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John Rooke - Thinking Out Loud

Saturday, January 26, 2013

 

Thinking out loud…and already wondering how I’m going to survive another football off-season…

Shannon Sharpe’s “calling out” Bill Belichick for ditching a post-game interview with Steve Tasker would be fine…except for the fact that he once played for the Baltimore Ravens – and will also forever be remembered for his “call the Air Force…’cause we’re killing the Patriots” routine on the sideline while with the Denver Broncos. And he’s calling Belichick out? If that comment had come from someone else, like Bill Cowher, for instance, it might’ve actually meant something…

• And Terrell Suggs called the Patriots “arrogant” (and a few other choice items as well) in the post-game locker room celebration at Gillette Stadium. Hey, the Ravens won, fair and square. But T-Sizzle? Dude wouldn’t know how to spell the word c-l-a-s-s if he was spotted the “C” and the “L.” Well, on second thought, maybe he would…

• Let’s add a little more fuel to the fire burning in this Pats-Ravens rivalry…Baltimore players are upset with Tom Brady for apparently trying to kick at Bernard Pollard while sliding late in the first half of last Sunday’s game. So let me get this straight, Bernard. Sliding is bad, but taking shots at a player’s knees (or his head), that’s ok? Brady was fined $10K for his kick, however…Stupid is as stupid does

• With the unexpected exodus prior to New Orleans…the Patriots do keep one streak alive: No Super Bowl loser has returned to the big game in 20 years. Buffalo did it last, in 1993, when they made it back only to lose for a 4th straight time…

• However…both Baltimore and San Francisco reached the Super Bowl this year, after losing in their respective conference championship games a year ago. Just sayin’

Tom Brady is now 7-7 in the last 14 Patriot playoff games, after starting his career 10-0. Just presenting the facts…but is Tom Terrific just plain ol’ Tom now?

• Brady is the all-time leader in post-season passing yards, which is certainly a testament to his overall brilliance. But by the time next post-season rolls around, it will have been TEN years since he won his last Super Bowl…

• I must admit – I’m wavering on Wes Welker’s return to the Patriots next season. I’ve flipped and flopped on this more times that a greasy-spoon flapjack. He dropped another huge 3rd down pass against the Ravens, and while it probably wouldn’t have made a difference in the game…the drops from the past year could be a trend…

• I’d also say that five 110-catch seasons is a trend, too. No one in NFL history has done that before. But should the team re-sign him based on the past, or what the present might bring?

• The easy way out is to put the franchise tag on him for another year, at $11.4 million. That does, however, put about 25% of the team’s total payroll on four players (Brady, Gronkowski, Hernandez and Welker), and doesn’t exactly present the Pats as fiscal conservatives. But is it about winning now, or staying fiscally and competitively sound in the years to come? The next few months will be interesting…

Post of the Week - can’t let this go, however, concerning Welker’s wife Anna…who posted this tidbit on her Facebook page in the minutes after her hubby’s team lost last Sunday: "Proud of my husband and the Pats. By the way, if anyone is bored, please go to Ray Lewis' Wikipedia page. 6 kids 4 wives. Acquitted for murder. Paid a family off. Yay! What a hall of fame player! A true role model!" She did later apologize, but why? Didn’t she tell the truth?

• Needs for next season? It would be great to re-sign Aqib Talib…but the secondary still needs to be addressed. Don’t expect Patrick Chung to return, and Kyle Arrington might also be gone. A wide receiver – regardless of Welker’s return or departure – should be high on the list, as should a defensive lineman. And the Patriots always look for O-line help, too…

Darrelle Revis? Yes, please. And Rodney Harrison says the Patriots need an enforcer at safety. Ed Reed, anyone?

