2015 Combine Snubs Who Showed ‘Em, Part II

When we left off with Part I, many of those same players who had not been invited to the combine had cracked the top five of most categories (see the updated rundown at the bottom of this post). As we make our way through early April, snubbed athletes continue to excel at combine drills and give themselves a shot on draft day.

As always, a big shout-out to Gil Brandt for his pro day blog on NFL.com, a fun, informative read that we get obsessed with this time of year.

For a rundown of the best NFL Combine performances, you can go here.

Now, on to some recent standouts who made impressions at their pro days… [Read more…]

Grand Opener For Hanley, Sox.

The Red Sox opened up their 2015 campaign (hoping for the Double Boomerang) in style yesterday, as Clay Buchholz went seven shutout innings, Hanley Ramirez homered twice, including an ninth-inning grand slam to lead Boston over the Phillies 8-0. Dustin Pedroia added two solo homers, and Mookie Betts also homered for the Red Sox.

In opener, Red Sox offense as good in practice as on paper – Timothy Britton looks at everything coming together for Boston on opening day.

Ramirez powers Sox in return to original organization – Sean McAdam looks at a day 10 years in the making for Hanley Ramirez.

Clay Buchholz, Dustin Pedroia take control in Red Sox opener – Gordon Edes looks at the Sox answering doubters right away.

Clay Buchholz spins a performance worthy of ace title – Jen McCaffrey has the righty looking the part yesterday.

Dustin Pedroia after 2-HR opener: ‘I’m back’ – Michael Silverman has the Red Sox second baseman reminding everyone that he’s the best player on the team.

Shane Victorino warmly received in Philadelphia – Peter Abraham’s notebook has the former Phillies fan favorite having a nice moment.

Get more Red Sox coverage at RedSoxLinks.com.

Following the game, it was also announced that the Red Sox had agreed to a four-year extension with pitcher Rick Porcello, who was acquired from the Tigers in the offseason.

Using Jon Lester to explain why Rick Porcello’s deal made sense to pitcher, Red Sox – John Tomase attempts to tell us why both sides were interested in getting this done, and how the Jon Lester situation compared to this one.

An unprecedented path made Rick Porcello a $20 million man – Alex Speier looks at why this situation was so unique.

Elsewhere:

With Vereen gone, White hoping for an expanded role – Mark Daniels looks at how the 2014 fourth round pick is working to put himself in line for more work this coming season.

Duke proves college hoop is a young man’s game – Christopher Gasper looks at Duke getting by Wisconsin to win the NCAA Basketball championship last night.

Celtics watch scoreboards amid playoff race – Chris Forsberg has the Celtics engaged in late-season scoreboard watching.

Bruins in no position to ease up – Stephen Harris says that Boston must continue playing its best hockey through its final three games.

Michael Felger Apologizes To Jack Edwards – Of all things for Felger to apologize for, this is it? Also, the “this is what we do” defense from sports radio hosts is getting pretty lame in my book.

Red Sox Set For Monday Opener

There’s still plenty of snow on the ground, but the Red Sox will begin their season for real in Philadelphia on Monday afternoon. (3:05 pm) Predictions on the performance of the team are all over the place, with some predicting a return to the top of the AL East, with others insisting this isn’t a very good team.

Some baseball preview articles to sort through:

Boston Herald team preview.

WEEI.com not-so-special team preview.

Boston Globe baseball section.

MassLive.com Red Sox section

ESPN Boston Red Sox section

I’m sure the wording is a coincidence, but in the Globe staff predictions, these two really stood out to me.

Nick Cafardo
AL East: Orioles – Most consistent starting rotation, great player in Manny Machado.

Alex Speier
AL East: Red Sox – Consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds.

*****

Curt Schilling: Boston Red Sox lack true No. 1 in rotation – Bill Doyle has the former Red Sox pitcher, now with ESPN, saying that Clay Buchholz doesn’t want to be an ace.

For Final Four, you can channel your rooting interest – The NCAA Final Four is this weekend, and Chad Finn looks at the setup by Turner which allows fans to watch team-specific broadcasts. He also has some NESN news.

BSMW Investigation Reveals HotSportzTakes Coerced

A lengthy investigation which included interviews with dozens of people involved with the Boston sports media reveals that powerful organization actually controls the content which is disseminated through the various media outlets within New England.

This organization (also described variously as a “cartel” or “lodge”) uses fear, intimidation, threats, coercion and blackmail on various members of the local media in order to get them to say things that are so outrageous and dumb that no person in their right mind would spout them of their own volition.

