How many more weeks can we count on the other guys mismanaging the clock, making stupid decisions, overthrowing open receivers, clanging field goal attempts off the uprights, dropping passes in the end zone, and botching interceptions?
How many more times does the Tom Brady interception get called back because of defensive holding? How many more times does the tumbling Patriot fumble bounce into the arms of a Patriot fatty? How many more times do the other guys lose their minds and mismanage the clock down the stretch?
Alex Speier Today:
There’s a natural suspicion that can enter compare-and-contrast conversations such as these, particularly given that the Patriots have faced just one team with a record that is better than .500 (the 6-4 Steelers, who fell to New England in Week 1): Is the Patriots’ ability to constrain opposing offenses a reflection of their defense or is it a sign of their poor quality of opponents?
You can’t blame the opponents. Teams faced by the Patriots this year have averaged 22.8 points per game overall, close to the league average of 23.0 points per game. New England has held opponents 20.2 percent below their total season points average – meaning that they’ve done a better job of holding offenses below their standard than have the Broncos, whose opponents have scored 18.3 percent fewer points against Denver than their season-long standard of 22.5 points per game.
Only the Bengals have done a better job of holding teams below their scoring averages. Cincinnati’s 18.6 points per game allowed falls 21.7 percent below their opponents’ 23.7 point average.
Oh, the irony. baseball players would rather not cheat, but they’re FORCED to because of the slickness of the ball. Everyone does it. They joke about it.
The column (by Peter Abraham) ends like this:
Uehara smiled when asked what he uses.
“I do what everybody else does,” he said. “But I’d rather not talk about it.”
Now, when Tom Brady wants a better grip on the footballs, and requests that they are at the bottom end of the legal limit for inflation, he is CHEATING. It’s the end of the world. It’s the biggest scandal since…well, ever.
Abraham admits the contrast:
It’s a speck on the scandal meter compared to the lingering question of whether Patriots quarterback Tom Brady ordered footballs deflated before the AFC Championship game in January.
The difference apparently is that baseball players are not seeking a competitive advantage when they bring a foreign substance to the mound, or doctor up the ball in some way, they are just innocently trying to grip the ball better. Tom Brady is a cheating fraud whose entire legacy is on the line and he and the Patriots have been tendered the biggest punishment in the history of the NFL for this atrocity.
Moving to Ben Volin’s Sunday Football Notes, Volin proudly shows off his discovery of a Patriots fan statistician who agrees with the Wells Report!
Well, not really. Volin originally tweeted out the email he received from the statistician, who is not agreeing with the Wells Report, but is letting AEI know that he was able to replicate the results of the Wells Report when they could not. He still disagrees with the Wells Report and agrees that the data set used by Wells is flawed and the results were cherry picked.
That’s a far cry from PATRIOTS FAN STATISTICIAN BACKS WELLS REPORT SCIENCE, which is what it seems like Volin was going for. He somehow uses this as a way to wag his finger at Patriots homers:
The Wells Report was attacked viciously and thoroughly in New England, home to some of the most brilliant scientific and legal minds in the world, as well as the most rabid and passionate fans in the country.
It’s millions of Patriots fans vs. one Ted Wells, and Wells has gotten clobbered.
But when anything pro-Patriots is released — such as the AEI report or the Patriots’ Context Report — every word is taken as gospel. There’s been very little critical analysis of their work, and anything that doesn’t fit the “Patriots are innocent” story line is ignored.
Awww, poor Teddy got clobbered!
That last bit is just classic. Volin does realize that outside of New England, it is the EXACT OPPOSITE. It would be written like this – But when anything anti-Patriots is released — such as the PSI report or the Patriots’ Staffer Tried To Introduce Illegal Ball Report — every word is taken as gospel. There’s been very little critical analysis of their work, and anything that doesn’t fit the “Patriots are cheaters” story line is ignored.
(Props to Jerry Thornton for this – Wells Report ‘science’ firm Exponent gets whacked by court order – a judge is ordering Exponent to turn over documents related to their work on another case, saying “Methodologically sound science has nothing to fear from full and open disclosure.” Remember though, that according to Roger Goodell, “Ted Wells’ integrity is impeccable.”)
