Bob Ryan says that football is harsh business, “especially the way it’s practiced in Foxborough.” He feels fans are better off ignoring this side of the game. After praising them for the last six years, the new radio-enabled Michael Felger continues his new tact of criticizing the way that the Patriots do business. He examines the Branch situation, uses quotes from agents (a favorite of the Globe, and never an objective source) and basically tells fans that the Patriots aren’t interested in winning in 2006. Am I exaggerating? “Did it work out for the Patriots this time around? Only if you don’t care about winning a championship in 2006.” I know Felger is only doing this for attention, (The Big Show crew yesterday said the same thing – they say he doesn’t believe any of this.) but it is annoying as hell. All of a sudden, the way that the Patriots have operated for years, which Felger has praised all along for their tough, unrelenting stances, (he’s praised the team for locking up rookies to five and six year deals – I know that.) all of sudden now that Felger needs some attention for his radio show, he’s done a 180 and gone the Borges route and been critical of them. This is media at its worst. It’s fine to be critical of the team. But doing it just for attention is nauseating.

Over on our Patriots Game Day page, Bill Barnwell looks at statistics to try and analyze the situation that the Patriots have gotten themselves into: what happens when a team loses two receivers the caliber of Deion Branch and David Givens?

Alan Greenberg looks at the Patriots charges against the Jets. Ron Borges reports that the Patriots have also filed a grievance against Branch, seeking as much as $800,000 in fines and signing bonus money.

Albert Breer has Heath Evans saying that the Patriots will remain calm and confident after this matter, just like they always are. Rich Garven has Branch saying that the holdout and standoff with the Patriots didn’t break him.

Mike Reiss has a mini-feature on Eric Mangini as the former Patriots assistant adjusts to life as a head coach in the NFL, and this week prepares to go against his mentor, Bill Belichick. Michael Parente has a look at this weekend’s showdown between student and teacher.

Mike Reiss’ notebook has Deion fitting in out in Seattle, and a number of other team items. Chad Finn weighs in with Patriots and NFL thoughts in his First and 10 column.

Red Sox

Gordon Edes combines his game story with comments from David Ortiz, trying to clarify his earlier remarks about Derek Jeter and insisting that the media was misrepresented him in this matter. Michael Silverman looks at the game, in which Coco Crisp drove in three runs and Mike Timlin nearly coughed up a 6-1 lead. Sean McAdam looks at the Red Sox surviving the late Baltimore rally. David Heuschkel notes that the win pushed the Sox to 12-1 this season against the Orioles. David Borges asserts that the Red Sox can still count on beating the Orioles.

Tony Massarotti has Kevin Millar feeling for his former teammates on the Red Sox and the tough stretch that they’ve been through the last two months. Bill Ballou says that Big Papi no longer has a shot at MVP. Mike Fine has a bit on Dustin Pedroia.Silverman has Ortiz sending a message to Jeter via back channels to assure him he wasn’t slighting the Yankees shortstop. Massarotti has Kason Gabbard having to leave the game with injury after 4 2/3 scoreless innings last night.

Edes’ notebook has Carlos Pena hoping that he can stick with the Red Sox beyond this season. Silverman’s notebook has Manny Ramirez sitting out last night’s game because of his sore knee. McAdam’s notebook has the Sox giving Lenny Dinardo a start tonight as the late season auditions continue. Heuschkel’s notebook has Ortiz insisting that he wasn’t trying to put down Derek Jeter. Ballou’s notebook has a quick recap of last night’s action.


Shira Springer has Kendrick Perkins trying to “play it safe” coming off of shoulder surgery this offseason. Steve Bulpett has Perkins talking about the loyalty that both he and the Celtics have displayed thus far to each other.

Stephen Harris says that Zdeno Chara already has the look of a team captain. Bud Barth has Chara eager to begin the season with his new club. Kevin Paul Dupont has Glen Murray hoping to bounce back and have a big year with the Bruins on a new line with Marc Savard. Douglas Flynn looks at Tom Fitzgerald hanging them up after a 17-year career. Harris’ notebook has Bruins rookie forward Ben Walter looking to impress the coaches early on. Barth’s notebook has more on Fitzgerald hanging up the skates.

Fluto Shinzawa examines how NASCAR’s Chase system is working out for the sport.

NESN has Red Sox/Orioles at 7:00. ESPN has Rangers/Tigers at 7:00.