Those we spoke to did so only on assurances of anonymity, and several were observed casting furtive glances around the room while being interviewed, as if fearing immediate reprisal.

The tales these poor souls tell reveals much about the inner conflict they feel at being used in this manner. One veteran writer, who covers the NFL and Boxing, and who has worked at both daily papers in town, said, haltingly, “Bill Belichick is a great guy. What he’s accomplished here in New England is unmatched. He’s the greatest coach of all time, and a greater man. But am I allowed to say that? No. See what happened to me at the Gl*be? I was about to come clean, and they ruined me. Now I’m here working at this tabloid, and they still control me.”

Others tell similar tales. One sports radio host, who appears on a morning show in town, was reluctant to speak to BSMW. “Look, I get it. OK? People think I’m a complete jerk. That’s fine. They don’t know what’s been done to me. Erin Andrews is a lovely, talented young lady, David Ortiz is a first ballot Hall of Famer.” Even as he was speaking, this normally confident man was scanning the room nervously. “You think I don’t know how stupid those things sounded when I said them? You think I wanted to say those things?” He appeared on the verge of tears.

An evening television host has also been targeted. “People who know me, know that I am the least confrontational guy they have met. My friends make fun of me for being milquetoast. I don’t have strong opinions about anything. ” So why is this man known for making a fool of himself on a regular basis on TV and the internet? “I don’t have a choice. Those people, they’re powerful. I thought I was a Volkswagen Cabriolet guy, they made me be a truck guy. My family, I’ll do anything to keep them safe, even saying I believe Chris Mortensen over Ian Rapoport. I lost my jobs doing Celtics and Patriots broadcasts, and a daily radio gig, but because I’ve been loyal, they hooked me up with this gig. I for one, welcome our new media overlords.”

Another radio host isn’t so appreciative of what the organization has done for him. “Yeah, I’ve got the sidekick gig on the highest rated sports show in the market, but at what price? It’s SUCKS. I have to kowtow to this Purell freak? Oh you’re absolutely right, M*ke! It makes me sick. I HATE it. I’m a nice guy! Ask Ch*d F*nn! But you know, they’ve got me. They’ve got me by the balls. If I were to go off script, I don’t know what would happen.” His partner on the show, who gets to play the dominant role in the relationship, isn’t too fond of the cartel either. “You think I want to come on every day and call Robert Kraft cheap, and make assertions about his budget? MY FATHER IS JEWISH! It makes no sense. They’ve got me saying that the New York freakin’ Jets passed the Patriots? The Jets? The Cap is Crap? I have to antagonize fans of the greatest franchise the NBA has ever known? How idiotic must I sound? But they promised that S*ra and my girls would be safe. That’s all I care about.”

Who is this evil group? While no one would confirm on the record, whispers say they are known as H.O.S.T.S, which is apparently a contraction of HOt Sportz TakeS and the leader of this organization is a man known as Blohard. The aim of the organization appears to be singular. Destroy any enjoyment that Boston fans may have about the success of their teams. Nine championships in thirteen years? How could fans possibly be made miserable in the midst of that run? It speaks to the power of H.O.S.T.S. that there are indeed people around the city of Boston who are unhappy with their teams and complain about them daily.

The Sports editor of the paper of record in Boston, the Gl*be, confided that he too, is weary of the control that H.O.S.T.S. wield over he and his department. “D*n Sh*ughnessy isn’t brave. He’s the biggest coward and hypocrite I’ve ever encountered. Yet, I have to sit here and sing his praises? I’m ashamed. They make me crank out this blog on college basketball which no one reads. I have to hire incompetent fools to cover the biggest sport in the country right now, and take endless shots at the best coach this region has seen since Red Auerbach. They make me look petty, and I hate that. I’m forced to waste the talents of B*b Ry*an by assigning him week after to week to write about how football is barbaric. K*vin P*ul D*pont writes gibberish. It’s embarrassing.”

The accounts are endless. One TV reporter recalls being threatened severely if he didn’t ask Bill Belichick if he was evaluating the quarterback position following an early-season loss. The press conference clip is now shown on all videos and accounts celebrating the team after they won the Super Bowl and the quarterback in question was named MVP. A radio host ruefully laments that he was seemingly only brought here to talk about Spygate. A once-great basketball writer and columnist is now relegated to writing hit pieces on the local ESPN affiliate. None of them are happy with their fates.