Let’s head over the Sunday Baseball Notes. Nick Cafardo is an unabashed Jose Iglesias fanboy. He is also Scott Boras’ local mouthpiece. So what is the lead section of the notes yesterday? Iglesias vs Xander Bogaerts – who also happens to be a Boras client! So he gets to compare (and promote) two Boras clients! Nick searches far and wide to get a source that agrees with his take on things:
“With all due respect to Bogaerts, he’ll never be Iglesias,” said a National League GM. “I haven’t seen anyone like that in years. I saw a lot of [Omar] Vizquel, and I think this guy [Iglesias] is better. To do something extraordinary like he does . . . I know that even though you have a good player like Bogaerts, when you trade away a guy like that you’d better have a great reason.”
I hope the GM is only talking defensively, because that is a bunch of nonsense. Bogaerts’ ceiling is much higher offensively than Iglesias, and he’s improved dramatically in the field.
Then we have Dan Shaughnessy talking with Larry Lucchino! (Anti-Shaughnessy linking policy prevents us from bringing you this content.) Hey guess what? The Red Sox have marginalized Larry, and the team is struggling! Lucchino gives canned answers and Shaughnessy has an easy, mail-it-in Sunday column. All is good.
Finally, we’ll look at the Sunday Basketball Notes. Gary Washburn grades each team’s draft. OK. Kind of expected, even if the grades mean absolutely nothing. My gripe with this column is not with Washburn, but with Celtics forward Jared Sullinger. The guy has struggled with his weight and conditioning during his time here, even to the point where Danny Ainge publicly called him out on it. Sullinger is reportedly working hard this summer, but this quote doesn’t do him any favors:
“I think I’m going on a personal feel,” Sullinger said. “If I’m able to move the way I want to move and make the moves I want to make, I think the number [weight] doesn’t really matter. It’s all about how long I can stand out there and be able to put the work in that I put in in the first quarter all the way through the 48 minutes of the game.”
Ugh. I’ll paraphrase Shaughnessy on this one. Get. Him. Gone.
That’s the lesson we can take from Sunday’s Boston Globe.
How else to explain some of the content from the region’s largest newspaper?
First we have Shaughnessy, who rails about how Red Sox fans have all gone soft on the team and we’re not miserable bastards like we were in 1978.
At this hour, your Boston Red Sox enjoy a friendlier environment than almost any of the 30 teams in baseball. The Sox have a chance to finish in last place for the second time in three years, win a playoff game in only one of six seasons, and still be perceived by their fans as “perennial contenders.’’
Well, let’s see, since 2003, we’ve had three World Series victories, two other appearances in the ALCS, and made two other playoff appearances. Since 2003 they’ve averaged 91 wins per season, and that includes the 69-win season of 2012.
But we’re insane for thinking that the Red Sox are generally pretty good.
It amazes me how soft this baseball market has become. In 1978 fans and media crushed the Sox for a 99-win season that concluded with eight consecutive pressure-packed victories. The Boston manager was unmercifully booed on Opening Day the following year. Now everything is awesome because the Boston ballpark is a tourist destination and fans fall in love with the hype of every young player coming through the system. Swell. When did we become St. Louis?
I think Dan is still upset he lost his “Curse” business.
What’s truly amazing is that throughout his rant, he never mentions ONCE that the Red Sox actually, you know, WON THE WORLD SERIES last year.
Then we had Bob Ryan’s column, the premise of which was promising enough – how much sports coverage has changed since the days that he was on the beat. The main thrust of which is that there really is no offseason for sports coverage any longer.
Ryan then includes quotes from all of the regular Globe sports writers, including Nick Cafardo, Peter Abraham, Amalie Benjamin, Shalise Manza Young, Ben Volin, Gary Washburn, Baxter Holmes and Fluto Shinzawa.
Amalie Benjamin once covered the Red Sox. Now she covers the Bruins. “Hockey is not as crazy as baseball,” she says. “I hated baseball offseason.”
Why? Too busy in the offseason? Most of the rest of us work year-round, too. Some travel just as much as these writers, and put in 60+ hours a week for the entire year. No offseason.
