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John Rooke - Thinking Out Loud

Saturday, January 25, 2014

 

Thinking out loud…and wondering how I might go about actually meeting my new best friend, Warren Buffett

• I must admit…I was taken back a bit by Bill Belichick’s comments last Monday about Wes Welker’s over-the-middle hit on Aqib Talib…that ultimately took Talib (and the Patriots’ chances) out of the game against Denver. You know, BB is very deliberate in his comments, so when he opens up…as he did here…you gotta wonder if there was something to Welker’s hit being a part of the Broncos’ game plan…

• “It was a deliberate play to take out Aqib,” is what BB said. Welker, obviously, denied any deliberateness on his part, as he and Talib got tangled up over the middle. Talib hurt his knee and ribs, and Belichick’s disdain was over Welker’s not running a receiving route, and “targeting” of Talib. I don’t know that getting into a p*ssing match with a former player does you any good here. Coach, I’ll borrow one of your phrases: “It is what it is…”

• If Welker ran the pick play on his own, that’s one thing. Maybe a “serves-you-right-for-not-resigning-me” moment? Perhaps. But why would Denver send a concussed receiver into a deliberate pick play intent on taking someone (like Talib) out of the game? Doesn’t make much sense to me. Teams run picks to free up receivers all the time…

• Then again, Buffalo Bills’ safety Jim Leonhard happened to agree with Belichick, tweeting that it appeared Welker “was on a suicide mission…not sure how not a flag.” It was a 3-0 game when the hit occurred. It ended up 26-16 in favor of the hitter, not the hittee…

• One more on Talib…he’s now a free agent. Do the Patriots try to re-sign him, or let him test free agency? It’s clear to me the secondary is much, much better with his presence…but he has come up short in the biggest games (with injuries) the past two years he’s been here. I don’t know about you…but I would have to have a rib sticking out of my chest to keep me off the field if I have a shot to play in the Super Bowl. But that’s just me…

• Other off-season moves to consider for your heroes…cut Vince Wilfork. Yes, I said it. But not because he can’t play…although we really won’t know until he begins football workouts again whether his Achilles’ will allow him to play at a previous level. His contract number (over $11 million) for next year is way too high…meaning they’ll have to work out some kind of a re-structured deal to make it more salary cap-friendly…or they’ll have to cut him…

• And please…could someone please let his Emperorness know that TB12 needs another target to throw to? Love me some Anquan Boldin. Even Hakeem Nicks. Eric Decker? And think about this…how about enticing Tony Gonzalez to come back for one more SB run, since he never made it to one? He said he’s retiring…but maybe this summer he thinks differently after he’s had awhile to consider a TE tandem with Rob Gronkowski

Tweet of the Week I – from @ESPNStatsInfo: “Tom Brady is now 2-4 in postseason games when the opposing QB is a Manning. He’s 16-4 against all other opposing QBs…”

• Best of luck to Dante Scarnecchia. The longest-tenured coach in the NFL (32 seasons, 30 with the Patriots) retired this week at age 65, and he did some remarkable things in his career as primarily an offensive line coach. Think about this – he worked for SIX different head coaches within the same organization (Meyer, Berry, McPherson, Parcells, Carroll and Belichick – he had followed Ron Meyer to Indy for two years and missed the Rod Rust regime). Who does that? Year after year, New England’s line was considered one of the best, whether they had the talent or not…and it’s a certainty he helped make some guys very, very well off…financially speaking. Hope someone sends him a bonus check. He earned it…

• Noticed at the Dunk last week that while Creighton’s Doug McDermott can be a bit of a whiner while he’s on the floor, he’s a class act off of it. After saying his team got “punched in the face” by the Friars, he took the time to sign some autographs for a few kids as he walked off of the floor to the locker room. The little things go a long way in making someone an all-American person, not just an all-American player…

• By the way, welcome to the Big East, Blue Jays. It ain’t exactly the Missouri Valley any more, is it?

