Sunday, November 25, 2007


On November 23, 1984, two very special things happened: I was born, and Doug Flutie led the BC Eagles to a 47-45 win over the Miami Hurricanes.

Yesterday's 28-14 victory was nowhere near as exciting, nor nearly as well played. I doubt that in 23 years, some blogger will be boasting about being born on November 24, 2007: The day BC won a sloppy game against a dreadful Miami team. But a win is a win. And a win against Miami is a satisfying win, no matter how bad the 'Canes are.

The Eagles turned the ball over 4 times, were below average on 3rd down conversions, lost the time of possession battle, and allowed nearly 300 yards of offense. To be fair, this was an early game coming off an emotional victory in Clemson, SC. This game didn't mean too much, especially compared to last week's "Win or Die" game.

At the same time that BC beat Miami, Virginia Tech defeated Virginia 33-21, winning the Coastal Division. BC will play Virginia Tech in Jacksonville next Saturday to determine the ACC Champion.

Here's what the win against Miami does mean:

Boston College will probably be ranked 12th tomorrow, behind Missouri, West Virginia, Ohio State, Georgia, Virginia Tech, Florida, Oklahoma, USC, LSU, Hawaii, and Kansas.

Even if BC loses to Virginia Tech in the ACC title game, BC will most likely earn a berth to the Gator Bowl in Jacksonville. Although not a BCS Bowl, the Gator Bowl is one of the major bowl games. It's played on New Year's Day. The last time BC played a major bowl game was the Cotton Bowl on January 1, 1985. BC would probably play a team from the Big XII in the Gator Bowl, but a Big East opponent is also a possibility.

No matter what, BC will finish the season with at least 10 wins. Considering the fact that the Eagles started the season unranked, this is a major accomplishment.

Elsewhere in college football, UMass beat Fordham 49-35 in the first round of the Division I-AA playoffs. New Hampshire nearly beat top seeded and undefeated Northern Iowa. The UNH Wildcats went ahead 35-31 with 1:16 left in the game, but the UNI Panthers scored a touchdown with 0:07 on the clock to win 38-35.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007


The most popular chant at the Red Sox Championship parade was "Re-Sign Lowell." At least, that was the most popular chant on the north side of Tremont Street. Theo and the Sox apparently heard us.

Another popular mantra was "Don't Sign A-Rod." The Yankee villain opted out of his already gargantuan contract in search of more money. Scott Boras's initial demands of 10 years and $350 million were soundly ignored by the Yankees and the rest of Major League Baseball. The evildoers, however, were able to reason with Rodriguez and they settled on a "modest" contract of $275 million for 10 years. Of course, a 10% raise over what was already the biggest contract in baseball history is nothing to sneeze at.

Lowell and the Red Sox agreed on a 3 year, $37.5 million deal that will keep the 2007 World Series MVP in hitter friendly Fenway Park until 2010. Reports say that the Philadelphia Phillies offered him $50 million for 4 years (same salary, one additional year). Lowell's decision to stay with the Sox despite the better offer demonstrates two things.

#1 Lowell likes it here in Boston

#2 Lowell does not want to play in Philadelphia. Who would?

Unlike the 2004 Championship team - which saw the immediate exits of Pedro Martinez, Derek Lowe, Bronson Arroyo, and Orland Cabrera; as well as the eventual departures of Johnny Damon, Bill Mueller, Keith Foulke, Alan Embree, Kevin Millar, and Mark Bellhorn - the transition from 2007 to 2008 will see much more of the team stay intact.

It isn't even December and the following starting positions have already been determined:

C - Jason Varitek
1B - Kevin Youkilis
2B - Dustin Pedroia
3B - Mike Lowell
SS - Julio Lugo
LF - Manny Ramirez
CF - ???
RF - JD Drew
DH - David Ortiz

SP - Josh Beckett
SP - Daisuke Matsuzaka
SP - Curt Schilling
SP - Tim Wakefield (this could change)
SP - ???

What remains to be decided is what to do in center-field. The impressive late season performance of Jacoby Ellsbury almost ensured that Coco Crisp will be traded. The question mark in the rotation is due to a multitude of candidates to fill the spot as opposed to a lack of pitching. Bucholz, Lester, and Tavarez are all possibilities. And don't be surprised if Papelbon's name gets mentioned in the starting rotation mix.

The big load of question marks are for the bullpen. Papelbon is the closer, Okajima will set-up, but the Red Sox need to add more depth in this area. Manny Delcarmen has yet to emerge as a reliable set-up option. He had spurts of brilliance last year, but these were followed by stretches of mediocrity.

A healthy Brendan Donnelley should help to deepen the bullpen. Before getting injured, Donnelley had a 3.05 ERA and a 1.16 WHIP in 20.2 IP.

Moving Wakefield would also be a benefit to the relief corps. As it is, Wakefield doesn't promise to give us too many good innings as a starter. His knuckleball could prove to be an excellent change of pace from hard throwers like Beckett, setting up for another hard thrower in Papelbon. Tim's pitched out of the pen before with varying success.

The Red Sox could use a situational lefty. We could use a guy to get difficult left-handed hitters out in crucial situations. Javier Lopez SUCKS as a situational lefty. I'm sorry, but he's not that good. His ERA might have been 3.10, but his WHIP was 1.33. This season, left-handed batters hit .293 against him. That just won't cut it as a lefty reliever. Of course, teams don't NEED a situational lefty in order to win. It's just a nice thing to have.

The Sox have offered a 1 year deal to veteran Mike Timlin. If Timlin doesn't decide to retire, I'd say there's a 99% chance he will stay with the Red Sox. I can't imagine him leaving town for what is almost sure to be his last season in Major League Baseball.

For the first time in 10 years, Timlin had fewer than 60 appearances. He's no longer the work horse that he was for us in '03, '04, and '05. But he has settled into a role as an occasional set-up man and mop up pitcher.

With Timlin aging into his last year, and Okajima wearing down at the end of the season, it's apparent that the Red Sox need another set-up pitcher. As it is, here is how our bullpen might look:

Closer: Jonathan Papelbon
Set-up: Hideki Okajima
Set-up: Manny Delcarmen
Set-up: Brendan Donnelley
Mid-relief: Mike Timlin
Long-relief: Julian Tavarez

That's not a bad bullpen, but Delcarmen still has question marks surrounding him, Okajima wore out and is another year older, Timlin might not even make the 25 man roster, we've yet to see what Donnelley can give us, and Tavarez might be the biggest wild card in baseball. Adding a top set-up man will alleviate some concerns, and give Francona a multitude of late inning options.

It doesn't appear as though the Red Sox will make any massive moves this off-season. Certainly they will be involved in the trade talk surrounding Johan Santana. But I wouldn't expect any big free agent signings like we saw last year.