What’s next for H.O.S.T.S.? It seems they’ve got the future covered. Cleverly nicknaming them the “Felger Youth” this next generation of sports talk radio hosts and writers are fully indoctrinated into the program. They have been programmed to endlessly repeat what has been spouted on the most popular show in the region. These unfortunate youths have been brainwashed into thinking they are being provocative and edgy, when in fact, they just sound like entitled idiots.

Is there an end in sight? The claws of H.O.S.T.S. show no signs of withdrawing. Blohard reigns and seeks complete domination of the Boston sports media.

Burned By Scorching Hot Sportz Takes

How long before all teams use the Bill Belichick/Patriots method of dealing with the media?

The day is coming, I’m telling you.

Yes, there are those in sports who enjoy using the media and cozying up to them to get fawning coverage, whether they actually deserve it or not. There are many more, I believe, who would rather just not deal with them at all.

Each time a player or team gets burned by columnists and talk radio hosts, those around them take notice. They want to avoid the same fate.

This week, Shane Victorino found himself in the cross hairs of the Felger and Mazz program.

Shane Victorino challenges Sports Hub hosts over Cole Hamels comments – Scott Lauber (who also covered Victorino in Philly) takes a look at the conflict, which occurred when the hosts took comments that the Sox outfielder made to a Philadelphia paper, and put words into his mouth.

But that didn’t stop the hosts of the “Felger & Mazz” program from accusing Victorino of lobbying the Red Sox to cast Betts aside.

“You have a 34-year-old, breaking-down outfielder whose job is potentially going to be taken by whom? Mookie Betts, or by default, Rusney Castillo,” said Massarotti, formerly a Herald baseball writer. “And so who are we talking about, potentially, in this trade? Mookie Betts. So is that the deal? Mookie Betts is going to take his job, (and Victorino says), ‘Hey, get the kid out of here, because we can win now if we get Hamels.”

To that, Felger accused Victorino of “throwing your young players under the bus.”

What a leap. Victorino never mentioned Betts. The Philadelphia writer did.

Unsurprisingly, colleagues on the air, at both stations in town, seem to side with Felger and Mazz, they defend the right to give their precious opinions. But was this an opinion? I don’t think so. It’s a clear twisting of words, and even a fabrication of them.

Lauber, in a follow-up piece (How Shane Victorino’s non-story became a big deal) notes that “Victorino’s words weren’t twisted like a pretzel; they were put in his mouth entirely.”

Which is cool, you know, because their job is just to get attention. As Felger himself says:

Say it wherever you want. I had mine, you had yours, that’s the whole idea of us. We say something, it’s for public consumption, hopefully you are listening and reacting. That’s what I want everyone to do. And I think generally this show does a pretty good job of it, and so Shane did that. He digested, he reacted, great. Fair enough. No problem.”

In that same article, Massarotti recounted a follow-up phone conversation he had with Victorino, albeit unintentionally, and described it this way:

It was like having a discussion with my wife when she’s angry. It was that sort of discussion, if you want to know the truth.

Completely dismissive of Victorino.

Yeah, Mazz, you’re a real tough guy. For a show who’s stated intention is to provoke reaction, he’s a pretty sensitive guy to reaction and criticism. He’s one of the very few people who have blocked me on Twitter. I’ve never been profane about him, insulted his family or done anything other than say how much I dislike his “work.”

That’s not the reaction they’re looking for, I guess.

This situation made even the mild-mannered Mike Reiss sit up and take notice. He wrote this article on his personal blog:

Thoughts on Victorino, sports talk radio, the media culture in Boston and more

He concludes his piece by summing up the local environment this way:

I often wonder if the hot takes would be as hot if they actually had to be accountable to those they were talking about. I do think part of what makes them willing to go as far as they often do is that they don’t have that accountability, and don’t have personal interaction with those they are talking about. It’s much easier to fire away when there is that disconnect.

And that’s what I’ve been noticing more and more, not just with that program, but other opinion-based shows on TV that are more edgy, both national and local. I think the further you’re removed from being around the game, in the locker room, at league meetings, conversing with athletes, coaches etc., you lose a bit of touch with reality. It becomes more WWE than professional sports and that can be dangerous — and most of all misleading to the public — when in the position of powerful opinion-shaper.

Is it me, or is this more extreme than ever before?

I think I know the answer, and the fact that Victorino’s passionate remarks will probably lead to skyrocketing ratings for “Felger and Mazz” today says it all.

Sadly, he’s entirely correct.

Reiss went further in his weekly chat (Chat with Mike Reiss) in which he came as close to unbridled rage as he probably can get. His responses to certain questions were edgy and not like the usual “having all these opinions makes for a great community” responses he’ll often make when gently disagreeing with chatters.

