The MANning is coming…

In some quarters there appears to be an eagerness to declare the Patriots run over. Could be just the desire to have something new to write about instead of all of this boring winning stuff, or perhaps it’s a anticipation of failure. After pushing for three seasons for Charlie Weis and Romeo Crennel to get the chance to be head coaches, Nick Cafardo today says the Patriots might be in major trouble without them in the future. After saying all that, he advises fans to only worry about Sunday. Tom E Curran says that this Sunday could be the end of the Patriots as we’ve come to know them. Lenny Megliola though, says that as long as Bill Belichick is at the helm, Patriots fans will have confidence, especially against the Colts. Alan Greenberg looks at the challenge facing Belichick and his staff with their depleted secondary going against the high scoring Colts. Chris Kennedy also looks at what the Patriots are facing this Sunday. Fluto Shinzawa has Belichick’s thoughts on the high flying Colts offense. Kevin Mannix also has a look at the tall task facing the Patriot defense this Sunday. Bill Burt attempts to calm the masses who are worried about facing the Colts.

The Patriots have their bulletin board material, thanks to the ever-reliable Mike Vanderjagt. Michael Felger looks at the comments from the Colts kicker. It was interesting to hear Bill Belichick acknowledge and even inquire about Vanderjagt’s comments during his appearance on WEEI’s Big Show yesterday afternoon. Tim Weisberg says that the comments by Vanderjagt were not necessary to get the Patriots fired up, a notion that D&C would disagree with. They were firmly in the camp that the comments were exactly what Belichick and the Patriots hoped for and wanted. In fact Gerry Callahan (subscription only) says that the Patriots should look back at the end of this season and thank Vanderjagt for all that he has done for them. Jon Couture says that most talk and hype leading up to big games is empty, but this matchup Sunday will be well worth waiting for. A couple interesting columns from, Kevin Rousseau says that the Colts are getting what they wanted, while Bob George looks at the Patriots history of home field dominance in the playoffs.

Kevin Paul Dupont again draws the assignment of covering the opposing team and he looks at Peyton Manning winning the MVP. George Kimball also looks at the award for Manning. Garry Brown however, says that Foxboro just isn’t Peyton’s place. Bill Reynolds writes that this is the biggest game of Peyton’s career, and for a guy who hasn’t had too much success in big games, that’s a concern. Kimball has a subscription column saying that Tony Dungy isn’t worrying about past failures of his team against the Patriots. Dupont’s notebook has Dungy paying respect to the Patriots.

Felger’s notebook looks at the Patriots choice to take Ty Law’s spot on the active roster, cornerback Hank Poteat. Shinzawa’s notebook has Patriots and Colts players giving their thoughts on the game Sunday. Curran’s notebook has more on Vanderjagt’s comments. Weisberg’s notebook has some items from a fairly quiet day in the lockerroom.

After certain members of the Boston media have taken shots the last few years at Bill Belichick for not allowing the media access to his assistant coaches, (even though Bill Parcells followed the same practice) it’s interesting to note that Charlie Weis plans to follow the same blueprint as well, informing reporters who cover Notre Dame that they are not to speak to his assistants and players without his permission. Mark Schlabach of the Washington Post has the story. Will the term “muted underlings” be tossed around?

The Celtics got themselves an easy win against the Magic last night, winning 119-101. Peter May, Steve Bulpett and Carolyn Thornton have the game stories. Paul Harber and Rich Thompson have a look at rookie guard Tony Allen, who had 16 points in the win and is gaining a bigger role with the club as the season goes on. Harber also looks at the comeback of Grant Hill, and Thompson has a piece on Johnny Davis speaking about former teammate Doc Rivers. Thornton’s notebook has details on the trade that the Magic made prior to the game. Bulpett’s notebook has Doc Rivers defending his comments about his starters from Saturday night’s loss to Chicago. May’s notebook has more on the trade made by the Magic.

Tony Massarotti says that Derek Lowe’s departure from the Red Sox is not personal, it’s all about money.