This doesn't mean that the team is not looking to improve. However, the best way to improve will be for the players we currently have to perform better. JD Drew and Julio Lugo are two candidates for such improvement. Dustin Pedroia will look to have a full season of success, as will Kevin Youkilis. Jacoby Ellsbury might just pan out to be the leadoff hitter we've needed since the departure of Damon. Matsuzaka will start 2008 with a full year of Major League experience under his belt. And young pitchers like Bucholz are on the verge of busting into the rotation.

2008 should prove to be an interesting year in Red Sox Nation.

Monday, November 19, 2007


When was this game over? When the NFL released this year's schedule.

This game was as close to perfect as one can get. A couple of dropped balls and an intentionally grounded pass were the only glaring mistakes made by anyone on the Patriots. The Bills had one touchdown drive, but that was helped a great deal by a fortuitous broken play.

The Pats scored touchdowns on their first 7 drives, finally punting the ball in the 4th quarter. And to all the haters out there who claim that this team drives up the score in an unsportsmanlike manner, that one punt on 4th and inches should disprove that notion. Moreover, the heavy use of Eckel and Evans to end the game should also keep the haters quiet.

The Bills defense simply had no answer for the Patriots. It appeared as though they were in some sort of set-up intended to confuse the offensive line, but they wound up confusing only themselves. With an injury plagued defense like Buffalo's, full of young and inexperienced players, scheming too cleverly can be disadvantageous.

The Patriots put up 510 yards of offense, compared to Buffalo's 229. The Patriots were 8 of 11 on 3rd downs, and 2 of 2 on 4th downs. They had 30 total first downs.

Brady had another Heisman-esque performance with 373 yards passing, and 5 touchdowns. He is on pace for some ridiculous numbers. At this clip, he'll throw for 60+ TDs this season, and only 6 interceptions. He already has 3,059 yards passing, the first QB this year to surpass the 3,000 yard mark. Brady also leads the League in Completion Percentage (74.0%), Yards Per Attempt (9.50), Touchdown Percentage (11.2%, next highest is 8.6%), and of course, QB Rating at 134.0. Only three other QBs have ratings over 100.

Here are the single-season passing records that Brady is threatening to break:

Highest Passer Rating: 121.1 - 2004, Peyton Manning
Brady is at 134.0, so if he keeps everything going the way it has gone, he will beat this record. The key to this stat is TD passes and interceptions. The "bonus" rating points for TDs and the "penalty" points for INTs are huge swaying factors in QB Rating.

Most Passes Completed: 418 - 2004, Rich Gannon
Brady is on pace to complete 400 passes. If he completes 168 passes in the remaining 6 games (28 per game), then he will tie this record. However, Brett Favre is already on pace to complete 416 passes this year, so 418 might not even be enough. The 400 completions Brady is on pace for would be enough to tie the Patriots' record, set by Drew Bledsoe in 1994.

Highest Completion Percentage: 70.55 - 1982, Ken Anderson
Brady is already on pace to claim this record with a 74.0% rate of completion. However, this percentage can go down very easily with one bad game, or even one very good game. Completing 3 of every 4 passes is an immensely difficult task, even with Randy Moss and Wes Welker being receiving options.

Most Yards Gained: 5,084 - 1984, Dan Marino
Brady has an outside chance to break this record. He's currently on pace for 4,894 passing yards, which would be good enough for second place in this particular category. In order to tie Marino, Brady would have to throw 337.5 yards per game for the remaining 6 games. For any man to do that would be amazing, and with winter upon us here in New England, it would be close to inhuman.

Most Touchdown Passes: 49 - 2004, Peyton Manning
This is the record that all Patriots fans want Brady to not only surpass, but shatter. And that is precisely what he is on pace to do. Brady is averaging 3.8 TD passes a game, which puts him on a pace for 60.8 TD passes. Brady is only 11 shy of this record, and could conceivably break it within the next three weeks. But even if he is limited to two touchdowns per game for the remainder of the year, he will break the record and become the first QB in NFL history with 50 TD passes.

In summation, it is possible for Tom Brady to finish the year with 5,000+ yards, 60+ TDs, a 130.0 or so QB Rating, and a 74.0% completion percentage. He could set single season records for touchdowns, completions, completion percentage, yards, and QB rating.

But Brady isn't doing this all by himself. He's always been a great QB, but he's never had the eye popping numbers of an all-time great until this year. A big part of that success is thanks to Mister Randy Moss.

Randy leads the NFL in receiving yards with 1,052. He's on pace for 1,683 yards, and there is an outside chance that he'll break Jerry Rice's all-time record of 1,848 yards. He would have to average 132.67 yards per game in order to do so, but if he has a few massive games, like 200+ yard games, he will have a good shot to accomplish the feat. Moss is also four 100 yard games away from tying Michael Irvin's record of eleven 100 yard games in 1995. Furthermore, Moss is on pace to break Jerry Rice's record of 22 touchdown receptions in a season. Moss already has 16, and only needs a TD catch per game to tie Rice's mark.

As a team, the Patriots have scored 46 touchdowns. That puts them on pace to score over 73 TDs, which would be enough to break Miami's mark of 70, set in 1984. The Pats are also within striking distance of the single season record for yards gained per game, which is 7,075, set by St. Louis in 2000. The Patriots are currently on pace for 6,989 YPG. They'd have to average over 450 yards of offense for their remaining 6 games in order to beat the Rams' record.

The Patriots have scored 411 points and are on pace to score 658. That would obliterate the current record of 556, set by Minnesota in 1998. If the Patriots score more than 24 points per game for the rest of the year, they will break this record.

This team has scored 84 more points than any other team in the NFL. They've also allowed a mere 157 points. Only three teams have allowed fewer. The Pats have outscored their opponents by 254 points. Only six teams in the NFL (including the Patriots) have scored a TOTAL of 254 or more.

Since Bill Belichick is evil, we all know the number of points he is shooting for. If the Patriots average 42.5 points per game for the rest of the year (hardly inconceivable since they've averaged 41.1 to this point), they will reach 666 total points.

Next week, the Patriots can clinch the AFC East. If Buffalo loses to the 7-3 Jaguars in Jacksonville on Sunday afternoon, the Patriots will take the field that night having already clinched the divisional title. If Buffalo wins, the Patriots still clinch with a victory over the Eagles. In order for the Patriots to not win the division, they will have to lose every game, and the Bills will have to win every game. It is fairly certain that the Patriots will once again be AFC East Champions.

If the Patriots win their next three games (Philadelphia, @ Baltimore, Pittsburgh), they will clinch a bye in the first round of the post-season. If they win their next four games, they clinch homefield advantage throughout the AFC playoffs. All of this is regardless of what Pittsburgh or Indianapolis do.

In the past few years, we've expected nothing less than Super Bowl Championships from this team. We currently see the regular season as a struggle for homefield advantage, not a struggle to get into the playoffs. But we should not forget that this was not always the case.

This is only the 15th season of 10 or more wins in Patriots history. Six of those 10+ win seasons have occurred since 2001. Since that year, the Patriots have been over .500 for 7 seasons. Before 2001, the Patriots only had 23 seasons at or above .500. Before 2001, the Patriots had 10 post-season appearances. Since then, they're on the verge of making it 16 total appearances. At the beginning of this season, the Patriots were a single game above .500 all-time at 350-349-9.

