Week Wrap – Fat Cat Media Feels A Little Heat

In the wake of the NFL scandals of the last couple weeks, some of the long time and prominent media covering the league have been made slightly uncomfortable by having the light shined on their “coverage” of the league, which in many cases seems to consist of writing what Roger Goodell tells them to write.

Is there now a trust gap with Peter King? – Matt Yoder of Awful Announcing looks at the suspicions people are having of King, especially after his column this week which had a tough headline – It’s Past Time, Commissioner – but then leads off with the following paragraph:

A source with knowledge of NFL commissioner Roger Goodell’s mindset this week said something Wednesday that is very bad news for the 2014 playing status of Carolina defensive end Greg Hardy: “Roger has determined that he will be a leader in the domestic-violence space.”

So many questions. What exactly is  the domestic-violence space and how does one become a leader in it? A source with knowledge of the mindset? Was it Goodell himself, whispering in Peter’s ear? How can someone have a knowledge of someone else’s mindset?

Dave McKenna of Deadspin also wrote on this – Will The Elite NFL Media Still Be Stooges After The Ray Rice Scandal?

He targets not only King, but Chris Mortensen and Adam Schefter as well. These types are not used to being criticized, especially King, who acts ridiculously out of touch and childish when challenged in the least bit.

If he’s feeling the heat, that’s a good thing.

When is Dan Shaughnessy going to feel some heat? Self-plagiarism gets old after a while. When was the last time the man had an original thought?

WEEI beat WBZ-FM in the summer book:

Some might say winning the summer ratings book is like going 4-0 in the NFL preseason, but it’s a start.

The media columns today:

Play-by-play man Allen Bestwick will miss NASCAR duties – Chad Finn has the Rhode Island native getting a bit wistful as ESPN’s run broadcasting NASCAR winds down.

Holy Cross radio voice Bob Fouracre recovered, ready to go – Bill Doyle has the football announcer coming back from colon cancer surgery.

In the actual sports area, we’ve got the Raiders coming to town for the Patriots home opener on Sunday. CBS has the 1:00pm game with Greg Gumbel and Trent Green getting the call. Evan Washburn will be the sideline reporter.

Catch all the coverage at Patriotslinks.com.

The Red Sox season is winding down, but the last week is actually pretty entertaining to watch with the lineup almost exclusively made up of young  and new players like Betts, Bogaerts, Cespedes, Castillo, Middlebrooks, Bradley Jr and Vasquez, as well as the young pitchers. Good experience for them. RedSoxLinks.com

The Bruins have started training camp, and have the first holdouts of the Peter Chiarelli era in Torey Krug and Reilly Smith. Get the latest a BruinsLinks.com.

Shame On You For Not Having an Opinion!

I don’t know about you, but I’m a little sick of opinions. They may be repackaged these days as #HOTSPORTZTAKES but really in many instances, they’re just a way to justify saying something stupid.

Wait, did I just give my opinion?

Oh well.

The NFL is a mess. That much is obvious. What is also obvious is that the media will insert themselves into the narrative for their own gain. This is not breaking news. We’ll get pieces threatening to stop watching the NFL. (Hi Adam Kaufman!) which, when I see, only makes me hope this means they’ll actually stop writing and talking about the NFL too.

We get Kirk Minihane going on a week-long binge of attacking those who don’t express their opinion. All of a sudden Minihane is Senator Joseph McCarthy seeking out members of the communist party. Tom Brady hasn’t said he’s against child abuse. So that must mean he is for it….How long have you supported wife beating, Rodney Harrison?

Oh wait, my bad. Kirk says his issue is not that Brady isn’t willing to give an opinion (but really, that IS what Kirk’s problem is) but that he thinks Brady is wrong to say that his opinion isn’t going to make a difference.

That’s a matter of opinion. A really, really dumb opinion.

