Sunday, October 31, 2010

Patriots Knock Out Favre; Move Into First Place

The New England Patriots moved into first place with their victory over the Minnesota Vikings, by a score of 28-18, at Gillette on Sunday. In the course of the win, the Patriots defense knocked out Brett Favre, sending him to the locker room via cart with a chin laceration.

New England Patriots defensive tackle Myron Pryor hits Minnesota Vikings quarterback Brett Favre in the fourth quarter of their NFL football game in Foxborough, Massachusetts October 31, 2010. Favre was injured on the play.   REUTERS/Adam Hunger   (UNITED STATES - Tags: SPORT FOOTBALL)
Myron Pryor knocks Brett Favre out of the game with this hit

Brett Favre was knocked out from a legal hit by Patriots defensive lineman Myron Pryor. Pryor beat Vikings left guard Steve Hutchinson with a move to Hutchinson's outside, delivering a hit to Favre just as he released the ball. Pryor's helmet hit Favre in his chest/armpit area, the force of the blow and Favre's follow through caused Pryor's helmet to ride up and strike Favre in the chin, as the two players continued to the turf. Favre was unable to continue. He was relieved by Tavaris Jackson, who completed his first pass of the 2010 season to Naufahu Tahi for a touchdown. The Vikings added a two point conversion as Jackson hit Percy Harvin in the end zone, but they would not get any closer.

The Flying Elvii iced the game with a 13 play, 80 yard drive that ate up 5:30 off the clock in the fourth quarter. The drive featured Ben Jarvis Green-Ellis rushing the ball for seven plays, as the Minnesota coaching staff burned up three timeouts in an effort to stop the clock. It would prove to be a mute point, as Law Firm scored from the two yard line. Steven Gostkowski added the extra point to put the Pats up by ten with 1:56 left in the game.

Other Notes from the win :
  • Tom Brady continued to play as if it were 2003, going 16-27 with 240 yards and 1 spectacular TD to Brandon Tate. Gone are the mind blowing numbers of 2007, but the wins keep piling up. 
  • Ben Jarvis Green-Ellis had his first 100 yard rushing day, going for 112 yards on 17 carries and 2 TD's. 
  • Seven receivers had receptions in the win as the 'spread the wealth' offense continues to come together. Danny Woodhead had 5 catches out the backfield, looking more and more like a poor man's Kevin Faulk. 
  • Devin McCourty continued his solid play, adding another interception while looking good to great in coverage. 
  • Jerod Mayo looked like a pro bowl middle linebacker as he covered Vikings running back Adrian Peterson. Mayo had key tackles to stop Peterson short of the first down markers on numerous occasions. Peterson was also held under 100 yards rushing for the day.
Photo Credit: Reuters / Adam Hunger

Friday, October 29, 2010

Belichick Gets Into X's and O's

New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick has a well earned reputation of being evasive with the media. It's very rare that anything of value comes out of the Route 1 bunker, especially post game. All too often, The Hoodie sticks with the script; We played a tough opponent, we got some things to work on... Occasionally, during the week, you'll get some real nuggets of wisdom from Belichick. That was the case this week, as The Mad Scientist met with the media, imparting some real football knowledge.

Granted, a great deal of what The Hoodie talks about is delivered with an agenda; "Give the opponent nothing.". Often, he'll stand at the podium and tell stories how great a 31st rated offense is, how strong a back-up QB is, now that he's forced into a starting role, or how a non-existent pass rush will harass Brady all day on game day. This week, Belichick shared some scouting on the upcoming game vs. the Vikings. Once you get past the "they are good in all phases of the game", one finds a treasure trove of football geek-dom.

When discussing the Vikings pass rush today, the HC of the NEP's let it be known that the Vikings have a great pass rush. "It's definitely one of the best pass-rushing teams in the league. They're all a problem, really, but (Kevin) Williams, (Jared) Allen, and (Ray) Edwards in particular, those three guys. I think Edwards is a very underrated player. Allen, we all know what he is. Kevin Williams, we all know what he is. Their linebackers complement their pressure well with (E.J.) Henderson and (Ben) Leber and (Chad) Greenway. Those guys are fast and they get pressure in a different way, but they are fast at the line of scrimmage. If you have to commit a blocker to them, if you have to commit one of your linemen to them, then your basically singled up across the board with the other four guys, as opposed to having a three-on-two or some kind of three-on-two situation whether your three-on-two inside or three-on-two to one side or the other if nobody blitzes. Once they blitz a guy, then whoever blocks the linebacker leaves you singled across the board. I think their pass rush is very good. They get a lot of pressure."

