aqib Talib talk fans and media personalities can take. It’s amazing the rational some fans have, as some believe the addition of Talib take the Patriots to the next level and make them serious Super Bowl contenders. He isn’t Darrelle Revis, he’s just an average to above average cornerback. This shows just how bad the Patriots secondary really is.

Decision on injured Shiancoe looms for Pats- Tom E. Curran looks at the situation with Visanthe Shiancoe, who was put on the newly created “designated for return” IR at the beginning of the season. The team has until next Tuesday to make a decision on whether or not to bring the tight end back on the roster.

McCourty’s position a balancing act for Patriots- Mary Paoletti examines the decision on where Devin McCourty should play, cornerback or safety?

Pushing their Luck: Brady, Manning know their time is running out- Gerry Callahan says Andrew Luck will be the next great quarterback in the NFL.