Victorino also got attacked for not going on the Felger and Mazz show to talk to them directly. Producer James Stewart tweeted that he had contacted the Red Sox about getting the outfielder on the show, but the response was that they felt he had already said his piece.

This made it a win/win for them. They tried to get him to come on the show, but he was afraid!

At some point, I do expect more and more in the sports world to eschew the media completely and bring their message directly to the public. David Ortiz did this when he wrote this week for Derek Jeter’s The Player’s Tribune:

The Dirt

He takes on Dan Shaughnessy in his column:

In 2013, I came off the DL and started hot. My first 20 games I was hitting like .400. And the reporter with the red jheri curl from The Boston Globe comes into the locker room says, “You’re from the Dominican. You’re older. You fit the profile of a steroid user. Don’t you think you’re a prime suspect?”

He’s saying this with a straight face. I had taken like 70 at-bats. Anybody can get hot and hit .400 with 70 at-bats. I was stunned. I’m like, I’m Dominican? I fit the profile? Are you kidding me?

I wanted to kill this guy. But you can’t react. That’s what they want. They want you to get angry so they can bury you. So I just smiled at him and asked for his address.

“Why do you want my address?” he said.

“Because I just got tested two days ago.” I said. “I’ll mail you the f****ing results.”

While some of Ortiz’ claims in the article are questionable – he insists he had no knowledge of the 2003 test result (from today’s Globe) until he saw it on ESPN in 2009 – his larger point about how he is viewed by many in the media is valid.

WEEI this morning wanted to know why Ortiz didn’t take this to Sports Illustrated if he wanted to put this out there. They missed the entire point. He avoided the mainstream media altogether and chose this as the independent avenue to put his message out there.

He won’t be alone in this.

Last night the Globe rushed up a quick piece on the Ortiz article. They did so without mentioning the Shaughnessy stuff at all, and filed it under “Staff Reports.”

*****

A few other links and notes:

Pedro Martinez a great fit with MLB Network – Chad Finn writes about the former Sox ace joining the MLB Network this week. He also touches on a few other items, including the Victorino story.

Baseball Reporting – A fascinating look on the MLB Website about the history of coverage of baseball, written by the legendary Jack Lang in the early 1990’s.

NFL taking aim at all things Patriots – Enjoyed this from Tom E. Curran, a look at how the NFL owners meetings turned into a pig-pile on the Patriots.

Ben Volin reported in the Globe this morning that Patriots linebacker Dont’a Hightower had labrum surgery and could miss much of training camp. The story is making the rounds on sports flashes and link compilations, but Jeff Howe in the Herald had this news over a month ago.

Patriots 2015 Mock Draft (Names-To-Positions Edition)

We haven’t had a ton of success predicting New England’s draft choices (Jake Bequette in 2012 the lone exception), but we’ve done a fair job figuring what positions they’ll look for in certain spots. We’ll keep that in mind for this spring as we take our shots.

For previous 2015 mocks, you can see our “Bare Bones” positional edition here and our “That Guy” tendencies edition here. For a comprehensive breakdown of past Patriots drafts, click for our “Round-By-Round” column here.

We have New England picking eight on draft weekend out of a possible nine picks, taking their tendency to trade into consideration. (Note: their third- and seventh-round compensatory picks can not be traded.)

DAY ONE, Round One: DE/OLB

Many (including myself as of a few days ago), considered a defensive lineman with this pick, and – though I can’t see anything wrong with getting Carl Davis from Iowa, for example, I can’t overlook the impact that linebacker/pass-rusher Jamie Collins has had on this defense. The free-agent addition of Jabaal Sheard shouldn’t get in the way of bringing more athletic, pass-rushing talent into New England’s front seven.

Possible Pick: Eli Harold, Virginia Defensive End (6-3, 247). The Patriots saw something beyond the rawness of linebacker Jamie Collins in 2013, and they may see a similar something in the athletic and productive Harold this year. He had 54 tackles, seven sacks and 14 tackles for loss last year. Totaled 17.5 sacks in his Cavalier career (his Cavareer? No? Okay). Has shown the ability to drop back in coverage. Ran a speedy 4.60 seconds in the 40 and 4.16 seconds in the 20-yard shuttle.

DAY TWO, Rounds Two and Three: OL, DB, DL 

A little of this and that for the next two rounds, filling out positions of need while bulking up the future of the roster.