MINNEAPOLIS - OCTOBER 18:  Defensive end Ray Edwards #91 of the Minnesota Vikings rushes quarterback Joe Flacco #5 of the Baltimore Raven during NFL action at Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome on October 18, 2009 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The Vikings defeated the Ravens 33-31.  (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)
Ray Edwards applies pressure to Joe Flacco
The Mad Scientist followed up specifically on DE Ray Edwards. "He's a good player. He's strong against the run. He's quick. He's very athletic. He plays with good leverage, good strength. He makes chase plays from behind. He makes power plays at the point of attack. He's a good quick stunter when they bring him inside on their inside stunts. He's a tough matchup for the tackles because of his quickness and his speed, but at the same time he plays with good power and leverage where he can neutralize those guys because they can just come off and get him because he is so quick. So they kind of have to come off under control and then when he comes off with a lot of power, then at times he looks like the more powerful of the two players because his quickness has kind of neutralized their ability to really come off and just really try to go get them because of his movement skills." Belichick continued "He really does a good job and it's not just the pass rush. He's good in the running game. He's good on plays to him. He's good on plays away from him. He's a good chase payer on screens. Really, he's a good all-around, three-down player." Second year tackle Sebastian Vollmer will have his work cut out on Sunday.

The Hoodie also talked about the interior line, and how the matchups inside would effect the outside game. Speciffically, who would you double team? "I think the double team guy on that is (Kevin) Williams. That's the problem..." Belichick detailed "...if you don't help the guard with Williams, then the guard is really isolated on Kevin Williams because the center is tied up on Pat Williams and the tackles are tied up on the ends, whichever guy it Allen or Edwards. And so a lot of opportunities come from Williams, but it's hard to double him with a center because the center is on the same side as the guard. So you either have to do it with the tackle and that leaves you with the back or a tight end or whatever the combination is, it leaves you with somebody else out there on Allen and Edwards, which is a problem. Or, you leave your tackle on them, then it leaves your guard singled on Kevin Williams, which is a problem. That's kind of the idea of the over and under front- to have a player in that three technique who's got a nose tackle on the other side of the center and an end on the other side of the tackle, so that those guys have to kind of block their respective guys and then you have the three-technique singled on the guard. I mean, generally, guards play in a more confined space than the tackles do, so if you have a guy that's really good defensive end playing tackle, like you have with Williams, then you really have and end on a guard instead of an end on a tackle. He's a tall guy with good range, real good quickness. He's powerful. He could easily play defensive end, but he's matched up with the guards, and that's a tough matchup." This could be a week where Logan Mankins is missed.

Earlier in the week, Belichick spoke on another tackle playing end and vice versa; Vince Wilfork. "Vince is a very versatile player. I think he has handled it well. He's a smart guy. He's a good technique player. He can do a lot of things on the front. Again, like a lot of players, though, in college that play the one-technique and the three-technique, the three-technique is pretty close to the inside shoulder of the tackle and the one-technique is a shade on the center. So, in a 3-4, that's pretty close to those two positions. A lot of teams play that on their over and under defensive sets anyway. I don't think it's a major deal, but Vince is a really versatile guy. He's smart. He line stunts and understands protections and pass rushes, and reads plays very quickly - blocking schemes. He's excellent at all of that and provides great leadership for the other guys on the line."

It will be interesting to see how the line play affects the games outcome on Sunday. The Patriots take on the visiting Vikings, at Gillette, at 4:15pm on Sunday.

Belichick Light Hearted in Presser; Talks Halloween

The Hoodie met the media Friday for his usual end of week presser. It must have been a pretty good week of practice, as Belichick seemed pretty lighthearted, goofing with the press corps with some Halloween talk. His opening remarks follow up here. FVP will have more serious football talk from Belichick later on. In the meantime:

Q: Any plans for a costume?
Bill Belichick

BB: Yeah. I’ll be a ghost. Got your candy ready? What are we giving out this year?

