7th Heaven or Repeat of ’07?

Draft Day links brought to you by guest blogger Bob Ekstrom. As always, he can be reached at bob02878@yahoo.com.

Good morning, and welcome to the midpoint in football’s offseason. It’s the one weekend in the year when college and NFL intersect, where young men descend upon Radio City Music Hall or gather in front of television sets as mom and dad stand behind them with a hand upon each shoulder and navigate the string of mini-dramas that are Commissioner Roger Goodell’s regular visits to the mike.

There’s a long way to go before the 3 PM start, but you’ve got several good places to frequent once things get rolling. Get your info straight from the horse’s mouth with the NFL’s own Draft Tracker. For breaking headlines, ESPN’s Draft Central has some of the best reporters, but most content requires an In$ider account. Pro Football Weekly’s content is more accessible and they’ll keep it fresh all day. If fresh isn’t important, NFL Draft History is the best site to relive your team’s successes and failures of yesteryear. For Patriots’ draft activity, there are no better sources than Mike Reiss, who’ll be blogging on Reiss’s Pieces, and Scott Benson, who’ll be manning the fort all weekend on Patriots Daily. Scott Wright’s Draft Countdown offers some good content and this easy-to-read value chart, which I plan to consult when Bill Belichick and Scott Pioli start trading down.


Clark Judge says the end of Jeremy Shockey’s days in the Meadowlands will create a ripple through the draft, but don’t look for it until late Saturday at the earliest. Paul Schwartz of the Post says Sean Payton will have to do better than the 40th overall pick if he wants Shockey in New Orleans as speculated. Dolphins in Depth says yesterday’s trade with the Cowboys may not be the one Miami fans expected, and with Parcells demanding a first-round pick for Jason Taylor, it may not come at all. Chad Johnson is still a Bengal, but confirmed his intention to sit out the season if that doesn’t change.

The Interference

New Englanders will have to wait it out as five teams have their ten minutes of limelight ahead of them. That, of course, does not count the Dolphins, which made Jake Long’s weekend shorter (30-second ad comes first) than the one Mike Ditka had in 1999 after letting all his picks go up in smoke for Ricky Williams. Conventional wisdom has the remainder of the “Sexy Six” going before New England’s time, the only mystery being the order in which they become unavailalbe.

Jim Thomas of the Post-Dispatch has the St. Louis front office narrowing their pick to either Chris Long or Glenn Dorsey, with Long now gaining the edge as the next apparent Ram. Steve Wyche of the Journal-Constitution reminisces about the anniversary of Mike Vick’s proclaimed innocence, coming one year before BC’s Matty Ryan says he’ll stack up well in Atlanta. Inside Bay Area suggests Al Davis may finally acquiesce to his draft deficiencies. Yes, the mastermind who made first-round selections of a punter, a kicker, and the oft-incarcerated Todd Marinovich, is willing to spare our nation another April embarrassment and trade down to his level of incompetence. The Star’s Adam Teicher is giddy about the Chiefs’ 13 picks, a wealth that may empower them to break up the Sexy Six and reach out to OTs Branden Albert and Ryan Clady.

As for the Jets, Rich Cimini says GM Mike Tannenbaum and Coach Eric Mangini await a seminal decision if Ryan is still on the board. Mark Cannizzaro thinks the Jets may not like the top-tier leftovers and look to trade down to the next class, a move that seems highly unlikely to us New Englanders who see Gang Green as perpetually green with envy and coveting their spot just ahead of the Patriots. Dave Hutchinson says Darren McFadden has the skills and character to be a Jet, but not so fast says McFadden’s mom, who is not convinced New York has the character for McFadden.

With the Seventh Selection

The Patriots will have eight overall picks, starting high at Number 7 but having a long wait into the night for another chance at 62. That’s something Belichick and Pioli are not fond of. Christopher L. Gasper thinks Belichick may be sufficiently underwhelmed with his choices and trade down to bridge that chasm. He better hurry though, as Glen Farley reminds us the new time limits may crimp Coach’s style. Karen Guregian is full of hopes and possibilities at Number 7, even the possibility of trading for Jason Taylor. Douglas Flynn is certain the Patriots will not be forced into any selections based on need. Shalise Manza Young blames the Belichick/Pioli team’s proclivity towards the unpredictable for keeping her in the dark as to whether they’ll move up, trade down, or hold. As Gasper points out, Pioli knows what he wants and that’s led to at least one starter in each of his drafts with the exception of 2007. Gasper also recounts the ill-fated 2007 draft, whose carnage left only two players remaining on today’s roster. Tom King says last year’s failure makes this a pivotal weekend in Foxborough.

