In this week's Media Roundup, Bruce Allen looks at the reaction following Brandon Meriweather's hit and wonders if the public outcry would be so loud if the guilty party was a different Patriots' player.
Does any of this outrage over helmet-to-helmet hits sound familiar? Well it should. It seems that at some point each season, we're going to be subjected to a week or two where seemingly everyone in the media gets up in arms over the dangers of these hits. Then the league reacts by saying it is going to get tough on these types of hits. Three years ago, the league told officials to start ejecting players for helmet-to-helmet hits.Two years ago, after a rash of more hits and launching incidents, the league talked tough once again.
Interesting that later that same season, Ryan Clark was not fined for launching himself at Wes Welker, a hit that I think the Patriots receiver still feels. At the time, NFL vice president of officiating Mike Pereira stated that launching was not a foul, despite statements earlier in the season from Ray Anderson that called it an "illegal technique."
I'll admit to slight annoyance over the most recent outrage and outcry over helmet-to-helmet hits in the NFL. Oh, I fully understand and sympathize with the dangers involved to the players, but I think at least locally, the outrage on sports talk radio among hosts and callers, those wanting the suspension of Patriots safety Brandon Meriweather is not solely stemming from concern over the health of NFL players.
Let's be frank about this. A lot of this outcry locally is because of Brandon Meriweather, and who he is.
Despite a Pro Bowl berth last year (yes, aided by an injury to the player voted to the position) Meriweather is among the least popular Patriots. His comments early in the season about how he was freelancing on defense just confirmed in many people's minds that he is not the answer at the safety position. Add to that his long hair and a style of speech unfamiliar to New England, and you've got yourself a target.
I don't recall Patriots fans and radio hosts going on the air to call for the suspension of a local player before. Unless it was Marty McSorley, but that was a different sport altogether. Was there a cry for suspension after this hit for instance? I don't think so.
If this had been a more popular Patriots player who made the hit, I really think the reaction among the media and fans would be more subdued. Since it's a guy they already dislike -- and even wouldn't mind out of the lineup -- they can feel free to moralize on the subject.
The biggest disappointment for me in all of this is that all of this talk has taken away from discussion of the most impressive and perhaps important victory for the Patriots since 2007. This team is developing and growing right before our eyes and last Sunday was a big step forward for them.
Tuesday's announcement that NESN would start simulcasting WEEI's Dennis and Callahan show in the mornings beginning on November 16th was met with a variety of reactions.
Some pointed out, quite correctly, the dearth of morning programming on NESN to begin with, and that Dennis and Callahan would be an upgrade over Anthony Sullivan pitching products that Billy Mays used to pitch, and reruns of the dreadful NESN Daily show from the night before.
I can't really argue against that. At times, D&C is must-listen radio, most notably when they have guests such as Tom Brady, Adam Schefter or Jerod Mayo on. (I'll also confess to being an avid reader of Harlan Coben -- it's a guilty pleasure.)
The downside though, is undeniable. At their best, Dennis and Callahan can be polarizing. When they move into political talk, which they do, each day, things can get ugly. And they frequently do. The hosts also have the nasty habit of nastiness and being condescending while berating those who disagree with them.
The question is, will NESN viewers care? Will there even be enough viewers on NESN in the mornings that it even makes a difference? Perhaps not. NESN needs to fill some air time, cheaply, and this is one way to do it.
NESN is following the lead of other regional sports networks around the country who use sports radio calls to fill a portion of their programming day. ESPN even does it with the Mike & Mike In The Morning show for ESPN2.
A few random thoughts...
- So how do Patriots fans feel about the NFL Network using Derek Jeter to introduce and talk about Tom Brady on the NFL's Top 100 list?
- Junior Seau apparently picked the right week to lose his mind. His odd story of being arrested on a domestic violence charge and then driving his car off a cliff would normally be fodder for days. All but ignored this week.
- Michael Felger has been steadfast in his stance that Randy Moss was a bad fit for the Patriots and that they made a mistake in not giving Deion Branch the contract he wanted back in 2006. He's looking more right each day.
- Can you remember an October with less talk about the Red Sox than this one? With the Red Sox not in the postseason, the Patriots again a soap opera for the media, and the Bruins and Celtics both looking to be contenders, it's been a cold start to the Hot Stove season. I expect things to heat up more next month.
- That said, even though the ratings may not reflect it, I've enjoyed these baseball playoffs more than any I can remember that didn't have the Red Sox involved. There has been a ton of great pitching and drama.