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Dan Shaughnessy

Pieces falling into place

BILL BELICHICK: Don't tell him game over BILL BELICHICK: Don't tell him game over
By Dan Shaughnessy
Globe Columnist / December 18, 2008
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Picked-up pieces while hanging out with the Patriots in Seattle and northern California . . .

Anybody else think of Kevin Youkilis dodging a Joba Chamberlain fastball when you saw the video of President Bush ducking the shoes hurled by an Iraqi journalist?

Bill Parcells's paw prints are all over the Dolphins. Tuna teams are taught to hold on to the football, and the 2008 Fish have only 10 turnovers in 14 games. The league record is 14 turnovers - held by the 1990 (Parcells) Super Bowl champion Giants. Miami had 29 turnovers while winning one game last year. Now they look like they might take the division. Amazing.

Mark Teixeira and the Red Sox are a good fit. The Sox have the money and covet his skills. This is a place where baseball matters. So, what is Teixeira waiting for? Or is he being led around by the insufferable Scott Boras? This could be a test of the Sox' close relationship with Boras, but if I'm Teixeira, I'd object to having my agent use me as a chip in procuring a multiyear deal for Jason Varitek.

We need more of Cedric Maxwell on television.

Here's Richard Nixon speaking to Henry Kissinger in the Oval Office in 1972: "Never forget, the press is the enemy . . . " Was young Billy Belichick listening? Belichick after all, once caddied for Spiro Agnew, Nixon's vice president. Bad tipper, Spiro.

We love Coach Bill more than life itself, but his national image is hurting. Ed Pope, the estimable Miami Herald columnist recently described Belichick as "a truly sullen little troll." Mock the messenger if you wish, but Pope is a Miami legend who has covered every Super Bowl, and was sitting with Joe Namath at poolside when Broadway Joe guaranteed victory in Super Bowl III. Things didn't get better for Belichick's rep when he made that challenge (first-down ruling) in Oakland in the driving rain while leading by 29 with 2:33 left. "Pretty funny," wrote John Ryan of the San Jose Mercury News. "So funny that even the referees laughed." Hey, you gotta coach the game for 60 minutes, right?

In late November, Tennessee Titans coach Jeff Fisher stunned his team by parachuting onto the practice field with members of the 101st Airborne Parachute team. When asked about the stunt, Fisher did not say, "It is what it is."

In a survey of 320 NFL players, the Giants' Tom Coughlin gathered 16 percent of the vote when players were asked which current NFL coach they'd least like to play for. Belichick was second with 11 percent. Belichick also got 6 percent of the vote when players were asked which coach they would most like to play for.

Tom Callahan writes better NFL books than anyone in America. On the heels of his Johnny Unitas bestseller, Callahan wrote "The GM" - the story of Ernie Accorsi's years building the Giants. This is Accorsi talking about Plaxico Burress: "He's a terrific big receiver. Tom has had trouble with him. Tom keeps trying to change him. I said, 'Tom, Holy Cross was not one of the schools Plax was considering when he went to Michigan State, OK? If you don't want to coach these kinds of kids, then go to Holy Cross.' "

How cool is Florida State safety Myron Rolle? In his final season at Florida State, Rolle won a Rhodes scholarship, which made him late for State's game against Maryland. He's already established a program to teach Seminole Indian children about health and fitness. He's won cancer research grants, plans to attend Oxford, become an MD, play in the NFL, and then build some hospitals in the Bahamas.

Here's former Oakland quarterback Rich Gannon in the San Jose Mercury News about the infamous "Snow Bowl" game against the Patriots: "Just to set the record straight, I don't know if Tom Brady ever came clean, but here's what happened on that play: We blitzed them, it was a blitz zone. So we were blitzing from his right and we were dropping to the left. And what happened was Tom recognized it late and spun to his left and tried to drill it hot, realized it was a blitz zone and the guy was covered, was trying to pull the ball back in when Charles Woodson knocked it out. And the ball came on the ground, Greg Biekert recovered, we thought we won, and it turned out we didn't."

Michael Phelps looks more like Eli Manning than Peyton Manning looks like Eli Manning.

Jeremy Schaap did a terrific job on an "Outside The Lines" piece about Philly fans booing Santa Claus at an Eagles game in 1968.

Like a lot of newspapers in America, here at the Globe we were light on coverage of the passing of Herb Score, the 1955 American League Rookie of the Year. Score's career was derailed when he took a Gil McDougald line drive off the face in 1957. Score finished with a career record of 55-46 and later worked as a Cleveland Indians broadcaster. Ted Williams feared Score. "He threw as hard as anybody I ever faced," Ted said in the 1990s.

Senator Jim Bunning (R-Ky.) made himself persona non grata in Detroit when he voted against an auto industry loan package last week. Bunning made his Hall of Fame bones with the Tigers, but a sports card show in Taylor, Mich., uninvited him to last weekend's event after learning of Bunning's vote against helping the Big Three.

According to Sports Illustrated, Chad Johnson arrived at a Cincinnati Best Buy at 5:25 a.m. to purchase Rock Band 2 on Black Friday.

Patriots in London next October? New England in Olde England? What a ghastly idea. Wonder if Oxford has a lightweight football team.

We applaud the Red Sox' aggressiveness, and Theo Epstein is having a better year than Tina Fey, but the Sox need to be careful about offending Japanese baseball officials and MLB rivals when they sign a Japanese amateur player like Junichi Tazawa. The Sox didn't break any rules, but they're flirting with karma on this one.

Best part of Curt Schilling's blog on the WEEI website? Schill claims, "I don't get edited." Could he be more of a diva? Here's a clue for the Big Lug - Ernest Hemingway had an editor. And Schill needs an editor more than I need a pitching coach.

Nice day for Newton North basketball alums last Saturday. Corey Lowe (now a 1,000-point scorer) went for 19 in Boston University's narrow loss to 12th-ranked Notre Dame, while Anthony Gurley played 27 minutes and scored 5 points in UMass's upset of defending national champion Kansas. Lex Mongo is also on the UMass roster. Lowe, Gurley, and Mongo were teammates on the North squad that won back-to-back state championships (53-1) in 2005 and '06.

Stephon Marbury? Please, no. But I'd take Dikembe Mutombo in a heartbeat. Mutombo could be this year's P.J. Brown. And more, Mutombo's still a shot-blocker with elbows like steak knives. He's also one of the top humanitarians ever to play in the league.

Word games: The Patriots have Jarvis Green, and BenJarvus Green-Ellis. The Bruins sometimes have Johnny Boychuk. Boychuk's last name is an anagram for Oh Bucyk. So, he's Johnny Oh Bucyk.

Pay no attention to anything Deion Sanders says. Ever. Deion was a great athlete (though he hated to tackle) and has an electric smile, but is perhaps the biggest fraud of his generation.

Dan Shaughnessy is a Globe columnist. He can be reached at dshaughnessy@globe.com.

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