EVERYONE excited about the Pro Bowl?
No? No Patriots, you say?
OK, we’re just kidding.
Seriously, though, the best thing about this silly All-Star “game” is that the players from around here don’t usually go and Tom Brady never does, anyway.
Instead, it’s the dead weekend before the Super Bowl. The teams still playing are working, Bill Belichick for his latest battle with a young quarterback and Brady for his latest faceoff with Rams defensive coordinator Wade Phillips.
“Obviously, watching the Rams, this is a really good football team,” Belichick said Thursday. “I’m just impressed with so many things they do. It’s easy to see why they’re here. They’re very well-coached.”
You could plug these Belichick comments into any game during the long season. This is not just any game and Belichick is a master of saying nice things about the other team. Brady does as well. Heck, the whole team does.
We’ve said this here many times before: The Patriots NEVER say anything that can go up on the opponent’s bulletin board.
“Really, just across the board, a healthy team, a team that’s been — especially offensively — they’ve started the same line all year, same thing as last year,” Belichick said. “They have a lot of continuity in what they do and with the guys that are doing it. A very consistent team that kind of, I think everybody looked at them in the beginning of the year and weren’t surprised that they’re where they are nor should they be. They do a really good job.”
Asked if his team is extra hungry after losing last year’s Super Bowl, Belichick said, “Well, I think right now, this football team is this football team. It’s not any other one, and we’re going to do the best we can to perform as well as we can against the Rams.
“That’s going to be a huge challenge, but it’s really just about us right now. There’s nothing in the past that does or doesn’t help us. We’re going to bond together and coach and play as well as we can next Sunday night.”
Tree bears fruit
With Patriots linebackers coach Brian Flores set to head off to be the head man in Miami, word surfaced Thursday that wide receivers coach Chad O’Shea, very well respected in that room, figures to join him and become Miami’s offensive coordinator. Both moves make next season’s two games with the Dolphins that much more interesting.
David Andrews is a Georgia boy who played his college ball at Georgia and now returns to Atlanta for the Super Bowl.
“I’m really not going home,’’ Andrews said Wednesday. “I’m going to work.’’
The durable Andrews has never played an NFL game in his home state, but is going to his third straight Super Bowl in Years 2-through-4 of his pro career.
“What you’re going to remember and what you’re going to value and treasure is the result of the game,’’ Andrews said. “You’re not really going to say, ‘Oh, that Wednesday was super fun because we did something.’ You’re really going to be focused on the result. That’s what you remember 20, 30, 40 years down the road.’’
As far as his family being excited to have the game at home, Andrews said, “Yeah, it’s exciting, but they’d be excited if it was in Alaska. It’s just a great opportunity. You never know how many opportunities like this you’re going to get.”
Andrews on Ndamukong Suh and Aaron Donald: “They do a very good job. They do a lot of things different. Suh at the base playing some nose guard and in the substituted defenses, he’ll go out there and play defensive end. So they do a lot of good things with those guys. Obviously they’re both dynamic players. Aaron Donald is the best defensive football player in the league, there’s no doubt about that. So it’s going to be a big challenge. We’re going to have to do a lot of things well.”
Jerry Rice, the only receiver who has caught more postseason passes than Julian Edelman, heaped high praised on the Pats’ Energizer Bunny.
“He’s got that attitude,” Rice told The Athletic. “That ‘(bleep) attitude: ‘I’m going to do what I want to do, and I’m going to go out and I’m going to ball. I’m going to make catches. I’m going to score touchdowns. I’m going to do whatever I have to do to help my team win.’ You can only have an appreciation for that.”
From vividseats.com, the current median price for the Super Bowl ticket is $4,243. The “current get-in price” is $3,271. Here’s the thing, the government mess and how it’s affecting airline travel might make you want to load up the car with snacks and drive.
Mariano Rivera, the first player ever to get 100 percent of the Hall of Fame vote, was on the wrong side of several postseason happenings, to go along with a ridiculous 0.70 career postseason ERA. Asked Tuesday which of the bad moments was the toughest, he said, “The hardest moment was the Boston Red Sox (in 2004). We had that lead and it was the Boston Red Sox.”
For the record, Rivera, 82-60 with 652 saves and a 2.21 ERA, was 13-7 with a 2.86 ERA and 58 saves lifetime against the Red Sox, in the regular season — 2-4 with a 2.54 ERA and 36 saves at Fenway.
The other new Famers against Boston — and the numbers aren’t great:
Edgar Martinez, a .312 lifetime hitter, hit .289 with 18 homers, 77 RBIs and an .870 OPS against the Red Sox — .299 with nine homers, 39 RBIs and an .864 OPS at Fenway.
Mike Mussina, 270-153 lifetime, was 21-17 with a 4.39 ERA against the Sox — 11-8 with a 3.69 and his only shutout of the Sox at Fenway.
Roy Halladay, 203-105 lifetime, was a shaky 14-15 with a 4.39 against the Red Sox — 6-9 with a 4.09 and his only shutout of the Red Sox at Fenway.
Kyrie Irving missed Wednesday’s scrimmage against the woeful Cavs with the flu, at least temporarily interrupting his rather incredible offensive run.
He is averaging 23.5 points, 6.9 assists and 4.8 rebounds for the season, but in his six January games he has gone for 28.3 points, 9.2 assists and 4.7 rebounds per. He has shot .566 from the floor, .444 from 3-point range. He also had eight steals his last time out.
The Celtics, without Irving and Al Horford, defeated the Cavs 125-103 at TD Garden Wednesday night — or did they? Some 45 minutes after the game, team PR guy Brian Olive entered the media work room and said the score was being changed. Two points credited to Jayson Tatum at one point of the fourth quarter never happened. A computer glitch was blamed.
The game was a blowout so no one noticed, but with an assistant coach seemingly for every player, someone should have noticed the score was wrong.
The Boston Globe reported Tatum has been invited to participate in the Skills Competition at the NBA All-Star Weekend.
Good news: From our pal Bill Doyle from the Worcester Telegram: Tommy Heinsohn said his doctor told him today it appears he has sleep apnea and he’ll soon test another sleep mask to try to eliminate his fatigue and return to @celtics broadcasts. “So we’re on the road to potentially eliminating this situation,” he told me. Good luck, Tommy.” Indeed!
Finally, we give you the Bruins at the break. A good team but still lacking some offense up front.
In 23 of their first 49 games, they have scored two goals or fewer, going 6-12-5 in those 23 games (6-17 in terms of wins and losses, earning 17 of a possible 46 points.
You don’t need to be a math major to realize a goal at the right time could have prevented those extra-time losses.