Hey all. I got stuck on jury duty all last week. It was terrible, but it's over now.
In the meantime, anyone who's not a Patriots fan has really wanted to get my goat about this Tom Brady thing, knowing how easily my goat is gotten when No. 12 is involved. Especially when he didn't show up to practice for a few days.
I even had a friend who told me that he'd heard fourth or fifth-hand from some dude that Brady had minor surgery on his Achilles tendon. The speculation has definitely gotten crazy, but this isn't surprising. The suggestion of an injury for Brady is enough to send chills down the spine of any Patriots fan and a quiver of delicious hope through anyone who's not a Patriots fan. And for me, the words "minor" and "surgery" don't quite go together, especially not when it's being done on my team's quarterback a week before the Super Bowl.
But Brady has played with a sports hernia before, a separated shoulder, an injured knee...I don't think he gets enough credit for his toughness, because, well, he's a pretty boy. But he's played--and played championship-caliber football--with injuries in the past that have ended other quarterbacks' seasons.
In this case, he's been spotted with an ankle boot...sometimes. To me, if he even has the option of not wearing it, that's a good sign. He also showed up looking hale, healthy and like a trillion and a half dollars at the Pats' big sendoff at Gillette Stadium on Sunday. Every other mortal on the stage squinted and shivered in the cold, and the snowflakes catching in their hair and on their faces made them waterlogged--Brady stood there in a suit that probably has its own insurance policy, open-collared, not a hair out of place, like the snow was computer-animated around him. And he was wearing regular shoes.
Now, the Washington Post (among 1,898 sources on Google News) reports that:
According to a pool report, Brady had his ankle taped but participated in all phases of the practice. He appeared to have a slight limp but jogged the length of the field twice at the end of drills.
Can I just say? I love this. I love that we're getting such meticulously detailed reports on any and all aspects of Tom Brady's health, as well as exactly how many laps he did at the end of practice.
This is because I am insane about Tom Brady. Duh. I'm a Patriots fan. I don't know quite how to explain the way people feel and act about "Tommy" around here, but a story my friend Ryan told me recently is a pretty good example. Ryan is a typical Massachusetts guy and has a pretty noticeable Boston accent. Recently he said he met a friend of a friend who immediately struck him as looking a lot like Brady. Ryan confessed to me last weekend that he was unable to resist pointing this out to the stranger, despite how he knew it made him look. "It's a good thing," he reassured the startled lookalike, knowing he was digging himself a deeper hole.
"I just couldn't help it," he told me later. "I knew how it made me look. I knew how this other kid would be telling his friends, 'I had this random kid from Mass. in my face about Tom Brady'. But I couldn't not say anything."
Many people in Boston are crazy about the Red Sox, but it's hardly ever focused on just one player. Just because of the nature of his sport, however, Tom Brady stands out, and his role in the game he plays gets him individual recognition more like Larry Bird in the heyday of the Celtics. Except Larry Bird never modelled.
Admittedly, the guy's ridiculous. Even as a female I can understand the jealousy sometimes; even I sometimes think, how much further can the guy go? He's dating the world's top model, he's filthy rich, he's doing modeling himself when he's not winning Super Bowls...if I wasn't a fan of the Patriots, if his accomplishments weren't benefiting my hometown team, I could understand why all that would make him hate-able. I understand that much of the scrutiny surrounding his injury right now is not from people wishing him well.
But to be a fan of this team right now, and to know that he's ours...it's enough to make otherwise heterosexual male football fans a little giddy. It's enough to inspire frequent, random, affectionate discussions about "Tommy". He is the face of the team and its essential ingredient, at times seemingly a collaborator with Belichick in authoring the franchise's dominance, and at other times seemingly just a carrier of uncanny good fortune, a 6' 4", 220-pound rabbit's foot and security blanket in one. But even that doesn't quite seem to encapsulate what Brady means to Patriots fans--like Ryan, I know how goofy this is making me sound, and yet I still don't feel like I've found the words.
And now, to our great relief, Brady's back on the practice field. I guarantee this is being discussed at dozens of Dunkin' Donuts as we speak: He jogged two laps! For right now, at least, all is right with the world.
First off, my usual excuses about not writing: a combination of jury duty and work events this whole week has had me 100% tied up.
More interestingly, Joy of Sox is up for a Canadian Blog Award for the second year in a row. If you're not familiar with Joy of Sox, you should be. It's a key part of my "rounds" of Red Sox blogs and consistently has the most timely, up-to-date information and insights on the latest news about the Sox, regardless of time of year. You know, unlike this blog.
But on a serious note, JoS has been key to making our Sox blogosphere credible. His work has been cited by Globe reporters in print as well as live on NESN. If you're looking for a pro blog and Boston Dirt Dogs isn't your cup of tea, JoS might be just what you're after.