• Congrats to PC’s Bryce Cotton, who was (finally) named as the Player of the Week in the Big East this week…averaging 22 points, seven assists and six rebounds per game. Oh, and his team beat McDermott’s team, which had a lot to do with his beating out the already 5x player of the week for the award, too…

• How Cotton is not a part of the Wooden Award mid-season list for the nation’s top player is beyond my thinking. 25 guys are having BETTER seasons than he is? 25 guys mean more to their team than HE does? Just shows you that the national media doesn’t always pay attention…

Joe Hassett (providence.edu)

• One man’s mid-season all-Big East 1st team…McDermott, Cotton, Semaj Christon (Xavier), JayVaughn Pinkston (Villanova), Ethan Wragge (Creighton), Markel Starks (Georgetown). Things will probably change, however…

Not for nuthin’…but Joe Hassett and I have been together longer than most married couples have lasted these days. The two of us are the longest-tenured broadcast team in the Big East, as this is our 25th year of teaming up on the radio for Providence games, and I’ve never enjoyed them more than I have this season – speed bumps and all. And a long overdue honor comes my partner’s way Saturday night at the Omni in Providence, as he, Kevin Stacom and Tracy Lis are all inducted into the Friar Legends Forever Tradition. They’ll each have a jersey hanging from the rafters of their respective home floors. True to who Joe is, he’s always deferred to those who have come before him in the history of PC basketball…once telling me that there are “others who came before me who built this tradition long before I got here.” But as a local boy who made good, you are a big piece of the foundation, Sonar…

• By the way…how many grown men still answer to “Hey Sonar!” when he walks down a street? That’s Joe…once on scholarship – always on scholarship…

• Guess there’s an issue at UConn over new RB coach Ernest Jones opening his mouth and inserting religion into the conversation. Jones told the Hartford Courant that he and others are going to make sure that “Jesus Christ should be in the center of our huddle.” Uh, coach? You’re at a state school now, not a Catholic institution like Notre Dame (where he and new head coach Bob Diaco came from). Please keep your religion to yourself. Oh, and UConn needs more than that in the center of its’ huddle…unless Jesus can block and tackle…

• Seahawks’ CB Richard Sherman = donkey…

Richard Sherman (theshadowleague.com)

• I’ve seen and heard several comparisons of Sherman to Deion Sanders “the PRIME of his time,” and even Muhammad Ali this week. I don’t know, but I looked at Deion Sanders with bemusement, mostly…kind of like a sideshow freak. You know, you’re just not sure what you’re looking at when you see him? He was “clownish,” but a great athlete…there was no hard edge to his antics. As for a comparison to Ali…I’m old enough to remember that Ali’s brashness was a byproduct of his standing up for his right to protest life as a young, black man…Vietnam, the draft, discrimination and many other things. No one much cared for his antics in the ‘60’s…and I vividly remember openly rooting for him to get his head bashed in by Joe Frazier in their epic boxing encounters (he went 2-1). But Ali taught us a lot about ourselves as a society, and over time we’ve seen – I’ve seen – his unorthodox way of calling attention to himself was a way to attract fans to the sport…and attract listeners to his cause…

• Let me know if you find Richard Sherman has a “cause” to represent, other than himself. Dude went to Stanford? He should act like it…

Tweet of the Week II – from @JustinVerlander: “So Russell is a class act! Sherman on the other hand…if he played baseball would get a high and tight fastball…”

• The Super Bowl will be just the 10th time since the current playoff arrangement came into play in 1975 that both conference #1 seeds advance…and the first time since 2009. While parity is always a factor and teams sometimes do get hot at the right time (right, Giants’ fans?), this year it’s tough to argue that Denver and Seattle weren’t the best teams in the league from start-to-finish. But will anyone east of the Mississippi River care?

