Friday before a big weekend in Boston sports. Nick Cafardo looks at Patriots fans championing the cause of their team to national writers. He doesn’t understand why it is so important to them. Either way, he says, it doesn’t matter to the team, they don’t pay attention to that sort of stuff. Yesterday’s edition of Ask Nick was pretty mellow. He did compare Tom Brady to Bill Russell in the course of answering one of the questions. Michael Felger has a look at Tedy Bruschi, who deserves a Pro Bowl slot. Tom Curran looks at Rick Lyle and Anthony Pleasant, two grizzled veterans caught up in the youth movement. Alan Greenberg has a look at Tyrone Poole, who has been outstanding opposite Ty Law this season. Michael Parente looks at the challenge of stopping Fred Taylor. David Pevear examines the untraditional “Bill Ball”. Ian M. Clark looks at the cast of characters at linebacker for the Patriots. Tom King says that while the Patriots don’t really have a star featured back, the ones that they do have know their roles. Glen Farley looks at Adam Vinatieri, who is adjusting to a new holder, and now a new long snapper. Vic Ketchman of the Jaguars Official website names the Patriots the “team of the decade”. Rick Gosselin and the Dallas Morning News took a poll of 14 NFL executives and asked them to list the top coaches in the league. The winner: Bill Belichick.

Felger’s notebook looks at some “some form of remuneration” for fans who were unable to get to the game on Sunday. Cafardo’s notebook looks at a relatively healthy Patriot squad headed into the weekend. Curran’s notebook looks at Bill Belichick – longest-tenured coach in the NFL in terms of continuous service in the league. Parente’s notebook has more on that topic.

The baseball hot stove talk continues, unabated. Michael Holley though, takes a few moments to remember Nomar. He isn’t gone yet, but it seems a foregone conclusion at this time. It will be strange to see Nomar in any other uniform. A very poignant piece by Holley. Michael Silverman has a transcript of his interview with Pedro Martinez. As this is a media site, the section in which Pedro talks about his media silence is interesting. Here is a small section of it:

Q. You don't seem to like Yankees writers too much.
A. Boston writers are tougher. Boston writers are a lot rougher than New York writers. At least New York writers write in favor of their team all of time, not against them.
Q. So what happened this year - you didn't talk to us for most of the year?
A.Why? Because you guys misused my quotes. When all of you know I've been honest and always explain everything I spoke about in the proper way. (Some of you) somehow manage to write the things the way we meant them but evil people, evil writers - they have to be evil to try to misuse a person that's never done any harm to anybody, to try to make him look like an (expletive) in front of so many good fans, someone that has earned his respect by doing his job, by being so cooperative with all of you, being misused like I was. It made no sense for me to keep talking when I did the best I could. I was the biggest translator you could ever get when Manny didn't want to speak, when guys didn't know how to speak. So many players came up in the big leagues when I was there, and I picked up quotes from other players to give to you. Nobody took that into consideration to try to make me look like a greedy (expletive) in front of the fans.

The Winter Meetings kick off this weekend, and Tony Massarotti says there has perhaps never been an offseason weekend so anticipated as this one is. The face and fortunes of the Red Sox could be forever changed this weekend. I’m not so certain that any of the rumored moves will happen, but what do I know? Sean McAdam says the ARod deal seems to be falling apart. David Heuschkel says the odds are still great than 50% that the deal will get done this weekend. Jeff Horrigan looks at items on the docket for the Sox in these Winter Meetings and the rest of the offseason. Gordon Edes says Keith Foulke will choose soon the team for which he will play next year. Michael Vega has a Red Sox notebook in which he looks at the Yankees recent moves, has quotes from Roger Clemens about the Sox and looks at the battle for the 5th starter spot in spring training.

This is a bit off topic, just my own thoughts…Andy Pettitte and Roger Clemens get lumped together sometimes because they both live in Texas, played for the Yankees and are great friends. I think Pettitte showed a lot more class and integrity during this whole free agent period than Clemens was ever capable of. Pettitte said he’d only pitch for the Yankees, or closer to home, he went to Houston, where he lives in the offseason. Not Toronto, not Boston, but kept his word and went home to Texas. He reportedly got a huge offer from the Red Sox, but never seriously considered it because “he would not do that to Yankee fans”. You could only have wished that Clemens gave Sox fans the same consideration. He chased the money instead.

Celtics links, including Antoine Walker going off on Danny Ainge can be found at Fox Sports New New England.

Good news: Bruins didn’t tie last night. Bad news: They lost to an awful Capitals team. Nancy Marrapese-Burrell and Steve Conroy have the details. More bad news: Sergei Samsonov injured again. The Globe and the Herald notebooks look at the sprained knee suffered by the winger.

Bill Griffith looks at Nomar’s call to Dale & Neumy earlier this week, and assorted other items.

FSNE has Celtics/Raptors at 7:30. ESPN has Sonics/Pistons at 8:00 and Mavericks/Lakers at 10:30.