At any rate, while bloggers like JoS's Allan still might not get all the recognition they deserve, this is one thing his Web audience can help him out with.
Ah, isn't it refreshing when Boston and New York face one another in a big game? Their respective sports press corps can always be counted on to stir up the crowds. Like the story first broken by the New York Post, that Tom Brady has been photographed in New York wearing a walking cast.
The operative word there, at least as far as my own peace of mind is concerned, is "walking." He also says it's nothing serious, and that he'd "have to be on a stretcher" to miss the game. It's probably just a precaution, and he's played with a separated shoulder and a hurt knee in Super Bowls before.
But that whole specter of Brady being hurt? The very idea of him being seriously hobbled? Yeah, let's not do that again.
This story was first broken by the New York Post: Tom Brady was spotted in New York outside Gisele's apartment wearing a cast on his right foot.
Now, before you freak, like I did, consider the following:
1) He's walking
2) He's walking while carrying stuff
3) It's a soft, removable cast
4) He plays with his feet and ankles taped all to hell
5) He's walking.
He says he'd "have to be on a stretcher" to miss the Super Bowl. I believe that. But still, any hint or semblance that Tom Brady is remotely injured is enough to have any Bostonian reaching for the Valium.
While everyone west of Albany gently wept, the sports world found itself once again victimized by East Coast bias in a national championship: The New England Patriots and New York Giants will face each other in this year's Super Bowl, bringing together the same charming groups of fans that brought you Red Sox vs. Yankees and, I can only assume, further alienating our fellow fans in the heartland.
In their separate games, the Patriots and Giants both showed breathtaking tenacity in bone-crackingly cold temperatures, and both showed why the last game they played against each other in Week 16 was so dramatic. After watching the Championship games yesterday, I can only agree with one of our esteemed commenters in predicting that the Super Bowl will be "jolly tough."
Both games had their heartbreak--Phillip Rivers battled valiantly against a sprained knee to play four gritty, respectable quarters, despite gimping around painfully on a braced-up right leg. Brett Favre, the lion in winter, led his team one last time into overtime, just a heartbeat away from one last trip to the Big Dance, before he succumbed to fate in the form of the New York Giants.
Both games had their mysteries. Ladanian Tomlinson has been the source of some bewilderment, having spent all but a few plays skulking like Darth Vader behind his helmet's sun-shade on the heated bench. And what caused New York Giants kicker Lawrence Tynes to miss not one, but two, potentially game-winning kicks?
But then, both games had their unlikely heroes. Kevin Faulk was the indisputable MVP of the AFC Championship Game, and his diving, barreling catch for a crucial third down as the Patriots bled the clock in the fourth quarter was the moment we knew: 18-0 was on its way. And poor Lawrence Tynes would not pass up a third chance to redeem himself.
There were some differences, of course. Somehow, bizarrely, sadly, the Packers basically handed the NFC Championship to the Giants, when they won the battle of who could incur the worst luck by turning the ball over in sudden-death overtime. I personally will never forget the look on Tom Coughlin's frost-bitten face after Tynes missed that first field goal and ambled back over toward the sideline; the Packers had lost that game twice before they even got into OT. I was already planning to ask a Giants-fan / Yankees-fan friend of mine if Lawrence Tynes could be considered the Bill Buckner of New York football once the game was over. Favre had it all laid out for him on a platter, too, winning the coin toss to begin overtime and at first driving confidently down the field. And then the aging gunslinger was struck down by his own impatience, as he has been so often, and threw an interception. Moments later, on his longest attempt yet of 47 yards, Tynes didn't miss a third time.
The Patriots won a different way--their usual way. They were stymied in the first half, but they all kept grinding away relentlessly, until ever so slowly, they first bent, and then broke, the will of the other team. Tom Brady wasn't sharp (there! I said it! OK!?), but by the third quarter, the offense had at least found a rhythm in the form of Laurence Maroney, who plowed through the Chargers with sheer force of will. The final two clock-bleeding drives in the fourth quarter to crush the last of San Diego's hopes weren't the Brady-Moss Show New Englanders are constantly fiending for, but they had their own kind of ruthless beauty.
Ultimately, though, Bill Belichick was hoisting the Lamar Hunt Trophy yesterday because of the defense. As a unit, the defense is this team's Most Improved Player, and yesterday was a vintage Belichick masterpiece, straight out of the glory days of the 'Homeland Defense' of 2003. Had it not been for the Patriots' resilience inside the 10-yard-line, turning potential touchdowns into field goals almost every time, the final score might well have been 28-21...Chargers.
Last night, as I watched the Patriots wriggle their way to a win like Houdini, I realized that if there's one image I will take with me that encapsulates this season, it actually won't be a long bomb downfield from Brady to Moss. It will instead be the image of Bill Belichick with his back to the field mid-game, crouched down with a white board, drawing arrows and circles and shouting urgently over the cacophany of the stadium at his veteran linebackers. The glamour for this team is in the offense, but its heart and soul are on the other side of the ball.