Q: Pez.

BB: Pez? With the dispenser? Good.

Q: Do you have a favorite type of candy?

BB: Yeah, all of them. Remember when you were a kid and you went back to the house that had good candy twice? And then they threw you out like, ‘Hey, you’ve been here. Get out of here.’ Or you hope that everybody didn’t show up at your house and there was some left over. Those were the days.

Q: What was your best Halloween costume?

BB: I kind of lucked into it. It was John Kennedy. It was easy; you dress up and you put on the mask. But it was during the Cuban Missile Crisis as it turned out. I think I won the prize there. Everybody was really impressed that the president was able to break away from the Cuban Missile Crisis to attend a Halloween party – a school Halloween party. Yeah, Joe Bellino. Those were the days.

Q: You don’t have a Randy Moss mask?

BB: I don’t. I bet there will be some this weekend, though. There will be some. What could be a better holiday than costumes and candy? How can you go wrong? Whoever came up with that – that was brilliant...

More later on...

Photo Credit: Steve Pouliot Images for

Thursday, October 28, 2010

IZOD Series Notes

Some IZOD Series notes. will keep you informed of any happenings in the nation's top open wheel circuit during the off season.

A.J. Foyt Racing team director Larry Foyt will drive the No. 01 Chevy truck in the Oct. 30 Mountain Dew 250 at Talladega Superspeedway. "Now that our IndyCar season is over, this opportunity presented itself and I thought there's no better way for me to have a fun weekend than to race a truck at Talladega," Foyt said.

INDIANAPOLIS - MAY 28: Ana Beatriz of Brazil drives the #23 Ipiranga/DRR Dreyer & Reinbold Racing during practice for the IZOD IndyCar Series 94th running of the Indianapolis 500 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway on May 28, 2010 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Nick Laham/Getty Images)
Ana Beatriz at Indianapolis

The No. 23 Ipiranga/Monange/STI car that Ana Beatriz drove in the 2010 season opener is featured at the Honda display at the Sao Paulo (Brazil) Auto Show.

Danica Patrick will be in the audience at the Key for the Cure charity event at Saks Fifth Ave. in Indianapolis on Oct. 29.

More than $12,000 was raised for the Women In the Winner's Circle Foundation through a karting event in Indianapolis. The foundation, founded by Lyn St. James in 1994, assists young female racers in their progression through the motorsports industry from karting to the highest levels of racing. The training helps prepare women racers for success in the sport, both on and off the track.

IZOD IndyCar Series race winner Adrian Fernandez recently was inducted into the Mexican Auto Racing Federation Hall of Fame.

Photo Credit: Nick Laham/Getty Images

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Tony Stewart Talks Talladega

Coming fresh off his announcing sponsorship from Mobil1, two time Sprint Cup champ Tony Stewart met the media today, to talk about this weekend's race at Talladega.

A week after the circuit raced at the half mile Martinsville, Stewart noted the difference in the approach mentally at NASCAR's biggest track. Smoke stated "The hard part is staying focused for 500 miles when you know you can't make a mistake any direction. But you don't know how it's always going to play out. That's the hard part. You can't predict when there's going to be a wreck. You can't predict when guys are going to get in a line on the top of the racetrack, you know, do the Dale Jr. line. He's the one that started that whole thing. You don't know when that's going to happen. The hard part is trying to anticipate all those scenarios. Everybody has a different strategy for what to do to be there at the end. The hard thing is that it's a 188-lap race, but the last 10 laps are what really matter and set the tone for what's going to happen on the last lap."

Driver's often rely different strategy to avoid "the big one". Stewart talked about the idea of running in the back to avoid trouble. "Well, I think you still have to stick to your strategy, whatever it is. But you look at our stats, granted we've only won one race at Talladega, but we've run second six, seven or eight times there. A lot of those races we ran in the back a lot of the race, just taking it easy, taking care of our car, knowing that the important part of the race is later in the day.As long as you can stay in that lead draft, that's the important thing to Talladega. It's not necessarily the fact that the pit stops can get very, very difficult there with guys taking two tires or no tires. If you are one of those guys that ride in the back, you have to be really careful in the pit stops. A lot of times when you're coming in, there are guys finishing two-tire stops or took fuel and are on their way out. That's one of the more challenging parts to take it easy and be careful. I think guys have an idea of how they want to run their race and I think guys are comfortable with the strategy that they use."