Possible Pick: Tre Jackson, Florida State Offensive Guard (6-4, 330). If New England’s looking to bulk up along the interior of their offensive line, the massive Jackson fits the bill. The big fella started 42 games for the Seminoles, reaching All-American honors last year as a senior. Jackson earned consensus All-American honors and was named MVP of the South Team at the Senior Bowl in February. Played alongside current Patriot center Bryan Stork.

Possible Pick: Byron Jones, Connecticut Cornerback (6-1, 199). Jones failed to stand out in his combine 40-yard dash (4.57 seconds), which remained about the only unimpressive thing he did in Indianapolis. Jones put up an I-need-video-evidence-that-this-happened 12-foot-3-inch broad jump (and here’s that video evidence). Just for comparison, jump two feet along the ground. Now lay down a basketball hoop and jump 10 feet to the rim. You’re still short three inches. Jones added a 44.5-inch vertical leap (second-best at the combine), along with a super-quick 3.94 20-yard shuttle and 6.78 3-cone. Jones played in only seven games for UConn last season due to injury, but he managed 24 tackles, two interceptions (one returned for a TD) and four pass break-ups.

Possible Pick: Derrick Lott, Tennessee-Chattanooga Defensive Lineman (6-4, 314). The Patriots seem as willing as most to draft smaller-school athletes (see defensive end Zach Moore out of Concordia last year). Lott, a transfer from Georgia, ran a 4.99 40 at the combine and benched 30 reps, tied for seventh among D-linemen. In his final year for the Mocs, he made First Team All-Southern Conference, tallying 41 tackles (13.5 for loss) and six sacks. He has the size and quickness to play anywhere along the line.

DAY THREE, Rounds Four Through Seven: DB, LB, OL, WR

Considered tight end here (Rutgers’ Tyler Kroft), but Scott Chandler’s signing had us looking at other areas. Looks like the Pats will consider doubling up on a few positions, which has worked well for them in the past: they took two offensive linemen in the fourth round last year, and got a starter (Bryan Stork) and a consistent contributor (Cameron Fleming). We wouldn’t be surprised (and fans might appreciate) the Patriots using these picks to trade up, as the talent of New England’s current roster makes it tough for eight potential rookies to stick around.

Possible Pick: Craig Mager, Texas State Cornerback (5-11, 201). Well, before 2014 training camp, we’d never heard of Malcolm Butler, either. Mager had a noteworthy combine performance with a 4.44-second 40, a 6.83-second 3-cone, and a 10-foot, 10-inch broad jump – all top 10 for combine corners. Mager started 48 games for the Bobcats, finishing up as a senior with 63 tackles (two sacks), 10 pass break-ups, and three interceptions.

Possible Pick: Kevin Snyder, Rutgers Linebacker (6-2, 238). Snyder fits two all-important Patriots draft categories: the Special Teams Guy and the Rutgers Guy. He ran a nifty 4.54 40 at his pro day, which would have made him the second-fastest linebacker at the combine. Also had a 7.07 3-cone (tied for seventh fastest LB) and 23 bench press reps (top 13). The career linebacker also showed scouts his longsnapping abilities by the banks of the Raritan. In 51 games for the Scarlet Knights, Snyder had 229 tackles, including 63 in 2014 (1.5 sacks). He also broke up five passes last year.

Possible Pick: Shaq Mason, Georgia Tech Offensive Lineman (6-2, 304). Hard to ignore the photo seen here of former Patriots line coach Dante Scarnecchia taking snaps from Mason, who tried to show his versatility after playing only guard at Tech. Also hard to ignore Mason’s status as an All-American, his starting at both guard spots over his career, and the fact that his status may be affected (in a good way, from New England’s point of view) by the fact that the Yellow Jackets run an option offense. Mason ran an impressive 4.89 40, which would have made him the fastest OL at the combine. He also leapt 32 inches, and put up 20 reps on the bench.

Possible Pick: DeAndrew White, Alabama Wide Receiver (5-11, 193). Now, do the Patriots necessarily need another wide receiver in camp? Maybe not, but they’ve got a recent history of nabbing smaller pass-catchers in the seventh round (Jeremy Gallon of Michigan in 2014, Jeremy Ebert of Northwestern in 2012, some guy named Julian Edelman of Kent State in 2009). His 4.44-second 40 time would make him one of the faster receivers in Gillette, while his 6.97 3-cone drill and 4.18-second 20-yard shuttle would show his relative quickness across the middle of the field. With 40 receptions at Alabama, White trailed only Amari Cooper in 2014 (albeit by a ton: Cooper had 124). White had 504 yards receiving (12.6 avg) and four TDs.

