Tonight’s the night Patriots fans have been waiting for since the duck boats rolled down Boylston Street in February, Judge Berman shares letters from the public, David Ortiz gets closer to home run No. 500, and the rest of the sports news you need to know to start your Thursday.
ESPN gives ‘tighter edit’ to column criticizing ESPN’s extensive Patriots report: “After ESPN published (and trumpeted) on Tuesday a 10,000-word article that fully explored the rabbit hole of Spygate, Mike Reiss of ESPNBoston.com wrote a reaction piece with seven takeaways from the story. At some point, two of the seven takeaways were taken away by ESPN.’’ (ProFootballTalk.com)
A banner night on tap at Gillette Stadium: The Razor will be rocking tonight even before the Patriots-Steelers NFL season opening kickoff at 8:30 p.m. (WHDH-TV, Ch. 7). Fans inside Gillette will bear witness to a pregame ceremony to remember which will celebrate the team’s fourth Super Bowl championship. The festivities will feature appearances by a number of New England musicians and will culminate with the unveiling of the Super Bowl XLIX championship banner. Fans will also be part of the presentation by participating in a card stunt from their seats immediately following the national anthem. Fans attending are encouraged to be in their seats by 8:00 p.m. for the ceremony. Stadium gates open at 6:30 p.m.
Boston police officer John Moynihan will be honorary captain: “Moynihan, 34, was shot in the face at point-blank on March 27 by a convicted felon during a motor vehicle stop in Roxbury. [Patriots owner Robert] Kraft visited Moynihan in a Boston hospital while the gang unit officer and former U.S. Army Ranger was recovering from several surgeries. During the visit, Kraft invited Moynihan to the Patriots’ 2015 season opener as his special guest and the team’s honorary captain.’’ (Patriots.com)
Brady has historically dominated the Steelers: “Tom Brady has made a career torturing opposing NFL teams, and the Steelers are no exception. The franchise that proudly displays six Super Bowl trophies in its headquarters on the South Side might have two more if it weren’t for New England’s star quarterback…
“In nine games against them, he has completed 68.1 percent of his attempts, thrown for 2,638 yards and 20 touchdowns and has a passer rating of 109.64. He has been picked off just three times by the Steelers in 323 career attempts, though not once since a victory in 2005, five meetings ago.’’ (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)
Pats offense should be better with two top Brady targets back: “Tom Brady had to deal with plenty of off-field issues (perhaps you heard) and now he gets to focus on some on-field issues. The biggest is that injuries have prevented him from working with his full receiving corps throughout the preseason — though he will have two top returnees ready for this one. Julian Edelman (quickness, strong hands, extremely clutch) will again be a go-to guy and Danny Amendola (he ended last season on a high note and is looking to build) are an experienced pair who know the playbook. With Brandon LaFell sidelined (foot/PUP), Aaron Dobson (6-3, 205) is the big deep threat. Dobson has excellent size and acceleration. He gets his hands on a lot of balls but doesn’t come down with as many as he should. If he can improve his concentration (and stay healthy), Brady could make him a star. This game also will be the first time towering tight ends Rob Gronkowski and Scott Chandler work in tandem.’’ (The Boston Globe)
Gronk on Facebook: Here… comes…. the… BOOOOOOM!
NFL Network’s ‘Do Your Job’ special reveals Patriots named trick plays in playoffs ‘Baltimore,’ ‘Raven’: “ In an effort to seemingly not let old wounds finally heal, America found out Wednesday night that the gimmick plays the New England Patriots used in the latest edition of their bitter rivalry with the Ravens were named after the unsuspecting victims.
“The two formations were called ‘Baltimore’ and ‘Raven’ — almost surely not anything other than a convenient name for a play they’d use against them that week, but definitely something that will needle the Ravens, considering the two teams’ history of contentious battles.’’ (The Baltimore Sun)
#TBT: The Many Faces of Brady hit the road
Patriots are OK with being the villains of the NFL: “The Pats are accustomed to the hatred, and they know how to use it to fuel their success. It worked for Bill Belichick’s gang for the vast majority of 2007 when they dealt with the Spygate fallout, and the plan is in place to repeat that process.
“Belichick won’t allow the players to address Deflategate in the media, and that was on display last week when they pleaded ignorance after Tom Brady’s four-game suspension was vacated. But the players do discuss it in their own circles, and they’re keeping score of who’s saying what. Their list of enemies is growing, but it’s easier to take it out on the whole league, starting tonight with the Steelers.’’ (Boston Herald)
Letters from public added to Deflategate case record: “There are 22 letters in total (although one is repeated twice) and they vary in tone, location, even font. Two included amicus briefs. One was written by hand. One came from a guy nicknamed Houk.
“But with few exceptions, they all touched on a few common themes. The Ballghazi investigation was garbage. Tom Brady is awesome. And nearly everyone hates Roger Goodell’s NFL.’’ (Deadspin.com)
Seahawks’ Richard Sherman on the Patriots ‘hanky panky’: “’You know, you can say they knew your plays, and they watched this and they watched that, but a lot of the times if you watch film good enough you find indicators, you find things. So if you’re studying the game the right way, you go out there understanding what plays are coming and you know when the plays are coming, but can you make the play, can you execute. Can 11 guys stop the other 11 from executing their play, and at the end of the day that’s what it’s about. You can say you stole scripts or whatever it is, but they still have to win the game at the end of the day. They still have to intercept the ball, they still have to execute. Eleven guys have to execute at the same time, and against us they did, so you know give them credit. If there’s ‘hanky panky’ going on, they’ve gotten away with it. Like they say, if you didn’t get caught, then it wasn’t cheating.’’’ (The Seattle Times)
David Ortiz now just two homers away from No. 500: “David Ortiz continued his march toward 500 home runs with a three-run blast in the third inning that gave him 498 for his career.
“With Dustin Pedroia on second and Xander Bogaerts on first after back-to-back singles, Ortiz cracked a 2-and-0 fastball over the Aetna sign in straightaway center field for his 32d homer of the season. As he’s inched closer to the milestone, Ortiz has made it a point to stay out of the spotlight. But joining the 500-homer club over the road trip seems like a foregone conclusion. (The Boston Globe)
Former tennis star James Blake tackled by white police officers: “Blake said later that one of the cops involved had apologized when he realized they had the wrong guy. The cop who put Blake on the ground — again according to James Blake — never said a word to him. It had apparently been easier putting Blake on the ground like that than forming a simple declarative sentence about being stupid. This wasn’t a member of the NYPD stopping someone for suspicious activity, unless a young black guy waiting for a courtesy car at an official U.S. Open hotel now qualifies as justification for excessive force, here or anywhere in America in the summer of 2015.’’ (Mike Lupica/New York Daily News)
Photo Finish: Best practices for tailgating at Gillette Stadium