Bill Griffith has a look at Bull Riding (!?) and some other media notes including comments from media people on Norm Resha. From Friday, Dave Scott had a piece on the Globe, the Metro, Chris Snow and other items from the Boston media scene.


Calm before the storm…

Richard Seymour’s health is a hot topic in the papers this morning, as the Patriots Defensive Lineman appeared in the locker room yesterday, and spoke with reporters. Michael Felger says the outlook appears to be good for Seymour, who only wore a light wrap on his knee in the lockerroom yesterday. Frank Dell’Apa and Michael Parente also look at Seymour and his recovery and chances of playing on January 16th. Meanwhile on yesterday afternoon, Parente and Mike Reiss filled in on the “Patriots Playbook” webcast, and during that show, Reiss opined that he doesn’t think Seymour will be ready to play on the 16th. His opinion was perhaps based more on caution, but he did make that statement. Other things discussed on that show was the possibility of the Bengals being interested in Eric Mangini as defensive coordinator, especially if Romeo Crennel stays with the Patriots. They also half-seriously kicked around the idea of Mike Shanahan coming on as Offensive Coordinator for a year should he and the Bronco’s part ways. An extremely remote (and silly) possibility, to be sure, but it made for show fodder. To those of you tired of Red Sox talk on WEEI (which was what happened yesterday – pitching rotation talk) offers web radio starting at noon each workday.

Alan Greenberg looks at Bill Belichick’s message to his team before giving them four days off. The Eagle-Tribune ran a couple articles on Belichick’s top assistants yesterday, with John Tomase looking at Romeo Crennel and Hector Longo writing about Charlie Weis. Eric McHugh has a good look at Randall Gay. Tom E Curran looks at Tom Brady, heading into his third postseason and hoping for his third SuperBowl. Bob Ryan has a look at the success of former Patriots coach Pete Carroll out at USC. Kevin Mannix says that Carroll should not entertain any offers to come back to the NFL, under any circumstances. Bill Reynolds looks at former Patriots backup QB Scott Zolak, who has made a career for himself on the air now that his football playing days are over. Buddy Thomas shares his pearls of football wisdom with us regarding the playoffs, except he only covers two games and has some gibberish in there at the end. Dell’Apa’s notebook and Felger’s notebook each look at Tom Brady’s playoff preparation. Parente’s notebook says that Belichick will watch some of the weekend games from his office, and he notes the idea that he brought up yesterday on the webcast of Eric Mangini and the Bengals. Curran’s notebook has Belichick praising Troy Brown’s work on defense.

The Celtics pulled out a one point win at home over the Warriors last night. “Ugly” is a word used by Peter May, Steve Bulpett and Lenny Megliola in their coverage of the game last night. Thought it may have been ugly, there were many positives that came out of it. Amalie Benjamin looks at rookie Al Jefferson putting up a double-double for the green, while Matt Kalman looks at the return of Gary Payton after a one game absence. The notebooks reverse those stories, with May’s notebook looking at Payton and Bulpett’s notebook covering Jefferson.

John Tomase says that next year is a critical year for Jim Rice’s Hall of Fame hopes. Dom Amore has Wade Boggs pushing for Rice’s induction and Ryne Sandberg pushing for Andre Dawson. Tony Massarotti says the idea of players going into the Hall of Fame with the cap of one team is out of style. Stan Grossfeld looks at baseball in the Dominican Republic.

Updates may be intermittent over the next few days and into Monday. I’m once again going to be away and doing “real world” stuff.

TNT has Grizzlies/Pistons at 7:30 and Pacers/Spurs at 9:30. ESPN2 has a College hoops tripleheader starting at 7:00.

It’s over

Sorry New England football fans, but your season is over. Gerry Callahan has declared that the Patriots cannot beat the Colts, no matter what. The greatest offense of all time is headed into Foxboro on January 16th, and will plunder and eviscerate the decimated defense of your New England Patriots. Peyton Manning is out for revenge and no scheme concocted by Romeo Crennel and Bill Belichick will have any effect whatsoever in slowing down the juggernaut of the Indianapolis Colts. Callahan made this declaration both in a column in the print edition of the Herald, (not available online…even to susbcribers…) and on his WEEI radio show.