Will the NFL and the Vikings change their stance based on what Tom Brady says? No. Of course not. The only reason any changes are happening right now is because sponsors and advertisers are either pulling out their money and support of the league or are threatening to do so. Does Brady speaking out influence that? No. Is it an impossible scenario? I guess not, but likely? No. What influences those entities is cries from the consumer and threats that they will stop purchasing the product.

Minihane and ProJo Red Sox writer Brian MacPherson went on a Twitter string together about how Brady’s comments were “Pretty weak” a “total whiff” and “shockingly out of touch.

What they don’t get though, is that had Brady made a comment about it, even a simple condemnation of the act, it becomes HUGE. Not a little 10-second thing to deal with as Kirk would have you believe.

Rich Levine outlines this scenario better than I ever possibly could. Which is why he’s making the big bucks and I’m a lowly part-time media blogger.

Why Tom Brady doesn’t speak out

Read it.

Also on CSNNE, a cerebral piece by Tom E Curran.

Free speech is also about right to stay silent

As Curran says:

Brady offering anything wouldn’t cause an epiphany for Adrian Peterson. It would, however, cause moans of pleasure in our business because it would add content and a new angle. Of course, Brady – and any other marquee player – taking a pass provides us this content anyway. (Which is what this column is…)

Which is all most in the media really want.

Even nationally, Brady is taking heat. Witness these two blog posts:

Tom Brady deliberately remaining quiet on NFL’s many current crises

The Patriot Way: Tom Brady Declines to Take a Stand On Ray Rice, Other NFL Scandals

The second article suggests that Brady doesn’t want to speak because he doesn’t want to offend Peterson because the Patriots plan to sign him once he’s released by the Vikings, because the Patriots have a history of bringing in troubled players.

The writer isn’t wearing a tinfoil hat in his photo, but I think he was while writing that post.

What I don’t get is the target Brady has on him for this. Where are these articles about Peyton Manning? Aaron Rodgers? Has Calvin Johnson weighed in? (Er, check that.) How about the never reticent Richard Sherman, who has no problem talking about other people? Are there articles being written about them?  No? Why not?

Patriots Look To Avoid 0-2 Start

After last Sunday’s debacle in Miami, the Patriots will attempt to pick up their first win of the season, and avoid putting themselves into an early season 0-2 hole when they take on the Vikings in Minnesota. It won’t be easy, as the Vikings have some dynamic talent on both sides of the ball, and they are coming off a runaway win in St. Louis last week.

CBS has the game on Sunday at 1:00pm with Ian Eagle and Dan Fouts on the call, and former NESN Red Sox reporter Jenny Dell will handle the sideline duties. It will be our first chance to see her on a Patriots broadcast.

The game will be played outdoors at TCF Bank Stadium, the home of the University of Minnesota, where the Vikings are playing the next two seasons while their new stadium is built.

In the few scattered times that the Patriots have been discussed this week – there have been a few other NFL things going on if you hadn’t heard – I’ve seen confusion and discussions over the Patriots rotation on the offensive line in Miami. Many people, including beat reporters, seem confused about  reasoning behind the shuffling. A look through Mike Reiss’s blog archives and snap counts show that this was not that unusual for the opening game. Rosevelt Colvin was on 98.5 this morning and also said that in the first game of the season, the team would rotate players on the offensive line to break them and not put too much load on them to play a full game right off the bat.

Look for the offensive line to solidify over the coming weeks.

Check all the coverage leading into Sunday at PatriotsLinks.com.

One quick Red Sox note – It might be blasphemy here, but I’m looking forward to seeing Mookie Betts play second base - hopefully for the rest of the season.

OK, two. Does Giancarlo Stanton already play for the Red Sox? I know him getting drilled in the face last night was gruesome, and he is an MLB Star, but with all the rumors about the Red Sox interest in him, (feels a lot like all those Adrian Gonzalez rumors we heard before the team actually acquired him.) you’d think he already played here. Both radio stations are talking about it, the Globe runs its “On Baseball” column about him, it’s a little unusual for an out-of-town player.