• And if you’re wondering about Armond Armstead, the defensive end signed by the Pats the day AFTER they lost to Baltimore…the Toronto Argonauts GM (where he played last season) says it’s not “very often that an NFL team can get a first-round pick without using a first-round pick.” Armstead is 6-5, 280 pounds and wasn’t drafted by the NFL due to heart problems after leaving USC…

• Odds for next season? The Patriots already lead the pack for Super Bowl XLVIII at 6-to-1. San Francisco and Denver are listed at 8-to-1…

• Commissioner Roger Goodell says we’ll all embrace the snow and ice next year for the Super Bowl at Met Life Stadium in New Jersey. What is this “we” stuff? You’ll be inside, Mr. Commish…

• My buddy "Big E" really loves his golf, and usually plays even in winter weather. He recently discussed playing winter golf with a co-worker from Scotland, who told him that weather is no object over there…they play through ice, snow, extreme cold – anything. “E” asked if they had to paint their balls, and was told “no, we just put on an extra sweater…”

• The NFL Network says it will have 140 hours of coverage this week leading up to the Super Bowl. Oh joy. How many times can we look at baby pictures of the Harbaugh’s?

Not for nuthin’…but John & Jim Harbaugh will become the first set of brothers to matchup as head coaches in a playoff game in the NFL, NBA, NHL or MLB…

ESPN recently announced its early-season schedule for Sunday Night Baseball and the Rangers will make three appearances, the most of any team. The Angels, Braves, Cardinals, Giants, Tigers, and Yankees will each make two appearances. The Orioles will make their first appearance since 2008 on April 14 against the Yankees. The Red Sox? They get one spot…against the Yankees…in July. And even that might be one too many…

• If you’re looking ahead to next month and the start of spring training…four Red Sox players will apparently leave camp early to take part in the World Baseball Classic Alfredo Aceves (Mexico), Shane Victorino (USA), pitcher Jose De La Torre (Puerto Rico) and infielder Xander Bogaerts (Netherlands). Bogaerts is one of Boston’s top minor-league prospects, and will be attending his first big-league camp…

• Petey’s back. Pedro Martinez has joined Jason Varitek as Assistants to the General Manager (Ben Cherington) and he’ll help develop the team’s pitching prospects. By August, he’ll probably be in the rotation…

• Last Saturday was truly a dark day for baseball, with the passing of former Baltimore manager Earl Weaver and Hall-of-Famer Stan Musial. Two baseball icons that could not have been more different – Weaver was irascible and aggressive, while Musial was genial and genuinely beloved. But both had one common thread, of course. They were winners…

• With all of the talk about Big East past and Big East future…the Atlantic-10 is having a great season itself. At the start of the week, the A-10 had 11 of 16 members ranked in the RPI Top 100. The Big East had 13 of its 15 in the Top 100…

Tweet of the Week, from Jon Rothstein, who covers college hoop for the CBS Sports Network - ‏@JonRothstein: “Providence freshman PG Kris Dunn is like a cheetah when he gets into the open court. Reminds me of former Arizona PG Khalid Reeves. A jet.”

• The PC-Villanova game was one of the most painful games for me to watch (or broadcast) in some time. Yet, the defensive play by the Friars was proof enough that a consistent effort on that end can keep you in games no matter what. The offensive side of that game, however, could have set the sport of college basketball back an entire generation…

• I mean, missing nine of the first 12 from the free throw line? Seriously…I could make more than that, blindfolded, throwing them up at the basket underhanded. But the Friars won the game…and that’s the stat that counts most…

• The major issue right now for the Friars, overall, is still depth – quality depth. Georgetown, Pitt, Marquette and a few others all go 8-9 deep in their rotations…and most everyone is a threat to score as well. PC has four players who do most of the scoring, and in order to win games like Pitt this past week…they simply must have production from the bench. Even though they are freshmen, Josh Fortune and Kris Dunn must score more than three points (their combined total against the Panthers) for the Friars to have a shot…

• One other note from last weekend…Saturday was a banner day for RI hoops, with all four Division I teams claiming wins (RIC also won, JWU beat Suffolk, Salve nipped RWU, too). That’s significant for a long-suffering college hoop fan base around these parts, and a hopeful sign of things to come…

