Big Dan's Ramblings

Ramblings from a Boston Boy stuck in New York

Tag Archives: Gillette Stadium

UMass Football – Moving On Up?

Massachusetts Minutemen athletic logo

Image via Wikipedia

As some of you might remember, my Open Letter to Jack Wilson, President of the University of Massachusetts received quite a lot of attention.  As such, I’ve been following the story on UMass football’s potential move from the Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) to the Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS).  Today, the Boston Globe ran a pretty interesting article on this exact issue – UMass still deciding on best move, MAC is a good option, but is there a better one?

As you might expect, I have an opinion on this issue… Read more of this post

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Pats Wiping Away Remnants of Glory Days

New England PatriotsFrom Tom E. Curran, NECN.com:

The artifacts of the New England Patriots dominant decade are everywhere around Gillette Stadium. From the Super Bowl banners to the Patriots Hall of Fame sitting out front, they’re building the brand on the glory days.

But they’re not building this year’s team on it.

According to Troy Brown, Bill Belichick has been busy this offseason taking down reminders of who the Patriots recently were.

“From what I understand, they’re gutting out the whole place,” Brown said this afternoon at Mohegan Sun Casino where he was speaking to a group at the Comcast Sportsnet football roundtable. “There’s no pictures of Troy Brown, there’s no pictures of Tedy Bruschi, no pictures of Rodney Harrison in the building. It’s all wiped off. It’s (saying), ‘Get your own identity. Get a name for yourseflves and don’t worry about what Troy Brown did or Rodney Harrison did for this football team.’ …That’s gonna be the key to this year is, ‘Can these guys get their own identity?’ Forget about the past and how successful they were let’s be successful in our own way.”

I asked if the exorcism bothered him at all.

“It doesn’t sting to me at all, I mean I hate to walk in the building and my picture’s not up there, that sucks, but it’s something they need to do because they’ve been living in the shadow of the past Patriots. (The media) talks about it. “What difference did Tedy make? What difference did Rodney make?’ Let’s talk about what kind of difference Brandon Meriweather is going to make this year. That’s the signal (Belichick) is trying to send to these guys.”

There is further evidence of the very determined way in which Belichick is trying to remake the team’s personality. From releasing players who didn’t necessarily buy in, to making a true effort to draft or sign leader-types, it’s clear that the way things were last season were as troubling as they seemed.

Spikes, Pats Have Four-Year Deal

New England PatriotsFrom Mike Reiss, ESPNBoston.com:

The New England Patriots and second-round draft choice Brandon Spikes reached agreement on a four-year, $3.21 million contract Monday night, according to Spikes’ agent, Terry Watson.

Spikes was en route to Gillette Stadium to sign the deal, which includes a $960,000 signing bonus and a one-time incentive of $450,000, according to Watson.

The agreement was first reported by the Boston Herald.

“He’s refreshed and pleased that the contract is done,” said Watson. “He cannot wait to get to the facility. He loves to play football and is ready to go about what he loves.”

Spikes, the final selection of the second round, will vie for playing time at inside linebacker next to 2008 Associated Press Defensive Rookie of the Year Jerod Mayo. He will be competing with Gary Guyton (third year) and Tyrone McKenzie (second year).

With Spikes in the fold, the Patriots’ lone unsigned pick is first-rounder Devin McCourty.

Mike Reiss covers the Patriots for ESPNBoston.com.

McCourty Talks Going Slowly

New England PatriotsFrom Mike Reiss, ESPN.com:

Negotiations between the Patriots and first-round draft choice Devin McCourty have been slower than anticipated, with the sides unable to strike a deal by Sunday’s reporting date for rookies.

The Patriots and McCourty’s representatives would not comment on the status of negotiations Sunday night.

One reason for the slowdown seems to be the lack of other first-round signings, as only the Cowboys’ Dez Bryant (24th overall) has signed a deal. Because of that, agent Andy Simms can’t use other deals as a framework for McCourty’s pact.

That factor, coupled with what some agents of high draft choices have said is significant oversight from the NFL Players Association as a result of the looming labor war between owners and players, presumably are the main reasons McCourty, the 27th overall pick, didn’t report to Gillette Stadium on Sunday with the team’s other rookies.