Then there’s Volin:
“It’s an 11-month news cycle,” says Ben Volin, the Globe’s NFL analyst. “For one thing, people just love talking about next year. That’s a big part of it. And the whole football thinking is different. They have OTAs because they don’t want people to get out of shape and because they don’t want them getting into trouble.”
So, it’s not about putting in your offense or defense and building a team, it’s all about keeping the players busy so they don’t all become fat criminals in the offseason? OK, Got it.
Let’s go back to the social media thing for a minute. “It’s really changed dramatically the last three or four years,” says Abraham. “The littlest things can become big things. You’re asking yourself, ‘Is this a story?’ ’’
“There is no way to distinguish what is news and what isn’t,” says Manza Young.
Wait, what? These are reporters for the largest newspaper in New England and they don’t know what is news and what isn’t?
Finally in the Sunday Football Notes from Volin, there was his line in the section outlining how advanced the NFL is:
Equality barriers have been broken. The NFL is now the first among the four major North American pro sports leagues to have an openly gay player (Michael Sam).
Do these columns get edited? Jason Collins was a fairly big story last year, and he played in the NBA after his announcement. How does this get missed?
I’d love to have been a fly on the wall when the concept for this story was being tossed around.
I get that the Aaron Hernandez case is one of the most sensational murder cases that we’ve had around these parts in some time. I get that stories about it are going to be written and are going to attract attention and be well-read.
But this story, and the accompanying piece using handwriting analysis on Hernandez’s jailhouse letters are just ludicrous. This is not really to insult to Shira Springer, who I sort of get the feeling is laughing at the subjects she’s writing about in these stories, but the Globe could not have teed up a better tailor-made story to slap at the Patriots than this one.
The only surprise about it is that it didn’t appear two Sundays from now, on the morning of the Patriots opener at Buffalo. We can only wonder what Joe Sullivan has planned for that day.
So read these, and tell me there isn’t an intentional theme that is being pushed here:
“To say Kraft only knows what’s going on in the building, it’s like having blinders and earmuffs on,” said private investigator Bob Long. “Is that all he wants to know?”
“A lot of teams are willing to take some risk. They keep their fingers crossed that nothing happens and have blinders on and earmuffs on and hope nothing blows up. Well, in this case, it did.”
“It sounds unfathomable that something wasn’t done before they re-signed him.”
“Over the years, I have discussed doing background due diligence for certain sports teams,” said private investigator and attorney John Nardizzi, whose company, Nardizzi & Associates Inc., has conducted roughly a dozen athlete-background checks for professional teams. “The response from some who say they recognize the value of such research, but decline to do it, is that they believe their contacts on the ground — former coaches, ex-players who are with the college or team and ‘knew the guy real well’ — are in a superior position when assessing character.”
“I don’t think it’s a question of [giving them] advice. Some of them I just don’t think believe it’s really important, so they’re not going to do it. They’re willing to take a risk with cowboys, villains, and gamblers and say, ‘This is the team that we’re going to field.’ They’re not too worried about everything else.”
So the Patriots were a) lazy, b) cheap, c) negligent d) arrogant and e) enabling.
But they’re not being blamed for this, no, not at all.
The sources in this article are businessmen trying to sell their services. This tragedy could’ve been prevented if they had just hired us! Free advertising!
Meanwhile, I get that Jerry Remy is an extremely nice guy, a private person, and a media member – all of which make him pretty much untouchable, even though he is a public figure.
I’m not saying there should be. I have no desire to see an article of that type. I don’t think Remy should be subject to that kind of scrutiny. But at the same time, the Globe and others are going all-in with this theory that murder could’ve been prevented had the Patriots been more diligent in monitoring their employee during his off hours, but there will be nothing said about a father’s role in the behavior of his own children, and if such a suggestion is even made, it is dismissed as a private matter?
I saw this over the weekend – Time For A Change In NESN Booth – from WBZ-TV sports producer Scott Sullivan, but Sullivan’s premise is as much about Remy’s performance in the booth as it is about his family issues. I don’t agree really, I don’t think Remy should have to give up his job, and I don’t want to see him put through the type of scrutiny the Patriots are being put under, it just seems unbalanced to me to be pursuing one with zeal and not even mentioning the other.
John W. Henry is a pretty smart businessman — and if you don’t believe me, go check his bank account — but his latest acquisition is a head scratching one on some levels, to say the least.
