Tuesday, September 30, 2014


Hop on board, here we go.

The New England Patriots got embarrassed on Monday Night Football by the Kansas City
Chiefs. They looked more like the Jacksonville Jaguars than a franchise that has won 10 or
more games for 11 consecutive seasons. Now that they are down on the mat, it's time for
everyone to pile on.

Brady is terrible and hasn't won the Super Bowl since he married Gisele, Bill Belichick has
turned into Bobby V, and Logan Mankins, the greatest lineman in team history since John
Hannah, shouldn't have been traded. Blah, blah, blah. Everybody has an opinion why the
Patriots are just 2-2 after four games. 2-2?! That's blasphemous in New England!

Trent Dilfer says the Patriots aren't any good anymore. Ray Lewis said something again
that nobody understands, and everybody on social media is ripping them.
#ThePatriotsRwicked bad.

Stop it.

It is not even October yet. Anyone who has watched a team in red, white, and blue
coached  by Belichick, knows they don't hit their stride until December. People seem to
forget this franchise is  51-13 over the last four years. Hello?

Has Brady lost something off his fastball? Absolutely. Does the offense look like Rich
Kotite is calling the plays? Without a doubt. Is the secondary the primary reason the
defense stinks? You bet.

But Belichick will figure it out. He always has. The hoodie hasn't gone stupid overnight.

Through all the injuries, bad draft picks, and controversy, (remember that Aaron Hernandez
guy?)  Belichick has always found a way to fix all the holes in time to keep the dam from
bursting. Man, he won 11 games with the immortal Matt Cassel when Tom Brady went
down in 2006. Belichick has won with running backs off the scrap heap and receivers
who can't do what they were drafted to do: catch the damn ball.

Brady is hardly done. He's still the smartest quarterback in the league and can throw the
ball. Few quarterbacks can rack up 300 yards a game with a line that can't block, receivers
who can't catch, and a running game that is average at best.

The Patriots have long been like an amoeba. They can adapt and adjust to what they have
and don't have and Belichick has always found a way. Always.

The Cincinnati Bengals are headed to Foxboro for a Sunday Night game on national
television. They are undefeated and recognized by many as the best team in football. Don't
bet against the Patriots. When their backs are to the wall and people are doubting them,
they often bounce back with a great performance. It's long been the Belichick way.

The Patriots are far from dead. Don't bury them just yet.

Friday, September 26, 2014


Five World Series rings, five gold gloves, more than 3,400 hits, and universal respect.
Yes, Derek Jeter has done just about everything in his 20-year major league career. He
capped his Yankee Stadium life in storybook fashion by ripping a walk-off single to
beat the Baltimore Orioles in his last game in the Bronx.

But there are a few things Jeter never did which is a testament to his character
and remarkable poise under pressure. Here are the Top 10 things Jeter never did in his
illustrious career.

10. Derek Jeter never complained about a scorer's decision and certainly never whined
about it publicly like David Ortiz, who went so far as pointing in the direction of the
official scorer to show his disgust.

9. Derek Jeter never had a tantrum and threw his helmet to the ground in anger. That's
right, the Yankees captain made more than 7,000 outs but never once blamed it on
his head gear.

8. Derek Jeter never had to be retrained by a teammate from going after an umpire or
another player. Seriously, Jeter is just way too cool to look like a buffoon.

7. Derek Jeter was never condescending to the media, had an obnoxious response, or said
anything really, really stupid or controversial. Helloooooooooooo, John Rocker.

6. Derek Jeter never showed up an opponent or teammate. He was the epitome of class
and despite playing in the 'me, me, and more about me' generation, Jeter never took the bait.

5. Derek Jeter never whined, sulked, or put himself before the team. He certainly
never refused to go into a highly-charged rivalry game as Nomar Garciaparra once
did for the Boston Red Sox against the Yankees.