THE ONE UNDRAFTED GUY WE HAVE TO CONSIDER

Joe Cardona, Navy LS (6-2, 242). Will the Annapolis product get to play in the NFL next year? Nope. He has at least a two-year, full-time commitment to the military. Will Bill Belichick invite him to camp and keep him on military reserve? It wouldn’t be the first time. Cardona stood out as the only long snapper invited to the combine. He ran a 4.91 40 and put up 30 bench presses. Another fact to consider: Cardona was the conference MVP for his high school lacrosse team (Granite HIlls in El Cajon, CA), which can only endear him to the lax-loving Belichick. One free trip to Foxboro, coming up!

THREE UNDRAFTED PLAYERS TO KEEP IN MIND

Looking for versatility at various positions, and underdog labels to go with them.

Kristjan Sokoli, Buffalo DL (6-5, 290). Described as “relentless,” Sokoli had a heck of a pro day for the Bulls, running a 4.84 40, leaping 38 inches, putting up 31 bench reps and completing a 7.19 3-cone. He had 32 tackles last year as a D-tackle (three for loss) and six pass breakups. Sokoli moved to the U.S. from Albania at nine years old and played football in high school, manning all sorts of positions: defensive end, tight end, offensive tackle – even punter and kicker.

John Lowdermilk, Iowa SS (6-1, 210). As much as we talk up the relationship between Belichick and Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz, Coach Bill has never drafted a player out of Iowa. We don’t expect that to change this year, but Lowdermilk could get some rookie camp consideration. His 103 tackles led the Hawkeyes last year. He also had three interceptions, six pass breakups, and two forced fumbles.

Jamon Brown, Louisville OL (6-4, 323). The monolithic Brown first gained our attention at the East-West Shrine Game. He was an All-AAC First-Team left tackle (with experience at right tackle) who reminds us a bit of current Patriot lineman Marcus Cannon in his size and position flexibility. The Cardinal ran a 5.09-second 40 at his pro day, which for a man  his size is flabbergasting, and completed the 3-cone drill in 7.36 seconds. Might end up as a guard but could get a look at the right tackle spot.

As usual, we’ll go back to our board in a few weeks. What’s the one move or player you’ll be looking for at the end of April? Let us know below.

Chris Warner tweets about sports, television, and the complexities of life at @cwarn89 

Peter King Scores Exclusive Interview With Roger Goodell, Also, Dog Bites Man.

The Celtics and Bruins both suffered discouraging setbacks yesterday with the Bruins dropping a 5-3 game to the Lightning for their fifth loss in a row, and the Celtics losing to the Pistons, 105-97.

Faltering Bruins fall to Tampa Bay – Amalie Benjamin says that this feels like the end for the Bruins. Check the rest of the Bruins stories at Bruinslinks.com.

For a long time, one of the main attractions of this site for many was the daily links. This is something that I’ve had to relinquish in recent years as time constraints have creeped up on me. Instead of links every day, I’m usually weighing in specific topics two or three times a week.

For those who want daily links which are well done and pretty complete, I can point you to three different sources (in addition to my automated Link sites listed above.)

108 Stitches by Alex Speier. – Red Sox fans will want to subscribe to Speier’s daily newsletter which provides a look at much of the content about the team out there on that day. The newsletter is also available on the Globe web site. Speier isn’t just running down the Globe’s baseball articles of the day, he’s linking to other local sites and blogs, as well as stories across the country.

Patriots News Blitz – The Patriots official website also does a daily post of all links on the team from that day.

Red’s Army Morning Dump – This popular Celtics blog has a daily post of Celtics-related news and links.

****

We haven’t heard from Roger Goodell since the Super Bowl, despite the NFL Commissioner’s claim that he is available to the media every day. In the least surprising development of all time, Goodell breaks his silence with a sitdown with Water Carrier-in-Chief Peter King for today’s MMQB.

Roger Goodell, Unplugged

Goodell is predictably tone-deaf and terrible. Coming off the year he just had, statements like “We have to meet the expectation of our fans,’’ he said. “They deserve it. We have to show them that their faith and trust in us is well placed.” are completely ludicrous.

Earth to Roger: fans do not trust you or have faith in you.

When addressing the reactionary NFL Conduct Policy that the league put into place after the Ray Rice incident, Goodell says:

I’m proud of what we did. I think what we did in developing a new personal conduct policy and making the changes that we made in education and making sure that people understand this issue, the things that we did more publicly about bringing to light this issue I think will be beneficial long-term to society—those things are things that we’ll look back and be proud of those accomplishments. We’re sorry we got to the place we got to [and] the way we got to it, but that is something that we now can look back at and build on. … We’re actually starting to see it. People are saying, “People should adopt the personal conduct policy of the NFL in other institutions and other industries.” That’s rewarding to some extent.