Later Rounds

Ian Clark says ‘value’ is the word for the Patriots with their eight picks. Guregian is either completely thorough or has plenty of time on her hands before the 3 PM tipoff (pick the former), because she’s looking for a backup quarterback in one piece, and some kicking help in another, two areas of no imminent need.

Draft Odds & Sods

As UNH’s Ricky Santos is perhaps the most promising New England player not attending classes in Chestnut Hill, Allen Lessels sees him rightfully waiting by the phone on Sunday.

John Connolly entertains the notion of OT Mackenzy Bernadeau becoming the first Bentley College player ever drafted, and offers a rundown on some local free agent prospects after the weekend.

Eric McHugh visits with North Quincy Head Coach Jim Connor, whose brother Dan, a Penn State LB, figures to be selected sometime today.

Enjoy the festivities as it should be fun to see the new crop of Patriots form. We’ll see you back here on Monday morning. Until then, get all the latest Pats news on Patriots Daily.


A Media Link Friday

Ken from the Fang’s Bites blog here again with your Friday media megalinks.

Don’t forget to vote in the latest Approval Ratings poll which involves WBZ-TV’s Steve Burton.

And Bruce has a very good entry on an erroneous blog post made by “Who’s Better Making a Blog Error Than” Butchie Stearns.

Let’s get to the links.

Viewing Picks

The NFL Draft is the Viewing Pick of the weekend. Both ESPN and the NFL Network will have wall-to-wall coverage of the Draft starting Saturday at 3 p.m. and continuing through Sunday. This year’s draft is starting later, but there will be less time in-between picks so the first round should go quicker than the unbelievably long six hours of last year. Both ESPN and the NFL Network will have a four hour pre-draft show at 11 a.m. Chris Berman, Mel Kiper, Jr., Swampscott’s Todd McShay and Steve Young will be among the hundreds of analysts who will be seen on the Alleged Worldwide Leader. Rich Eisen anchors the coverage for the NFL Network.

Both the NBA and NHL Playoffs are in full swing. The NHL has just begun the Conference Semifinals while the NBA is still in the midst of the first round. NBC will have Game 2 of the Detroit-Colorado series on Saturday with the New York Rangers visiting Pittsburgh on Sunday. Versus will carry Philadelphia at Montreal on Saturday night and Dallas at San Jose on Sunday.

The Celtics are back in action after another two day layoff. Comcast SportsNet will carry Game 3 of its series against Atlanta at 8 p.m. Saturday. ABC, ESPN and TNT will all have coverage of the NBA playoffs this weekend.

The Red Sox are in Tampa to take on the Rays (don’t call them the Devil Rays anymore). NESN has all of the games this weekend. Fox has its usual regionalized coverage of Major League Baseball on Saturday featuring the Yankees at Cleveland. WGN carries the White Sox hosting Baltimore, Saturday night and the Cubs at Washington on Sunday afternoon. TBS’ Sunday Afternoon Baseball will cover the Yankees-Cleveland and ESPN’s Sunday Night Baseball will be in Detroit to cover the Angels-Tigers at 8:05 p.m.

Motor racing fans will have plenty of stuff to watch this weekend. The Formula 1 circuit will be in Spain for the Spanish Grand Prix. The Speed Channel will pick up that race at 7:30 a.m., Sunday.

The Indy Racing League will be in Kansas City for the Roadrunner Turbo Indy 300 on ESPN2 at 5:30 p.m Sunday.

And I would be remiss if I didn’t mention NASCAR. The Nationwide Series’ Aaron’s 312 airs on ABC Saturday at 3 p.m. The Sprint Cup Series’ Aaron’s 499 airs on Fox Sunday at 1:30 p.m.

The PGA Tour is in Irving, TX for the EDS Byron Nelson Championship. Golf Channel has the 2nd round coverage at 3 p.m. today. CBS picks up coverage on Saturday at 3 p.m.

For those of you who care, the New England Revolution will be on TV-38 Saturday night against the Chicago Fire.

The entire sports TV listings can be seen at USA Today.

Now let’s get to your links.

Michael Hiestand of USA Today talks about the NFL Draft having its own language.

Now I’ll start in the East, then go west, then fill in the country in the middle.

East and Mid-Atlantic

David Scott of the Boston Sports Media Watch reports that the Boston Globe is playing hardball with Gordon Edes’ buyout application.