It's a scary proposition nonetheless to face the team that came closer than any other to destroying the Patriots' dreams of perfection this year, and which is emerging victorious and full of confidence from the howling hell that is Lambeau Field in January. You could say they were lucky; at the same time, they played as physical a game as I've ever seen in the most extreme weather conditions possible, showing that what they lack in having a Manning for a quarterback, they make up for in intestinal fortitude. (I kid, I kid. Well. Sort of.) I don't relish the thought of facing them again.
ESPN sideline reporters have been keeping up this level of desperate hypitude amid the Martian temperatures at Lambeau Field since 10 am, God bless 'em. This particular hypothermia victim is demonstrating the type of head sock that may be worn by players, and perhaps even some fans. Riveting television.
However, ESPN also has Ray-Ray as one of the Sunday NFL Countdown commentators, which is a point very much in their favor. Who doesn't love watching Ray-Ray ad-lib on, well, pretty much anything? He's already discussed how he would, if his team were playing in this extremely cold game, get his teammates fired up to play by wearing a half-shirt to demonstrate his imperviousness to the elements. And the pep talk for the Chargers? Simply epic. Everything is better with Ray-Ray on the mic.
As for the Pats. I had a scare this week that our #1 offensive weapon was going to become persona non grata in the football world once again, but further information revealed allegations against Randy Moss leveled by a Florida woman to be spurious. And so I've since found his sheepishly grinning attempts to hold his own against a cavalcade of mic and tape recorder wielding reporters, well, oddly adorable.
I acknowledge that Randy Moss has, at times in the past, been a complete shithead, and I make no attempts to defend any of his previous behavior, with the exception of the 'mooning incident'. That was just downright funny, even though Joe Buck, anticipating the ire of the same uptight schoolmarms in the national audience who would later make Janet Jackson's partially-uncovered boob a nightmare for CBS, called it like the crash of the Hindenburg.
But really, I see the humor in Randy Moss. In fact, it's getting to the point where I kind of love him a little. He can be flippant, and irreverent, but he's not without intelligence, and has a certain carefree appreciation for the absurdity of his own most outrageous moments that I can't help but find charming.
Or maybe it's the way he catches 65-yard touchdown passes from Tom Brady. You know, either or. But let's just say the Moss has grown on me (yuk! yuk!) this season, and it was to my great relief that I heard what had first been characterized as a "domestic violence incident" turned out to be an accidentally sprained finger and a demand for $500,000. Pfft.
In retrospect, Moss notified Patriots management and ownership promptly, addressed the issue proactively in the press, and in general handled this latest 'scrape' with more aplomb than he's mustered in the past. Some light bulb, somewhere, has gone on since the Randy Moss of Minnesota. He still relishes the appearance of the outlaw, but it now seems he was also in earnest about wanting to do right this time around.
Meanwhile, one of the highlights of my week has been the outpouring of Patriots hype I've heard and seen while traveling around the northern-Massachusetts / southern-New Hampshire area. I've seen mailboxes shaped like Patriots helmets, elaborately decorated GO PATRIOTS homemade banners hung up on fences and trees and the sides of houses, innumerable flags and stickers and expressions of support on dozens of vehicles, inflatable yard decorations, a sea of Welker and Moss and Brady and Bruschi jerseys. I've heard constant chatter and conversation about "The Game." As in, "What are your plans for The Game?" "I'm gonna watch The Game with my buddies down the bar." "Dood, you psyched for The Game?"
I've seen a statistically significant drop in productivity across the state due to the time people are spending either creating or watching things like this:
It doesn't jibe with what I've seen this week, but for whatever reason, the Boston fan doesn't have a much better reputation than Moss in many circles now that our teams are winning; in many parts of the country, we're in the same vilified boat as our top-flight wide receiver. Yet, as with Moss's legal struggles this week, the scolding voices are fading mercifully into the background more and more the closer kickoff gets.
It really can't get here soon enough. And when it does, we in New England are all hoping for the same thing from the opening series: the deepest of passes down the sideline, hitting No. 81 in stride.
Since I wrote my post when the Randy Moss news first came out, further detail has been revealed about the "battery" in this case, the injuries suffered and what "would not allow her to seek medical treatment" means.