"There's a lot of guys in the field that are fighting for jobs still. Those guys don't really have that flexibility to ride around. They're trying to impress car owners. Those guys are fighting all day long to stay up as high as they can, and there's guys that have done this a long time that have a more methodical approach to it." Stewart added "Everybody has that different strategy. I think that's the fun part, is trying to figure out, whether you're watching on TV or listening on the radio, trying to figure out what each individual driver's strategy is. I think there's times when the fans get discouraged that their driver is running in the back. The good thing about Talladega is you can just about be guaranteed if your driver is in the back, they're choosing to be there at that point in the race, not because they don't have a very good racecar."

As NASCAR fans have seen many times, the driver leading at the white flag isn't necessarily the first to take the checkered. Stewart was asked if there was a way to be the leader and not be a sitting duck. "Only if you got somebody pushing you from behind." expanding on his thoughts; "But it's the one place that is very nerve-wracking in the Chase because you realize a lot of your success on that individual day is going to be dictated more from the people behind you than what you're actually doing yourself. That's the part that makes it difficult with it being a Chase race. You're trying to go out and have an individual accomplishment for a season-ending championship, and it can be dictated a lot by what the guys behind you are doing. That's what makes it a little bit more difficult."

Tony also talked about some other topics not related to this weekend's event at 'Dega. On the new fuel for next year "If you can make Jell-O burn and they decide we're going to run Jell-O in the fuel cells, it doesn't matter to me. I don't build the engines, so it's really not a concern from my standpoint. Hopefully it's better for our environment, and obviously we're in a world, all around the world, obviously everybody is worried about our environment and what we can do to make it better."

He spoke about the fact that in each of the last five years, a winner from Atlanta has won at Texas. " Guys make their programs better. Shock programs change. Setups change. The conditions that you have temperature-wise can be different. Just because you were good there before, just because you were good in Atlanta, doesn't guarantee you'll be good at Texas the second time around."

Staying on Texas, Stewart noted "he entry and exit of these corners, they're very abrupt as far as the banking. When you turn in the corner, very abrupt getting in, and falls off very quickly. The reason for that, when they built Texas Motor Speedway, they intended to have the IndyCars race on the apron. That's why the apron is so wide at Texas. The IndyCars were not originally meant to run on the banking. That's why the banking on the entry of the corner and exit falls off so fast so the cars could come from the straightaway from the apron and back up with a smooth transition from the bottom. It makes it a different challenge than what we have at Charlotte or Atlanta because of that. It does make it a lot more challenging to get your car set up for it. You can't relax on the entry and you can't relax on the exit of the corner. That banking, a lot of times your car, it's hard to get your car secure on the entry because you don't have that banking to hold it. Once you get in the corner, it seems like it's all right. Same thing happens on the exit. Especially like what you're talking about in turn two, it's the tighter of the two exits of the racetrack. You're still trying to finish the corner there and you have to keep tugging on the steering wheel and at the same time make sure you don't lose the back at the same time. It definitely falls out from under you. When it does, you have to make sure your car is tight enough to make it through that transition."

Ever the sports fan, Stewart finished up talking about the World Series. When asked if he had a favorite or a prediction, Smoke sounded like he was running for office "Too early to tell. I'm just looking forward to it. The cool thing is we got two teams that are definitely hungry for a championship. It's going to be fun to watch. I'm not going to miss a game."

Photo Credit: Steve Pouliot Images for

Drive to End Hunger to Sponsor Jeff Gordon

Four Time NASCAR Sprint Cup Champion Jeff Gordon, Hendrick Motorsport President Rick Hendrick, and AARP Foundation President Jo Anne Jenkins announced The Drive To End Hunger will be sponsoring the #24 Hendrick Chevrolet for the next three years.