This team, and this franchise is now something special. What we're witnessing this year may turn out to be the culmination of greatness in American sports history. Would any accomplishment be greater than a 19-0 season in the NFL? Could any team in any sport match that? The 1972 Dolphins went undefeated, but that was before the salary cap and their competition that year was below average.

We're all anticipating, even expecting a 19-0 season. None of us can imagine another team defeating the mighty Patriots. But it is important that we realize that winning the Super Bowl is the ultimate goal, not winning every single game. Obviously, winning 19 games automatically results in a Super Bowl win, but even if we lose a game, that does not mean that this team is a failure.

By the way, when the Patriots score 84 points against the Jets in a few weeks, that will be an NFL record.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007


I know that most of the news that will be discussed in this post is not very new at all, but I've been awfully busy working at BC and Gillette Stadium sporting events. Apologies for the lateness.

Let's start off with the good news, which is the awards that Red Sox players have been honored with since the season ended.

Kevin Youkilis won a Gold Glove at first base. He had no errors playing first base for the entire regular season. He also saved errors from guys like Lugo, who have difficulty throwing with accuracy. This is Youkilis's first Gold Glove, and his first major award.

Coco Crisp seems to have gotten screwed out of winning a Gold Glove. Gold Gloves are funny awards, in that they're usually rewarded based more on reputation than performance. Moreover, all of us in Red Sox Nation saw Crisp everyday, and were impressed with his defense. We didn't get much of a chance to see Torii Hunter, Ichiro Suzuki, or Grady Sizemore. All three of whom are great outfielders. But we all knew before the season began that Ichiro and Hunter would win Gold Gloves, so long as they were healthy.

Surprisingly, Coco Crisp has never won a Gold Glove.

David Ortiz won his fourth straight Silver Slugger Award as a DH. This ties him for the all-time lead in Silver Slugger Awards at that position. He is tied with Edgar Martinez and Paul Moliter. Papi also underwent arthroscopic surgery, which was said to be a success. He played with a knee injury all year, which may have caused a reduction in power. His 35 homers was his lowest total with the Sox since 2003.

And of course Dustin Pedroia won Rookie of the Year, becoming the first Red Sox player since Nomar to win the award. Pedroia is only the 6th Red Sox player of all-time to win the award.

Josh Beckett finished 2nd in the Cy Young voting, behind C.C. Sabathia. In case you couldn't guess, Cy Young voting is done at the conclusion of the regular season, before the playoffs start. Strangely enough, Sabathia did not finish atop one of the Pitching Triple Crown categories. He was 2nd in wins with 19 (behind Beckett), 5th in ERA (behind Erik Bedard, John Lackey, Fausto Carmona, and Danny Haren), and 5th in strikeouts (behind Scott Kazmir, Johan Santana, Bedard, and Javier Vazquez).

Now I'm not saying that Beckett deserved the Cy Young more than Sabathia, but when you look at C.C.'s numbers compared to other pitchers, they just don't amaze you. I think he won for three main reasons.

#1. He threw more innings than anyone else. He made 34 starts and pitched 241 innings. That's 7.08 innings per start, which is very good.

#2. His strikeout to walk ratio was very good. He struck out 209 batters and only walked 37.

#3. He was publicized. His team went on hot stretches late in the season, passing Detroit in dramatic fashion. Every game Sabathia pitched was important. His starts were highlighted by ESPN, and we either on national television, or were heavily documented the next day on SportsCenter. He also beat Johan Santana about 4 times this year. But with the Twins' offense, that isn't too difficult. Meanwhile, Beckett and the Sox never had a "must-win-game" in the regular season. There was no dramatic winning streak or playoff push.

Despite finishing 2nd in the voting, everyone in baseball knows who the best pitcher was in 2007...

Sunday, November 11, 2007


The Boston College Eagles went down to College Park, MD on Saturday night and embarrassed themselves once again. After losing to unranked Florida State at home last week, the Eagles were out of the national title picture, but were still very much in the race for the ACC Championship and their first ever BCS Bowl berth. But after losing 42-35 to the 5-5 Terrapins, Boston College can no longer afford another slip up. The hefty cushion they had built up for themselves is now gone.

Boston College MUST win at Clemson next week in order to win the ACC Atlantic Division and go to the ACC Championship in Jacksonville. The only visiting team that has won in Clemson, SC this year has been #10 Virginia Tech. And if someone could explain to me how 8-2 Virginia Tech is ranked 10th in the AP Poll and 8-2 Boston College (who beat Virginia Tech) is ranked 18th, I'll buy them a beer. On the bright side, if BC beats Clemson, then they clinch the ACC Atlantic Division, no matter what happens in the Miami game.

The fact that BC went from 2nd in the polls all the way down to 18th is not what annoys me as a fan. It is how and why we fell. Had the Eagles lost to Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, that would be understandable. Had they lost to Clemson on the road, that would be understandable. Hell, even if they had lost to Miami, it would be understandable, because we haven't beaten Miami in 23 years.

Had Boston College played their best and lost to teams that were simply better than them, it would be understandable. But they didn't play their best. In fact, Boston College seemed to save its worst play of the season for their most important games.

In the Florida State game, it was a complete lack of any ground game that cost the Eagles. Actually, there was no attempt to run the ball at all. Matt Ryan led the team in carries with 9. Andre Callendar and L.V. Whitworth combined for 11. Of the 74 offensive plays BC ran, 62 were all up to Ryan, who had an abysmal game. The Eagles were also penalized 8 times for 121 yards.

In the Maryland game, the defense completely collapsed. Coming into the game, Boston College's defense had allowed no opponent to score more than 28 points. They had also kept opponents to under 20 points in 6 games.

But Maryland was able to put up 472 yards of offense. The Terps were assisted by two huge Matt Ryan interceptions. Once again, BC went without much of a running game, gaining a net of 45 yards on the ground. But this time, they were on the comeback trail for pretty much the entire game.

What's really tragic for BC is that this was the most points Maryland has scored all year. They put up 31 against Villanova and 26 against Florida International. This was a mediocre football team that ran all over one of the best teams in the country.

But this isn't the first time that Boston College has let us all down.

Last year, the regular season ended on a sour note as Boston College lost 17-14 to a hapless Miami team (on my birthday). BC also suffered an embarrassing 17-15 loss on the road to NC State. But they recovered from that, crushing Virginia Tech on a Thursday night. Then they went to Tallahassee and beat Florida State. But their dreams of making it to the ACC title game were dashed when they fell to Wake Forest, 21-14. Matt Ryan threw for 402 yards in that game, but with only 1 TD and 2 INTs.

In the 4th quarter of that Wake Forest game, here are how Boston College's drives ended. Keep in mind, it was 21-14 when the 4th quarter began.