Media

CBS’s James Brown on the mark regarding Ray Rice – Chad Finn applauds the network host’s comments on the NFL and domestic violence last night.

He also notes the return of Curt Schilling to ESPN, Dan Koppen’s work on CSNNE, and Glenn Ordway’s Big Show Unfiltered finding its first terrestrial home at ESPN New Hampshire (900 AM and 1250 AM) starting next week.

From hardcore to hard knocks: Alum lands at NESN – The Emerson College Newspaper The Berkeley Beacon profiles alum Doug Kyed who the Patriots beat reporter for NESN. Kyed faced a tough choice – hard rock stardom, or attending Bill Belichick press conferences.

About That Miami Game…

Captured footage from my house around 4:15 yesterday.

giphy

After a fairly good first half in South Florida yesterday, the Patriots came out in the second half and did nothing. They didn’t score at all after putting up 20 points in the first half, and gave up 23 points to the Dolphins. Both lines were pretty dreadful and halftime adjustments seemed non-existent. Miami won going away, 33-20.

The result was the first opening day loss for the Patriots since the 31-0 debacle to open the 2003 season.

A performance like that draws the trolls, and they love nothing better than taking victory laps on afternoon’s like yesterday.

The Globe again has it’s day-after special football section for this season, which will this season include a Monday sports media column from Chad Finn. This week he looks at the game day offerings and ahead to the certain caterwauling of sports radio this week.

On the media front, you should also check out Finn’s Friday column on the history of the sideline reporter, check out last week’s edition of Patriots Football Weekly for my column on the various sideline reporting changes this offseason, and look at the New York Post’s article on Jenny Dell who is working as an NFL sideline reporter for CBS.

Tom Brady made his weekly appearance on Dennis and Callahan and Minihane this morning, and no one knows better than he that there is a lot of work to be done.

Get all the coverage from yesterday’s game at PatriotsLinks.com.

If you’re interested in deep, football-focused talk, check out Matt Chatham’s new site footballbyfootball.com, where he has NFL players weighing in and analyzing happenings around the league.

It will be a long week. No doubt about that. It’s already begun, and will not cease until the team wins a game convincingly.

This team will be fine.   There may be more rough patches ahead until roles and rotations are settled, but this is a good team. Despite what you’ll hear, see and read this week.

NFL Preview Day, Globe Goes MAD

The NFL season starts tonight, with the Super Bowl Champion Seattle Seahawks hosting the Green Bay Packers on NBC.

The Globe and the Herald have their NFL/Patriots season previews today so there is plenty of material to go through.

As a tribute to 93-year-old MAD Magazine cartoonist Al Jaffee, the Globe did a “fold-in” cover to its section. The image shows the Patriots losing to the Jets 17-3 at Gillette and walking off the field dejectedly while the Jets dance on the stadium turf. BUT fold in the image and you see the Lombardi Trophy.

There’s a whole lot I could say here about the image representing everything the Globe feels about the Patriots and their fans, but I’ll let you guys handle that. And yes, I know the old MAD fold-ins were made so you think it means one thing, and it shows something completely different, but still. Yeesh.

Some highlights from the sections:

Persistent Bill Belichick grows into champion – Jeff Howe has a feature on the coach’s rise from a $25 a week film assistant to a coaching legend. Not much new material in here, but it is always nice to look at the accomplishments rather than the failures.

Tom Brady fueled by doubts about his ability – Chris Gasper does a similar bit on the Patriots QB, and his continued drive to be at the top.

Revamping defense was a priority for Patriots – Shalise Manza Young has a look at the moves made to bulk up the D.

Tom Brady to have many options in score zone – Karen Guregian looks at the improved Red Zone options that Brady has this season. (Wait…I thought Brady didn’t have any WEAPONZ!!!)

Bill Belichick belongs among NFL’s coaching greats – Yes, this is Ron Borges writing this. But don’t be fooled. This is his cover piece, so when he rips him up the rest of the season he can say “Hey, what do you want? I said he was among the greatest of all time!”