The Drive to End Hunger sponsorship will bring to light the fact that, according to Jenkins, "51 million people in this country go hungry every day, and of that, 6 million of those folks are over the age of 60." She continued "This whole campaign is really not just about solving the hunger issue for today but how we solve it for the country so that no one in this country goes hungry. We’re just delighted to be joining with the Drive to End Hunger car and with Hendrick Motorsports and Jeff about how we can bring an end to this issue. In a country as rich as ours, no one should go hungry every day."

Jeff  Gordon
Gordon has been no stranger to philanthropic causes. As Rick Hendrick said at the announcement "Jeff has been a spokesman for different foundations including his foundation. If you go back to the Hendrick Marrow Program and what a difference that’s made, whether it’s Katrina or Haiti or whatever. We have been the first to step up and brainstorming this opportunity it’s something that I personally am real excited about. I feel like we’ve helped people all over the world. We’ve been leaders in stepping up and stepping out first, and I just think with Jeff’s following, the respect that everyone in the sport has for him and the way we can maybe move the needle. I take this as a personal challenge. We’ve got two championships we want to win. We want to win the championship in racing with the points and get the trophy but if we can do something that has moved moved more and solved more of an issue in our country to feed the hungry then I think it will be more of a blessing and a feel-good and a positive at the end of the day than all those banners hanging in the back so I’m taking this as a real challenge for our company."

According to Gordon's website, Drive to End Hunger will be the majority sponsor of Gordon's No. 24 Hendrick Motorsports team in 2011, 2012 and 2013, with primary paint schemes in 22 Sprint Cup races annually. The No. 24 Drive to End Hunger Chevrolet, which will be unveiled at a later date, will race in the next three Daytona 500 events.

Gordon seemed excited about the future with this new cause and sponsor. "To me this is a really unique opportunity for our sport, for us at Hendrick Motorsports, certainly for all of us at the (No.) 24 team to be able to have a cause-driven sponsorship like this." Gordon continued "It certainly has always been important to me to give back, but this is a way that we’re going to be able to get awareness out there in a way that’s never been done before and make a huge impact. I think the words say it the best -- Drive to End Hunger. It’s not just about the fight; it’s really a goal to end hunger. I think not only Americans are going to be shocked to hear these numbers and to be made aware of what’s happening with hunger out there in America, but I think our race fans are going to be excited to get behind a program like this and make a difference and help. It’s a great day. I’m really excited about this and really looking forward to these next three years."

To learn more, or to get involved, go to

Photo Credit: Steve Pouliot Images for

Danica Patrick Named Izod Series Most Popular Driver

HOLLYWOOD - OCTOBER 06: Racecar driver Danica Patrick arrives at the Auto Club Speedway and Tissot Event at Voyeur on October 6, 2010 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Michael Buckner/Getty Images)
Danica Patrick was named the IZOD IndyCar Series most popular driver for 2010 on Oct. 23 at a banquet at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. It was the sixth-straight Most Popular Driver Award for Patrick, who has won the award since joining the series in 2005.

"I'm very flattered that I've received this award once, let alone six times," Patrick said. "Every person has the ability to pick their favorite driver, and it can change so it's a real honor to receive an award from the fans."

HOMESTEAD, FL - OCTOBER 01: Danica Patrick, driver of the  Team Dallara Honda drives next to Dan Wheldon of England, driver of the  National Guard Panther Racing Dallara Honda during practice for the IZOD IndyCar Series Cafes do Brasil Indy 300 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on October 1, 2010 in Homestead, Florida. (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)Previous winners for the IndyCar Series include Sam Hornish Jr. (2004), Fisher (2001-2003), Al Unser Jr. (2000), Scott Goodyear (1999) and Arie Luyendyk (1997-1998).

Patrick has 1 win, 3 poles, and 19 top fives in her career in the IZOD series. She had three top fives in 2010, including a season best second at the season finale at Homestead. She finished tenth in the final season point standings.

Photo Credits:
Danica/Photo by Michael Buckner/Getty Images
on track/Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Seven Reasons to Watch the 2010 World Series

The 2010 World Series gets underway Wednesday at 7:30 ET. It seems that baseball is struggling to keep up with football. Last Monday night, the Monday Night Football game between the Jaguars and the Titans did better in ratings than Game 3 between New York and Texas. That's two small market NFL teams, with limited star power, out-drawing the number one franchise in baseball.

