NFL: Super Bowl LIII-City Views

Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta has been decorated with Super Bowl banners in preparation for the game between the Patriots and Rams on Feb. 3, 2019.

WE INTERRUPT your Super BORE Sunday to bring you some notes, quotes and anecdotes from around the wide world of sports:

• The hype is a week old and has another week to run. By the time it gets to next Sunday, you’ll be so ready for what seems like the Patriots’ annual game that it will be almost anti-climactic.

Except it won’t.

Get your chicken wings ready.

Julian Edelman played against Rams coach Sean McVay in college. Now they square off in the Super Bowl. “It’s very remarkable. He’s a stud. He’s my age and he’s leading an organization to a Super Bowl,” Edelman said Friday. “It’s unbelievable and it’s a testament to how much he knows the game, how hard he works. I love seeing it. He’s a MAC guy. You know that Coach McVay and that coaching staff is going to have that team ready and we’re going to have to take advantage of the preparation time that we have and get ready too.”

…It’s almost February, and Bryce Harper and Manny Machado still haven’t landed a job with a major-league team. Neither has Craig Kimbrel. The whole thing is odd. “All the dead time in the last two free-agent markets is a larger threat to our game than any supposed dead time between pitches,” players union chief Tony Clark told The AP Thursday. Apples and oranges, but you get the point.

…Patriots safety Patrick Chung credits tight end Rob Gronkowski for his own improved play, saying, “He has made me the player I am. I get to go against him every day for the last eight, nine years. He’s definitely made me better, period. So I actually need to thank him. Personally, that’s how I feel about him.”

…I punished Curt Schilling for his collecting Nazi memorabilia by not voting for him for the Baseball Hall of Fame for one year. Does he have the right to collect whatever he wants to – that’s legal? Of course he does. But as a Jewish person I found it offensive that that’s what he wanted to collect. So I didn’t vote for him – ONCE. He is making up some ground but people, many of them who considered him borderline, are clearly holding his political views against him.

…The Red Sox are not going to the White House on the scheduled Feb. 15 date thanks to the government mess. Instead, they will go when they’re in Baltimore in May. We assume the government will be open then, but who knows?

…On that topic, the Warriors wouldn’t go see the current White House resident during their recent trip to Washington. But that doesn’t mean they didn’t visit a president. They dropped in on Barack Obama.

Jerry Crasnick started his career in journalism in Maine, first for the Biddeford Journal Tribune and then the Portland Press Herald. Great guy. Great reporter. Friday, he announced on Twitter, “Some personal news: I’m joining the Major League Baseball Players Association in the new role of senior advisor for player, agent and media relations.” Best of luck to an old friend.

…WEEI.com’s Ryan Hannable, one of the hardest workers in the Boston area, points out, “In case you forget: Patriots have struggled historically in the first quarter of Super Bowls. In the 8 Belichick/Brady Super Bowls, the Patriots have a grand total of 3 first quarter points (last year vs. Eagles).”

…Schilling on WEEI this week: “The baseball writers, I know them. We’re at a point in time now where the left has managed to marginalize me in the media. It’s weird. People dismiss me out of hand as a racist. I’ve never said a racist word in my life.”

…Former Patriots teammate Aqib Talib, now with the Rams, on Tom Brady: “He’s the G.O.A.T., man – one of the best to do it. Super competitive guy and he’s really like the offensive coordinator on the field … It’s a great challenge. I mean, there’s a reason why he’s arguably one of the greatest of all time, because he does an excellent job of identifying whatever defensive structure you’re in, whether you want to pressure, whether you want to try to put pressure with a four-man rush and play loaded zone or some man principles behind it.”

…Red Sox President Dave Dombrowski said again he has no plans to spend money on a closer. Appearing on ESPN’s Buster Olney‘s podcast, the Sox chief says he can see bringing a reliever into camp on a look-see tryout. You happy with that, Red Sox fans?

…From Mike Sando of ESPN.com: “The @Patriots since Tom Brady turned 40, counting postseason: .750 win percentage; 73.2 Total QBR; 2 Super Bowl appearances; 4 postseason victories; 18 percent of passes gaining more than 15 yards — All lead NFL or are tied for No. 1.”

…Two hockey novels for young readers from Michael Betcherman: “Breakaway” and “Face-Off.” On the latter, “After a game against a team from Eastern Europe in an international hockey tournament, 17 year-old Alex Petrovic shakes hands with the opposing goalie — and finds himself staring at his identical twin. The chance meeting uncovers family secrets buried during a civil war back in their home country that separated the brothers when they were infants.”

…Offensive lineman Trent Brown, a huge (in more ways than one) Pats pickup this season, shoots down the notion Gillette isn’t a fun place to earn a living. “Of course I knew you got a chance to win here,” Brown said this week. “But the main thing that popped in my mind was all the bull-- — that people say about this place. And I’ve always been a man that forms my own opinions, and when I got here I quickly found out that it’s nothing like anybody says. It is fun here. The guys in the locker room enjoy each other, everybody in the facility enjoys each other, and to play for each other every time we touch the field is a great feeling. There’s no selfishness in the locker room, no egos, everybody is just one.”