To that end – Bill Belichick, Tom Brady on same page – Ron wants you to know that the two are NOT friends. They are just to professionals who happen to work well together. (No, it really isn’t that bad.)

Darrelle Revis brings Patriots back to title roots – Ben Volin looks at the Patriots best CB since the prime of Ty Law and what it means to the team’s hopes.

New England Patriots TE Tim Wright has been adapting on the fly since college – New Masslive.com Patriots writer Kevin Duffy has a piece on the new Patriots tight end.

Levine’s 2014 NFL season preview – Rich Levine looks at the entire league.

Patriots, Broncos are prime-time TV players – Chad Finn says that the national audience will be seeing plenty of these two teams this season.

Meet The New New England Patriots

As we head into the week after Labor Day and hunker down for fall and football, why not pick up some chat fodder to avoid awkward water-cooler moments by learning about some of the newest Patriots?

Also on tap – after dozens and dozens of requests (read: none whatsoever), the return of high school fun facts!

[Read more…]

Patriots Wrap Preseason Slate, Cuts Tomorrow

The Patriots wrapped up their preseason schedule with a 16-13 loss to the New York Giants. Jimmy Garoppolo went wire-to-wire in this one and had his moments, both good and bad.

While some are ready to just hand him the backup QB job and get rid of Ryan Mallett, we likely won’t know for at least a few days what the team plans to do. Final cuts are tomorrow, but we can expect the roster to be in flux through at least Tuesday.

I thought the broadcasts on WBZ improved throughout the preseason, and while last night was still silly at times, it was much better than the first effort of the season. Fauria has moments where he can actually give pretty good analysis, he got into detail at one point last night about footwork on a catch, making the right plant when turning which was information, but then he also has moments like “everyone loves bubbles!” which just makes you roll your eyes.

Matt Chatham as usual, is the best part of the broadcast. While some may object and say that he is too deep and technical in his analysis, there is a segment of the viewership that really wants that next level dissection of plays.

Last night’s game will only get one replay on NFL Network, that being tomorrow, Saturday August 30th at 1:00pm ET. The Giants broadcast crew of Bob Papa and Carl Banks with Howard Cross & Bruce Beck on the sidelines will call the game.

What we learned: Patriots put wraps on preseason with 16-13 loss to Giants – Chris Price breaks down the takeaways from last night.

On the media side:

CBS’s all-female studio show is intriguing – Chad Finn looks at the CBS Sports Network’s new studio show, featuring Lesley Visser,  Amy Trask, and Tracy Wolfson, as well as contributions from Andrea Kremer, Laila Ali, Dara Torres, and Swin Cash.

Finn sort of buried the lede though later in the column by noting that Gerry Callahan has already re-signed with WEEI while John Dennis has not. It seems unlikely that Dennis will not eventually re-sign with the station, but it could be an interesting few days. (Update 1:10PM – Finn Tweets that Dennis has agreed to a new deal as well.)

The New England sports survey conducted by Channel Media & Market Research and mentioned in the Inside Track this week had some curious picks in the media section.

According to the Track, “The survey was conducted from Aug. 12-24 and 40 percent of the respondents were from Massachusetts with the other New England states making up the rest. Seventy-five percent of those polled were male, and the majority were between 25 and 44 years old.

Also, the polls were completely “write in” meaning choices were not given to the respondents. They picked these.

Felger and Mazz read off this list on Wednesday at the end of the show. I don’t remember all exactly, except for the winners. These are what I remember:

Top Team Play by Play or Analyst – Don Orsillo was the winner. Others in the top five included Dave O’Brien, Bob Beers, Tommy Heinsohn and Jack Edwards. No Mike Gorman which is an absolute travesty.

Favorite Sportswriter – Mike Reiss won this one. Other favorites in the top five were Gerry Callahan, Dan Shaughnessy, Tony Massarotti and Gordon Edes. Tony Mazz has written about five times in the last year.