Drive #1: Missed 40 yard field goal
Drive #2: LV Whitworth fumbles at WFU 37 yard line, recovered by WFU
Drive #3: On 1st and 10 from the WFU 25 yard line, Matt Ryan's throw is intercepted by Patrick Ghee of Wake Forest at the goal line

Boston College played like crap and lost that game, just like they lost to NC State and Miami that year; just like they lost to Maryland and Florida State this year.

In 2005, Boston College finished with a 5-3 conference record, tied with Florida State atop the division. Of course, FSU held the tie-breaker, as they beat BC 28-17 that year. However, Boston College's 3 conference losses include a shocker. BC lost to Florida State, Virginia Tech, and...THE UNIVERSITY OF NORTH CAROLINA!

UNC was 4-4 at the time of the game, and would finish the season at 5-6. Who else did UNC beat in 2005? Virginia, NC State, Utah, and Duke. But BC lost to them, and it not only cost the Eagles a chance to play in the ACC title game, it cost them a warm weather Bowl game. Instead, they had to go to the MPC Computers Bowl in Boise to play none other than Boise State.

Then there was 2004, Boston College's last year in the Big East. Coming into the last week of the regular season, all Boston College had to do was beat Syracuse in order to win the Big East Championship and go to a BCS Bowl. Syracuse was 5-5 coming into the game after their loss to Temple. That's right, Syracuse lost to Temple! Boston College was ranked 19th at the time, was 8-2, and had beaten the likes of #10 West Virginia on the road, and #25 Notre Dame in South Bend. The game was also to be played in Chestnut Hill. Coming into the game, Syracuse was 1-4 on the road, with that one win coming against Buffalo.

Syracuse crushed Boston College 43-17. Diamond Ferri, a 2nd stringer, ran for 141 yards and 2 TDs. He also had an interception returned for a touchdown on defense. What made this even worse was that Syracuse recruited him from BC's backyard. Ferri went to Everett High School, a mere 11 miles from Boston College. The Eagles also turned the ball over 4 times, and racked up 9 penalties for 89 yards.

Instead of playing in the Fiesta Bowl, BC was sent to the Continental Tire Bowl in Charlotte to play UNC.

The one bright spot to all these disappointments is that Boston College finished each of these seasons with a Bowl game victory. However, how much does a win in the MPC Computers Bowl really mean? It certainly doesn't mean much to the Boston sports fan. It helps for recruiting, but wouldn't a conference championship help even more. What if BC were able to make a BCS Bowl one of those years and pull out a victory? Wouldn't that lead to tons of recruits begging to go to BC? Wouldn't that mean more money? More exposure?

This phenomenon is not unique to the football team. The basketball team had a halftime lead over Georgetown in last year's NCAA tournament, but let that slip away. In 2006, Boston College lost the ACC Tournament Finals to Duke by a score of 78-76. They went to the Sweet 16 in the NCAA Tournament, but lost to Villanova 60-59. In both heartbreaking losses, the Eagles shot poorly at the free throw line. In 2005, BC was seeded 4th, but lost in the second round to 12th seeded Wisconsin-Milwaulkee. That was after starting the season with 20 straight wins, and then losing to West Virginia in the Big East tournament. BC lost 5 of their last 10 games that season.

The Boston College hockey team has also disappointed as of late. In 2006 they failed to win the Beanpot or the Hockey East Tournament, falling to BU both times. They then lost to Wisconsin in the NCAA Championship. In 2005, they won the Beanpot and the Hockey East, but were knocked out of the NCAA Tournament in the 2nd round. Since BC last won the NCAA Championship in 2001, there have been high expectations and very little results. They've only managed to win 1 Beanpot title, and 2 Hockey East titles. They've managed to get far in the NCAA Tournament, but have always fallen short of total victory.

So what's in the waters of the Chestnut Hill Reservoir? What is the explanation for this uncanny ability to reach the summit of greatness and, like a drunk mountain climber, plummet to the bottom?

Boston College, unlike most college sport powerhouses, has academic standards. Looking at the other D-IA football schools with academic standards, and one will see a list of mediocre and bad teams. Stanford, Notre Dame, Army, Navy, Air Force, and so on. In the BCS Top 25 this week, Boston College is the only school listed that has some semblance of academic standards for their athletes.

Academic standards inevitably lead to a generally poorer quality of athlete. It isn't that dumb people are more athletic, or that smart people aren't athletic, it's just that academic standards reduce your potential recruiting pool. In sports like basketball or hockey, teams can get away with this. Just look at Duke basketball and Cornell hockey. However, football requires a tremendous depth of athletes.

But the failures of Boston College are not due to athletic inadequacy, or facing superior talent. Losing to Maryland this year, or Wake Forest last year, or UNC the year before that, or Syracuse the year before that; those losses were all mistake ridden games. They were played poorly by Boston College. It wasn't as if the Eagles played their best and simply weren't good enough to win, it's that they played their worst and blew it. In sports terminology, this is known as choking.

It seems as though the athletic department at BC is content and satisfied with being competitive and above average. After all, Alumni Stadium sells out, Conte Forum always has at least 4,000+ fans in attendance for basketball or hockey, the school is on the map, and the school was good enough to be cherry-picked by the ACC. But as a sports fan, I for one want more. I want a conference championship for BC football. I want the basketball team to make it to the Final Four. I want the hockey team to become a dynasty. These are not difficult tasks for BC athletics. They have the talent, they just need the attitude of victors.

Monday, November 05, 2007


The New England Patriots cast all sorts of demonic spells, and summoned countless evil spirits in order to triumph over the angelic Indianapolis Colts on Sunday, in what some dubbed The Game of the Century, but I dubbed Armageddon. The Colts, for their part, were assisted by a herd of friendly zebras, who would throw yellow flags whenever they felt it would help Indy's cause of good and righteousness.

The first instance of questionable officiating came in the first drive. Manning threw a sideline route to Aaron Moorehead, who appeared to catch the ball with one foot out of bounds. However, two officials looking directly at the sideline both called him in bounds and ruled the play a completion. Belichick challenged, and the play was reversed. However, the whole incident cost the Patriots a valuable challenge, not even 3 minutes into the game. Perhaps the NFL should institute replay rules similar to those of college football.

Indy would drive down the field, penetrating as far as New England's 23 yard line. Kenton Keith was stuffed for a 5 yard loss by Richard Seymour. After a false start penalty and a surprisingly conservative Addai run up the middle, the Colts were forced to try for a 50 yard field goal.

When we didn't sign Adam Vinatierri a few years ago, a lot of people were upset. But Vinatierri is no longer a complete kicker. He simply cannot kick long field goals with accuracy anymore. His 50 yard attempt was wide left. It may have been tipped at the line, but I have my doubts. I've never seen a tipped field goal go as long as that one did.

Brady was sacked on the Patriots' first offensive play for a 10 yard loss. They wouldn't recover from that and were forced to punt. Chris Hanson would drop a beauty that was fair caught at the 9 yard line. It was the first time all year that the Patriots failed to score on their opening drive.

