We’re now roughly ten practices into Patriots training camp, have yet to see a preseason game or scrimmage, and yet you might already be sick of hearing about Brady’s contract, Burgess’ retirement, the franchise’s decline or the failure of the team in recent drafts.
If it is this bad now, how will it be as the season goes along, especially if the team does struggle in bringing along so many young players, and if the Brady contract doesn’t get done before the start of the season?
Fortunately, because there is so much coverage of the team out there, you can engage in some “selective consumption” to pick and choose the quality coverage and avoid the material clearly aimed at simply generating outrage or trying to tweak fans into commenting or talking about it.
Here on BSMW, I try to bring you the best links each day, so that’s a good place to start, but what else can you do so that you’re not ready to put your fist through your computer, foot through the TV or throw the radio out the window?
Here’s a guide to what you should be watching, and what you should be avoiding, broken down into Print, Radio and Television.
Note: Before I begin, let us once again dismiss the notion that Patriots fans don’t want the media to be critical, to question things or to not suggest that this team isn’t what it was five or six years ago. We can handle those things, and even welcome them when warranted. What we DON’T want is made-up “news,” fake controversies or exaggerated, over-the-top rantings on the failures of the team.
- Mike Reiss ( @MikeReiss )
Who else would I start with? Reiss has some new competition, but he’s still the standard on the Patriots beat. Some still try to accuse him of being a “Patriots PR Agent” or “Toady”, but that sort of comment is way off-base. Reiss just reports and analyzes. He doesn’t get too negative or too positive. He plays it down the middle, while avoiding some of the obvious negative items which are more media creations rather than real news items. He is critical of the team when the situation calls for him to be (he’s been critical of the lack of additions to the OLB and pass rush area) and praises the team when it is called for.
- Ian Rapoport ( @RapSheet )
“Rap” is a bit goofy, and his blog isn’t always filled with strictly Patriots items, but don’t be fooled by his style, the guy is a top-notch reporter and gets the job done. Entering his second season on the beat at the Herald, Rapoport also seems to steer clear of the fake news items in favor of actual reporting and analysis. He is definitely someone you should be checking out every day.
If you’re into the training camp reports, looking for information on what has happened each day, the PFW blog consistently has the most detailed reports. They’re worth checking out every day just for that reason.
Chris Gasper, Tony Massarotti and Albert Breer all in one place? Yikes. A bunch of angry Chicken Little’s is what you end up with. “The Sky is Falling -Whose damn fault is it?” is what you’re going to get a whole lot of over there. Breer seems more concerned with telling us about the three super teams in the NFL - The Jets, Dolphins and Cowboys, and how they do things right while the Patriots flounder ineptly. While Shalise Manza Young and Monique Walker are pretty good, the first three are big reasons to avoid Boston.com altogether.
- Michael Felger
He still writes occasionally for CSNNE.com. His material is the same as what you hear on his radio program. It’s a damn shame, too, because Felger was at one time my favorite guy on the Boston sports media scene. Now he’s a one-trick pony, and has embraced and turned into the man he once battled on the airwaves and in print, Ron Borges. Who knew Borges was so powerful. It’s like he managed to turn Felger to the dark side of the force.
- Patriots Monday Interviews on WEEI.
If you’re a Patriots fan, you can’t listen to WEEI all day. You just can’t. So you’ve got be very selective. Dale & Holley are generally OK. The only time you should listen to Dennis & Callahan is the Tom Brady interview on Monday mornings, of if they have another guest – Boomer Esiason, Adam Schefter, etc. If you listen other times, you’re likley to get a Gerry Callahan whine/sneer and John Dennis 37-part question/soliloquy on a random topic. Listen to the Big Show only during the Bill Belichick interview on Monday afternoon.
- Gresh and Zolak.
Yeah. They’re not that bad when they’re talking Patriots. Since camp opened, they’ve been broadcasting from Gillette, and have had a ton of player interviews as practice sessions end. If they start getting a little crazy, (today they were on the Brady contract) just flip over to Dale & Holley.
- NFL Sunday on WEEI
I’ve always enjoyed this show, and I’m looking forward to its return, especially with Troy Brown joining Dale Arnold Christian Fauria and Christopher Price this season. As Arnold boasts, they’ll be the only show with two guys who have been in the huddle with Tom Brayd.
- Michael Felger
See note above on Felger. His radio show is a daily juggling act of speculation, conjecture, exaggeration and cherry-picked arguments.
- Everything else
Really. As a Patriots fan, there isn’t too much out there.
- Patriots All Access
Yes, it is produced by the team. It’s generally a puff piece, though Reiss and Paul Perillo in the final segment each week are willing to be critical of the team if warranted, and *gasp* actually pick against the team on occasion. Some of the segments (none involving Steve Burton) are pretty good. The highlights package from the previous game brings you sideline and locker room footage, Scott Zolak’s segments with Bill Belichick are good, especially on the telestrator, and the segment with Zolak and Fauria showing you something from that week’s opponent is educational as well.
- Anything on CSN New England (Sorry, Skip)
The station allows Felger, Ron Borges and Gary Tanguay on the air at the same time! What else do you need to know? Most shows involving the Patriots devolve into a discussion of how they’re screwing Brady, how they’ve drafted poorly, and how Bill Belichick is the biggest megalomaniac on the planet. The New England Tailgate show with Glenn Ordway, Fred Smerlas and Steve DeOssie would be better if Smerlas wasn’t allowed to speak other on anything other than on-field items. Occasionally they can teach you something, but in general this show isn’t worth the weekly viewing.
Obviously this is just scratching the surface of the available media coverage on the Patriots out there. There are plenty of reporters and programs that fall in between the two extremes, and some who go to both.
Tom E Curran is the biggest mystery to me. Personally, he’s a great guy. Friendly, funny, accessible, I like him alot. He’s generally also very fair when it comes to analyzing the team. Then at times, he drinks his Mr Hyde juice, and transforms into another person altogether. It might be aftereffects of having been involved with Mike Florio’s website, and if so, Tom, I’m truly sorry and you deserve sympathy for PDSD, but if not, I’m truly mystified. How can you take Robert Kraft’s comments in which he talks about Brady practically as a son, and turn them into some evil, passive-aggressive, threatening message? I don’t get it. He’s not the only one beating this drum, either, and it’s just the type of thing this list is meant to steer you away from.
Choose the media options up above, and you might just survive the season.
Before I forget: Brady Contract Strife Set To Ruin 2010 Season For Patriots