Gronk's post-Super Bowl injury dance party.
Robert Kraft's audition tape.
Wes Welker's contract.
Nate Solder vs. Brandon Spikes.
Gronk naked. Gronk at the ESPYs. Gronk's Twitter feed.
Tom Brady's bad day of practice.
What to get Brady for his 35th birthday today?
Brady's 35th birthday?
The distractions are endless in the NFL offseason. But nothing can stop these Patriots - except the New York Giants.
No problem when Patriots face Tennessee on Sept. 9. If there's ever a time for the Patriots to surpass the Red Sox as the No. 1 team in the hearts - if not minds - of Boston sports fandom - 2012 is it. An entire generation of New England fans is coming of age knowing only Brady as their quarterback. Meanwhile the face of their Red Sox - which should be David Ortiz on his good days - has instead become fat, unshaven and listless. (The Celtics and Bruins had a place in the "Which team is No. 1 converation?" back in the 1980s (Celtics) and 1970s (Bruins) - but not in this decade. Although the Bruins showed us what they're capable of in 2011.)
More than 12,000 fans showed up to watch the defending AFC champions at their first practice - yes, Allen Iverson, we're talking about practice. And another 20,000 or so showed up for a season-ticket holder's event/practice/workout Wednesday night at Gillette Stadium and caught the Spikes vs. Solder bout on the undercard. 16-0 anyone?
The Patriot Way appears to be working, even if the team hasn't won a Super Bowl in 2,735 days, they've gone the longest among Boston's Big Four without a championship and Brady isn't getting any younger.
Back to Fenway Park. The Red Sox seem to be forever caught up in anything and everything that happens off the field. Distractions are the main attraction. The 2012 edition is personified by "Sweet Caroline" during that epic 15-9 loss to the Yankees in April, ceremonial bricks, Liverpool FC's big day at Fenway and off-day trips to the MLB Fan Cave. The fans are treated like mushrooms - constantly fed dung and kept in the dark. If only Jon Lester could ever win another game.
It takes next to nothing to sidetrack the Red Sox, even when Lester isn't pitching. (The team has not a game he's started since June 27.) Josh Beckett and his back-blubber were booed off the mound Tuesday night because the out-of-shape and highest-paid pitcher on the staff couldn't finish the third inning. The Politburo and State Run Media - along with the team's manager - went into panic mode. Another crisis following Beckett's visit to the golf course, Dustin Pedroia's managerial tips, Bobby V.'s movie,the Quest for the Snitch, etc. Anything and everything to take their mind off the ball. A country music video, few buckets of Popeye's and some Bud Light have sent the Red Sox into a tailspin of mediocrity in 2011 that continues to this day.
53-53. Fourth-place thanks only to the Blue Jays. Maybe John Farrell will be available sooner than we thought?
All hell broke loose last September 29 at 12:03 a.m. because the Red Sox failed to qualify for the playoffs as wild-card team. The organization imploded. Imagine the outcry if the 2011 Red Sox had lost a potential World Series-clinching game when they had the lead heading into the bottom of the ninth? And then Jonathan Papelbon's wife was caught on camera blaming Carl Crawford or David Ortiz for leaving too many men on base? Tito would still be hiding in Curt Schilling's basement, Larry Lucchino would be facing a War Crimes Tribunal and Theo Epstein would have fled to the Bronx seeking political asylum.
We've already seen what happens when the Red Sox lose one of those games in the bottom of the 10th and it wasn't pretty.
The Patriots lost the Super Bowl six months ago (hard to believe it's been that long) because their defense could not stop the Giants on their final possession (been there, done that), Tom Brady gave away two points on the first offensive play of the game and Welker didn't make that catch.
Bill Belichick is 3-2 in Super Bowls with New England. Man, he sucks.
And after that game, which was only the second-most excruciating Patriots Super Bowl loss to the Giants during which they blew the lead in the final 127 seconds since 2007, the supermodel wife of the quarterback was caught speaking her mind and echoing the thoughts of millions of other Patriots fans.
So, what was the fallout?
Except Brady's "Wicked Funny Accent" video:
There was no scandal. No recriminations or mumblings in the press or menacing remarks on Twitter. The quarterback, his wife, the wide receiver and his financee went to Costa Rica. Fans can't wait for opening day.
No snitches. No whining. No complaints. Instead of searching for quick-fix PR moves to shore up their fan base, the Patriots loaded up on defensive size and speed in the draft, let the Law Firm hang his shingle in Cincinnati to maintain their salary structure and got a reliable down-field receiver who can actually understand Josh McDaniels' playbook. No one threw Matt Patricia under the bus, they promoted him to defensive coordinator. While the celebrity tight end enjoyed himself in the offseason, it's been made clear that it's all business from here on out. And if it isn't - Aaron Hernandez is always open.
Yes, major-league baseball and the NFL are vastly different - see the "salary cap," guaranteed contracts, potentially life-altering injuries the necessity of athleticism - but that's no guarantee NFL teams can players in line and their organizations focused on winning (just Google "Dan Snyder Redskins" or "Detroit Lions arrests" or "Lisa Olson Patriots Lockerroom"). The Red Sox might not have a "Tom Brady" on their roster - but they've certainly had enough talent to win at least one playoff game since Oct. 18, 2008.
The financial problem with the Red Sox isn't spending too much money as much as it is too much money poorly spent. The critical issue facing the Red Sox (beyond the starting pitching) is a lack leadership from the top down. Autopilot? The Red Sox are locked outside the cockpit. Every time something goes wrong, the circular firing squad blasts away.
Contrast that to Foxboro. Gisele? She's been muzzled. The "Robert Kraft-Ricki Lander" You Tube video? That clip was purged faster than a bootlegged copy of "The Dark Knight Rises." The team issued a statement within hours. Distraction vanished. Welker's contract? Kraft called him a "Patriot for life" in May. No deal in July. Get a hair transplant. Solder and Spikes fight during practice? Meh. No running game? Give the ball to Danny Woodhead.
Kraft-Belichick-Brady. The buck stops there, there and there.
John, Tom, Larry and Ben/Theo - at one time - gave the Red Sox the same stability that the Patriots enjoy. No more. The Red Sox operate their baseball franchise as an annoying afterthought. The inmates have overrun the asylum and no one has bothered to pull the alarm (except about 3,000,000 fans.)
In case you were wondering, it's been 1,675 days since the Red Sox won their last World Series.
By the time they win another one, they might be lucky if anyone still cares.
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