Indy moved the ball across midfield, then the referees helped them out once more. Asante Samuel had the audacity to touch Anthony Gonzalez and the refs called him for pass interference, moving the ball 37 yards forward, giving Indy a 1st and goal on the 9. The defense stood firm, however, and forced the Colts to try a field goal. 3-0 Indianapolis.

Hobbs had a nice 34 yard return, giving the Patriots good field position. A 13 play, 62 yard drive ensued, consisting mostly of Maroney runs, and short passes. On 3rd and goal, Brady hit Randy Moss in the back corner of the end zone. 7-0 New England.

The Colts once again drove to midfield, and were once again helped by the officials. Reggie Wayne tackled Ellis Hobbs with surprisingly good form, but it was Hobbs who was called for pass interference. After all, Hobbs was trying to play the ball and make an interception. That's simply too mean for the Colts, so the refs were forced to penalize the Patriots for 40 yards.

The Patriots once again stuffed the Colts on 3 straight plays, forcing another field goal. But the penalty still hurt. If Hobbs had not been tackled by Wayne, he may have made an interception in the end zone. Instead of the Patriots getting the ball back in a 7-3 game, it was 7-6.

Brady led a drive into Indy territory but underthrew a wide open Donte Stallworth. The ball was caught by Antoine Bethea at the 2. Had Brady led Stallworth, the play would have resulted in a touchdown. Instead, the turnover would result in a score for Indianapolis.

After moving the ball downfield a bit, Manning hit Addai on a check down pass. Thanks to some sloppy defense by the Patriots (namely Rodney Harrison pushing down Randall Gay), Addai was able to run 73 yards into the end zone to put the Colts on top 13-7.

The Patriots and Colts exchanged possession a few times to commence the second half. The Pats then drove from their own 9, all the way to the Indy 14. The most amazing play was probably Brady's 19 yard scramble, which was a season high, and the second longest of his career. It actually wasn't a scramble, it was more of a meander on an empty side of the field.

The Patriots would be stopped on 3rd and 1 as the overrated Bob Sanders corralled Maroney in the backfield. The Patriots were forced to kick a field goal, making it a 13-10 game.

The Colts punted on their next drive, then Brady threw an interception to Gary Brackett, who returned the ball 28 yards upfield. The play was bizarre. Brady's pass was underthrown, and tipped by Brackett as he went down. But Brackett maintained his concentration, and possession of the ball, before getting up and running upfield.

The Colts were stuffed on two running plays, but converted a huge 3rd and 15, keeping their drive alive. Eventually, Manning would sneak into the end zone, making the score 20-10.

The Patriots responded very loudly. After a few medium range passing plays, Brady hit Moss with a bomb. Moss was interfered with, but still managed to haul in the ball for a 55 yard gain. On the next play, Moss was called for offensive pass interference. It was one of the worst calls of the game. After guys like Dallas Clark and Reggie Wayne had flat out tackled New England's defensive backs, to call Moss for P.I. because he had a hand on a defender's shoulder was simply mind-boggling. But the Patriots scored anyway. Brady hit Welker, who brought the ball to the 3. Then Welker caught the next pass, hoisting the ball over the pylon for a touchdown. 20-17 Indianapolis.

The Colts deteriorated on their next drive. They received a holding penalty, a false start penalty, and fumbled the ball before punting.

The Patriots took the lead with a 3 play, 0:43 second drive, with a 33 yard pass to Stallworth as the highlight of the drive. Stallworth caught the ball behind his back shoulder, and secured it perfectly.

A 13 yard TD catch and run by Faulk put the Patriots ahead 24-20.

There would be no magical comeback for Peyton Manning, as Jarvis Green forced a fumble that popped out of Manning's hands into the arms of Roosevelt Colvin. The Patriots forced Indy to use their timeouts, and got a 1st down to end the game.

This was the toughest game of the season for the Patriots. It was also, in my opinion, their most impressive. This is the second time they've beaten an unbeaten team on the road, and this time they had to deal with a horrible officiating crew.

The Patriots made plenty of mistakes, and Brady had some inaccurate passes. The defense played well, but appeared slow at times. Then again, they made two goal line stops in the first half after two bogus interference penalties, forcing Indy to kick field goals.

There's also a very interesting story that's just now coming out. It seems as though the Colts might not be as pure and Godly as some have suggested.

Patriots accuse Colts of piping in crowd noise.

If this turns out to be true, it will be very interesting to see how the media reacts.

The Patriots head into their bye week with a 9-0 record. And as of this moment, they are undoubtedly the best team in the NFL.

Colts fans tried to be as evil as us, but they - like their team - just couldn't cut it.

Thursday, November 01, 2007


This is a response to Greg Easterbrook’s column from Page 2 entitled: "Colts-Patriots tilt shaping as battle of Good vs. Evil." You can read it uninterrupted and in full (I only copied and pasted the parts about the Patriots) here:

In this post, Greg’s words are italicized. Also, you’ll notice a dramatic drop off in writing quality when it’s my “turn” to write. This “dialogue” has been sent to Mr. Easterbrook via e-mail.

This is also a very long piece, so I’ll summarize a bit so you can decide whether or not to read it. Easterbrook says that the Colts-Pats game on Sunday is a battle between good and evil. I say that the Patriots aren’t that evil, and that it’s just a football game.


"Patriots at Colts on Nov. 4 is shaping up to be one of the most attractive and exciting NFL regular-season games ever staged. The pairing is fabulous; the teams are the league's best; and there is a chance both will take the field undefeated. Plus, Patriots at Colts has a powerful, compelling narrative. Namely -- Good vs. Evil.

The fact that I don't even need to tell you which team represents Good and which stands for Evil says a lot about how low New England has sunk. You knew instantly which was which, didn't you?"

Well, Greg, I figured out who was going to be who because nobody has ever portrayed Peyton Manning as anything other than a pure, clean, God-fearing, church-going, bring home to mother, cornfed, country boy. Meanwhile, people like you accuse the Patriots of all sorts of “evil” things, such as videotaping other teams, and (gasp) SCORING AS MANY POINTS AS THEY CAN!!!

Okay, I just fainted from that last one, but I’m back.

"Argument for the Indianapolis Colts as paladins…"

Oh, boy, here we go.

Here are’s definitions of paladin:
1. any one of the 12 legendary peers or knightly champions in attendance on Charlemagne.
2. any knightly or heroic champion.
3. any determined advocate or defender of a noble cause.

When you see that word, you just know ridiculousness lies ahead.

"…who carry the banner of that which is beneficent: Sportsmanship, honesty, modesty, devotion to community, embrace of traditional small-town life, belief in higher power, even love of laughter. "

Just a small little clarification against these assessments:

Most of the Patriots’ players are from small towns, just like the Colts‘ players. They went to big football schools, got drafted, and the rest is history. Also, Foxborough is a relatively small town. And patrolling the parking lots at Gillette Stadium, one will see countless license plates from places like Vermont, Maine, and New Hampshire; the birthplaces of the American small town.

