Since the Bill Belichick era began, coverage from the Boston Globe has been pretty consistent.
With the exception of Mike Reiss and Greg Bedard, (who I’ve disagreed with a couple of time, but overall I think is excellent, and very objective in his coverage.) the coverage of the Patriots coming out of Morrissey Blvd has been routinely negative.
It doesn’t matter the writer, whether it is Nick Cafardo, Ron Borges, Jerome Solomon, Michael Smith (though he was OK) Chris Gasper, Albert Breer or Shalise Manza Young, the tone and attitude towards the team have remained the same. There are complaints about the access given to reporters, there are shots taken at the fans who they insist believe that Bill Belichick can do no wrong.
Where does this come from? As the saying goes, the fish rots from the head down. In this case, it is sports editor Joe Sullivan, who has been the constant among all the comings and goings on the Patriots beat in the last 10 years. It is Sullivan who sets the tone for his staff when it comes to covering the team.
A Tweet from Sullivan yesterday confirmed how he fans about Patriots fans.
— Joseph Sullivan (@Globesullivan) November 17, 2011
The line about Patriots fans in the article that Sullivan disagrees with so much he felt the need to Tweet about?
I don’t know a New England Patriots or New York Jets fan who argues that Bill Belichick or Rex Ryan is the greatest man walking the earth, almost incapable of sin.
It was a throwaway line in the column, which is focused on the adulation of college coaches, but Sullivan jumped on the line and clearly wanted his views on the matter out there.
The “In Bill We Trust” line gets thrown out there quite bit, usually attempted as an insult to those who think that Belichick might actually know what he’s doing most of the time. However, the records speak for themselves.
In speaking behind the scenes, I can confirm that there is a general attitude within the Globe that hostile towards the Patriots. The coverage also speaks for itself. It doesn’t always manifest itself in the actual game coverage within the newspaper. But follow them on Twitter, read their chats, they always manage to find a way to get their shots in. No other outlet does this.
Where does it stem from? It’s from access. Sullivan and Globe feel a huge sense of entitlement. They demand access. Sullivan has complained to league about their access to the Patriots on multiple occasions. (That information has also been confirmed separately.) There is resentment there, and it comes through in the attitude of the paper and its personnel.
Yesterday, Shalise Manza Young held her weekly Patriots chat, and things got ugly. To her credit, she attempted to answer some of the harder-edged questions that came in, but was not successful.
Here’s an example:
Comment From Blinded
Shalise, with respect, I think you and the rest of the media really fail to put any sort of context on the Patriots drafting and personnel moves. Do other teams such as the Steelers, Packers, Jets, etc hit on everyone of their picks? Not even close. For the Patriots to be continually painted as gigantic failures in the draft and free agency really exposes the lack of perspective around here.
shalise manza young:
Blinded – Again, no one expects them to hit on 100 percent of their picks. I still have the game notes from the Giants, so right now in the time we have I can only look at them. But of the 75 players they have either on the 53-man, IR or practice squad, 33 were guys that they drafted. 19 of those 33 were drafted from 2006-2010, the same time frame I used for the Pats.
OK, so she attempts to actually provide some context and give an example. However, if you do the same breakdown with the Patriots, you find that of the players currently on the 53-man, IR or practice squad, 32 were guys that they drafted, and 16 of those were drafted from 2006-2010.
Huge difference, huh? Before you jump on me, she chose to compare them to the Giants.
Young ended her chat with a typical, childish response:
Comment From TiredofTheMedia
As usual, you miss the point. A guy who’s in over his head can’t lead his team to a 14-2 record. You think he’s in over his head because he lost a playoff game to the Jets. It’s a pretty absurd thing to think.
shalise manza young:
I think your handle says it all. Nothing I could say short of “all is right in Patriots world, this team is perfect, they’ll win the Super Bowl by three touchdowns” would appease you.
Talk about hyperbole. No one expects nor wants that type of comment or analysis. It is childish.
Before the Patriots/Belichick haters start lining up in the comments section, let me state this:
This Patriots team has very visible flaws, and some of their moves and decisions are certainly open to criticsm.
The problem I have is when reporters who really have no idea themselves what goes into decisions and what discussions are held behind closed doors or really have no more knowledge about the game than the average fan start suggesting that Bill Belichick is in over his head, it’s time to call them on it.
Moreover, when an entire sports department is guided by a hand that holds a clear grudge, and makes sure that that grudge is conveyed in the final product, and whose personal feelings are allowed to impact the product that goes out to the customers, and who delights in tweaking and annoying those same customers, is it any wonder that the Globe has struggled so much in recent years, during which Sullivan has overseen the demise of what was once the greatest sports section in the country?
Maybe it is Joe Sullivan who is in over his head.