Archive for January, 2011|Monthly archive page


In MEDIA SOUND BITES Leonard Shapiro on January 18, 2011 at 4:42 pm

The Jets’ “trashy mouths” won a critical playoff game on the road at New England.  How could the Patriots allow this to happen?

Other than some “foot fetish” innuendo from Wes Welker, the Pats kept their mouths shut and tried to let their game do all the talking against the Jets.  But, Rex Ryan and company definitely got under Bill Belichick’s skin and then Belichick’s EGO did what Belichick wouldn’t let himself or his players do–it started to do the “trash talking.”

You see, Belichick has this invincibility-sorta-thing going for him; and sometimes against him.  We saw it in 2009, when Belichick went for it on 4th and 2 from his own 28 against Peyton Manning and the Colts.  PEYTON MANNING AND THE COLTS!  The lead was 6 with 2:08 to play.  4th and 2 Pats became 1st and 10 Indianapolis.  And, the 6-point lead disappeared with 13 seconds to play.   Belichick was confident he would get the 2 yards!  Overconfident, actually.  In part, because the same stunt had paid off in a win earlier in ’09.

Flash forward to 2011 and Sunday’s date with the trash-talking Jets.  Trailing by 10 late in the fourth, Belichick eschews the Shayne Graham field goal attempt and a much-needed 3 points after a time-consuming, almost lackadaisical, non-Patriots-like drive.  Sure the field goal was 51 yards (maybe even 52).  Certainly, not a gimmee.  But, Belichick’s EGO called for some Brady magic on 4th and 13.  The EGO  was sending a message to the brash-talking Jets.  This is how New England wins at home in Foxboro. But, this is how the game’s play-by-play reads:  Brady to Branch-INCOMPLETE.

The decision to go for it clearly indicated that Belichick was confident he could get two more possessions in just over 5 minutes.   Afterall, he got the earlier, now critical, 2-point conversion when the book said “go for one”.   His Pats defense could and would stop the Jets.  And for a moment, it seemed like Belichick would be right.  A three-and-out by New York set the table for a Pats field goal.  But, an unlucky bounce on the “had-to-have-it” onside kick, and a little magic from the Jets’ Cromartie and Greene left the Pats down 14, and effectively out.  In the end, the Belichick “trash-talking” EGO came up 7 points short simply because it couldn’t let the Jets do ALL THE TALKING.

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In THE SPORTS LANDSCAPE Bill Sullivan on January 18, 2011 at 4:37 pm

Final Floored: Five years ago, George Mason upset Michigan State, North Carolina and Connecticut to reach the NCAA Final Four. But the program still  schedules cupcakes, plays before a half-filled arena and hasn’t landed a  blue-chip recruit. This season, Mason faced N.C. State, Charlotte and Dayton on the road while hosting Radford, Florida Atlantic and Harvard. How does a program attract high school talent with a “Mister Softee”schedule? Think commuters want to sit in gridlock to watch the Highlanders, Owls and Crimson? In late January, the Patriots defeated “mighty” Towson for a 17th- straight time, once going on a 23-0 run. Why not schedule Villanova, West Virginia, Wake Forest, Maryland or Virginia in a home-and-home series? Northern Virginians have far better options than watching an opponent which will never make the NCAA Tournament.

High-Tech Offenses: NFL head coaches today speak into their headsets while scanning plywood-sized color-coded placards. Has play-calling become that technical? Didn’t seem to be for Kansas City’s Hank Stram, who gripped only a rolled-up piece of paper. Tom Landry wore a fedora but no headset. And these coaching legends had no headset or paperwork on the sideline: Baltimore’s Don Shula, Oakland’s John Madden, Pittsburgh’s Chuck Noll or Green Bay’s Vince Lombardi.

Pam Oliver of Fox Sports is more a spectator than analyst. During the NFC Championship, she updated viewers with this after talking to Packers coach Mike McCarthy: “He said his team needs to keep the Bears out of the end zone.” And post-game, she greeted Packer QB Aaron Rodgers with a listless, “You are going to the Super Bowl” like it was news to Rodgers. She ended the interview by murmuring, “How’s your lip?” as he offered “Fine” while running away.

Mile-High Melo-Drama is a far-too-common headline regarding Carmelo Anthony’s “unhappiness” in Denver. This depicts the NBA — self-indulged individuals who care more about contracts than winning. Try to name one other Nugget player. The league’s always had stars but they were a part of the team, not the team. Jerry West and Wilt Chamberlain had Gail Goodrich, Jim McMillan and even Happy Hairston. Bill Russell had John Havlichek, Sam Jones and Don Nelson.

Bill Cowher is the “next Vince Lombardi” yet doesn’t appear that sharp on television. He wears a juvenile Fu man chu, mumbles when he speaks and smirks. As NFL coach, he lost 4 of 6 AFC Championship games, four of which were played in Pittsburgh. What’s so attractive about this guy?

Terrell Owens. The media should ignore him. To report on his every utterance is annoying. He’s selfish, negative and critical. Because he’s moved from San Francisco to Philadelphia to Cincinnati depicts his inability to be a team player.

The University? of Kentucky. Basketball Coach John Calipari was punished for illegalities at both UMass and Memphis. As a result, the school’s athletic achievements — a pair of Final Fours — were nullified. Yet, the UK Board of Trustees hired him to serve on its “altar of basketball.” What does this say about the admissions standards in Lexington?

MLB – Salary Cap. The spending disparity between the richest and poorest teams is $162.6M, according to a New York Times report. Only a cap would establish financial balance and on-field parity. The Yankees spent $206.3M on player salaries in 2010. The next-closest spender was Boston ($162.7M). At the bottom of the list were San Diego ($43.7M) and Pittsburgh ($44.1M). Twenty-two of 30 teams spent under $100M. How does Pittsburgh compete against the Cubs ($146.9M), Phillies ($141.9M) and Mets ($132.7M) in the hot stove league?

Donovan McNabb. Offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan did NOT think McNabb could engineer his “West Coast” scheme. So why was he signed? Was it a Dan Snyder directive? Or Mike Shanahan? There’s confusion at the top and GM Bruce Allen appeared invisible until his media parade this off-season.

The NFL Today. It’s a chatfest. Host Curt Menafee is chummy and vanilla. Terry Bradshaw interrupts others and lags behind his voice-overs of highlights. Howie Long appears sensible but gets too little air time. Jimmy Johnson is out of place and offers only fragmented commentary. Stop the”boys night out” behaving and analyze what viewers tuned in to learn.

Washington Nationals. The team loses Adam Dunn without compensation and trades starter Josh Willingham for minor leaguers. Then new GM Mike Rizzo overpays Jayson Werth, who won’t have the lineup protection he did in Philadelphia. In losing Dunn and Willingham (combined 54 HR & 159 RBI), the team is weaker, offensively. OK, the team signed Adam LaRoche, which adds some pop plus some defense at first base.

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