Get ready for a very Patriots-heavy version of Media Roundup ...
The Patriots' success this season -- a surprising 9-2 to this point, which has left many of the so-called NFL experts locally and nationwide looking rather foolish because of their preseason doom-and-gloom predictions for this team -- has quieted some of the whispers aimed at whether the game had passed Bill Belichick by, and whether he can still put together an NFL team. That's the good news.
The bad news is that because they can't come up with new criticisms of Bill Belichick, the local media is resorting to the old standby methods. You know -- Belichick doesn't talk, he's not helpful to the media. No one on the Patriots will tell you anything. Worst locker room in the NFL!
Example A would be Ron Borges column on Thursday, where he extols the virtues of Jets head coach Rex Ryan -- in sharp contrast to Belichick. In fact, the title of the column is "The joy of Rex" (likely not picked by Borges, but still fits the feel of the column). In it, he refers to Belichick as "dour" and "doom" while noting that Rex tells a lot of jokes. Yawn.
Example B would be from Mark Farinella, who in a column about Deion Branch, notes:
Branch doesn't seem to have the same hang-ups about chatting with the media as many of his peers in the Patriots' locker room. He's been a part of the team long enough to know what is officially-sanctioned speech, and he doesn't regard occasional sessions with the media as if he has been exposed to bubonic plague.
There are few things more annoying than entitled-feeling media members whining about what access they do and do not get from the Patriots. The shots at Belichick -- "officially-sanctioned speech" and "exposed to bubonic plague" -- are childish.
From the childish to the lame. Is there a lamer story in sports media these days than Tom Brady's hair? It's gotten more than just passing jokes from the local sports media, they're actually talking about it, and about rumors that the purpose of the shaggy mane is to cover up hair loss.
One story had Brady visiting hair transplant guru Dr. Robert Leonard, while on Wednesday night I got an email from TMZ.com, pointing me to their post on Rogaine's offer to supply the QB with their product for free. All of this has led to a website created with the aim of getting Brady to cut his hair for charity.
I'm guessing that since so many in the media seem to be, um, follically challenged themselves, talking about Brady in this way somehow makes them feel better about themselves.
Last weekend it was revealed that the Denver Broncos had engaged in some illegal videotaping of the San Francisco 49ers while the two teams were in London. The incident was immediately dubbed Spygate II because of the connections to the Patriots -- Josh McDaniels, for one.
It came out that the Broncos video director, Steve Scarnecchia, was also a former Patriots employee. (He is also the son of Patriots assistant Dante Scarnecchia.) He was fired by Denver in wake of the incident.
Some in the media felt that this warranted the league re-opening the investigation into the Patriots. It was also reported that Scarnecchia could be facing a lifetime ban from the NFL as he was a "repeat offender." Interestingly, Scarnecchia was working for the JETS in 2007 when the Patriots were caught illegally taping. (He had left the Patriots in 2005.) Do you think he might've had something to do with New England getting busted? If he really is marked by the league as a "repeat offender" did that come during his time with the Patriots, or with the Jets (the Jets had been ordered to stop filming the Patriots during an incident at Gillette in 2006)?
What's more interesting is that as hot as this issue was over the weekend, it was just as quickly dropped on Monday. Even Mike Florio, who promised on Sunday that he would on Monday outline reasons why the league should reopen the Spygate investigation of the Patriots, dropped the topic. Very strange.
What was particularly annoying was those who felt the Broncos' actions somehow validated charges against the Patriots that were later dismissed. Mike Sando of ESPN.com posted:
Steve Scarnecchia, the person responsible for the illicit taping earlier this month, worked for New England when the Patriots allegedly taped St. Louis Rams practices before Super Bowl XXXVI in 2002. As a result, I'm more comfortable removing the word "allegedly" from the previous sentence. The Patriots employed cheaters. Scarnecchia's father, Dante, still works for the Patriots.
I have a lot of problems with this statement. First of all, Commissioner Roger Goodell, as well as Matt Walsh -- the former Patriots' cameraman turned witness -- both denied that the Rams incident took place. The Boston Herald retracted its story and issued a public apology to the Patriots. Yet Sando still thinks it happened. The wording of his last two sentences also seems to infer that the Patriots are dirty just by employing Dante Scarnecchia.
On Thursday morning, Patriots rookie tight end Rob Gronkowski was a guest of the Dennis and Callahan morning show. It was a fairly uncomfortable interview, even for D&C, who, I'm not convinced even knew who Gronkowski was. They did know that he has brothers who play in the NFL, and after asking whether they were jealous that Rob is going to the playoffs and is playing on Monday Night Football this week, they had this exchange:
Dennis: "Noooo, nope"
Gronkowski: "Well, my brother ain't on the Lions ..."
Callahan: "Oh, (little edge in his voice) DENVER, I'm sorry, I'm sorry. He used to be on the Lions, he's on Denver now. They're not....are they making any appearances on Monday Night Football? If they were, I'm sure its..."
Gronkowski: "They've played a few games on Monday Night Football already this year. They've got the experience."
Dallas played on MNF on Oct. 25, and Denver on Nov. 22. Both of Rob's brothers have been on Monday Night Football already this season
Three Links worth checking out this week:
A Former NFLer On "Laughing" Derek Anderson And The Football Robot Blowhards - Former NFL tight end Nate Jackson rips the media for their obsession with the Arizona quarterback having the audacity to smile on the sideline during a blowout loss.
A Dream In The Making - Joe Posnanski profile on former Patriots executive Scott Pioli for SI.
Give Bill Russell a Damn Statue! - Paul Flannery in Boston Magazine makes the case for Celtics great Bill Russell to get a statue.