A few things on my mind this week:

After 49ers linebacker Chris Borland retired this week at the age of 24, citing the risks of the game, many in the media used this as an opportunity to laud Borland and use their platform to lecture the public on the dangers of the game. Some tried to tie in other offseason retirements of young players with the dangers of head trauma as well, even though those situations were all different.

I’m not going to debate the dangers of brain injury in football. They exist. Players are aware of the risks. Chris Borland felt the risks outweighed the rewards and made the decision to walk away. It took guts to do that. Anyone can (and should) admire that.

Some in the football media are very aggressive in pointing out the dangers of football, and applauded Borland for his stand on the issue and his integrity for walking away from the game. They’ve made football into a morality play.

For instance, everytime I turn on the WEEI morning show lately, I’m hearing how Kirk Minihane will not allow his son to play football, and I’m hearing the hosts reel off concussion data and make all sorts of connections to head trauma. When I look on Twitter, I see people covering football making sweeping statements about the dangers of the game.

My question is, if these media people feel so strongly about the dangers and morality of the game and risks to brain health, do any of them consider quitting their jobs covering the game? They’re not in any physical danger, obviously, but if they really are concerned and disgusted by the dangers of the game, can’t they take a stand, too?

Or do they value the “prestige” that comes with covering the NFL more than their integrity on the matter?

You should read former Patriot Matt Chatham’s take on this issue: Borland’s Retirement Brings Out Worst in NFL Media

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Are the Celtics for real? Glad you asked

I’ll give the Globe this, they’ve done a good job of bringing in writers on the Celtics beat as of late. I thought Baxter Holmes was excellent in the short time he was here, and I’ve liked what I’ve seen from Adam Himmelsbach thus far.

The Celtics are fun. They’re not a true contender in any sense of the word – I don’t quite get the point of the segments out there asking “If Celtics make playoffs, are they one and done?” Now they’re supposed to beat a top seed? Of course they probably lose in the first round. If they even get there. Baby steps.

I’ve never been a proponent of tanking, my feeling is that any playoff experience, even a playoff race that falls short is good experience for young players. This summer should see a bigger influx of talent onto the roster than we’ve seen in some time, and the future is looking up for this team.

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Should the Patriots even bother to take the field this fall? Based on what I hear on sports radio, probably not. Apparently the AFC East has morphed into the 1980’s NFL East overnight and the Patriots have no cornerbacks after cheaping out on Darrelle Revis and Brandon Browner.

I’ll admit, the outraged guy on Twitter who asked Tom E Curran if the recent recall of Kraft Macaroni and Cheese was the reason why Bob Kraft wouldn’t pony up a couple million dollars more for Revis made me laugh a bit. As did they guy who said “What do you mean, wrong Kraft?” when Curran corrected the first guy.

What is amusing is that the people leading the charge in wailing over Revis and Browner, are the ones who early last season were first saying that Revis had lost a step, and then were saying that he wasn’t giving full effort on all plays. These same people complained all season long about the penalties that Browner was flagged for. Eventually he’s going to cost them a game, caller!

With Revis apparently headed back to the Jets all along, the Patriots knew that they would not be able to get another cornerback of Revis’ man-to-man coverage ability. Thus they would probably be playing more zone defense, which made Browner’s price tag way too high for someone who would then be more of a situational guy. If Revis was still here, Browner probably would be too.

It’s always fun to hear the screaming pulling-out-their-hair types in March. There’s a long time to go before they actually start playing games.

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45 thoughts on “Shooting From The Hip…

  1. On behalf of all sports talk radio consumers here, I’d like to announce that we’re setting up a class action lawsuit against WEEI and TSH for concussions sustained listening to many of the hosts on the radio stations here. DaveR will be representing us and we plan to sue for 1 trillion dollars. You can call our hotline at 900-867-5309, 24 hours a day, to speak with one of our qualified attorneys if you feel that you have been wronged.

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  2. Too all the “soccer moms on WEEI and the TSH. The documented cases of concussions for Borland happened from playing Soccer.
    Another thing that’s been bothering me; aren’t these the same people who complain all season that the game is too pass heavy and all the rules favor protecting the QB’s? They’re gonna be playing flag football before you know,ect…,blah…blah…blah.
    I’ve noticed this the last several years.
    During the year the league is too soft.
    After season is over the league is brutal and they don’t care about players.
    Rinse and repeat.

