And so it begins. With the Patriots 2006 season over, it’s already time to look to next season.

Mike Reiss has an overview of issues facing the team this offseason, with potential free agents, salary cap analysis and roster management. John Tomase has a similar look at holes that need to be filled and holes that might be created by departures. Ian Clark says there are changes looming in Foxboro. Rich Garven says that the Patriots might cut some more of their Super Bowl ties this offseason. Eric McHugh also looks ahead to the offseason. Mike Lowe also ponders what’s next for New England.

Michael Felger has his report card for the AFC Championship game. Ian Clark also has his report card for the game.

Karen Guregian and Reiss each talk with the agent for Asante Samuel, Alonzo Shavers, who does his best diplomat impression on the status of talks between he and the Patriots regarding his client.

Ron Borges has had this column written and shoved his desk drawer for five years now. With Tony Dungy finally in the Super Bowl, he can bring it out and take all the passive-aggressive shots at Bill Belichick that he wants. And you thought Ron might be above that? Ha! A couple samples:

He doesn't sleep in his office, silence his underlings, grouse at the media, close his practices, lie to his players or the public, sulk about losing or equate winning a football game with keeping the free world safe. How did Tony Dungy ever get into the position he's in today?

A little further on in the article:

Important for the country to see that a man can win an athletic contest without becoming a troll, a dictator, or an anti-social misfit. That he can convince his players of the importance of their jobs without trying to convince them that it is Armageddon every Sunday.

If I say directly that Borges is talking about Bill Belichick here, I’m sure to get the angry email from Ron stating that he never said “Belichick.” Ron would probably say that these qualities are not all that uncommon among NFL coaches. But we know who he is actually targeting.This is much similar to his picking the Patriots in the MSNBC article without actually coming out and saying that they’re going to win.

Just another disgrace from Ron Borges on the pages of the Globe sports section. Tony Dungy has got to be proud that he’s got a guy like Borges in his corner.

Steve Buckley joins that disgrace with just a horrid, horrid column in the Herald. I read it, and just went “Huh?!?!” The premise is debunking a nitwit who thinks Reche Caldwell should be compared to Bill Buckner? THAT’S worthy of a column? Along the way, Buckley gets his shot in at Belichick, noting without irony that Belichick could learn a thing or two about losing with dignity from Dungy.

Tony Massarotti wonders how the Patriots even got this far. It was all Belichick and Brady, he concludes. Jim Donaldson says the dynasty is dead. Tom Brady has been to his last Super Bowl. Alan Greenberg appears to take glee in Belichick’s misery following the game. Hector Longo says the Patriots need to give Tom Brady more weapons and not waste another year of his prime.

Albert Breer says that Peyton Manning’s patience and lack of panic helped the Colts come back and win this game. David Brown points to tired legs on the Patriots aging linebackers as a big factor in the game. Michael Parente has the Patriots reflecting on the stunning loss. Christopher Price has Tom Brady still not used to the taste of defeat. Price also has Manning praising the Patriots’ class for how they handled the loss and offered congratulations to the Colts.

Reiss’ notebook has players musing on the late lapses that did them in on Sunday night.

Bob Ryan has the Bears whipping out the respect card to be played over the next two weeks.


The Celtics’ losing streak hit eight games, but once again they were at least entertaining as they continue their journey to the draft lottery. The young Celtics put on quite a show last night before falling, 93-89 to the San Antonio Spurs.

Shira Springer notes that despite the loss, we once again saw a glimpse of the Celtics future on display last night. And it wasn’t bad. Steve Bulpett says that the losses are piling up and starting to all look the same – fall behind early, stage a run, fall short in the end. Lenny Megliola has the Spurs extending their streak against the Celtics. Bill Doyle also reports on the game and Tim Duncan’s personal streak of never having lost to the Celtics.

Mark Murphy has Al Jefferson getting praised for his defense last night by Doc Rivers, on a night in which the third year center had 26 points and 14 rebounds against Tim Duncan. Peter May looks at former Celtic Bruce Bowen, now entrenched with the Spurs, where he holds the NBA’s longest current consecutive games streak. Kevin Gray reports on NH native Matt Bonner, working his way back from injury with the Spurs.

Springer’s notebook reports that reinforcements might soon be on the way for the Celtics. Bulpett’s notebook has Paul Pierce shedding the protective boot that he has had to wear for the past several weeks. Doyle’s notebook has former Celtic Eric Williams happy to be with a contender.

Red Sox/Bruins

Jeff Horrigan insists that the J.D. Drew delay is no big deal to the Red Sox.

Steve Conroy looks at youth taking center stage at the NHL All Star game. Fluto Shinzawa has Sidney Crosby taking the league by storm at the age of 19.

Conroy’s notebook has Zdeno Charo just looking to have fun at the game. Shinzawa’s notebook has the league unveiling a new jersey, which is under fire from some players.

David Scott reports on Duke Castiglione finishing up his run at WHDH and heading back to NYC.

TV listings this afternoon….