It was a perfect example of what is wrong with sports radio in Boston. I’m not talking about Callahan’s stand that the Colts can beat the Patriots. That certainly can happen, and I don’t subscribe to the theory that Belichick and the Pats have Peyton Manning’s “number” and will just roll to victory based on that. I can see the Colts coming in here and beating the Patriots. What was awful on the air was Callahan’s repeated use of Straw Man tactics in debating the points. Whenever John Dennis, (who I cannot believe I’m defending here…) would bring up the matter of the Colts schedule…that they played a number of the weakest defenses in the NFL this season, and that certainly contributed to the numbers put up by the offense, Callahan would shout him down, saying something along the lines of “So it’s Manning’s fault that they had to play those teams…was he supposed to schedule tougher teams?” A Straw Man is described as “Description: It is a fallacy to misrepresent someone else’s position for the purposes of more easily attacking it, then to knock down that misrepresented position, and then to conclude that the original position has been demolished. It is a fallacy because it fails to deal with the actual arguments that one has made.” Callahan would never touch or discuss the fact that the Colts played some truly miserable defensive teams and admit that perhaps his offensive numbers might’ve benefited from that fact. Instead he chose to mock the theory to try to misrepresent or discredit it. I realize of course, that prior to the show, this was all planned out, that Gerry’s article would be brought up, and that John Dennis would attack it, and Callahan would stick to his guns no matter what, stir up the listeners and generate calls and “heated” talk on the air. That was all pretty much scripted. The least they could do is be a little more creative and not quite so transparent and contrived in their views. We all know Callahan doesn’t really think that the Patriots have no shot against the Colts, but that’s his stand today and he’s got to stick by it.

Michael Felger’s Patriots Insider declares that the team as a franchise has some work to do to be considered among the great dynasties of the NFL. Alright…who wrote this next piece and what have they done with Nick Cafardo? Seriously, a good effort today. Instead of getting the Bills GM to take shots at the Patriots, he gets staffers from around the NFL to discuss the playoff picture, and what they think of the Pats. Jim Donaldson is late to the party, as he discusses whether Belichick played Brady too much last Sunday. Michael Parente looks at the Patriots playing a waiting game this weekend. Jonathan Comey looks at the brilliance of Belichick and has a look at the playoff picture in general. Shalise Manza Young looks at Romeo Crennel looking to take calls from any team looking for a coach. Felger’s notebook looks at the Patriots coming to an agreement with former Ravens QB Chris Redman for next season. Cafardo’s notebook and Parente’s notebook look further at Crennel meeting with the Browns sometime this week.

Charlie Weis’ attorney has responded to the allegations headlined in yesterday’s story in the Herald. Shockingly. not as much attention is being paid to this side of the issue, either with the placement of this piece in the paper, or to mentions on the air. I do wonder though, if there will be an uproar over the fact that apparently Weis’ attorney doesn’t allow him to speak to the media either…

Wade Boggs was elected to the Hall of Fame yesterday, and the former Red Sox (and Yankee) third baseman is the subject of a number of articles this morning. Dan Shaughnessy remembers Boggs as a player with a penchant both for hitting and the headlines. Jeff Horrigan, Steven Krasner, Paul Doyle and David Borges all also remember the career of Boggs. Chris Snow, back at the Globe from Minnesota, also has a report on the election of Boggs and Ryne Sandberg. Gordon Edes talks to George Digby, the Red Sox scout who discovered Boggs. Michael Gee has a subscription only column on the election of Boggs to the hall, Boggs got 91% of the vote and would be revered in today’s game which emphasizes OBP.

Peter May talks with Mark Blount about the Celtics problems on defense this season. The Celtic center believes that better communication and more talking on the floor will help the team. A lot of fans are down on Blount this season, I’d say I’m a little disappointed, but not as much as many people are. He is what he is. A serviceable 7-footer. Not a great piece by May, who continues to show that he probably doesn’t watch a whole lot of these games, and continues to yearn for the days of Obie-ball. Mark Murphy looks at Walter McCarty providing a spark off the bench recently. Murphy’s notebook has a look at Tom Gugliotta, who might find minutes hard to come by for the foreseeable future.