Most New England Patriots believe in some sort of higher power (saying that belief in a higher power is necessarily a “good” thing is prejudice, but I’ll let you slide, Greg).

Tom Brady has laughed, as has Bill Belichick, Tedy Bruschi, Rodney Harrison, Randy Moss, and everyone else on the team. And no, not all of these laughs were villainous in nature, and very few were wicked cackles.

"The Colts are the defending champions, so they obviously play well on the field. Yet after winning the Super Bowl, they have remained humble and appealing. Through prior years of postseason frustration, they never complained or pointed the finger outside their team."

The Colts never complained? Are you kidding me, Greg? How long have you been a sports fan? Do you know who Bill Polian is? He’s the President and GM of the Colts. He’s also on the NFL’s competition committee. He was also a VERY vocal complainer after the Patriots beat the Colts in the 2003 and 2004 AFC playoffs. He PUBLICLY whined about receivers being touched more than 5 yards from the line of scrimmage. He moaned and complained so loudly and so effectively that the NFL implemented new rules for contact made beyond 5 yards. These are widely known as the Patriot rules.

Bill Polian was and is at the top of the Colts organization, and he is nothing but a whiny bitch. And I’m not swearing here, Greg, Bill Polian is in fact a female dog.

"Their players are active in community affairs and don't carp about being assigned to a nonglamorous Farm Belt city with an antiquated stadium. Their coach, Tony Dungy, smiles in public and answers honestly whatever he is asked: He never yells at players or grimaces at bad plays and, when defeated, doesn't act as though it's the end of the world. Although religious, Dungy said on the night he won the Super Bowl that God doesn't care about football games, which shows perspective. The team's star, Peyton Manning, stands for love of family, constantly appearing in public with his brothers, father and mother. Manning is happily married and a major donor to a children's hospital. Manning spends a lot of time at children's camps and events, and he constantly makes fun of himself. Ladies and gentlemen, representing Good, the Indianapolis Colts."

Does Coach Dungy take all the players out to pizza after games?

As much as I hate them, the Colts are indeed a classy organization, and are, without a doubt, one of the elite organizations in the NFL, and in all of American sports. However, the Patriots aren’t the evil hate-mongers that you are about to make them out to be, Greg.

Did you know that…

This spring, Tom Brady went to Uganda and Ghana in support of DATA (Debt, AIDs, Trade, Africa) and

Bill Belichick donates his time to Lazarus House, a shelter for the poor and needy. He serves food there (with his family), and donates hundreds of autographed items for their charity golf tournaments and auctions.

Tedy Bruschi spends a great deal of time being the MC at charity events for hospitals. He also made and sold t-shirts to help victims of the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami.

The Patriots organization is involved in many different charitable pursuits, and has a policy of helping local charities through player appearances, cheerleader appearances, and many other means. Here is the Patriots’ site for community/charity information.

Greg, I suggest you go to this site and do some hardcore investigative journalism. Then get back to me about how evil the Patriots are even through charitable pursuits.. Maybe the blood drive is really run by vampires?

"Argument for the New England Patriots as scoundrels in the service of that which is baleful: Dishonesty, cheating, arrogance, hubris, endless complaining even in success. The Patriots have three Super Bowl rings, but that jewelry is tarnished by their cheating scandal."

Just because you keep insisting the rings are tarnished, doesn’t mean that they are. In fact, they’re quite exquisite.

"They run up the score to humiliate opponents -- more on that below -- thus mocking sportsmanship. "
So now you’re in Belichick’s head? You know why he does what he does? You beat 31 other NFL head coaches to it, Greg.

"Their coach snaps and snarls in public, seeming to feel contempt for the American public that has brought him wealth and celebrity. Victory seems to give Bill Belichick no joy, and defeat throws him into fury."

Is Belichick the first head coach to be standoffish? No. I’ll admit, Belichick is a mean man when it comes to the media. But his job isn’t to placate you and your colleagues, Greg. It’s to win football games. Belichick isn’t the first mean head coach, but he is one of the first mean coaches who doesn’t give the media funny sound bytes like Bill Parcells or Bobby Knight. And you guys loathe him for that, don’t you, Greg?

"Belichick and the rest of the top of the Patriots' organization continue to refuse to answer questions about what was in the cheating tapes -- and generally, you refuse to answer questions if you have something to hide."

Why the hell would the Patriots answer questions about the tapes? There is no value in telling everyone what was on the tapes. And if you got caught cheating, wouldn’t you do your best to move on and not talk about it? If you don’t answer all of my questions, Greg, does that mean YOU have something to hide?

"The team has three Super Bowl triumphs, yet its players regularly whine about not being revered enough."

When was this? They might complain about not being respected, or being underdogs (See: Super Bowl XXXVI), but considering the fact that you’re calling them “evil” maybe they have a right to complain about the way the media portrays them.

"The team's star, Tom Brady, is a smirking celebrity-chaser who dates actresses and supermodels but whose public charity appearances are infrequent."

If I could go out with Bridget Moynahan and/or Gisele Bundchen, I would. I don’t see this as being “evil” I see it as being a red-blooded American male.

And how frequent are your public charity appearances, Greg? And just because they’re not public, doesn’t mean that they don’t happen.

"That constant smirk on Brady's face reminds one of Dick Cheney; people who smirk are fairly broadcasting the message, 'I'm hiding something.'"

Maybe Brady is hiding WMDs. You know, Greg, I’ve seen Peyton Manning smirk. I’ve seen Dallas Clark smirk. I’ve seen Dwight Freeney smirk. If I had Randy Moss for a receiver, and Gisele Bundchen for a girlfriend, you’d better believe I’d be smirking.

"The Patriots seem especially creepy at this point because we still don't know whether they have told the full truth about the cheating scandal -- or even whether they really have stopped cheating. They say they have, but their word is not exactly gold at this juncture. Ladies and gentlemen, representing Evil, the New England Patriots."

Begin sarcasm.

I work for the Patriots. I’m an usher at Gillette Stadium, but I’m really there for my telepathic and telekinetic abilities. You see, I read the minds of the opposing coaches and telepathically send those messages to Coach Belichick. I use my telekinesis to move the ball in the air so Tom Brady’s touchdown passes find their mark. We also poisoned the Redskins’ Gatorade with valium, we kidnapped the families of the entire Buffalo Bills offensive line and threatened to kill them if they didn’t let us win, and we didn’t play the Dolphins in Miami, we played Florida International University dressed up as the Dolphins. We’re evil.

End of sarcasm.

"In the Good vs. Evil narrative of the Colts and Pats, running up the score is a telling factor: It reveals a team's sportsmanship or lack of same, and whether a team shows sportsmanship in public might offer insights into its character in private. New England is scoring so many points the Patriots offense looks like cherries and oranges spinning on a slot machine. The Flying Elvii stand plus-159 in net points, by far the best scoring margin in the NFL. This is supposed to be impressive. But I think it's creepy, and New England's creepy on-field behavior is only underscoring the seediness of the Beli-Cheat scandal."