Henry, the head of Fenway Sports Group which owns the Boston Red Sox and Liverpool F.C., has plucked The Boston Globe, the largest newspaper in the region, from The New York Times Co., according to multiple reports.
When considering the impact of the sale, two questions come to mind. For one, what is a successful businessman like Henry doing buying a newspaper (you know, those things with the ink and the paper you see on the subways)? As sad as it is, and this is coming from someone who loves newspapers, the print business is dying, and I’m pretty sure Henry alone isn’t enough to save it.
But hey, I’m not as smart as Henry is, nor do I have as much money as he does, so what do I know?
More importantly, though, Henry’s acquisition of The Boston Globe would immediately taint the newspaper’s coverage of the Boston Red Sox, one of the teams that Henry happens to own.
You know what’s really sad? The Globe’s baseball writers have nothing to do with it, either.
Regardless of your personal feelings about them, The Globe offers some of the greatest baseball minds in the news business today. Should they be blamed for anything in this changeover? Absolutely not. I bet if you asked them, some would say they would have preferred if Henry did not buy their newspaper, because the second he did, it instantly put a cloud over the Sox beat.
It may not be right, but when Henry steps into the picture, it creates a major conflict of interest.
What is the role of a newspaper? Or, here’s a better question, what is the proper role of a newspaper? It should strive to bring the most important news to its readers, brushing agendas and biases aside. Hopefully, that’s what Henry intends to do as assumes control of the company.
At the same time, Henry is a businessman, and a good businessman has no interest in muddying up any of his prized assets, and the Red Sox certainly qualify as one of Henry’s biggest assets.
What happens when the Red Sox need to be criticized, whether’s it’s on the field or in the front office? Will the writers be allowed to dig deep, uncover the story and say what needs to be said?
It’s a conflict of interest, and there’s no way around it. Does that mean Henry shouldn’t be allowed to buy and run The Boston Globe? Of course not. He had the money, and The New York Times Company had every right to sell the paper to him. There’s nothing wrong with that at all.
Henry is smart, and hopefully he’s smart enough to tackle this issue right off the bat with a clear explanation of the way his newspaper will cover his baseball team in a fair and ethical manner.
Still, there may always be a level of mistrust when anyone reads a Red Sox story in Henry’s paper.
Not even someone as savvy as Henry will be able to fix that.
Gethin Coolbaugh is the Editor-In-Chief of Boston Sports Today. Twitter: @GethinCoolbaugh.
Peter Gammons on his new site Gammons Daily has the following report:
Sources say the New York Times Corporation has chosen John Henry as the new owner of the Boston Globe.
If the source is correct, it makes sports coverage in this town a whole lot more complicated, and pretty much all coverage of the Red Sox will be viewed as coming from a certain vantage point. Also, coverage of the other local teams will also be in question as to whether it is hurting or helping the aims of the owner and his other investment.
Will we also see coverage of Liverpool FC and Roush Fenway Racing? Will LeBron James suddenly get more positive coverage?
This whole situation should be interesting to watch going forward.
As mentioned a bit back, Greg A. Bedard will be leaving his position as NFL writer for the Boston Globe to join Sports Illustrated. The move became official this morning.
His role at SI will be in at least some way tied to the new Peter King webpage, mentioned by Deadspin earlier this week, and dubbed “Kinglandia.” The site is said to be modeled on Grantland, but will be football-themed.
Bedard will continue with the Globe through next month’s NFL draft, but as I mentioned in a previous post, the paper has already begun looking at candidates to replace him. While he is leaving the Globe, Bedard is not moving, and will be based in Boston, so we’ll assume he’ll still have a big focus on the Patriots.
More on this as it develops…
Update: Greg has posted about it:
Yes it’s true: I will be joining Sports Illustrated as a senior writer effective May 1. Love the Globe. This was just a terrific opportunity
Glenn Ordwayteased yesterday that he would be back on the air soon, and word came out that he got himself a temp-job as co-host CSNNE’s Sports Tonight for four nights next week (Tue-Fri) alongside who else, but Mike Felger.
Chad Finn has a short post on the move, which is a logical one for CSNNE and should generate some interest from viewers looking to see the dynamic between the pair.