Bob Ryan of the Boston Globe has a column remembering legendary sports anchor Don Gillis who called play-by-play for just about every sports team in Boston during his career. Gillis died this week at the age of 85. Martin Pave of the Globe looks back at Gillis’ long career.

Also from the Globe, Nancy Marrapese-Burrell talks with Boston Celtics’ TV voice Mike Gorman about calling the playoffs.

Bob Raissman of the New York Daily News says Harold Reynolds gets to reunite with his old college roommate, Mets’ GM Omar Minaya. H.R. was hired yesterday to work as a studio analyst during selected Mets games on SNY.

Newsday’s Neil Best also writes about Reynolds going to SNY and briefly goes into HR’s wrongful termination lawsuit against ESPN that was settled last week. In his blog, Neil talks more about Harold. Neil also expands on another item in his Friday column which was about the increased ratings for Versus for the NHL playoffs.

Phil Mushnick of the New York Post reviews some of the things that irritated him on TV and Radio this week. Mushnick reports that Harold Reynolds will start his new gig at SNY tonight. The Post’s Justin Terranova talks with YES Network’s David Cone about the Yankees’ struggling starting pitcher Ian Kennedy. And Terranova has five questions for ESPN’s Ron Jaworski about the NFL Draft.

Ray Frager of the Baltimore Sun says the NFL Draft will be covered gavel-to-gavel this weekend.

Jim Williams of the DC/Baltimore Examiner talks with ESPN’s Floyd Reese about what goes on in an NFL Draft War Room.


From the Deseret (UT) Morning News, Scott D. Pierce says if the Utah Jazz reach the NBA’s Western Conference semifinals, fans will have to be prepared not to watch the games on KJZZ-TV.

The San Diego Union-Tribune’s Jay Posner says less will be more in the NFL Draft telecasts on ESPN and the NFL Network this year. Posner has two recommendations for sports viewing this weekend. And Jay has the ratings from San Diego last weekend.

Interesting that the North County Times’ John Maffei also goes into the “less is more” theme in his column about the NFL Draft on ESPN.

Jim Carlisle of the Ventura County Star writes about a new NBC Sports special which will show some of its archival material on Sunday. It’s probably worth TiVoing.

John Scheibe of the Los Angeles Times also does the “less is more” thing talking about the NFL Draft coverage in the Sound and Vision column.

From the Los Angeles Daily News, Tom Hoffarth also discusses the NFL Draft on ESPN. Hoffarth also has his media notes in his Farther Off the Wall blog.


Over to the Akron Beacon Journal, George M. Thomas says the NFL Draft rules the viewing weekend.

Mark Curnutte of the Cincinnati Enquirer talks with ESPN’s Merril Hoge who will be involved in the NFL Draft coverage for the Alleged Worldwide Leader.

From the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Bob Wolfley says once the NFL Draft is over, look out for Snap Judgment Monday.

Michael Zuidema of the Grand Rapids (MI) Press writes that the NFL Draft may be shorter, but there will still be plenty of time for analysis.

Judd Zulgad of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune is happy to see less talk at the NFL Draft.

Paul Christian of the Rochester (MN) Post-Bulletin writes that the NFL Draft has become a made-for-TV event.

Heading over to the Chicago Tribune, Teddy Greenstein talks to the reporters who were on hand for the infamous meltdown by Cubs manager Lee Elia some 25 years ago. And Teddy has his weekend viewing picks.

The Kansas City Star’s Jeffrey Flanagan talks with former Royals second baseman Frank White who will make his FSN debut tonight. And Jeffrey posts a rather large picture of Wendi Nix in his story as she’ll be covering the Chiefs for ESPN during the NFL Draft.


Mel Bracht in the Daily Oklahoman says ESPN plans faster coverage for the NFL Draft. Mel’s notebook includes the discussion of Bob Costas’ live show next Tuesday on HBO. And Mel tells us what to watch this weekend.

Ray Buck of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram hopes that mental illness will not scare NFL teams from drafting Texas Christian Defensive End Tommy Blake whose story has been the subject of an E:60 profile.

Fran Blinebury of the Houston Chronicle talks with Rockets broadcasters Jim Foley and Gene Peterson who will both retire at the end of the season.

Dave Darling of the Orlando Sentinel writes about the live Town Hall meeting Bob Costas will conduct on HBO next Tuesday.

Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald says the NFL Draft plans to pick up the pace this year.

But despite the NFL Draft dominating the weekend, Doug Nye of The State says the NBA playoffs provide more excitement.


