Update: Scott Benson has a look at the Ted Johnson saga and the eagerness of the media to put the blame on Bill Belichick – even when logic would say otherwise.

It’s another Super Bowl weekend, this year it is the Colts and Bears playing for the NFL championship.

CBS has the game this season, with Jim Nantz and Phil Simms calling their first Super Bowl together. This is also Nantz’s first Super Bowl, and he will become the first announcer to call a Super Bowl, The Masters and the NCAA men’s basketball Final Four.

CBS begins their coverage at noon on Sunday with The Road to the Super Bowl Simms’ All Iron Team follows at 1:00pm and then the four+ hour NFL Today pregame show starts at 2:00pm.

ESPN’S Sunday NFL Countdown runs from 11:00 am – 2:00 pm on game day, and they also have a special Saturday show from 6:00 to 8:00pm. NFL Network also plans around the clock coverage and SIRIUS NFL Radio should be another great destination this weekend.

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Weekend Highlights

Friday February 2
7:30pm, FSN – Clippers @ Celtics (HD)
8:00pm, ESPN – Bucks @ Pistons (HD)
10:30pm, ESPN – Bulls @ Supersonics (HD)

Saturday February 3
1:00pm, TV38 – Virginia Tech @ Boston College
3:00pm, NBC – FBR Phoenix Open (HD)
3:00pm, NESN – Maine @ NH (Basketball)
3:30pm, ABC – North Carolina @ NC State
4:00pm, CBS – Ohio State @ Michigan State (HD)
7:00pm, NHPTV – Maine @ NH (Hockey)
8:30pm, NESN – Bruins @ Hurricanes

Sunday February 4
2:00pm, NESN – Florida St @ Duke
2:30pm, ABC – Pistons @ Cavs
3:00pm, NBC – FBR Phoenix Open (HD)
6:00pm, CBS – Super Bowl XLI – Colts vs Bears

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In an interesting column on ESPN.com, especially with the Ted Johnson stuff today, Peter Keating looked last year at how annually the Patriots have had the lowest number of concussions in the league.

Aaron Schatz of Football Outsiders has his Super Bowl XLI Preview.

FO also has their popular Prop Bet Extravaganza from Bill Barnwell (Of BSMW Game Day fame) & Ian Dembsky.

Cold Hard Football Facts puts their Super Bowl coverage together on one page.

Peter Vecsey wonders what happened to Celtic Pride.

BSMW’s own David Scott has a feature in the latest Boston Sports Review looking at “Race in Boston Sports, 2007: How far have we come?”

Ron Borges had a 2:00pm chat on Boston.com on Friday.

Chad Finn has 10 minutes and 10 thoughts.

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Dan Kennedy examines how the Globe and NY Times have now run almost identical articles on the same day three times. The latest example is of course the dueling Ted Johnson stories this morning. He offers the following possible explanation for why the Globe story appeared today:

One interpretation is that MacMullan got word that the Times story was coming out, and that she wanted everyone to know she had it first — or, at least, she would have if Johnson had been willing to let her tell his story last summer.

The Johnson story is sad from many angles. I just can’t foresee things working out well in the long run for him. The NFL most definitely needs to address the concussion issue as well as the plight of many former players who have medical needs. Ron Borges had a good look at this issue in a column in the Globe today.

A couple things still strike me about the MacMullan feature. Johnson was upset that he was “forced” to practice that day in August, yet was so irate that when he wasn’t going to be active for the first game that he walked out on the team. It doesn’t appear that Johnson was practicing much during that time in between, even Borges had a line in a column from that period on the lack of depth at middle linebacker where he asked “Where is Ted Johnson? – Nobody knows.”

Another item to consider is how forceful the hit in practice on J.R. Redmond back in 2002 was. This is the description in the MacMullan article:

In the 9-on-7 drill, running back J.R. Redmond barreled up the middle, where Johnson was waiting. Although the two only made mild contact, Johnson said he immediately began experiencing the warm, hazy sensation of a concussion.

But note how Nick Cafardo reported it the day after it happened, on August 14th, 2002:

Ted Johnson suffered a concussion in last Saturday's 22-19 loss to the New York Giants, which is why he wore a red shirt at Monday's practice. Yesterday, he made quite a hit on J.R. Redmond to stuff him in a goal-line situation.

Was it “mild contact” or “quite a hit?” Who is exaggerating here?

MacMullan’s piece leads you to believe that Johnson was placed in full action the very next practice after the hit he took in the Giants game. The Cafardo piece tells us that Johnson was in the red practice jersey on Monday, and then the Redmond hit was on Tuesday.

I really feel for Johnson and hope for the best for him. He has a tough road ahead of him. I’m more uncomfortable with the slant that is being put on this story all around the country. On any major sports site, you’re sure to see a headline along these lines:

  • Ex-Pats linebacker blames Belichick for depression (ESPN.com and FoxSports.com)
  • Johnson: Belichick, Pats ignored my concussion (SI.com)
  • Ex-LB: Belichick made me play with concussion (MSNBC.com)
  • Report: Ex-Pats LB blames ills on Belichick (NBCSports.com)
  • Ex-Patriot blames concussions on Belichick (CBS.Sportsline.com)

If Johnson really blames Belichick for all his problems, why in the world would he be wishing for, or expecting a call from the Patriots coach after Junior Seau went down this season? It makes no sense.