Is he for real? He’s trying to spin that what the NFL does is not only going to be “beneficial long-term to society” but that people are actually saying that they should copy the NFL in how they’re handling and addressing these issues? Who are these people?

Then we come to the Wells investigation over the footballs in the AFC Championship Game. Goodell says he hasn’t spoken to Wells “for several weeks” but believes he’s “near the end.” OK. What makes you believe that Roger, if you haven’t spoken to the head of the investigation?

Then there’s this.

The MMQB: You know that there’s a storyline out there that you knew about the deflating and wanted to catch them in the act.

Goodell: Let’s just short circuit this a little bit. I’m not going to get into what we knew and when we knew it because that’s part of what he’s investigating. … I can tell you that I was not personally aware of it until after the game.

Colts GM Ryan Grigson told the media at the combine that the Colts had contacted the NFL with concerns about the footballs in the week before the AFCCG. King soft-shoes the question here by calling it a “storyline.” No, it’s not a storyline, it’s a statement of fact. Or Grigson is lying.

So we’re going to believe that in the days before the AFC Championship game, with a Super Bowl berth on the line, one of the teams brought forward serious allegations against their opponent, and the Commissioner of the league was not aware of this fact?  

How is that possible?

Goodell tries to dodge the question somewhat, saying he’s not going to get into what “we” knew, but then claiming “he” was not “personally aware” of it until later. He’s either not telling the truth, or he is completely incompetent. You pick.

Shooting From The Hip…

A few things on my mind this week:

After 49ers linebacker Chris Borland retired this week at the age of 24, citing the risks of the game, many in the media used this as an opportunity to laud Borland and use their platform to lecture the public on the dangers of the game. Some tried to tie in other offseason retirements of young players with the dangers of head trauma as well, even though those situations were all different.

I’m not going to debate the dangers of brain injury in football. They exist. Players are aware of the risks. Chris Borland felt the risks outweighed the rewards and made the decision to walk away. It took guts to do that. Anyone can (and should) admire that.

Some in the football media are very aggressive in pointing out the dangers of football, and applauded Borland for his stand on the issue and his integrity for walking away from the game. They’ve made football into a morality play.

For instance, everytime I turn on the WEEI morning show lately, I’m hearing how Kirk Minihane will not allow his son to play football, and I’m hearing the hosts reel off concussion data and make all sorts of connections to head trauma. When I look on Twitter, I see people covering football making sweeping statements about the dangers of the game.

My question is, if these media people feel so strongly about the dangers and morality of the game and risks to brain health, do any of them consider quitting their jobs covering the game? They’re not in any physical danger, obviously, but if they really are concerned and disgusted by the dangers of the game, can’t they take a stand, too?

Or do they value the “prestige” that comes with covering the NFL more than their integrity on the matter?

You should read former Patriot Matt Chatham’s take on this issue: Borland’s Retirement Brings Out Worst in NFL Media

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Are the Celtics for real? Glad you asked

I’ll give the Globe this, they’ve done a good job of bringing in writers on the Celtics beat as of late. I thought Baxter Holmes was excellent in the short time he was here, and I’ve liked what I’ve seen from Adam Himmelsbach thus far.

The Celtics are fun. They’re not a true contender in any sense of the word – I don’t quite get the point of the segments out there asking “If Celtics make playoffs, are they one and done?” Now they’re supposed to beat a top seed? Of course they probably lose in the first round. If they even get there. Baby steps.

I’ve never been a proponent of tanking, my feeling is that any playoff experience, even a playoff race that falls short is good experience for young players. This summer should see a bigger influx of talent onto the roster than we’ve seen in some time, and the future is looking up for this team.

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Should the Patriots even bother to take the field this fall? Based on what I hear on sports radio, probably not. Apparently the AFC East has morphed into the 1980’s NFL East overnight and the Patriots have no cornerbacks after cheaping out on Darrelle Revis and Brandon Browner.

I’ll admit, the outraged guy on Twitter who asked Tom E Curran if the recent recall of Kraft Macaroni and Cheese was the reason why Bob Kraft wouldn’t pony up a couple million dollars more for Revis made me laugh a bit. As did they guy who said “What do you mean, wrong Kraft?” when Curran corrected the first guy.