I’ve heard many words to describe the Patriots’ high scoring games: Classless, unsportsmanlike, derogatory, disrespectful, spiteful, arrogant, mean. But to call it creepy? Greg, are you honestly creeped out because a team scores 41.4 points per game? That creeps you out? I’ll be honest, spiders creep me out, but high powered NFL offenses don’t. I guess your fear makes more sense, though. Especially if those players are “evil.”

"On Sunday, the Patriots led the winless Dolphins 42-7 late in the third quarter, yet Tom Brady was still behind center."

Do you want to know why he was still in there? Because the Patriots play Indianapolis, and Pittsburgh, and other good teams that will challenge them for 4 quarters. If Brady and the starters become accustomed to playing only 2 or 3 easy quarters of football, how the hell will they be able to handle 4 difficult quarters against a team like the Colts?

And what the hell does it matter if the Dolphins are winless? Shouldn’t the Patriots play against the winless Dolphins with the same intensity as the undefeated Colts?

"And he wasn't just handing off the ball to grind the clock, either. Rather, he was back in the shotgun, still throwing to run up the score. Here is a summary of the Patriots' possession with a 42-7 lead late in the third and Brady, Randy Moss and the rest of their offensive starters on the field: Pass, run, pass, run, pass, pass."

In the third quarter of a blowout game, the game is not over. A team could be up 70-0, and the game is not over. How long does it take for an opponent to score 10 touchdowns? Ten plays.

You run out the clock by getting first downs, not necessarily by running. If you throw high percentage passes, keep the ball in bounds, and move the ball downfield, you run out the clock just as efficiently as a running attack. The field is only 100 yards long. Eventually, you’re going to run into the end zone. Should you just stop there and kneel? Kick a meaningless field goal?

"When backup quarterback Matt Cassel entered the game in the fourth quarter, with the Patriots leading 42-14 -- a margin larger than the greatest fourth-quarter comeback in NFL history (see below) -- did he hand off the ball to grind the clock? Here were Patriots' coaches first three calls: Run, pass, pass. Cassel's second pass was intercepted and returned for a touchdown, and Brady re-entered the game. Did he grind down the clock? Pass, pass, run, run, pass. The final score was 49-28."

I’m confused. If the Patriots are trying to embarrass other teams by scoring as many points as possible, why the hell would they replace their star quarterback with a guy who didn’t even start in college? That doesn’t seem logical, Greg.

And in the Miami game, you’re forgetting that Laurence Maroney was coming off injury, and Sammy Morris was injured in the Dallas game. That means that Heath Evans, Kevin Faulk, and Kyle Eckel were New England’s RBs. These guys probably aren’t going to get first downs on their own. And you run out the clock with first downs, not 3 and outs. And if you want to really shorten the game, you’ll score, because that means it would take even more time for your opponent to come back on you.

"The week before, New England led Dallas 42-27 and had second-and-goal on the Cowboys' 6-yard line with 1:43 remaining and Dallas out of timeouts. Three kneel-downs would have ended the game."

That isn’t true, three kneel downs would have left 0:23 on the clock. And it was 41-27 (three score game) not 42-27. It’s next to impossible for a team to score three touchdowns and three 2 point conversions in 23 seconds, but it’s still only next to impossible. The Patriots ran the ball three times in this situation, including a 4th down run by Kyle Eckel. The run resulted in a touchdown. After the extra point (if they were running up the score, wouldn’t the Patriots have gone for 2?) it was 48-27 and the game was over.

"The Patriots then kicked off, and Dallas got the ball with 13 seconds remaining. Cowboys coach Wade Phillips showed the dignity Belichick lacked and ordered a kneel-down. Beyond defeating division-leading Dallas, New England has beaten six teams with a combined record of 11-27. In New England's six games against nonwinning teams, Belichick kept the starters in long after the outcome was decided, trying to run up the score. This doesn't just demonstrate Belichick has no class (although it certainly demonstrates that). It's worse -- this suggests something vindictive."

Greg, your column suggests that you’re the vindictive one.

"Yes, you can find games the Colts have won by a big margin in recent years, and yes, Manning was on the field through the fourth quarter at Jacksonville last night."

In 2004 the Colts won games 31-17, 35-14, 49-14, 41-10, 41-9, 51-24, and 49-24 in the playoffs. Were you or anyone else accusing them of being classless by running up the score back then?

"But in that quarter, the Colts mainly ran to grind the clock: If they had wanted to win by more, they likely could have. As for New England's running up the score, supposedly the Patriots are angry about the Beli-Cheat scandal and are scoring points like crazy to express their anger against the world. Wait a moment: What right do the Patriots have to be angry? They, after all, are the ones who admitted to systematic cheating. Other people didn't impose that situation on them -- they cheated of their own free accord, imposing the tainting of their accomplishments on themselves. The Patriots were not wronged; they wronged others. Yet they're mad about being caught, and they seem to want to take out their bad feelings about themselves by embarrassing second-echelon teams. That bespeaks lack of character. That's Dark Side. That's Evil."

Here you go again, Greg, claiming to understand why Bill Belichick does what he does. Once again, you’ve outsmarted a 3 time Super Bowl Champion head coach. Maybe Belichick scores so many points in order to keep his team in a 4 quarter mindset instead of a 3 quarter one. Maybe he feels the need to keep throwing because he has three guys at WR that are used to being primary targets. Furthermore, one of those guys (Moss) has a reputation of giving up when he isn’t involved in the offense. But you never thought about those reasons, did you, Greg? Why not? Because they don’t fit into your agenda. You’re trying to find reasons to disregard and dismiss the Patriots and their head coach. Anything the Patriots do, you spin into a negative.

"Suppose New England's version of events is true -- that Belichick is a fine person who made an honest mistake about rules that seemed clearly written to everyone else but somehow were confusing to him and that he regrets his honest mistake. If this were so, wouldn't Belichick be attempting to convince the world he is a good guy by showing sportsmanship at every turn?"

Have you ever seen the way Bill Belichick dresses? Does he dress like a man who cares about what other people think of him? Have you ever heard him talk? Does he talk like a man who cares what others think of him?

Are you really asking that Belichick, in order to demonstrate to the country that he’s a good guy, NOT score as many points as he has? Maybe if he throws the December game against Miami, that would make him appear even more benevolent, and lovable.

"Instead, he is raising his middle finger to the rest of the NFL, to the sporting media, even to the NFL fans who made his wealth and celebrity possible. If he were a misunderstood man who regrets an honest mistake, wouldn't he be candid and open in public because making his life an open book would convince us he's sorry for what he did? Instead, in public, Belichick continues to glare, stonewall and act offended that mere mortals dare to address him. There is not the slightest hint that Belichick is sorry for what he did -- only sorry he got caught. Innocent people falsely accused crave the recovery of their reputation, working hard to convince the world they are good. Creepy people who think they can get away with something act belligerent and show poor sportsmanship, which is what Belichick is doing right now."