We can already guess some of the jokes that will be made about the situation, and how Felger’s success is largely responsible for Ordway losing his job at WEEI. The pupil has become the master, etc, etc.
Sources tell BSMW that Sports Illustrated has had conversations with Boston Globe NFL writer Greg A Bedard about coming on staff with them as a Boston-based NFL writer.
While the move is not official, sources say that the Globe is making preparations as if they expect Bedard to depart following next month’s NFL draft.
The loss of Bedard would be a big one for the Globe, which has had something of a rotating door at the NFL writer position, with Mike Reiss, Albert Breer and Bedard at the post in the last few years. Bedard’s analytic style and attention to detail on film work and schemes have been a big plus for the coverage at the paper.
Bedard politely declined comment when approached about the rumor.
This had to be one of the most bizarre weeks in the history of Dennis and Callahan (and now Minihane). The hosts seemed determined to push the envelope with topics of masturbation, lesbians, transgender and details of relationships between couples.
Is this what they’ve been told to discuss? Is this a return of “Guy Radio?”
Their Beantown Beatdown series, (with accompanying Photoshops) is detailed on the Producers Blog, and is equal parts disturbing, creepy and amusing.
A couple media links from today:
Earlier this week, FOX announced that their new all-sports network FOX Sports 1 would debut in August.
Since returning back to his Boston roots two years ago, Greg A. Bedard has found his niche in the Boston sports media market and has emerged as one of the best Patriots reporters in the area. His Wednesday columns in the Globe where he analyzes the past weeks game has become a must read and is heavily discussed amongst other media members and on sports radio. Boston Sports Media Watch had the chance to catch up with Bedard and get his thoughts on his past football reporting, as well as what it’s been like returning home and becoming a member of the Boston media.
1. You were an athlete up until college at Rutgers, did you always have a passion for sports writing and think of it as a potential career? Was football always the number one sport for you?
Part of the reason I chose Rutgers was because of baseball. I was a decent first base prospect at Lincoln-Sudbury and wanted to stay in the Northeast. Rutgers and Seton Hall were the top two programs in the region at the time, and that’s what my decision came down to after my visits.
In school, I knew I wanted to do something with sports and the media, I just didn’t know what exactly. SportsCenter was kind of a big deal at that time, so I started on a communications track. After I quit baseball because of injuries, I started looking more towards the print side. Rutgers had a very good daily student newspaper, so I answered one of the ads looking for new writers. My first article was on the women’s golf team (fun fact: my future wife’s name appeared in it), and I volunteered to cover the softball team. I was instantly hooked. I covered them like they were the Red Sox – I’d skip classes to cover road games (like I needed an excuse) – and I knew I found my calling.
While I was the beat writer for Terry Shea’s first football team in 1996, that I wound up covering football was very much by accident. Baseball was always my sport, and probably still is. The Palm Beach Post very easily could have named me backup Marlins writer in 2004. Thank goodness they decided on the Dolphins. Covering the NFL is a much easier life if you want to have a family. I don’t know how the baseball guys do it. But if the Globe asked me to cover golf tomorrow, I wouldn’t have a problem with it. I’m not one of these guys that’s married to a team or sport. The work is what’s important to me. The shape of the ball doesn’t really matter.
2. You’ve were a beat writer for both the Dolphins and Packers before coming to the Patriots. In terms of the day-to-day operations, player availability, locker room access, etc. how much different are the Patriots than the other teams you’ve covered?
Night and day. With the previous teams I covered, the players actually were in the locker room during media availability time. Rarely did you have to request that a player show his face. If you don’t do that with the Patriots, you’re probably not getting an interview. Most days you’ll see about six players in there, and if they talk there’s 25 reporters around.
Assistant coach access under Dave Wannstedt, and then with the Packers was awesome. With Wannstedt you could grab anybody you wanted coming off the field. The Packers had assistant coach access three days a week – about 30 minutes with all of them in a hallway, so you could get individual face-to-face time often – and you could talk to the three coordinators after games. That was absolutely invaluable to my development as a football writer. After a while you developed a rapport with the assistants and you could ask them about why certain plays did or didn’t work, and which players screwed up and why. You didn’t quote them, but at least you were getting accurate information to relay to the fans.