• Ok…so who else noticed that the Super Bowl this year pits two states against each other that have both legalized marijuana? Oh, and don’t the Seahawks and Broncos also lead the NFL in PED suspensions since 2010? Um, yes they do. So, think anyone in either locker room would be up for a Super Bowl pre-game bong hit? Just sayin’

• If Bill Belichick has his way, the extra-point in pro football will go the way of the dinosaur. And apparently, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell is in agreement. Perhaps you already knew BB considers the play anti-climactic…and he’s right. 1256-of-1261 were converted in the NFL this season. But it seems to me that doing away with the 1-pointer – as automatic as it might be – would discourage teams from going for the 2-pointer if you automatically give a team seven points for a touchdown. And, if a TD counts for only six points if you miss the two, rather than seven…well…good bye two-point conversion as well. Few will touch it, unless they absolutely have to. Leave the extra-point alone…

• The Pro Bowl draft? Now THAT earns a Yawn

• But the NFL Draft? Last year, a record 73 underclassmen left school early to test the professional ranks. This year…98 college underclassmen – players with eligibility remaining – have decided to turn pro. Such is the lure of pro football…and such is the decision-making process for dozens of delusional young athletes…

• Forget the cold weather, the harsh conditions, the expensive tickets…it’s still New York, baby. And Broadway, for a couple of weeks, has been transformed into “Super Bowl Boulevard.” Only the NFL can http://www.sportsbusinessdaily.com/Journal/Issues/2014/01/20/Super-Bowl/SBl-Boulevard.aspx?app_data={%22pi%22%3A%2238048_1390313489_245056978%22%2C%22pt%22%3A%22twitter%22}">shut down 13 blocks in the heart of Manhattan…

• And only in New York can price tags shock the world like this – a luxury suite at MetLife Stadium can set you back a cool mil. That’s a million…as in dollars. And the scary part? Someone will actually pay it…

• Thinking of heading south to test the ticket waters? As of this writing, the secondary ticket market has seats available. For $2096. Face value is between $800 and $850 for these. Think I’ll pay next month’s mortgage, instead…

• Want a cheaper option or a party closer to home? How about the Park Theater in Cranston? They’ll be holding a Super Bowl party open for families to enjoy, beginning with pre-game festivities on their wide screen HD at 4:00 pm. Snacks and drinks will be available for purchase…and admission is FREE. Kids are welcome – but seating is limited. Go by the Box Office at 848 Park Avenue in Cranston to pick up tickets in advance, or call (401) 467-PARK…

• Has it really been 10 years since Super Bowl halftime shows were forever changed, with Janet Jackson’s infamous wardrobe malfunction? Nothing before or since will ever compare, although I am somewhat partial to the Longhorn Band’s performance at halftime of Super Bowl VIII in Houston…

Bruno Mars? Meh. Best thing to happen to him is that he’ll at least be mentioned with the great halftime acts of the past. Because no one – no one – will remember this performance. Yes, he’s sold 10 million albums in three years, which is astonishing. But everyone at the game will be trying to get warm…

MetLife Stadium (popsugar.com)

• Has anyone considered…that in all of the uproar over the Super Bowl being played in the frozen northeast…that the NFL simply was looking for a way to keep the big game on the tips of all our lips? In other words…marketing genius. So what if a blizzard blows through? The fact that we’re all talking about it is likely – once again – to make the Super Bowl the most-watched TV program of all time. More attention…more viewership…more ratings points…more advertiser bang-for-the-big-buck delivered. Brilliant

• Did you see where Forbes Magazine released a list of the most valuable NBA franchises…and each member of the Top 5 (including the Boston Celtics) is in the bottom half of the league standings? Didn’t your momma tell you money can’t buy everything?

• Unless you’re Mark Cuban, Bill Gates, Paul Allen or my new bestest friend, Warren Buffett. Cuban does have an NBA title in Dallas, Allen may get a Super Bowl in Seattle. And Buffett is about to buy my friendship with a cool $1 billion…

Hey Yankee fans! So much for that luxury tax threshold, huh? Maybe you can follow in the footsteps of Red Sox fans and learn the Japanese phrase for “overpriced bum-of-a pitcher?”