Bill Belichick is not sorry for what he did. His job isn’t to be sorry, or to be nice to the media, or to be a friendly guy. He gets that wealth and that celebrity for winning football games. I think it’s fair to say that he has fulfilled that job requirement.

"Since Belichick took over the Patriots and began the franchise's remarkable run, he and his team have been praised, praised, praised, praised, praised, praised, praised, praised, praised, praised, praised; criticized when it was discovered New England had engaged in what commissioner Roger Goodell himself called "a calculated and deliberate attempt to avoid long-standing rules designed to encourage fair play and promote honest competition"; then -- after about a week of criticism -- praised, praised, praised. This is not a sequence of experiences that would leave an honorable person angry at the world. Yet Belichick acts that way, and he appears to be encouraging anger in his players, which is itself unsportsmanlike."

So now Belichick is unsportsmanlike for encouraging football players to be angry? What mood fits the game of football better than anger? Tenderness? Happiness? Jubilation? Horniness? Depression? Despondency? Love?

I think you’re the angry one, Greg. You and others in the media like you seem to be angry at all the hype the Patriots are getting. It is strange for a team to be maligned for one week, then the next week have predictions of a 16-0 season. I’m a Patriots fan and the hype is too much for even me. As a Patriots hater, you must be going out of your mind.

But it isn’t the Patriots’ fault that ESPN, Fox, and CBS are ball washing. It doesn’t make the Patriots evil. And quite frankly, this dichotomy in the media between those who think the Patriots are perfect, and those who think they are evil, is funny to watch. I would like to see one member of the media say “It’s week 9, let’s not go overboard. The Patriots are good, but there’s lots of football left.” Then I’d like to see the same reporter say “They cheated, they were caught, they were punished, it’s a shame that they did that, but it doesn’t take away from the fact that they’re a good team.”

"Perhaps you can say in Belichick's defense that the modern American ethos encourages us all to feel sorry for ourselves -- so much so that even someone to whom football has brought wealth, celebrity and Super Bowl rings can tell himself he's a victim. Perhaps you can say in Belichick's defense that claiming victim status is a solid psychological ploy for the New England players -- who are not to blame for their coach's cheating, which they most likely did not know was happening. The New England players still might suffer some long-term harm from the cheating, though: Given the image New England is projecting, would you want Patriots' players endorsing your product?"

And we all know that endorsements are the most important thing in the world, just ask Peyton Manning, who is on pace to break his own record this season for commercials completed.

"But if the Patriots are unfairly maligned, why the whole screw-you act they are staging? If the Patriots were unfairly maligned, they'd be trying hard to convince us their hearts are pure, and that distinctly is not what they are doing."

Greg, the Patriots do not care about what you or I think about their hearts. Nor should they.

"Sure, many New England players are awesome performers: Both of Moss' touchdown catches Sunday came when he was double-teamed; the Flying Elvii offensive line was flawless again; Mike Vrabel, waived by Pittsburgh, might be the best linebacker in the NFL. But if the Patriots are so awesome they don't need to cheat, then why were they cheating in Week 1?"

The Patriots are good because they do everything in their power in order to win. Saying “If they’re so good, why did they cheat?” is similar to asking “If they’re so good, why do they try 100%? Why do they practice? Why do they watch film?” Good teams will do anything and everything in order to win, even if they don’t need to do it.

"The whole situation remains creepy."

Greg, I think you need to find another word. Creepy is that guy on the bus talking to himself about the government. Creepy is that sound you hear in the bushes at 4 AM. Creepy is being followed by a car for a few miles. Creepy is waking up with your door unlocked and opened.

Mark Chmura is creepy. Mike Vick is creepy. Pacman Jones is creepy. These guys actually did evil and creepy things.

Creepy is not scoring a lot of points. Creepy is not videotaping an opponents’ signals. Creepy is not being crass to the media. If you want to say that Belichick’s clothes make him look like a creep, I’ll agree with you wholeheartedly. Otherwise, you should stop calling the Patriots creeps.

"Should New England continue on and win the Super Bowl without a major attitude shift toward nice-guy behavior -- and should the year end without the NFL's ever explaining what New England evidence it destroyed or why -- there could be a huge amount of cynicism about this NFL season."

From you and your media cronies, but nobody else. Some people might be bored by it, and the many fans who dislike the Patriots will be angry, but I don’t think people will write letters to the NFL saying “The Patriots aren’t very nice, I’m mad that they won the Super Bowl because they aren’t as polite as Peyton Manning, or as funny as Bill Parcells.”

"Cynicism doesn't sell a sports product, nor is it what the NFL should be marketing to the young."

Of all the things that have become associated with the NFL in the past few seasons (dog fighting, making it rain, sex boats, DUIs, steroids, the Bengals, Jon Kitna’s Halloween costume) do you really think running up the score is anywhere near the top of the list of things that the NFL shouldn’t be marketing to kids?

"That's why the Pats at Colts game Nov. 4 so clearly represents Good vs. Evil. The Colts stand for everything the NFL, and sports enthusiasts, should be proud of."

Like whining about being hit by opposing players, or constantly begging officials for flags.

"The Colts stand for a positive future for the NFL. The Patriots stand for -- well, wouldn't it be nice if the Patriots would explain to us what they stand for. When Good meets Evil, I know who I'll be rooting for."

Greg, I’ll let you in on a little secret. As I mentioned earlier, I work for the Patriots as an usher. And in my short time working there, and in the years I’ve been a fan, I’ve learned what the Patriots stand for. Do you want to know what it is? It’s victory. Plain and simple. The Patriots want to win. They don’t care about how they win, why they win, when they win, who they win against. They just want to win. So maybe they aren’t the best example for a pee-wee team when it comes to attitude or sportsmanship. But they are a great example for other NFL teams when it comes to winning.

Greg, you’ve really got to get off of your soap box before you get a leg cramp. You’ve been standing up there, jumping up and down about the Patriots since the whole camera thing started. The undefeated Patriots are playing the undefeated Colts on Sunday. Can’t you just enjoy that in and of itself? Can’t you just enjoy the two best teams in the NFL squaring off on the field? Why do you try to turn it into such pageantry, such a moral contest? It isn’t good vs. evil, it’s the Patriots vs. the Colts. Isn’t that entertaining enough, Greg?

It’s really a shame because you’re such a good writer, and your Page 2 contributions almost always make me laugh. Maybe you wrote this good vs. evil thing as a humorous piece, but I didn’t pick up on that tone. You seem to loathe the Patriots and all they stand for, which is fine if you’re just a fan, but you're also a member of the media. Haven't you heard the expression "There's no cheering in the press box?” And even if you didn’t want the Patriots to win, why are you proselytizing about their evils, trying to convert people into Patriot haters like yourself? It’s just a game, Greg. It will be played this Sunday in Indianapolis, not on Judgment Day in Armageddon.