I learned more about the game in those 3.5 years in Green Bay than any other time in my career. Between the players always being available, to the assistant coaches, I could ask real questions about the game and learn about it.
Trying to learn about the game of football while covering the Patriots is like trying to get water out of a rock. I don’t have a problem with how they do things – it’s within the rules – but I’m certainly glad that I was able to work in other markets before coming here.
3. How much different is it working in the Boston media market than in the Miami and Green Bay markets?
I’d say the biggest difference that I have noticed is in the percentage of fans that are critical of the team, or that want debate about the team and the decisions it makes. And I think it’s directly tied into the length of time since the last championship.
Dolphins fans had a very low level of trust for what the organization did, for good reason, so they questioned everything. In Green Bay, which hadn’t won a title since 1996, I’d say about 20 percent of the fans didn’t want to hear anything bad about the team. The rest expect excellence year in and year out, because they feel the Lombardi Trophy and NFL championships are their birthright. They want perfection out of their team. In New England, I’d say it was closer to 75 percent when I got here in 2010, and it has slowly declined slightly. Again, it’s directly tied into the time since the last championship. And it will take another step when Tom Brady is no longer here, especially if they don’t win another Super Bowl before then.
My perception, and I don’t know if it’s reality, is that the pressure on the media here is very intense. Everything is scrutinized. People are keeping track of what you say, how you say it and they keep score. Consumers also love to put you in a box. You’re either this kind of reporter, or you’re that kind of reporter. Nuance is a foreign concept. It’s funny that fans accuse the media of being lazy and guilty of stereotyping, when they do the exact same thing to the media.
In regards to the media itself, I think the relationships are a mixed bag. In South Florida, we all tried to beat the crap out of each other during the day in a highly competitive market, but we had no problem having a beer afterwards. In Green Bay there were hard feelings between the media outlets, specifically the Green Bay Press Gazette towards the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. I never understood that. There’s plenty of coverage to go around, and we didn’t even compete for print readers.
It has been fine here; no real issues. The one thing I don’t have a lot of respect for, in any place I’ve been, is media-on-media crime and/or trying to shoot down other people’s reports. I don’t really understand that either. If you have something to report, then report it. Don’t just use somebody else’s report as a jumping off point. Twitter does make things tougher, but I just try to worry about what I can report and proceed like I’m in a vacuum. That’s easier said than done sometimes.
4. You’ve become known for your columns on Wednesday’s following re-watching game tape giving insight not found anywhere else. Have you always done this? Talk more about what goes into the game study, how long does it take, etc.
I knew nothing about this kind of journalism until I went to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel and saw that Bob McGinn was doing it, and had been doing it for like 20 years. But as soon as I did, it was like I was awake for the first time — “Why didn’t I ever think of doing this? This is where it’s at.” Studying film, trying to quantify certain things that aren’t officially tabulated (pressures, knockdowns, etc), and then explaining things simply for readers goes to heart of journalism, especially in the televised sports era. Everyone has seen the game. Many have heard the sound bytes from press conferences, but what fans really want to know is why? Why did the Patriots struggle offensively for a half? Why did they lose? Why couldn’t they defend this route? Etc.
When I came here, I thought two things: that it would go over well here because the Patriots aren’t going to tell you what they did well, and they certainly aren’t going to point out what they did poorly. If I could take what I knew about the game, and relay that to the fans by explaining what went right and what went wrong in each game, then I thought it would be successful. And I also promised myself when I came here, knowing the market like I do, that I wouldn’t just offer up opinions on a whim. I would try like hell to quantify everything I could. You can’t just write, “Tom Brady is struggling,” and not have any real evidence outside of statistics, which often lie in football and are certainly no way to measure about 80 percent of the game.
As far as the process itself, it takes me about eight to 10 hours to get through a game. Having the coaches film (some of the time) certainly helps. Having watched film with NFL coaches, college coaches and analysts like Greg Cosell at NFL Films, I have a decent size depth of knowledge – but it’s not even close to the actual players and coaches.