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  3. About the Revis situation.
    My gripe isn’t with the Pats it’s really with writers like most notably Tom Curran who kept insisting all year that the Patriots would keep Revis and that they could fit him in their pay scale. All the way up to the day he left he thought he would stay. What changed? Everyone knew he would command big guarenteed money. What happened was that the Pats from their thinking thought that even though you can find a way to fit him in;it was too risky. That’s fine if they felt that way.
    But I can’t stand some of these guys like Curran who carry the water for the team and insist that they never could do the deal when all year you’ve been telling us that they would keep him. Curran has been making the rounds pretending like they could’ve never resign Revis and we’re all dumb for thinking otherwise. Curran is normally the best guy out there but in this instance he is really showing all his cards and it’s clear he’s the ownership mouthpiece.

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    1. I think you misunderstand what happened. All year Revis was telling the Pats beat writers he liked it here and for the right dollars he would consider staying. The optimum word is consider. In the end Revis wanted to be in NYC. He held his cards close to the vest throughout the year and offseason negotiation. He might have even misled the beat writers covering the team. The Pats could have offered him $50 mill fully guaranteed and he was not coming back. The Jets could always offer more AND his heart was in NY.

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      1. You could be right it’s still jarring that we went from all year hearing from guys like Curran that Revis would likely stay to he was never staying anyways because he always wanted to go back to NY.
        It’s like what,what just happened here; he’s a Jet again? Really? I guess the issue is that it’s how those close to the Pats like Curran sold us all year on Revis and now act like we’re the crazy ones for questioning why he’s not here.

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        1. I think everyone was played by Revis. When the Jets would not talk to him last year he stuck it to them by playing for under market with the Patriots. He made his point. Johnson got the message. He opened the vault doors and Revis came back home happy as a clam. Its all Revis ever wanted. In hind sight it was pretty clear. While it was happening people like Curran and Reiss were sucked in because they could not construct a situation where someone would actively want to be a Jet rather than chasing championships as a Patriot. It happens. I honestly think the real mistake was made when they signed him. It should have been a 3 year deal for around $45 mill with $22 of it in guarantees. Instead they gave him that $12 mill one year with the unactionable second year. I am not sure Revis would have signed it but it would have made him think and given the Pats the leverage and control they desire.

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          1. I think you’re right. Of course, it would have been interesting to see how all of this would have played out had the Jets not had an obscene amount of cap space to work with. If the Jets were unable to offer him so much, with so much guaranteed, and to structure the deal the way they did, would the Pats’ offer have been good enough or would he have simply chased the best offer he got, regardless of the team or situation? Eh, in the end the Pats will ALWAYS think about the long term when it comes to situations like this. That may irritate the hell out of fans and the media (“Brady’s window is almost closed!!! You gotta go for it every year!!””)…….but Belichick and Kraft know that in the not-too-distant future they will have to deal with extensions for young guys like Collins, Hightower and Chandler Jones. Two years from now, if they had $20 million worth of cap space already tied up in what will then be a 32-year old cornerback, re-signing those guys would be a more difficult task. And, if one, two, or all of them were allowed to leave because of Revis-related salary cap considerations, the same people wailing about losing Revis now would be beyond apoplectic.

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        2. It was not just Curran pushing the “Revis loves it here message.” There were a number of people, including locals (C Price) and nationals (Jason Cole but you can debate on his credibility). When a message is consistent from enough reporters, I tend to believe that a person (camp in the case of Revis) is pushing a message. No surprise but Revis and his folks are good at the PR thing.

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    2. What changed is that they won the Super Bowl. If Revis doesn’t have a ring, he’s back with the Pats, because they give him a better chance at a ring than the Jets. Now that he’s got the ring, he wanted to go “home” for the rest of his career.

      Edit: and his comments all year were to make sure the Pats knew they could get him back, so the “get a ring” plan could stay in play.