 4. Derek Jeter never showed up his manager or told him what to do despite his great
    baseball I.Q. and experience.

3. Derek Jeter never cheated, got fined, suspended, arrested, or even mentioned as a player
    who pumped his body full of fraud during the Steroid Era.

2. Derek Jeter never got in the face of an umpire nor was ejected in his 20-year career and
    that is close to amazing. In more than 2,900 games never got the heave-ho. If he had a
    gripe with the umpire about a bad pitch or call, Jeter did it oh so quietly.

 1. Derek Jeter never got caught dead sunning himself with his shirt off in Central Park.
     Good, grief! Jeter didn't want any part of the circus  after A-Rod's 
     suspension for PED's ended and left the game well before it arrived. 

     That's what you call a good ending.

Thursday, September 25, 2014


Take away the 20 years in pinstripes, 3,453 hits, five World Series rings, five gold glove awards,
and the Rookie of the Year award and what do you have? Derek Jeter, a man of impeccable
character and the single-most respected athlete, including Michael Jordan, over the last two
decades in sports.

Thank you, Derek Jeter.

The sports world today is being defined by the headlines regarding domestic violence, child
abuse, crotch grabs, and cover-ups. Through it all, stands a man who has lived his baseball
and personal life under the most powerful microscope (New York City) while playing the
games most glamorous position, shortstop for the New York Yankees. And no one, as hard
as they tried, could find anything to dirty or stain a man who gained universal respect.

Thank you, Derek Jeter

There has never been a spec of controversy with Jeter. He never cheated the game, pumped
his body full of cheat, appeared on the police blotter, criticized a teammate, stiffed a fan,
thrown a helmet or been ejected from a game. Never. Come to think of it, I've never even
seen the Yankees captain get in an argument with an umpire. Have you?  He's baseball's
snow white, a player so clean he squeaks and role model who was true through and through.

Thank you, Derek Jeter.

Perhaps to make a name for themselves or to become "trending" on Twitter, the detractors
of Jeter have come out as the hour glass winds down on his brilliant career. They scream that
Jeter wasn't the best shortstop to play the game or even in the Top 10 when it comes to all-time
greatest Yankees. Jeter never got caught up in that and never really cared. He didn't need
to be fueled by some hack on sports radio or anyone who never played the game. Jeter's inner
drive burned with ferocity and he minded his own business, taking care of it the right way.

Thank you, Derek Jeter.

Jeter has redefined what it means to be a Yankee and an athlete of great character. Our media
today seemingly wants to reward the 'me' guys, you know, the ones with the colorful quote
and those who think it's cool to call out a teammate or an opponent (Richard Sherman). The
sports world glorified Seattle's all-pro cornerback not because he brings lock down coverage
to every game, but because he called San Francisco's Michael Crabtree mediocre on national
television. Who in their right minds thought that was a classy move?

Do you think Derek Jeter would've ever done that? Never. He showed everyone that a player
can be great and a great gentleman.

Thank you, Derek Jeter.

When he tips his hat for the final time of his career on Sunday, Jeter will ride off into
retirement at age 40 and be enshrined in Cooperstown in five years. Like Cal Ripken
and Ozzie Smith before him, Jeter will be replaced and become far less significant in
the sports world and in our consciousness.

It happens to all the great ones because after all, it is just sports and we live in a world
with a lightning quick news cycle that spits out everything in a matter of days. Derek
Jeter gave the sports world 20 great years of doing things brilliantly and doing them
the right way.

And that still counts for something, even in this scandal-ridden and morally corrupt

Thank you, Derek Jeter. Thank you for being you.

Thursday, September 4, 2014


The sports television business can be as ruthless and cold as Bill Belichick on cut-down day.
A reporter's skills and credibility can strengthen over a long career, but nobody can outrun
Father Time. If an executive thinks you've racked up more than enough miles, then you can
usually bank on them trading up for a newer model.