Peter King on WEEI with Dale & Holley today when asked for comment on the situation, called it “an extremely disturbing portrait of how the Patriots run their organization.” When given the quotes from the Felger article in December where Johnson talked about coming back to the Patriots, King simply said “wow”, stammered, and backpeddled.

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Sports Media Columns from Around the Country:

New England

Susan Bickelhaupt talks to James Brown of CBS, who recounts how he got into the football business despite never playing the game and coming from a basketball background. Bill Doyle talks to Jim Nantz about calling his first ever Super Bowl. David Scott weighs in on the Jackie MacMullan feature this morning on former Patriot Ted Johnson and his health and personal issues which he traces back to suffering multiple concussions while playing for the team. Jeff Goldberg reports on the Red Sox reaching an agreement with WTIC in Connecticut, where their games have been heard for 50 years. WTIC had flirted with carrying the Yankees games earlier in the offseason.

New York

Phil Mushnick has Mike Francesa incorrectly rewriting Miami history. Andrew Marchand talks with Spero Dedes, who will be calling the Super Bowl’s International feed. He also has 5 Questions with Phil Simms on the Super Bowl. Richard Sandomir looks at a recent New Jersey Devils game that drew only 736 households out of over 7 million in New York City. Neil Best recommends that Jets fans with access check out the broadcast of Super Bowl III on NFL Network Saturday night. He also has John Kerry trying to save MLB Extra Innings from DirecTV. Bob Raissman talks to the first African-American to call a Super Bowl, Greg Gumbel, about having two African-American head coaches in the game.

More East Coast

Robert Weintraub examines whether announcers like Joe Buck and Jim Nantz are sportscasters or corporate shills. Michael Hiestand looks at the Super Bowl ad machine going into overdrive this weekend. Be prepared for plenty of the Geico caveman character. Chris Zelkovich looks at CBS’ preparation for the game, the next work will feature 47 cameras for the telecast. Laura Nachman has more from Jim Nantz on his first Super Bowl. Jim Williams breaks down the Super Bowl coverage battle between CBS, ESPN and NFL Network.

South

Jim Nantz is big down south. Barry Jackson, Jim Sarni and Dave Darling all feature Nantz prominently in their media columns this week. Barry Horn reflects on the Bill Parcells era in Dallas.

Midwest

Dan Caesar looks at a dispute between Charter Communications and CBS, as the latter has pulled the HD signal from Charter because the cable company doesn’t want to pay for the HD signal since viewers can get it for free over the air with an antenna. It appears St Louis viewers with Charter will not be able to watch the Super Bowl in HD. Bob Wolfley looks at what TV crews do with the inside information they receive during meetings with players and coaches. Ed Sherman has more on Jim Nantz getting ready to cover three big events over the next nine weeks. He also made a visit to Radio Row in Miami.

West Coast

Tom Hoffarth has the first of a four-part annual series on the best and worst of the Los Angeles sports media. This week he rates the Sports-talk radio personalities. Larry Stewart says that Sunday could be a long day for viewers on the couch with more than six hours of pregame coverage. He also looks at KCAL putting in a new HD facility. Jay Posner has Lance Barrow getting set to produce his first Super Bowl broadcast. John Maffei has more on Nantz and many Super Bowl related items. Joe Davidson has a look at Jim Kozimor’s insane schedule this weekend. Jim Carlisle reports on NBC getting its golf coverage started this weekend.

This will take up some space, but the information is worth it. Here are the ratings numbers for the WBCN vs WEEI pre and postgame shows:

Patriots_Pregame.jpg

Patriots_Postgame.jpg

These numbers came from WBCN, and they offered this information on the numbers:

A word about the ratings: the overall numbers released a few weeks ago were based on the entire 12-week rating period. That is, the overall 10 am-3 pm Sunday numbers include many Sundays when the Patriots weren’t playing a 1:00 pm game; so WBCN’s pregame programming wasn’t on opposite WEEI’s. We isolated 6 weeks in the Fall 2005 book, and 6 weeks in the Fall 2006 book, when the Pats played at 1:00, when the two stations’ football programming competed head-to-head. As you’ll see, WBCN overtook WEEI among men ages 18-49, 25-54 and 18+ in pregame, and extended it’s lead in all three demographic groups in postgame.

Just so you know we’re not finessing the data, WBCN also beat WEEI in both pregame and postgame in the overall numbers, ranking number one across the board on Sundays from 10 am-3 pm, and number one on Sundays from 3-7 pm among 6 of 7 demographic categories (second only among persons 18-34 to WJMN).

In addition, the numbered weeks mentioned on the spreadsheet refer to the weeks of the ratings period, not of the Patriots’ schedule.

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