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  4. Remember how during the playoffs, and especially leading up to the Superbowl, many of us uttered the mantra: “Embrace the hate”?… Well, I am using that again, but this time with regard to the Patriots media.
    Look, they can disagree with the off-season moves thus far, but the certainty with which they speak… in mid-March!… is truly amazing.
    Whether it’s Gary “the defense SUCKS!” Tanguay or Greg “this group can’t be just coached up” Dickerson or Lou “Back to the soft zone defense again” Merloni, it’s truly remarkable how they can go from praising BB after the SB and now have zero faith in him putting together a competent secondary.
    Again, they can disagree with the moves or lack thereof, but they seem to think that it’s over… no chance to improve from whom they have now. The defense will suck and that’s that.
    Finally, my favorite moment last week was Felger (of course) on CSN saying “they’ve proven they couldn’t replace Ty Law. They’ve proven they couldn’t replace Asante Samuel…” and saying so without realizing that Samuel actually replaced Law.
    Silly season, indeed.

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    1. Felger will proclaim non-stop that the Pats need elite corner to win, that they have never won the Super Bowl without elite corners, and that Belichick can’t draft, sign or develop good corners (owing most of his success to Parcells players).

      Funny, at the same time Felger always says that the 2004 Patriots team was their best one, yet that’s the team that lost one of their starting corners (Tyrone Poole) for 3/4 of the season and their other starting corner (Ty Law) for half the season and all the playoffs for both of them. That was the team that had guys like Earthwind Moreland, Randall Gay and Troy Brown playing in the secondary. Granted, a second year Samuel was also on that team. But Belichick drafted and developed him! Belichick can’t draft or develop corners! Um… *head explodes*

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  5. You know what it is man;this franchise is at the doorstep of being an all time elite team with the Packers,Cowboys,49ers,Steelers; on that level.
    5 titles.
    9 Super “Bowls.
    Cementing Brady and BB as the UNQUESTIONED best ever and shove all the cheating accusations up the rest of the leagues ass.
    And most of us would’ve felt better about their chances if they left Revis and Browner in place.
    Now obviously BB feels different but we’re just the fans not experts so it’s a little worrysome when they bring jags from other teams after watching a HOFer play and help them get that 4th after 10 years of falling short. That’s all.

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  6. So here is my issue with the media coverage of the Borland decision and Borland’s decision in general. Football players make millions of dollars because of the popularity of the sport. This has been going on for 2000 years as the gladiators of ancient Rome were paid handsomely to battle in a similar way. Borland has been trained/tracked for a professional football career since he was a high school standout. Those guiding him knew about the risks. They also knew about the rewards. Borland made it all the way to the NFL and then what. He had a decent rookie year and…woke up one morning educated to the risks and perils of head trauma and decided to retire. If that is truly how it went down…congratulations. I hope your post football career is lucrative Mr. Borland. However if there was self doubt or other factors not disclosed then he should not be lorded as some sort of modern day MLK equivalent.

    The nature of all sports where there is physicality or danger or both means that to play you take risk. Formula One and NASCAR drivers, baseball hitters standing in front of a man throwing a ball 100MPH, Lacross, hockey, skiing (lest we forget Jill Kinmont…look her up), soccer even tennis and golf have risk. It takes a special athlete who has been trained properly to play these sports. Once they decide to play them, for whatever reason, cash, pride, ego, competition we accept the decision. What amazes me is that all of a sudden there are people who think “wow football is dangerous sport that can leave a person broken when they are done playing”. Really? Media people are just now figuring this out. Ex players did not know the risks so they are now bringing in lawyers and worse courts are hearing the cases. Call me jaded but I have a hard time empathizing with a player like Borland. The guy does not want to play…okay…get out of the way and let the 1000 guys who do want to play have that shot.

    Bill Belichick has a real unique way of evaluating a player. One of the most important things he looks at when he evaluates a player is how much they love (eat breath sleep) football. I think the reason Drew Bledsoe lost his job all those years ago is that he had no passion for the game. Belichick knew that and it was reflected in how Bledsoe prepared and played. Brady on the other hand is the embodiment of the perfect Belichickian player. I think if we had 15 minutes to talk to Borland we would find that football was more a means to an end rather than a passion. As such, the rewards to him do not out weigh the risks. So he walked away. In that light I don’t laud his decision. Instead I see a kid who at 23 years old realized he was in the wrong place, at the wrong time, doing the wrong thing and he wanted to get it.

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    1. Good post. I complete agree and think the long term issues were used as a way to for Borland to get out. If you want to plead ignorance and say that you didn’t know about the long term issues when you started playing college football of concussions then fine, but that doesn’t excuse not knowing about it in the last 4 years this has been on the forefront.

