Sunday Links from Len

Let the hype begin. Super Bowl Sunday is only one week away as the players, media, and celebrities head to Houston. Michael Smith, in his Pats Notebook, tells us the Patriots are heading down to Texas at 1:00 pm today. Smith explains that the Patriots with Super Bowl experience understand what this week is all about and are conveying that to the younger players. Smith also has a feature on Rodney Harrison who is an old school football player raised in an old school fashion by his mother Barbara in Chicago. Michael Holley sees this as one tough business trip for Coach Belichick and the team. He also believes the Panthers are a much better team than the Patriots who won it all two years ago.

Tom Curran said yesterday in his Notebook that Ty Law and his agent both expect Law back in 2004. There may be a restructuring of the contract. But the 2004 salary cap amount is very similar to the 2003 amount. This is a 2005 problem. But Adam Schefter of the Denver Post, like Ron Borges, believes Law will be a free agent this winter. Schefter claims that the Patriots were trying to dump Law during the season too and that the Broncos turned the Patriots down. Schefter also believes that referee Walt Coleman bailed out the Patriots last week with a fortuitous overturn of the ruling on the field that Tom Brady fumbled with just over a minute left in the game. Does Adam even watch the games? That overturn didn’t even resemble anything controversial.

Karen Guregian explains what this game means to ringless veterans like Rodney Harrison, Ted Washington, Christian Fauria, and Tyrone Poole. Kevin Mannix discusses how the Patriots make good use of the both the draft and free agency to build the team.

Jim McCabe, who has been covering the Panthers for the Globe, says the Panthers hit rock bottom in the last regular season game of 2001 in a game at home against the Pats. 21,000 people showed up in Carolina for that game and most were rooting for the Patriots. McCabe has the story of how the Panthers went from 1-15 to the Super Bowl.

It should come as a shock to nobody that Ron Borges uses his NFL Notes column to defend Al Davis who claims he never offered the Raiders head coach position to Sean Payton despite what Payton told the media. Borges insists that Davis is not a liar. Davis may not cooperate with his fellow owners, sue the league, and move his teams multiple times. But Ron Borges seems to always back the guy. Borges also discusses the financial burden owners take on when their teams go the Super Bowl.

Rick Cimini of the NY Daily News has a feature on Belichick’s friendship with Jon Bon Jovi. Bon Jovi, who owns an Arena Football team, claims Belichick got “screwed” in New York because of a misunderstanding. Steve Serby of the Daily News says Adam Vinatieri is Mr. Clutch.

No-name writer Jeff Schultz of the Atlanta Journal is upset that the Super Bowl has two no-name quarterbacks. He wanted Donovan McNabb. Does he actually believe McNabb is better than Tom Brady? The best thing he says about Brady is that doesn’t mess things up (like his hero who threw four picks in a conference championship game). The very same newspaper has another writer taking shots at Tom Brady today. Terrance Moore says “Manning is Manning” but “Brady is just a Brady”. He claims the NFL has problems as result of the parity in the league and New England is an example of what parity brings us. Perhaps the NFL could bring back the old 3rd Place Championship game and the Atlanta writers would be happy. Maybe the Georgia Dome could serve as the permanent home for such a game.

The College basketball season is starting to heat up with some local teams doing well. Recently, a very young BC team saw its RPI on the rise after some quality wins. But they lost a tough 65-62 road game yesterday to a decent West Virginia team. Mike Shalin has the game story. In a battle between the top two schools in New England, PC stunned UConn at Connecticut. Kevin McNamara has the game story . Both teams are headed for March Madness and will meet again in Providence. Bill Reynolds says that it wasn’t just a monster game by Ryan Gomes that beat Connecticut. UConn couldn’t handle the Friars zone either.

Gordon Edes has Baseball Notes today and has the story on Mo Vaughn unofficially calling it quits as Mo plans to spend more time at his home in Easton and less time at his home in New York. Mo hopes to help out the Brockton Rox and spend more time on his hitting school in Stoughton. Tony Massarotti has the Red Sox looking at possibly bringing back Ellis Burks.

The Bruins lost another home game last night. Florida beat the Bruins 2-1. Steve Conroy has the game story.

Bill Griffith has the story of the growth of the Patriots owned media (website and weekly tabloid). Griffith also explains why today’s Celtics game is not being televised locally.