Favorite Sports Radio Host – Tony Massarotti. I’ve lost all faith in humanity with this pick. I’m truly aghast. Other favorites were Dale Arnold, Scott Zolak, and tied for fifth were Mike Felger and Marc Bertrand.

Favorite TV Sports Host – Tom Caron. Others on the list included Jerry Remy, Bob Neumeier and Felger.

Pats Bollix It Up Again

It continually amazes me how much Bill Belichick and the Patriots get mocked and criticized by the media and fans, yet continue to win around 80% of their games. Criticized for the Mankins pick, and now criticized for the Mankins trade. How could you draft this guy there? becomes How could you trade this franchise cornerstone?

Time after time, the local media is critical of a pick, trade, cut or other decision, to the point of being insulting, and time and again they are proven wrong. Does the media ever look back and say, “Wow, I really bollixed up that analysis?” Rarely, if ever. Granted, this is mostly being done by sports radio hosts, the national media and know-nothing local “columnists” relegated to posting videos in their bathrobes, but this influence is out there. On the beat, you’ll hear a lot of talk about the “heartless, unsentimental” coach.

On Twitter yesterday it sure seemed to me that more people were pissed off that the Patriots had acquired another Rutgers player than they were that the team had traded away Mankins. Because that Rutgers “obsession” has really cost the Patriots dearly.

The fact is, this is Belichick and the Patriots getting out a year early rather than a year too late. They’ve done it numerous times. Milloy, Seymour, Warren, Moss, Welker, now Mankins. Each time there has been uproar, and each time the team has largely been proven correct. Has anyone locally pointed out that Danny Amendola will likely be playing meaningful football this season while Wes Welker ponders his future after yet another concussion? Does anyone bother pointing out that with the Seymour trade, the Patriots selected Nate Solder who plays the most important part of the offensive line and does it well? If Tim Wright comes in and duplicates or exceeds what he did last season will anyone acknowledge it?

It’s laughable when I hear columnists or radio hosts cry that the entire local media is in the bag for Belichick and the Patriots. That couldn’t be further from the truth.

I heard and read so many laments about losing Mankins when it is so important to keep Tom Brady upright. Was anyone paying attention when Mankins gave up double-digit sacks last year? Or what about perhaps the most important play of the season last year?

Logan Mankins is a beast, and I loved having him on the team. He definitely set the tone, he took no crap from trash-talking opponents, and always came to the defense of his teammates. Will they miss him?

YES.

Will they be OK without him? I think so.

Compare and contrast:

Belichick Sells High – Greg Bedard talks sense.

Patriots just aren’t sentimental – Ben Volin, Bedard’s replacement at the Globe, talks no sense.

But winning and turning a profit are 1 and 1A for the front office, and Mankins’s value to the team just didn’t quite match his bloated salary for this year ($6.25 million). Most teams let their aging stars ride off into the sunset, but that doesn’t fly around here, not with Tom Brady’s clock ticking and the need for another championship growing more desperate each season.

Man, where do we even begin to rip this apart?

So Belichick cares about saving the franchise money? He cares about having the team in the best financial shape under the salary cap, which is entirely different from “turning a profit.” Most teams let their aging stars ride off into the sunset? Could we have some specific examples here?

Peyton Manning, Brett Favre, Joe Montana, James Harrison, Ronnie Lott, Marcus Allen, Jerry Rice, Bruce Smith, Jason Taylor, Fred Taylor, Ryan Clark, Steve McNair, Maurice Jones-Drew, Justin Tuck, DeMarcus Ware, Champ Bailey.

All of those aging stars surely appreciated their longtime teams allowing them to ride off into the sunset.

Red Sox Continue Dismal Season, Third Preseason Game For Patriots

Is the Red Sox season over yet?

It’s really hard to believe what has happened at Fenway Park this season, perhaps even more difficult to believe what happened last season at Fenway Park.

What went wrong with Xander Bogaerts & Jackie Bradley? – Peter Abraham has an excellent look at one of the biggest issues this season – the struggles of two rookies who were expected to play big roles this season.