      I am going to respectfully disagree with your take on Bledsoe. I think his ouster had more to do with the fact Brady was a better decision maker on the field at that time than anything else. Bledsoe was a pretty damn good QB but he had a bit of Farve in him and that was too much for the coaches to deal with.

      As a bonus. I think the coaches were glad to be rid of Bledsoe because he was believed to be the guy feeding negative stories to the Boston media. Especially when the BledsoBrady debate was raging on. I also believe the coaches were sick of Bledsoe occasionally not running the plays that were called by the OC. I remember some talk of that in Holley’s book from about 10 years or so.

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      1. Borland hasn’t plead ignorance. You do realize that pleading ignorance and continuously evaluating your position on a subject are a lot different? Or maybe not.

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        1. Slow your roll dude. If your interpretation of what I said comes across that way to you then you are taking sports way too seriously.

          What rubs me the wrong way is he uses the potential long terms health issues as his excuse for retiring and acts as if it was a revelation that there are long term health issues from playing football. He is applauded for quitting for these reasons and I don’t think he deserves it. I have more respect for how Jake Locker retired.

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      2. Regarding Drew Bledsoe: So years ago (because I am old) we had this very argument on the old Patriots USENET board. Some argued your position, that Bledsoe was jettisoned because Brady was the better decision maker. On the other hand, I go back to before Brady was in the picture. When Pete Carroll became the coach we saw Bledsoe’s true colors. He stopped working hard, and he relied only on his arm…rather than learning touch, how to stop locking on targets and getting rid of the ball. Bledsoe was one of the toughest QB’s I have ever seen…but his lack of passion for the game was a primary reason that his teammates did not rally around him like the way they did for Grogan or Brady. Part of it might have been that damn Pacific Norwest attitude and part of it might have been due to his natural inclination to just trust his big arm and nothing else will get him through things (remember Minnesota). Parcels sat on Bledsoe not allowing him to be become complacent. Carroll was too clueless to see it. The bad habits learned under Carroll were diagnosed as unfixable by Belichick. That is why he was jettisoned.

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        1. All fair points. One thing is for sure in all of this. We have been very fortunate to have had those two to watch over the last 20+ years.

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        2. I, like most, thought Bledsoe was elite when he was the starting QB for the Patriots. In hindsight, he was obviously 2nd tier even in his prime. And all-time amongst QBs? Average to slightly above at best. Revisited his career stats and the conclusion is that he’s Eli Manning minus the SB wins. This is less a compliment to Bledsoe than a critique of Eli. And how about this stat: In ten seasons as a starter, Eli Manning has been to the playoffs just five times. And only once in the last six seasons. Yikes.

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        3. I’ve often felt that if Bledsoe came into the NFL in the late 1970s he would have been a first-ballot HoFer. You’d have some team like Oakland getting some outside burners and putting (and keeping, since no cap and virtually non-existent free agency) a stacked OL in front of him and he would have been great.

          But I think that in addition to his lack of true passion that you noted, his brain simply wasn’t quick enough to process 2000s-era defenses. Defenses were way simpler in the 70s and 80s and he would have dealt with it better.

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          1. Good points. To wit, I’ve always believed that Dan Fouts couldn’t cut it in today’s NFL either. He made a lot of bad decisions, and as much as San Diego’s defense gets blamed for their never having been to a Super Bowl during their 79-82 run with Air Coryell, it was Fouts who threw 5 interceptions against Houston in the ’79 divisional playoffs and 2 huge picks against Oakland in the ’80 AFC title game loss — both losses at home in San Diego. They never really had a chance at Cincinnati in that frigid 1981 AFC title game, but Fouts also was thoroughly outplayed by Ken Anderson that day. Good QB. Good arm. But he was largely a product of the era, not to mention the great weapons, the great offensive line and the great system they had there during those years. I could easily see Bledsoe having exactly the same type of career as Fouts had if Drew had been the first pick of the ’73 draft instead of the ’93 draft.