What is amusing is that the people leading the charge in wailing over Revis and Browner, are the ones who early last season were first saying that Revis had lost a step, and then were saying that he wasn’t giving full effort on all plays. These same people complained all season long about the penalties that Browner was flagged for. Eventually he’s going to cost them a game, caller!

With Revis apparently headed back to the Jets all along, the Patriots knew that they would not be able to get another cornerback of Revis’ man-to-man coverage ability. Thus they would probably be playing more zone defense, which made Browner’s price tag way too high for someone who would then be more of a situational guy. If Revis was still here, Browner probably would be too.

It’s always fun to hear the screaming pulling-out-their-hair types in March. There’s a long time to go before they actually start playing games.

2015 Combine Snubs Who Showed ‘Em, Part I

As hundreds of NFL combine invitees demonstrated their abilities at Indianapolis this past February, hundreds more prepared to show what they could do at their respective schools’ pro days. These snubs have a tougher road ahead in terms of making themselves visible, but many have the types of days that help them go pro.

Some snubs we’ve mentioned in past years currently work at Gillette. Practice squad receiver Jonathan Krause got written up here for his 4.35-second 40, while practice squad linebacker Eric Martin got noticed for, among other things, his 6.63-second 3-cone drill, which would have qualified him for third best overall at the 2013 combine.

Special teamer Don Jones, who played nine games for New England in 2014, showed up in our notes for his 42-inch vertical. Other pro-day proponents who got a cup of Patriots Place DD-to-go include cornerback Stephon Morris, running back Stephen Houston and returner Reggie Dunn (spring 2013’s fastest 40 at 4.25 seconds).

For an overview of combine and pro day testing events (40-yard dash, 3-cone drill, etc.), you can view the NFL’s page here.)

Kudos, as always, to Gil Brandt, whose diligence this time of year on his pro day blog deserves a ton of credit.

Some performances of note over the past couple of weeks: [Read more…]

Revis Fallout Continues…

The Bruins and Celtics have had exciting wins this week, and the Red Sox are ramping up towards opening day.

But still much of the local talk this week has centered on the bumbling, incompetent, cheap, Super Bowl winning franchise that plays NFL games in Gillette Stadium.

The Patriots have had five players from their Super Bowl team sign elsewhere – Darrelle Revis, Brandon Browner, Shane Vereen, Akeem Ayers and Jonathan Casillas. They also parted ways (at least for now) with Vince Wilfork.

As of now, the only signing of note that the Patriots have made is linebacker/DL Jabaal Sheard, who should make a nice impact in the front seven. Their other signings have been depth and special teams guys.

But, we’re entering the phase of free agency where New England usually makes their moves. The silly money has been spent, and there are still productive players on the market looking for jobs.

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It sure was nice of Felger and Mazz to license their show for Dan Shaughnessy to use almost word-for-word as his column today.

I’m curious though, just where are these Patriots toadies who are trashing Revis right now and saying that he can’t play and how he only had two interceptions this season?

Did Dan make them up like characters in a Mike Barnicle column? Because I haven’t heard them. It’s been pretty universal to me that fans wish the team could’ve found a way to keep Revis.

Also – if Robert Kraft was truly “needy” about being “more special and smarter than the competition” and being “loved and admired” wouldn’t he have just paid Revis whatever he wanted?

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A few links, items of interest from this week:

Katie Nolan to debut talk show on Fox Sports 1 – Chad Finn looks at the Framingham native and rising star getting her own show, and also examines some numbers from last weekend’s prime time boxing telecast for NBC.

NESN to feature Worcester State duo – Bill Doyle looks at the “NESN Next Producer” contest, and the entry from a pair of students about the “Death and Rebirth of Baseball in Worcester”

The Red Sox will finally formally introduce Cuban phenom Yoan Moncada at an 11:30 press conference this morning.

The story behind how Yoan Moncada landed with Red Sox – Rob Bradford has a good look at how the deal between the club and the player came together.

Scouts say Mookie Betts poised for ‘All-Star’ year – Alex Speier has baseball evaluators very high on the Red Sox young centerfielder.

Tuukka Rask turns mistakes into wins – Fluto Shinzawa has a couple of hot games from the Bruins goaltender putting hope into the team’s chances for the postseason.

Celtics set bar even higher after beating Memphis – Steve Bulpett has the Celtics getting a signature win this week, one that can only raise their own expectations for themselves.

‘It Was Like Living in a Video Game': An Oral History of Larry Bird’s 60-Point Game – A must-read from Finn yesterday on the 30th anniversary of the Legend’s 60-point game. Almost all the principals from the game participated in the article, even benchwarmers Carlos Clark and Greg Kite.