Chris Zelkovich of the Toronto Star says Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment wants to expand its programming.


CNBC’s Darren Rovell looks at some of his favorite college football trading cards.

The Big Lead has the video of WFAN’s Mike Francesca’s non-reaction to David Letterman’s comments about him when partner Chris Russo appeared on the Late Show earlier this week.

Awful Announcing says Tom Hammond and Chris Collinsworth are the voices of the new Madden ’09 video game which the blog says pretty much confirms them as the new NFL Network announcing team.

Maury Brown of the Biz of Basketball blog reports on the excellent ratings for TNT during the NBA playoffs.

That’s it for this week. I’ll be back with the media links again next Friday.

Approval Ratings – Steve Burton

Steve BurtonLast Friday we rated outgoing WBZ-TV sports director Bob Lobel. Today we’re rating his successor, Steve Burton.

Burton has been at WBZ since 1994, serving as sports reporter and anchor on both WBZ and TV38. He has been a fixture on the Patriots pregame shows, as well as on Patriots Fifth Quarter, where he is usually stationed inside the press conference room at Gillette getting reaction to the game.

Prior to joining WBZ, Burton worked for NESN between 1988 and 1994, hosting pre and post game shows for the Red Sox broadcasts. He has been a regular on WEEI’s Big Show recently as well.

Burton was raised in Framingham, and attended Northwestern University, where he was on the football team. He is the son of former Patriots player Ron Burton, and his brother Phil Burton works as a sports reporter/anchor for CN8. His brother Ron Jr works in the community relations department for the Red Sox, and brother Paul Burton works for WBZ as a general assignment reporter.



Butch Bumbles Blog Exchange

Strange doings over Butch Stearns’ blog on the FOX25 webpage.

Tuesday night, Stearns posted the following:

FOX25 has learned that the Patriots are close to a deal with Ty Law that would bring the 38 year old cornerback back to Foxboro.

I saw the posting myself, as it generated some buzz across messageboards, including Pro Football Talk. Law of course, is not 38, but 34. A commenter on Wednesday morning responded with the following:

Apr 23, 2008 | 9:10 AM

38 year old cornerback
Born: 2/10/1974

So this is a futures contract not to take effect until 2012?

Who looks better with an abacus than me?

Instead of admitting his error, the blog entry was corrected to read 34 and Stearns left the following response in the comments thread:

Apr 24, 2008 | 9:26 PM

get a life will you….. never said 38?…why would I say Ty is 38?….rarely do football players play close to 40 years old?…
Anyway, I love this move if it happens. You just know Ty will find the fountain of youth for at least one year or maybe two in Foxboro.
Hopefully this gets done before the draft.

Did a 5-year-old write that response? What’s with the question marks? And “get a life will you” – what the heck? We know it was Butch who left the comment, because it was his particular FOX25 username (complete with avatar photo) that made the response. This isn’t a case of someone using Stearns name to make him look bad.

Just Butchie being Butchie, I guess.

Note: The cached page at Google still shows the post with the 38-year-old.

Masterful Performance Wasted By Bullpen

David Scott leads off with a full edition of Scott’s Shots, including the Globe’s efforts to hinder Gordon Edes’ move to Yahoo! Sports.

The Red Sox fell to the Angels for the second day in a row, despite an impressive debut by Justin Masterson. The righthander went six innings, allowing only one run and two hits in that span. Jeff Horrigan has Masterson’s debut getting ruined by a bullpen implosion of 2003 proportions. The aforementioned Gordon Edes calls Masterson’s performance “inspiring” and says there is little doubt he will be back, sooner rather than later. Paul Kenyon says that in the future, yesterday won’t be remembered for a Red Sox loss as much as it will be for Masterson’s debut. Paul Doyle has things getting away from the Red Sox late in this one. Eric Avidon has the Red Sox wasting the masterful first outing from Masterson. Jennifer Toland has more on the rookie’s strong debut being wasted by the Red Sox bullpen. Joe Haggerty wraps up the game stories.

Steven Krasner offers up some first impressions of Masterson based on his performance yesterday. He also makes Mike Adams proud and engages in a little Manny bashing. Amalie Benjamin has a look at Masterson’s whirlwind 24 hours, and concludes that he’ll be getting another chance with the Red Sox real soon. Kevin Gray has more on Masterson, including comments from a National League scout. Rich Thompson also has a look at Masterson, who provided the Sox with a quality start against the second-best lineup in the league. Fran Sypek notes that yesterday was a glimpse of why Johan Santana is not in a Red Sox uniform right now. Bob Stern says that Masterson found out yesterday that life isn’t fair.