My communications with Mr. McGill began last Wednesday. He told me that Randy had intentionally hurt his client’s hand and wouldn’t take her to the hospital and that if Randy didn’t pay up, he would go public and file suit in Florida for battery. He gave me until 3 pm Friday to let him know. He demanded that I not come up with “something like $50,000 or $75,000,” but something with “six figures.” He had told me that the x-rays on her hand or finger were negative. I explained that it was my understanding that what occurred was the result of a horseplay-type accident and Randy was sorry it had occurred and he would pay for her medical bills and pain and suffering and that I would prefer to turn this over to his homeowners’ insurance coverage as we normally do with accidents. He said he was not interested in insurance or what her injuries were. He said he was evaluating the claim based on what Randy stood to lose. He threatened that Randy would suffer large amounts of money in future salaries and endorsements and what he claimed would be game suspensions.
He also threatened that his client had lots of “dirt” on him. Making such threats is clearly unethical, and in my opinion, criminal. When I tried to ascertain the extent of her injuries, he said that he didn’t know and that it didn’t matter as I just needed to make an offer big enough that she would take it.
First of all, much credit to Boston.com for printing this in its entirety rather than quoting from it. Second of all: she sprained her finger and Moss wouldn't drive her to the hospital. And for that she wants 500 large. And also, to embarrass and distract Randy Moss in public just before the biggest game of his career.
When I wrote my post the other day the injuries had not been detailed. I did question why that was, but when I heard "battery" I thought it must have been something like a punch to the face, and the medical attention needed being stitches. I was picturing threats, explicit instructions not to go to the hospital...
She sprained her finger and he wouldn't drive her to the hospital.
Thanks for wasting our time with this.
Anyway, what time is it? GAME TIME!
Well, not quite. But for the few hours between now and game time, here are some thoughts.
Will the starting Chargers show up? "Sources close to the team" are tipping off the press that Rivers has a partially torn ACL and is 'doubtful' for this game. Apparently the only day he practiced this week was Friday. LT has been practicing and will reportedly make the game.
Here's another question: does it matter? Look what the Chargers did with Billy Volek against Peyton Manning in Indianapolis. A team that doesn't let injuries slow it down...hmm. Who does that remind me of?
However, the "intangible" factors aside, FootballOutsiders.com crunched the numbers with a vengeance and predict
a blowout on the Patriots’ way to 19-0 — particularly if Billy Volek or a hobbled Philip Rivers throw a couple of early picks. The Chargers’ pass rush will get to Brady a couple of times, but most of the time he’s going to have time to throw and some big holes in the secondary to throw at. The biggest reason to believe it won’t be a blowout is the Chargers’ red zone defense, which could force Stephen Gostkowski onto the field numerous times.
Also, that Defensive Value Over Average (DVOA) graph for the Patriots, as one commenter put it, "is just so elegant and beautiful." He added, "This really is Bill Belichick’s masterpiece if they win it all. Their graph is a cosine graph right now implying this team has come full circle."
But, as always, we'll see. Remember what happened in Indianapolis, after all.
The woman accusing Randy Moss of battery, Rachelle Washington, had her attorney release a statement earlier today regarding the situation. It reads as follows:
"For the past 11 years, Ms. Washington has cared deeply for Mr. Moss and has been there for him throughout all of his trials and tribulations. However, she refuses to be further disrespected by him. It has never been her intention to hurt Mr. Moss in any way. However, she has suffered mental and physical harm as a result of his actions. She simply wants him to take responsibility for what he has done. As a battery victim, she has shown great strength throughout this entire ordeal.
"Ms. Washington has been unfairly characterized as someone simply seeking financial gain. In fact, it was Mr. Moss' representatives who first contacted our office to offer a "six figure" settlement with hopes of not having this incident become public record.
"We have heard Mr. Moss' statement regarding the incident. He has acknowledged that he was at Ms. Washington's Florida residence and that he was "guilty" of an "accident" which occurred. However, Mr. Moss fails to mention how his reckless and degrading conduct rendered Ms. Washington unable to drive her vehicle to seek medical attention. As the evidence will show, there is serious doubt that Mr. Moss is capable of recalling with clarity the exact details of what transpired that evening. As Mr. Moss has previously stated, "Do your homework and check his resume.
"We look forward to presenting all of the evidence at the court hearing on January 28, 2008."
Randy's agent the issued a more detailed response, which is quite long and interesting. It can be read in its entirety by clicking here. What jumped out at me is that the "accident" Moss spoke of occurred as a result of horseplay with the woman. I had a feeling this is what Moss meant but I didn't want to jump to conclusions. I'm sure many of us out there have either been hurt or accidentaly hurt someone while horsing around. What also jumps out at me is the fact that Moss's agent along with his attorney are moving forward with the Florida bar and the District Attorney's office to seek some kind of sanctions or disbarring of David McGill, the Rachelle's attorney. Apparently, as you can read, he attempted to extort $500,000 from Randy by threatening to go public with not only this incident but other "dirt" that his client supposedly has on Randy Moss. This is definitely a serious matter and I'm fairly certain that Mr. McGill with not be practicing law much longer if this is true.
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