Their current hope at keeping interest up is the pursuit of Cuban outfielder Rusney Castillo, which could be resolved today.

The Patriots play the third preseason game tonight against the Carolina Panthers. It will again be on the Patriots Preseason Network.

Replay times on NFL Network are as follows:

Saturday August 23rd – 1:00 AM and 1:00 PM

Monday August 25th – 4:00 PM

Intangibles have helped Patriots’ Malcolm Butler write his rags-to-riches story – Mark Daniels of the Providence Journal has a nice mini-feature on the undrafted rookie who is making a strong bid to make this team.

After losing Nick Underhill to the Saints beat earlier this summer, MassLive.com has hired Kevin Duffy (@KevinRDuffy)  to take over the Patriots beat.

Is Little League World Series coverage too much? – Chad Finn looks at the coverage from ESPN this week, which got big ratings, thanks in large part to Mo’ne Davis.

Boston media has great taste in main courses – John Molori talks to several Boston sports media personalities about their favorite golf courses.

Random Monday In August

August isn’t a whole lot of fun in the sports landscape, especially when the Red Sox are already out of contention. Hockey and Basketball are still weeks away. The seemingly endless grind of training camp and preseason football drones on.

It’s also the time when most sports radio hosts take some time off before the NFL season gets fully underway. Thus we’ve had an overload of Steve Buckley, Greg Dickerson, Jerry Thornton, Adam Jones (filling on on the AM) Jon Meterparel and the other B-list fill in hosts.

Some of whom are quite OK in small doses, but when you’re sitting there thinking “I can’t wait for John Dennis to come back,” you know there’s an issue.

Rich Shertenlieb has been out for another reason – he’s been by his wife’s side as she continues her battle against cancer. Certainly no one can take issue with that.

When the morning topics are the Little League World Series and talking about a 12 year-old girl and making statements like she’s really a 15-year-boy or that she’ll be a drug addict in a couple years, you know things are bit slow.

But if you thought I was overreacting to Felger and Mazz and Minihane accusing Pedro Martinez of steroid use, or just couldn’t handle their sarcasm and snark, at least I’m not alone in the view.

Sunday Mail: Speculating on Whether Pedro’s Performances Were Enhanced is a New Low – Chad Finn’s Sunday Column is, if anything, tougher on them than I was.

I’m still trying to figure out the angle on Dan Shaughnessy’s column yesterday. We should go easier on celebrities because their lives are hard? And there’s a picture of Roger Clemens with the column? What is the message? And why would Shaughnessy advocate going easy on anyone? Has he ever? Besides John Henry Williams, that is?

From the “Ben Volin is Awesome” department:

Volin had the fingerwag going at Mike Mayock for his comments about Ryan Mallett, basically saying that Mayock is not around Mallett everyday and is thus unqualified to make such a statement.

Then Volin wrote this in his Sunday notes yesterday:

Manziel showed enough in his first game (63 yards passing, 27 rushing) that he looks like he can handle himself at the NFL level.

So Volin can watch half of the first preseason game and declare that a QB is ready to play in the NFL. That’s not a “snap judgment?” Who is more qualified to make a snap judgment on a player anyway? A guy who played in the league and evaluates talent for the draft and works games on a weekly basis, or a reporter who pretty much covers one club, and once lead the charge to give Richie Incognito a “good guy” award?

Breaking News – Over the weekend, I actually heard some pretty good sports talk radio. First Chris Villani and then Danny Picard on WEEI were both reasoned, informative and intelligent in running their afternoon shows on Saturday. I’ve heard both before, many times, but it really struck me how different their shows, at least that day were compared to what I’ve been hearing elsewhere for a while now.

I’m convinced though, that Picard’s accent is a put-on.

If you get a chance, check out the Improper Bostonian and their Patriots coverage. They’ve got a cool Q&A/Feature on Devin McCourty, a team season preview and a Patriots’ 2004 Coaching Staff flow chart looking at the travels of that group since that last Super Bowl title.