…Here’s a thought: as Roger Clemens and Barry Bonds are starting to look more and more shaky for Hall of Fame induction, the dynamic duo has three votes left, the last of those coming the same year David Ortiz and Alex Rodriguez appear on the ballot for the first time. I’m voting for all four. “Of course I want them to get in,” A-Rod said on ESPN, “because that would mean that I have an opportunity to get in one day.”

…Celtics coach Brad Stevens, asked if Saturday night’s visit by the Warriors came at an ideal time, said “Have you seen them play recently? I don’t know that anybody in the league should say it’s an ideal time to play them.”

…Pats coach Bill Belichick and Brady exchanged “love yous” after the AFC title game. The other day, Belichick explained, saying, “I think when you go through a whole year with other people and you’re doing and experiencing the same thing, which we are, we’re all trying to win games and contribute and help the team. Then you form a bond with individuals and collectively as a group. So, we achieved a very successful moment the other night. I think everybody felt it.”

…Raptors forward Kawhi Leonard, a free agent after this season with people thinking he wants to go home to Los Angeles, bought a house out there recently – but it’s 109 miles from Staples Center.

…Gronkowski on going to his fifth (and final?) Super Bowl: “It’s just surreal, just being part of the organization here and just coming into –- it was already established and just keep on grinding, keep on helping them out, keep on helping this organization out and getting wins. Coming out and doing the best football I can do every time I step out on the field. It’s just unbelievable to be part of it and to keep the journey going.”

…From new Hall of Famer Jayson Stark of The Athletic: “The more I look at Lance Berkman, the more I think he ranks as one of the worst one-and-dones in #HOF voting history. The only others players with 1900-plus hits and as good an OPS-Plus (144) as Berkman who aren’t in the Hall? Barry Bonds and Manny Ramirez — for other reasons!”

…It appears LeBron James wants a new coach for the Lakers. Wonder how that will turn out.

…It’s going to be Nashville and Dallas in next season’s Winter Classic at the Cotton Bowl – as Texans everywhere look back fondly on their days skating on the pond, their moms keeping them going with hot chocolate. Nothing says Winter Classic like Texas!

Tommy John, appearing on the MLB Network this week, was asked about George Steinbrenner, his old Yankees boss. TJ said, “I probably shouldn’t say this but he and Donald Trump were pups out of the same litter.”

…Spurs coach Gregg Popovich was asked this week to respond to a compliment from Philly coach Brett Brown, one of his former assistants. Brown called Pop the greatest coach ever. Said Pop: “He’s so full of (bleep). That’s why we got rid of him.”

…I know it’s great when the NHL honors its best with the All-Star weekend and I know this bye week teams are getting during the long season is beneficial. However, I do NOT like having no real hockey on television.

…Hall of Famer Rogers Hornsby on baseball: “People ask me what I do in winter when there’s no baseball. I’ll tell you what I do. I stare out the window and wait for spring.” Feel the same way? I do.

Shaq Mason, another main cog of this tremendous Patriots offensive line that continues to keep Brady upright, on rookie running back Sony Michel: “He’s incredible. He’s a great back. We’re glad to have him. He came in and from day one has put his head down and worked. Everybody is starting to see the fruits of his labor.”

Brandy Halladay, widow of one of the new Hall of Famer Roy Halladay, was asked about time healing all wounds. “I don’t think time heals wounds,” she said. “I’ve heard all of the things. I think time gives you an opportunity to learn how to live within your new surroundings, your new circumstances. So you don’t ever heal. You don’t ever forget somebody. You don’t ‘get over’ something, you just learn how to deal with it in a new way.” She added: “I’m so happy (for the vote), and we are good, and every day we’re getting better.”

…Pats safety Devin McCourty on former teammate Talib: “He’s a great player, man, and he’s smart. He knows his football. He’s not just out there running around. I think he’s a very intelligent player, and he’s good.”

…From Tyler Kepner of the New York Times: “Mike Mussina reeling off all the ‘almosts’ of his career. Says he can live with all of them now. ‘I almost didn’t make it to the Hall of Fame,’ he says, ‘but I did.’”

…Former Patriot Chris Long, who won two straight Super Bowls with the Pats and Eagles, reacted strongly to the NFL rejecting a Super Bowl ad for medical marijuana. “Keep pumping the booze ads, guys,” he tweeted. “You’re doing great!” Well said!

…Finally, we give you the words – from The Athletic – from former Patriots offensive lineman Ross Tucker on current line coach Dante Scarnecchia. “The proof, as they say, is in the pudding,” he wrote. “In back-to-back games against teams with multiple elite rushers Tom Brady was sacked a whopping zero times. Eighty-one drop backs, zero sacks. Heck, he was only hit two times total by the likes of Melvin Ingram, Joey Bosa, Justin Houston, Dee Ford and Chris Jones.” Tucker credits Brady and his ability to get rid of the ball in a hurry but says, “I had nine offensive line coaches during my time in the NFL and that included big names in the offensive line world like Jim McNally and Joe Bugel, yet nobody ever got more out of their players than the guy affectionately known as ‘Scar.’”

Mike Shalin covers Boston pro sports for the New Hampshire Union Leader and Sunday News. His email address is shalinmike@yahoo.com. Follow him on Twitter @mscotshay.

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