• Rumblings from the Big 12 this week…that they could “be proactive,” according to Commissioner Bob Bowlsby. Recently, a Forbes report put Big 12 revenues at fifth overall from bowl games, TV and the NCAA Tournament…but they were #1 in average per school at $26.2 million. Somehow, I don’t think the Big 10 or the SEC like that…

• Good line from ESPN’s Andy Katz this week: “The Syracuse-Louisville rivalry has been one of the better matchups in the past five years. It will take a hiatus next season when the Orange go to the ACC, only to resume in 2014-15 when the Cardinals join the league, too. When they do play in the ACC, can we call it a Big East game, because that's what it will feel like?”

• Time to rise up, Big East: In its last 29 Big East regular season games, Syracuse is 28-1. UConn had 35-2 run in '90s, but not a 28-1 run…

• By the way, can we just do away with the term “mid-major?” After watching Butler and Gonzaga last week, there was nothing “mid” about those two major hoop powers playing each other. A good team is a good team, and a bad one is…well, just bad. Period

• I’ve already reached my fill of Manti Te’o stories and jokes…but really, his friend Ronaiah Tuiasosopo “faked” his alleged girlfriend’s voice for more than 500 hours of conversations? Some actor – and friend. But really, Manti, dude…c’mon

• At least we’ve got college basketball around here to help us through the coming few months…but I always go through a bit of football withdrawal when the season ends around here. Here – might be a different story from elsewhere this year, however…as ratings for the conference title games were actually down from a year ago, while Patriots local ratings were at an all-time high. The national view may be only because three of the four teams in the NFL Final Four were repeat performers from last season, however…

• One more reminder - the 37th annual Cranston Sports Collectors Show returns to the West Valley Inn on Saturday, Feb. 2nd. Sponsored by the St. Joseph Men’s Guild of the Immaculate Conception Church, the sports memorabilia show is the oldest of its kind in New England, with more than 1800 dealers and collectors participating…and fans attending. Alan “Mr. Mint” Rosen will also once again be in attendance, buying your cards and other sports collectibles…if, of course, they’re actually worth something. But you won’t know unless you go…

• Our mailbag question/comment this week featured several from fans who were asked to make “one move to improve” the Patriots for next season. The selection comes from Bryan in Las Cruces, NM via Facebook – “My one move would be to re-sign (Aqib) Talib. He's not Darrelle Revis but he really shores up the defense compared to say...Ras-I Dowling. A bird in the hand…” Bryan: I concur. Corners are a premium commodity in the NFL…good corners are even harder to find. Talib might command too much money, considering he’s probably the best available free agent…but again, I’m with you. He said he liked playing here. Let’s put that loyalty to the test. The Pats have salary cap room. Carpe diem

• Interested in having your questions on local RI sports (including the Patriots, Red Sox, Bruins and Celtics) answered in a somewhat timely fashion? Send ‘em to me! It’s your chance to “think out loud,” so send your questions and comments to jrooke@golocalprov.com. We’ll share mailbag comments/Facebook posts/Tweets right here! Follow me on Twitter, @JRbroadcaster…and on Facebook, www.facebook.com/john.rooke ...

• You’re up early anyway…don’t forget to join us for GoLocal Sports on 103.7 FM, every Saturday from 7:00-9:00 am! Call in (401) 737-1287, or text 37937…and send email to the show - golocal@weei.com .

• The recently released “Rhode Island Radio” from Arcadia Publishing is available for sale, and the book tells the story of the 90-year history of radio in our state through photographs, clippings and memories from many of the personalities who have graced our airwaves. Mark your calendars, and join me for a book signing event February 9th at Barnes & Noble on Route 2 in Warwick, from 1:00 to 3:00 pm! If you’re in search of the gift that says “Rhode Island,” you’ve found it. Or, find it in local bookstores and online right here… 
 

 

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