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        4. “The bad habits learned under Carroll were diagnosed as unfixable by Belichick.” And so they were, as anyone who watched Drew play and make the same mistakes he made in New England, over and over, during his last two NFL stops in Buffalo and Dallas (where he lost a starting QB job for the third and final time in his career when Romo came along). In retrospect, the Bledsoe vs. Brady debate looks totally foolish, especially since so many media members, like Borges, came down on Bledsoe’s side due to his willingness to divulge inside info to them.

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          1. Despite the fond memory of him throwing the TD to David Patten in the ’01 AFCCG (and, thus, the fact that he contributed to the SB run that year), his flaws were apparent in that game as well. He made some bad decisions that could have easily cost the Patriots in what was a close game. And it wasn’t because he was rusty after having not played since week two. He was just making the same stupid throws that he had been his entire career.

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          2. Yes. I remember him throwing one right to Joey Porter in the fourth quarter — with nothing but green turf ahead — and Porter dropping it. He also made a crazy flip of the ball over his head back towards the line of scrimmage as he was about to be sacked, also in the fourth quarter. It boggles the mind that he would do something like that. Again, the Pats lucked out and the “pass” fell harmlessly incomplete. That ’01 title game pretty much encapsulated Drew’s entire career. When he wasn’t making those head-scratching, horrible throws and decisions, he was making some utterly awesome throws that only a handful of guys in NFL history could have made (the TD pass to Patten; the rifle shot over the middle — I think to Troy Brown — for a first down just before that TD pass; and a tremendous “lob” pass down the sideline between a couple of defenders — I think to Marc Edwards — for a critical first down in the fourth quarter after Pittsburgh had cut the lead to 21-17; it set up a big lead-expanding FG by Vinatieri.)

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    2. “The guy does not want to play…okay…get out of the way and let the 1000 guys who do want to play have that shot.”

      Getting out of the way is exactly what Borland did, yet you still managed to write about it as if he was doing the complete opposite.

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      1. I think you misunderstand. My issue is that his individual act has been somehow interpreted as or morphed into some opening shot in a larger battle over concussions, brain injuries and the moral relativism of playing football versus being wrapped in bubblewrap.

        Borland is getting out of the way…but I don’t think that should be glorified. I think he should have slinked off into oblivion quietly and without self promotion.

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  7. Trenny took a bold stand against cheating a couple of weeks ago. The fact that she appears on the same station that Borges and Tomase regularly do – didn’t slow her down at all.

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  8. At the (painful) risk of defending self-aggrandizing blowhards…. I’m going to respectfully disagree with you on the “have they ever considered giving up covering football?” argument, Bruce.

    I think it’s a false moral equivalence. Your point would be well taken if it were, say, a coach or trainer opining about how awful football is. They’re directly involved. But, no matter how twisted and distorted the description may sound, people like Minihane et al. are journalistic (or quasi-journalistic) observers and commenters. And as such, they have no moral duty or obligation to stop writing or commenting on anything, even if it’s morally bad (either absolutely or in their relativistic opinion).

    We like to get on these guys for lacking any journalistic ethos or backbone.. So we shouldn’t be damning them for actually doing something journalistic; in this case, opining about how the hand that indirectly feeds them is an activity that raises serious questions about the safety of its participants. Say Mike Felger learned that the NFL was secretly forcing its players to take some synthetic super-steroid that turned their brains to swiss cheese after 5-10 years. Would the proper, moral response be to (a) get on the radio and STAY on the radio preaching the gospel “the NFL is BSing you about how it cares for the health of its players”, or (b) quit and lose the platform to inform? I really don’t think the latter is the desired, or defensible, position.

    That most of these guys are blowhards using this to demonstrate how they Think Important Thoughts About The Football in no way changes whether it’s wrong for them to keep on covering football. It isn’t.

    Besides, it’s all Cheap Macaroni Kraft and Arrogant Belicheat’s fault.

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  9. “What is amusing is that the people leading the charge in wailing over Revis and Browner, are the ones who early last season were first saying that Revis had lost a step, and then were saying that he wasn’t giving full effort on all plays.”

    What’s more entertaining is that these are the same people that anointed the Broncos as the off-season Super Bowl champions, even after Revis had signed with the Pats.

    What we’ve witnessed during the last two Patriot off-seasons, sandwiching yet another Super Bowl, goes to show that no matter what any of our Pro teams do, the phony contrarians in the media and their copycat fans will complain during every season and every off-season, no matter what happens…Not even winning a Super Bowl is good enough to stop the whining and second guessing for more than a week.

