Greg Bedard Officially Leaving Globe for Sports Illustrated

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:

 

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Ordway The Temp, And Is Greg Bedard Moving On From The Globe?

Glenn Ordway teased 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.

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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.

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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.

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A couple media links from today:

Earlier this week, FOX announced that their new all-sports network FOX Sports 1 would debut in August.

With new network, Fox to challenge ESPN – Finn looks at the aims of the new network, which follows on the heels of the NBC Sports Network and CBS Sports Network as challengers to ESPN.

Sharks voice Eric Lindquist still has a rip-roaring time – Bill Doyle talks to the voice of the Worcester Sharks.

Q&A with Boston Globe NFL/Patriots reporter Greg A. Bedard

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.

Greg A. Bedard has returned home to his Boston roots and has become a prominent member of the Boston sports 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.

Shaughnessy — “Get Off My Lawn, Bloggers”

The Boston Globe continued its series of attacks on blogging, Twitter and the internet by old-school media dinosaurs with the publication of today’s column by Dan Shaughnessy.

You’ve probably heard by now that Chiefs quarterback Matt Cassel was injured on Sunday and some Kansas City fans actually cheered when he was taken off the field.

The bloggers are to blame, naturally.

It’s an issue about civility in America today. It’s about accountability. It is about angry fantasy football players who do not know how to look someone in the eye, or hold a face-to-face conversation. It is about fanboy bloggers who kill everyone and everything under the brave cloak of anonymity. It’s about instant tweets fired from the safety of your basement. It is about anonymous bullying with the World Wide Web serving as the new bathroom wall.

Those of us who write stories and do talk shows are not blameless. Winston made a good point when he said that Cassel “hasn’t done anything to the media writers who kill him . . . ”

I’ve certainly done my share of tweaking and exposing professional athletes or organizations who don’t give an honest effort to live up to their contracts or fulfill the team-fan accord. In print, on TV and radio, we contribute to a climate of anger in the stands. But at least you know who we are.

That last paragraph is mind-blowing. He only tweaks those “who don’t give an honest effort?” or who don’t  “fulfill the team-fan accord?” What does that even mean?

So has “Amos Alonzo Kraft” failed to give an honest effort, or has he not fulfilled the team-fan accord? Which is it? (By the way, Shaughnessy actually took that moniker from Mike Barnicle. If you’re stealing material from Mike Barnicle, it might be time to acknowledge that you actually do not possess a conscience.) And that is an incredibly minor Shaughnessy tweak.

And “at least you know who we are.”

OK, that makes everything better.

Guys like Shaughnessy are terrified of the internet, because while he might not be the most self-aware guy around, he at least recognizes his increasing irrelevance, as evidenced by this old-man rant.

Yes, there are nasty, vicious people on the internet. I sometimes am disgusted myself at just how angry some people are online, and the things that they say. But speaking in sweeping generalities, like Shaughnessy does, isn’t right either.

It’s easier for Shaughnessy to write a column like this now, because a lot fewer people – especially those online, who are his targets – are able to read it due to the paywall.

Which just might be the best thing about the paywall, limiting the exposure of a Dan Shaughnessy column like this one.

Bob Ryan’s Farewell, CSNNE’s 5000th and More…

Bob Ryan’s farewell (sort of) column in the Globe yesterday was typical Ryan – passionate, with a nod to history, underscored by humility about his own role in things.

The Globe has lost perhaps the final piece to its glory days, and a bridge to even earlier eras. We’ll continue to read Ryan on many Sundays throughout the year, but the paper will not be the same. Ryan officially closes things out with his account of the United States’ win in the Gold Medal Men’s Olympic basketball game.

You’re up, Chris Gasper. Got 44 years in you?

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Comcast SportsNet New England celebrates their 5000th episode of “Sports Tonight” with a one-hour prime time special beginning tonight at 6:30PM.