Russ Conway, who has been touted here as the best Hockey writer in New England, had a proposal in yesterday’s Lawrence Eagle-Tribune on how to save the NHL. Conway worked up an Initiative Proposal along “with an informal panel of 36 recruited from the ranks of the game’s most experienced people. They include top pro hockey executives who have been in the business 10 years or more, players and former players, union officials, longtime sports agents, coaches, lawyers and veteran hockey analysts in the media.” The proposal has been sent to NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman and Players Association Executive Director Bob Goodenow. Outstanding job here. I can’t think of many other sportswriters who could come up with something like this…If this proposal makes it anywhere, it could be the second time Conway has helped save the league, the other time being when he helped exposed the NHLPA scandal.

FSN has Celtics/Warriors at 7:00 ESPN has Princeton/Duke at 7:00 and Suns/Rockets at 9:00. ESPN2 has Notre Dame/Seton Hall at 8:00 and Alabama/Vanderbilt at 10:00.

The Glove was off

The Celtics were without Gary Payton last night, but after a totally miserable first half, they rallied to pull away from the Hornets, winning 108 – 90 at the FleetCenter. Jon Duke of the BSMW Full Court Press has the game story, as do Shira Springer, Mark Murphy and Carolyn Thornton. Payton missing a game is a story unto itself, in fact, Peter May writes an entire column on that subject. It’s only the fourth time Payton has missed a game due to injury in 1,139 games. May does some speculating towards the end of the piece as to the future of Payton, and says there have been no discussions about getting him signed to an extension to stay here in Boston. Steve Buckley (subscription only) looks at the play of the Celtics youngsters, Tony Allen made some spectacular plays once again last night, and Buckley writes:

In fact, you may have noticed the Hornets' Baron Davis looking over at Doc Rivers in the fourth quarter and using some impromptu sign language to endorse the play of the extraordinarily fun-to-watch Allen.

"Did the TV cameras pick that up? I'm not sure, but I hope so,'' Rivers said. "He turns to the bench and points at Tony Allen, and yells, `He has this,' while pointing at his heart. And that's awesome when you hear things like that, especially from someone like Baron Davis."

Buckley goes on to note the failure of Marcus Banks to seize an opportunity last night. Springer’s notebook gives us a timeline of last evening, recording the events that led up to Payton not playing. Murphy’s notebook has more on Payton’s 305 consecutive game streak coming to an end.

Kevin Mannix has the grades from the Patriots regular season finale. He makes a salient point, (really) by noting that “more teams have been hurt by a loss of momentum than a loss of injured players late in the season.” I wish more would recognize this point. Instead, we have the constant hand-wringing on the air about “what if” someone got hurt on Sunday. No one did. Move on. Michael Parente also has his Tuesday morning grades. Steve Grogan also grades out the Pats. Rich Thompson looks at the Patriots preparations for any one of three possible opponents for January 16th. Shalise Manza Young has Bill Belichick reflecting on how the season has unfolded. Mike Reiss has a nice mini-feature on Patriots rookie CB Randall Gay. Ron Borges has an overview of the playoffs. According to Football Outsiders, the Patriots are the number one team in the NFL according the DVOA.

Charlie Weis and Romeo Crennel appeared before the media yesterday, Weis talking about his new job at Notre Dame and Crennel to discuss coaching openings that he might be a candidate for. Michael Felger looks at what life has been like for Weis, working two jobs the last few weeks. Alan Greenberg says Weis will be open to tips and suggestions from coaches who have coached in both college and the NFL. Chris Kennedy has more on Weis’ post-Patriots plans. Michael Parente says that holding down the two jobs has not been a problem for Weis thus far. Weis found himself in the news for another reason this morning, J.M. Lawrence in the Herald reports that the contractor who built Weis’ house has not been paid and is suing. Weis has not responded. There could be reasons Weis hasn’t paid, poor workmanship, etc, but in any case, the story got big play on D&C this morning, featured in the “Headlines” section and sports flashes. Interesting because the item involving Bob Lobel from a few weeks ago was ignored by D&C and most others in the media. Gotta protect their own, I guess. Hypocrisy is more like it.