    This is Shank’s target audience when he complains about media and fans going soft after 2004.

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    1. I’ve come to the conclusion that some fans simply want to be miserable, and there are certain media members who capitalize on that. Yesterday, for instance, I was scrolling through the comments under an article about how Mel Kiper has “re-graded” the 2009 draft and has now ranked Edelman and Vollmer as Top 10 picks. Most of the comments were positive, saying things like, “I guess BB the GM isn’t so bad after all, huh?” Ah…but there was still that contingent of “fans” out there who just HAD to bring up the trade out of the first round with Green Bay, which then took Clay Matthews. Clay Matthews! That trade is going to be hung around BB’s neck by fans like that until the day he dies, and probably for longer. You try to counter with facts, such as the fact that most teams saw Matthews as a ‘tweener and didn’t rate him as a first rounder — kudos to the Packers for having that vision. Or you try to point out that the picks BB acquired in that 2009 deal ultimately led to him acquiring the 2nd rounder in 2010 which became Rob Gronkowski (a couple of trades later). But no; that’s not good enough. These people want Clay Matthews on the Pats. They need Clay Matthews on the Pats. And no one is going to tell them that BB didn’t actually screw up that ’09 draft, because Clay Matthews was sitting there at #26 and BB didn’t take him!!!

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      1. Good point. In retrospect Gronk or Mathews give me Gronk.
        And it could be said that the Pats finally won the SB not because they had Revis but because Gronk was finally healthy for them in the playoffs. If Gronk was healthy for that giants SB I’m convinced they bury them. I’ll take that to my grave.

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        1. Totally agree about SB 46. The Pats, after the slow start, were actually dominating that game into the third quarter, and then the Giants figured out that Gronk couldn’t move, was basically a decoy, and so they stopped bothering with him. In fact, the “Sound F/X” program of that game pretty much confirmes that it was in the third quarter, after the Pats went up 17-9, that the Giants’ players and coaches realized that they didn’t need to worry about Gronk. The Pats didn’t score again in the game. They win going away with a healhy Gronk.

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  10. Concussions? Players killing themselves? That’s nothing. We’re all missing the dehydration epidemic going on right now. Thoughts and prayers should be with David Ortiz, hoping that he recovers quickly from such a horrible disease. I hope in the future that we can solve such a world problem.

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    1. Whereas I share your outrage that not enough is being done to find a solution to dehydration…maybe look at drinking more water…but I am not a doctor… I do think the way the press is handling this borders on ridiculous. Why this is a story is beyond me. How the Sox pr staff has not been able to spin or squash this amazes me. But worst of all, Ortiz will hit a few homers the first week of the season and people will go back to thinking he is some sort of modern day “hero” rather than the flawed man he really is.

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          1. Perhaps now that there is proof at how physically taxing DHing is maybe there will be a heartfelt grassroots movement to ban the DH. We certainly do want players who earn north of $16 mill a year having health issues due to exertion done in extreme heat (it was 85F in Fort Myers two days ago with a slight breeze). I say protecting these players health is more important than any moral obligation they have to bat 3 or 4 times in an occasional game. To be honest I am very worried…something needs to be done.

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    2. Athletes at their own choosing,choose to put their mind and body at risk to make a lot of money. They get hurt and the media takes up the cause for this “injustice”. How dare we enjoy something that is risky to play. Cover your childrens eyes!
      Soldiers choose to go fight for us. They go to foreign lands and fend off maniacs in real life and death situations. There is no fame or fortune waiting for them for their sacrafice.
      If they are fortunate enough to come back they face a bleak employment future, a lifetime of PTSD and or physical disabilities. Any media outcry or the soccer moms taking up this cause? Nope…all I hear are crickets.
      Point is is that people need to worry about REAL problems and not the choices an athlete makes. Priorities are really out of whack. just sayin.end of rant.

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  11. Lets play a little game..

    By the time the Wells Investigation is done, humanity will have …

    WINNER GETS A BAG OF OFFICIALLY LICENSED DEFLATED FOOTBALLS!!!!

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    1. …devolved into Morlocks who carefully worship an old and archaic shelf of annual Press guides and printed Mock Drafts that crumble to dust when they are touched.

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