5000 episodes is an impressive number, and kudos to CSNNE for reaching it. However, I can honestly say I don’t watch it all that much, as it is essentially a recap of whatever subjects were debated on sports radio that day. I’ve heard all the storylines, and the debates once already, I don’t need it again.

CSNNE provides a lot of good programming (SportsNet Central, Celtics broadcasts and pre and post game, various original specials) but they also provide an outlet for ridiculousness like the ongoing Joe Haggerty-Kirk Minihane slapfight.

In case you’re not up to speed on it, old friend Ryan Hadfield provides a recap on his Out of Bounds blog on WEEI.com.

Hadfield might find it entertaining, I find it forced, staged and juvenile.

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That gushing Boston Globe feature on Bobby Valentine yesterday by Stan Grossfeld was embarrassing. I usually enjoy the somewhat offbeat features that Grossfeld puts together, but I thought we were done with these types of stories after spring training. Given the season that the club is having, it’s even more out of place.

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Same newspaper, same day:

Count me as one who missed the memo that the Red Sox are allowing beer in the clubhouse on the road after games. It’s a complete contradiction to what we were told by Bobby Valentine in February. The word then was “no beer in the clubhouse.’’ Now we’re all supposed to shrug and say it’s no big deal that the beer is still there on the road? The Sox made absolutely no distinction between home and road clubhouse rules when they made their big announcement in Florida. The notion that it was common knowledge is incorrect and sneaky.

Biggest non-story of the year: John Lackey having two beers after a Red Sox loss on the road. If you knew the team rule, it wouldn’t be a story. No alcohol in the Fenway clubhouse and no alcohol on return charters to Boston. Been that way since spring training.

The first was Dan Shaughnessy, the second Nick Cafardo.

I’m guessing that since Cafardo is around the team everyday, he actually knew what the rule was.

By the way, John Lackey is severely tone-deaf and lacking in self-awareness and good judgement, but no more so than many of the media weighing in on this whole absurd topic.

Jen Royle says that episodes like this are why we shouldn’t be surprised when players say it is tough to play here.

Globe Editor Finger-Wags Patriots. Again.

Glad to see the fearless sports editor of the Boston Globe is back in full Patriots finger-wagging mode.

Right, because making rookies go down a slip-n-slide – in full public view of media and coaches – is the same as the sexual assaults and beatings that have been uncovered among high schools.

If anything, the Patriots as showing how to initiate rookies in a fun, non-harmful manner. I might think the whole thing is silly, but it’s not harming anyone.

I just hope Sullivan also comes out and takes a stand when the Red Sox make their rookies wear dresses on the final road trip of the season. If anything, that’s more humiliating than going down a slip-n-slide.

Just Curious…

Did anyone else laugh out loud at these lines from Nick Cafardo on the Kevin Youkilis/Will Middlebrooks situation:

Sunday:

It should be Valentine’s decision as to whether Youkilis gets his job back, and nobody else’s.

Today:

The Drew Bledsoe-Tom Brady analogy is somewhat pertinent in this case. Bill Belichick had just about reached the end of the line with Bledsoe and when Brady took over and performed so well, it was an easy decision.

Those are somewhat different sentiments than Nick had at the time of the Bledsoe/Brady debate.

From November 21st, 2001.

The principals in the Confrontational Conference at Foxborough – that would be heavy-handed head coach Bill Belichick and once-upon-a-time starting quarterback Drew Bledsoe – were asked yesterday in separate interviews how they would characterize Bledsoe’s emotions in the meeting Monday in which the coach told Bledsoe he was going with replacement Tom Brady as his starter the rest of the season.

And a little bit later on in the same column:

Belichick’s pronouncement came at an awkward time, just after Brady had played his second consecutive subpar game, a 24-17 loss to the Rams Sunday night. Brady is 5-3 as a starter but has shown obvious decline in the last four games.

If Brady was performing “subpar” and in “obvious decline” it doesn’t really sound like an “easy decision” like Nick makes it out to be, 10 years later.

Valentine gets free reign in making the decision on Youkilis, but Belichick was “heavy-handed” in making his decision.