Jon Couture has the Sox bats unable to cover for the spotty bullpen yesterday. Sarah Green has Jed Lowrie leaving the Sox with a conundrum. Thompson has Coco Crisp looking good in his return from a hamstring injury. Tom Yantz looks at a Red Sox connection to Division III Trinity College in Hartford.

Edes’ notebook has Bobby Kielty needing surgery on his hand, meaning the Sox might have to hang onto Coco Crisp longer than they had expected. Horrigan’s notebook has the Red Sox not even taking Daisuke Matsuzaka to Tampa with them yesterday, choosing to leave flu-ridden pitcher home to rest. The ProJo notebook has Crisp making it tough to keep him on the bench. Doyle’s notebook has more on Crisp. Toland’s notebook also reports on the return of Coco to the Red Sox lineup.


On the BSMW Full Court Press, Matt Richardson weighs in with some more reflections on Wednesday night’s game.

Marc J. Spears examines the Celtics success on the road this season as they get set to hit Atlanta for games three and four. Mark Murphy has Satch Sanders comparing Kevin Garnett’s defensive presence to Bill Russell. Steve Buckley says we should all take time to appreciate Garnett’s countenance. Bill Doyle has the Celtics believing they can still play better.

Steve Bulpett says that Mike Bibby might find himself surrounded by green even during home games in Atlanta. Scott Souza has Kendrick Perkins falling into Bibby’s trap at the start of game two. Robert Lee has Rajon Rondo hitting on all cylinders right now. Mike Fine says that Rondo’s film preparation is second to none. Jeff Howe has the Celtics attempting to keep their cool in Atlanta.

Nancy Marrapese-Burrell has Comcast SportsNet’s Mike Gorman thoroughly enjoying this run with the Celtics this season. Murphy’s notebook has Doc Rivers hoping his team keeps their heads when things get chippy in Atlanta, as they’re bound to get at some point. Lee’s notebook has an update on Pierce’s back injury.


On Patriots Daily, Scott Benson posts his draft board for the Patriots, making his best guesses as to what the braintrust in Foxboro might be looking for throughout the two days of the draft. The Patriots Daily staff also participated in a mock draft for NBCSports.com.

Mike Reiss says that the top of the draft is now as much about money as it is about the talent available. Karen Guregian talks to Roman Phifer about playing inside linebacker for the Patriots. Steve Conroy says that the Boston College Eagles have plenty of pro prospects.

After talking with Phifer, Guregian looks at the linebackers available this weekend. David Heuschkel says that the Patriots need to find a linebacker this weekend. Rich Garven has the Patriots going for defense with that first pick. Hector Longo says that the Patriots simply need an impact player at #7. David Brown would like to see them address the secondary, as would Mark Farinella.

Eric McHugh and ohn Tomase take a crack at mock drafts. Jim Donaldson has been around the Patriots for 30 years, so he puts together a 30 year “dream draft” for the franchise. Reiss looks at the wide receivers available in the draft.

Bob Ryan pays tribute to Don Gillis, the Boston TV legend who passed away earlier this week at the age of 85. Marvin Pave has an obituary for Gillis.

Boston TV Legend Don Gillis Passes Away

Don GillisBoston is mourning the loss of a TV sportscasting legend today with the passing of former channel 5 sports anchor Don Gillis. Gillis was 85 years old.

In the 1950’s, Gillis worked with Curt Gowdy on the Red Sox radio broadcasts at WHDH. He also hosted a weekly sports radio program with writers from the Boston Herald Traveler and other personalities.

On the television side, he was the first anchor in Boston to do a sportscast, starting in 1962. He was also the long time host of candlepin bowling programs on the station right up until 1995.

He was also the father of former channel 7 sportscaster Gary Gillis.

WCVB report: Don Gillis, Dean Of Boston TV Sports, Dies


Approval Ratings – Mark Murphy

With the Celtics in the midst of their playoff run, today we take a look at Boston Herald Celtics writer Mark Murphy.

Murphy has been with the Herald since 1988. He has spent most of his tenure at the paper on the Celtics beat, though he moved over to the UMass and college basketball beat at the height of the Marcus Camby/John Calipari era. He returned to the Celtics beat in 2002. He has also covered Olympic games, including the 1992 US Basketball Dream Team.

Murphy is another guy you don’t see making a whole lot of outside media appearances. I couldn’t find a photo online of him, but he is a pretty easily recognizable guy, sporting a full beard.