Nick Cafardo looks at Romeo Crennel’s time at the podium. Crennel has been mentioned as a candidate in Cleveland, and Nick points out that:

Last year, Crennel went on five interviews in a 36- to 48-hour period. Two executives who interviewed him felt the Patriots didn't allow him enough time for an effective interview.

Where do I place my bet that Tom Donahoe was one of those executives? In any event, the league is very specific that teams can only interview candidates on teams with a first round bye during this one week, and can only have one interview. In reality, when a team fires a coach on Monday, they probably need a couple days to assemble candidates and make arrangements and by then the week is almost up, making the available time very short. Once again, Nick is likely trying to stir up mud where there isn’t any. Karen Guregian says Crennel deserves a shot at being a head coach and should be the number one guy on Cleveland’s list. Felger’s notebook says that Scott Pioli could also be targeted by the Browns. This despite Pioli’s statement that he is staying here at least through his current contract. Reiss’ notebook also looks at the Browns’ shopping list. Cafardo’s notebook looks at Weis not taking any of the coaches off of the Patriots staff to join him at Notre Dame. Young’s notebook looks at how friends Belichick and Nick Saban will handle being in the same division.

Wade Boggs could be elected to the baseball Hall of Fame today. Gordon Edes, Paul Doyle and Jeff Horrigan all look at the career of Boggs, his chances for election today and other possibilities.

Bob Ryan looks at tonight’s Orange Bowl matchup of USC and Oklahoma for the National Championship.

Bill Griffith looks at Sunday’s FOX broadcast of the Patriots game, and has other media notes. Kevin Paul Dupont looks at the opening of Agganis Arena.

ABC has the FedEx Orange Bowl at 8:00.


The Patriots wrapped up the regular season yesterday with a 21-7 win over the 49ers at Gillette. Game stories for the season ending contest are provided by Nick Cafardo (passive aggressive shot at Belichick to open the article) Michael FelgerTom E CurranAlan GreenbergMichael Parente and Scott A Benson. Corey Dillon had another big rushing day and earned more incentives in his contract. Jackie MacMullan writes that the marriage of Dillon and the Patriots is working out quite nicely thus far. Shalise Manza Young has more on Dillon reaching his incentive. Ian M Clark also writes about Dillon. George Kimball has a subscription column on Dillon, and wonders why Dillon went back in for the final touchdown. Kevin Mannix notes that Bill Belichick did things a little differently than Tony Dungy and Andy Reid did in their games yesterday. Lenny Megliola says that the Patriots time begins now.

Ron Borges looks at Rohan Davey playing the fourth quarter. Jim Donaldson says the Patriots should be proud of their 14-2 mark this season, having faced more adversity than they did last year. Dan Pires also looks at the accomplishments of this squad. Karen Guregian says this is a flawed 14-2 team. Paul Harber, Steve Conroy and Alan Greenberg look at the performance of tight end Jed Weaver against his old team. Mike Reiss looks at areas of interest for the upcoming playoffs. Joe McDonald looks at Tom Brady’s afternoon. Steve Buckley has a subscription column on Brady, noting that the Patriots QB is looking forward to some rest and recovery the next couple weeks.

Christopher Price looks at the Patriots using 40 starters over the course of the season. Joe McDonald and Steve Conroy look at Mike Vrabel catching another TD pass. Rich Thompson looks at the Patriots defense not getting much of a rest yesterday. Shalise Manza Young looks at Willie McGinest finishing the year with 9 1/2 sacks, his most since 1996. Frank Dell’Apa looks at the 49ers having a rough day after a promising beginning.

Cafardo’s notebook looks at Bethel Johnson getting a chance to handle punts. Felger’s notebook has more on this subject as Johnson had a punt return for a TD which was called back thanks to a penalty. Curran’s notebook and Parente’s notebook also look at Johnson. Reiss’ notebook looks at Adam Vinatieri suffering some blurred vision in the second half yesterday.