• Red Sox fans should take the Yankees’ signing of Masahiro Tanaka as the ultimate compliment. Really. If you can’t beat ‘em, sign ‘em. Ellsbury, McCann, Beltran and now Tanaka could very well make NY the American League favorite going into the season. They could also make NY the American League candidate for biggest busts of the season, too…

• Who knew? Samsung – the maker of my particular “smartphone” – also manufactures weapons. Can I get an app for that?

• My buddy Bernie sez he remembers the time his drill sergeant ordered his unit to clean their weapons by saying “all right, get to it! All you dummies fall out!” He stayed there at attention until he was eye-to-eye and nose-to-nose with his sergeant, who had his right eyebrow raised slightly…staring him down. Bernie said “Sure was a lot of ‘em, huh sir?”

• Tough news for the news biz this week with the passing of Boston TV icon Chet Curtis. When I first arrived in New England to do TV news, Chet & Nat (wife and co-anchor Natalie Jacobson) were already ratings superstars in Boston on WCVB…commanding respect from their peers and their audience as well. I certainly don’t believe that local TV news will ever return to the halcyon days of big personalities and even bigger salaries…but in Curtis’ instance, he and Jacobson brought the “big time” to a personal level. They connected with the audience…which is a much tougher job these days, in an ever-fracturing world…

• Please tell me they’re kidding? O. M. G. The cookie-dough Oreo

• If you’ve never had a reason to fill out an NCAA Tournament bracket before, well now you do. In fact, you have a billion reasons. Noted billionaire Warren Buffett is teaming up with Cleveland Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert and Quicken Loans to offer a $1 billion payout to anyone who can put together a “perfect bracket.” In other words, correctly predict every game of the 2014 NCAA men’s championship tournament, otherwise known as “March Madness,” and receive 40 annual payments of $25 million. Or a lump sum payment of $500 million. Never mind the fact that in the 16 years ESPN has been running its’ Bracket Challenge, they have never had a perfect bracket in more than 30 million entries. Neither has CBS Sports. It’s a heck of a promotion, and Quicken has also decided to put up $2 million to be awarded to the Top 20 most accurate brackets…as long as no one hits it big. You realize, of course, that just like some 85-year-old from West Virginia winning Power Ball, if someone actually does win this…it’s likely to be the secretary from the office pool who picked winners based on the color of their uniforms…

• How about this line from the Wall Street Journal: “If this March Madness does produce a major miracle, and a contestant happens to be one game from a 10-figure payday, Buffett says he would accompany him to the national championship on April 7. ‘He and I will probably be pulling for different teams," Buffett said. "I'm not eager to write a check for $1 billion.’” And I’m not sure my bank would cash that check, either…

• Buffett’s favorite team, by the way…the Creighton Blue Jays. They’re my early leader in the clubhouse for a national title pick (Villanova might agree with me)…as I want to get on his good side in case I get close. I figure, it can’t hurt…

• What are the actual odds of winning? 1-in-9.2 quintillion, give or take a million. So you mean…there’s a chance? Happy bracketology

• From the mailbag this week – Shawn from Sacramento, CA via Facebook: “Free agency? As that goes I'd love to see New England make a run at getting Anquan Boldin and Jimmy Graham in here. Both players would raise the level of your offense immensely.” Shawn: First off, I’m thinking we have an extraordinary number of readers and/or followers in Sac-town! And to your point, I’m in total agreement with you. But I don’t really see it happening. One, the Patriots don’t traditionally make a run at veteran receivers not named Moss…although it would be nice to make an exception since TB12 isn’t getting younger. Graham, in my opinion, won’t leave New Orleans. They’ll do whatever they can to keep him, and even if he hit the open market, the Patriots aren’t likely to have the cap room to sign what he could command. My thought earlier here…was to see if you could entice Tony Gonzalez to make another run. Looks like he could have gas left in his tank, can still catch the ball…and his price would be much more Patriot-like. Cheaper…

• 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 ...

• 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 us at 37937…and send email to the show - golocal@weei.com .

 

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