The suits at Fox Sports felt it was time for an infusion of youth on the sidelines during the 
coming football season and replaced Pam Oliver, a 53-year old highly-respected veteran
with the "it"girl, Erin Andrews, who is 36-years old, blonde, and a favorite with males in 
just about every demographic in the country.

Oliver isn't the first woman to get bumped for someone younger and she certainly won't be the
last. Television isn't for the faint of heart and change happens--a lot. It often doesn't matter
how talented, credible, or hardworking you are, youth is often served and served first often.

Oliver built a career in which she was universally loved and respected. She did great work,
never complained, and just kept her head down. I had the chance to work with Oliver when
we were both anchors for the upstart Fox regional networks nearly 15 years ago.

As with any new business, starting a new network is tough especially when the support
staff is young, inexperienced, and not quite ready to handle the pressure of big-market live
television. There were some extraordinary painful nights where shows were poorly timed,
information wrong, and studio cameras colliding mid-show. (I kid you not)

Oliver, who was already a big star by then, never got flustered or lost her cool. She went
with the flow even when that flow was filled with landmines and grenades. Perhaps, Oliver
was smart enough to realize that few people were watching the fledgling network or she
didn't feel the horror shows were worth getting all worked up over. Whatever the case, 
Oliver never let her feathers get ruffled.

I vividly remember the time my co-anchor, Matt Morrison, gave me the Heimlech maneuver 
when I was choking in our office. The piece of grapefruit came out like a projectile and nearly
nailed Oliver in the head. Oh, I don't think she was happy when a saliva-draped slice of grapefruit
rested  on her desk like a dead fish, but Oliver didn't vent or come unglued.

Oliver certainly wasn't happy when Fox executives told her that she was being replaced by
Andrews on their 'A' team of Joe Buck and Troy Aikman. But in true Pam Oliver fashion
she handled it with class and the professionalism that have marked her brilliant career in sports

Life isn't fair, we all know that. But television is much, much worse. Getting replaced is
brutally tough and never easy, but few people have ever handled it much better than Pam Oliver 
who is truly a pro's pro.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014


Lou Marinelli is not only a football wizard, but somewhat of a magician. New Canaan's
legendary coach has  managed to stuff 33 years, 297 victories, nine state championships and 
five FCIAC titles into a room that's no bigger than the ones college freshman are moving
into this week.

It's a football wonderland and a place Marinelli calls his office. "I love it," said Marinelli.
"I think my players and coaches can feel comfortable coming in here to talk about

There are hundreds of pictures, letters, and more than a few trophies. If it didn't say
"Coach Marinelli" on the door, his office could easily be mistaken for the New Canaan
football museum.

"A lot of my former players come back here and it's great," Marinelli said. "It's
not about me or the trophies, but the people who played in this program."

Nearly every inch of every wall is covered with mementos from Marinelli's brilliant
coaching career in New Canaan. There is a black and white photo from 1981 where
Marinelli is being carried off the field by his players after his very first win with the 
Rams. It was New Canaan's first win in three very difficult years and marked the beginning
of a football dynasty in the small Connecticut town.

"We beat the defending state champions and after the game, we took the buses
down Main street in New Canaan and celebrated. I don't have any pictures of that,
but it was an unbelievable moment," he said.

Pictures of weddings, baby photographs, and Christmas cards make it more than a 
football shrine. There is more to Marinelli than just the x's and o's of the game. He has
woven a tightly-knit football community and he takes pride in the relationships he's built
over the the years.

"That's what it's all about," he said. "The wins and trophies are great, but it's about
the people here who sacrificed so much and I hope that I, in some small way, contributed
to their success after they left here."

Marinelli doesn't look much different than when he took over the program at 28-years
old. The hair may have a touch of gray and the crows feet around his eyes have become
deeper, but it doesn't appear Marinelli will be retiring anytime soon.

That means there will be more pictures and trophies that will need to find space in his 
already crowded office.