One source involved in negotiations with a first-round pick from a different team said the NFLPA has advised him to slow negotiations until some other first-round deals are completed, which would provide a better framework to work from.

McCourty and inside linebacker Brandon Spikes (second round) are the Patriots’ only unsigned picks.

Now What…

I’ve been going through post-mortem all day with Giants fans (the ones I know have been fairly gracious in victory – surprising to me given the area of the country that they originate from). I’ve hashed over the Pats inability to stop the Giants rush and the fact that, had the Pats run the no-huddle offense more, they would have negated some of the pressure from that rush like they did on their final TD drive. I’ve marveled at Michael Stahan’s quickness off the ball and the inability of the Pats offensive line (3/5 of which are Pro Bowlers, by the way) to keep up with him. I’ve pondered Brady’s mere mortal performance and wondered why he didn’t just throw the ball to Wes Welker every down – the guy was barely covered. I’ve conceded that Rodney Harrison has no place in our defensive backfield and that our linebacker corps (God love Vrabel, Bruschi, and Seau) are just a step too slow. I’ve done all that…and I still can’t move on.

I still can’t help feeling empty and depressed and like I’ve believed in a myth for the last few months. I feel cheated. Today was supposed to be The Day. The Day we shut up that annoying Don Shula and that pompous Mercury Morris. The Day that New England put their indelible stamp on history. The Day that Bill Belichick was ordained a God amongst men as far as NFL Coaches go. The Day that the New England area finally arrives as a Mecca of Sports.

But, instead, it’s just a day. A rainy, dreary day which finds me stuck in New York with nary a sole around me to console me in my misery. A day where most of the conversation I overhear in far-off cubicles is about how the Giants are supposedly this superior team and how the Pats, despite their season of accomplishments “weren’t really that good” (Come one folks! Are you really buying that bull you’re selling?) A day where I feel like curling up under the covers in a fetal position and just forgetting about the night before. A day where I wish that the next season would just start tomorrow so that ‘my team’ could go out, hit someone hard, get a win, and make this hollow, empty, dull pain go away.

In the end, time heals all wounds (the aftermath of the 2003 ALCS, and Bucky Dent, and Bill Buckner taught us that). I think this one is going to take a long time to feel better, however. Pitchers and catchers will report in a little over a week and our attention will be diverted to the Boys of Summer. Those terrific folks who warmed our collective heart in October with their marvelous run to a second World Series Championship – something that we never thought we’d see one of. And something that the generations preceding us never got to see. We’ll have a minor reminder of our misery when, in April, the NFL Draft rolls around and the talking heads of ESPN (and others) fame remind us of the misery and disbelief that occurred just before 10pm EST on February 3, 2008. But, that will all be gone in a weekend. After that, the seasons will change, summer will show up, and we’ll be knee-deep in following our boys as they try to topple the Evil Empire once again; football a far-off reminder of the cooler weather that is to come. We’ll cheer and we’ll boo as the Boston Dirt Dogs do their thing, but there will be a little piece of us that just doesn’t feel right.

Training camps will roll around in June and it’ll be like peeling the scab off. We’ll have kind of forgotten how much it hurt until it all starts again. But, we’ll be evaluating rookies and veterans alike and hoping that it’s a year of redemption. Will our guys bounce back? Who have we resigned? Will Brady be hell-bent on destroying anything in a Manning jersey? What’s Bill got up his sleeve this season? Summer will roll on and baseball will replace any notion of Training Camp in the news. The occasional preseason game will be aired, but no one really watches those; they don’t mean much. The thoughts of all thing fall will disappear into the humidity of late July and August.

Eventually, September will roll around. The leaves will start to change colors, Boston will explode with wide-eyed freshman and wiser upper classmen, and the Sox will be in the midst of a pennant hunt All the time, Gillette will be quietly prepping to begin another season full of hope and optimism… And, as the first kickoff occurs and the first hits of the 2008 season begin we’ll finally be as close to cured as we can be – ready to start a new season – one that will hopefully fill the void that this one create.

As everyone loyal New England Sports fan can tell you – Just Wait Until Next Year!