I try to be as clinical and try to mimic the coaches as much as possible. Even with the TV copy, I watch with the sound off. And I watch all the offensive, defensive and special teams plays in succession. This is why I sometimes reach different opinions than fans, especially about individual players. There are about 70 plays for the offense and defense in each game. Why should the 68th play matter than the fourth? Devin McCourty gets a pass interference penalty late in the game, but should that wipe out the 95 percent of plays in which he performed his duty well? NFL coaches grade out a player for the entire game, so why should I be any different?
I watch each play about 10-12 times, trying to determine whether each player, within reason, has performed their duty. I have a spreadsheet with about 35 different categories that I use on each play. Then afterwards I tabulate the positive and negative plays for each player (basically, did they exceed or fail at what I think they were supposed to do), and that gives me a rough idea about how they played. What I see on that paper and on my spreadsheet leads me to write in one direction or another. I usually have a vague idea about what I might want to write about, but it can easily and often changes (much to chagrin of copy desk in all likelihood). I try to be as much of a blank slate as possible and let the data take me one way or another. Every single game is unique. I try to identify what that is for the reader.
For example, last year after I had done my tabulations for the Chargers game, I noticed that Albert Haynesworth, after a very strong opening game in Miami, had zero plus or minus plays on my sheet. That was unusual. Why was that? That led me to watch all of his plays over again, and to the lede of my column where I wrote the Patriots were going to need better and more consistent play from Haynesworth.
Players are going to challenge some of your conclusions – and that’s something I welcome because it helps me get better – but if there’s one thing I’ve learned covering the league it’s if you rely on the film and facts gleaned from it, then it’s very hard to go wrong, and for players or coaches to take much issue with your work. Your knowledge of the game and the team will be very accurate. The film never lies. In my opinion, you absolutely must study film if you’re covering an NFL team. Luckily, the Globe gives me the time to do that. Not all media outlets do. And it’s difficult to find the time as a beat writer. I’m lucky that Shalise Manza Young does her job so well, because it allows me the immense time it takes to do mine. It’s a similar setup to what we had at the MJS – Tom Silverstein and I did the beat, which allowed Bob to do his analyzing. I’m very grateful to Shalise and the paper for that.
5. Growing up in the Boston area and reading the Globe growing up, is this a dream job for you, or would you like to one day cover the NFL nationally?
Two very good questions. I’m not sure I have the answers, but I probably need to figure them out to determine my future, whatever that might be.
I wouldn’t call this a dream job to me at this point in my life, but it was certainly very desirable. Sports editor Joe Sullivan, when we talked about the job, said, “You’d be a direct descendant of Will McDonough,” I mean, what person who grew up around here wouldn’t be completely floored hearing that? I can tell you that on the other end of the phone, I had a huge smile on my face. Still, it was far from a done deal that I was going to take this job. There were two big factors, which continue to be the driving forces in my career: the ability to do good, meaningful journalism – not just feeding the beast based on a timetable (though every outlet has to do some of that; I just didn’t want that to be me) – and to be a good husband and father. I would give up money and success to have adequate time with my family. The Globe was able to hit on both of those factors, and coming “home” (though my parents and brothers are elsewhere) was an added bonus. But it was incredibly tough to leave Green Bay. In the end, all things were equal and “Mama” (the Globe) called. It’s hard to say no to Mama. It was the right job, at the right place, at the right time. If it were the Patriots’ beat writing job, I wouldn’t have taken it. I don’t need to ram my head against the wall repeatedly.
As for where I go from here, if anywhere, I don’t know. I’ve never felt a huge draw to a TV gig (I know, with my looks, this is very surprising). I know I don’t want to be traveling every week and at the whim of some producer (poor Albert Breer, but he’s young and childless so more power to him). Sure, some sort of national job where I didn’t have to move would be enticing. But, like in Green Bay, I could see myself staying here forever. I guess, in a perfect world, I’d do something similar to what Willie did – have the Globe as a base and add some steady television work that fits into that. I’d certainly like to expand on the radio work I do on WEEI. I’d love to spend two hours on the radio getting into deep discussions about the Patriots with smart hosts and callers.
But it’s not something that I think about very much. I’ve got a good gig doing meaningful work for readers that seem to appreciate it for the most part, and I’m able to balance my family about as well as you can in today’s media age. Would I like to get paid more? Sure, who wouldn’t? But so far, so good.