This is not a regional thing, either. It's not a case of Sox and Yankee fans tuning out, its a national problem. Checking in with other parts of the country, folks are tuning out. In Kansas City, Bob Fescoe of 610 Sports Radio says "Baseball is not what it used to be and has been passed by by the NFL and other sports. Baseball has not adapted to the changing times and has a lot to figure out. I think for fans in the midwest, the World Series is basically irrelevant."

Clearly, baseball has a problem. Fixing those problems is a topic for another day. In the meantime, here are seven reasons to tune into the 2010 fall classic.
    Texas Rangers starting pitcher Cliff Lee throws a pitch in the first inning against the New York Yankees in game 3 of the ALCS at Yankee Stadium in New York City on October 18, 2010.  UPI/John Angelillo Photo via Newscom
    Cliff Lee
  • Josh Hamilton. Most people know the story: substance abuse, out of the game, cleaned up, traded to Texas where he has flourished. The Texas Ranger outfielder's 2010 season has been outstanding. His .359 batting average was tops in the majors. He was fifth in the AL in homers with 32, number one in slugging and OPS. He was named ALCS MVP, hitting .350 with four dingers against the Yankees. Expect him to shine in the bright lights and have a great series. 
  • Tim Lincecum. The two time Cy Young winner (2008,2009) finally has a chance to take his place among the greats of the game with a stellar performance versus Texas. He's been good in the postseason, posting a 2-1 record with a 1.93 ERA. Lincecum led the National League in strikeouts with 231 K's. If he can out-duel Cliff Lee in Game 1, he can be considered one of the premier pitchers of his era.
  • Cliff Lee. If Lincecum has been good, then Lee has been great. Historically great. Lee struck out 13 Yankee hitters in Game 3, going 8 innings, allowing no runs on two hits. He's 3-0 in the 2010 postseason, with a microscopic 0.75 ERA. The 2008 Cy Young winner's post season performance has already made him the number one free agent for the upcoming off season. Expect him to be dominant. 
  • The Beard. Giants closer Brian Wilson conjures up images of Al Hrabosky, with his "bottle black" beard and his scowl. He's nothing but lights out, saving five in seven appearances, with one win and a 0.00 earned run.
  • Not the Usual Suspects. No Yankees, no Red Sox, no Phillies or Cardinals. Texas makes their first appearance ever in the World Series. San Fransisco makes their first appearance since 2002. The Giants haven't won a championship since 1954. These are two hungry fan bases. One of them is going to have an enjoyable off season. One will know what it's like to say "almost". 
  • Game 1 Matchup. See above. They say "chicks dig the long ball." Game 1's matchup between Lee and Lincecum is right up there with any other matchup in post season history. Smoltz and Morris in 1991, Johnson ans Maddux in the NLCS in 2001, and Clemens and Schilling in '01. Any self respecting sports fan doesn't want to miss this one. In the year of the pitcher, this is a dream matchup.
  • Venues. AT&T Park in San Fransisco may be the best ballpark in baseball. It's wide open in right field, as lefty hitters take aim at McCovey Cove. By contrast, The Ballpark in Arlington is fully enclosed, with four stories of stands all the way around. Both stadiums have the character to generate some all-time memories and ghosts, unlike places like the Metrodome (off the baggie??) or The Trop. 
Photo Credit: UPI John Angelillo Photo via Newscom

    Sunday, October 24, 2010

    Another 4th and Short; Pats Escape San Diego With Win

    After failing to execute another fourth and short the New England Patriots hung on to win by three, 23-20 against the quintessential "better than their record indicates" 2-5 San Diego Chargers. The Pats moved their record to 5-1 with the win, which even though ugly, still counts the same once the calender turns to December.

    Patriots first round pick CB Devin McCourty
    The fourth quarter turned out to be ugly for both teams, as each made key errors late in the game. The Patriots went up 23-6 after a Steven Gostkowski field goal. San Diego took the ball at their 33, driving the length of the field in 11 plays, using 4:06 off the clock. In that drive, The Pats were unable to stop the Chargers on third and 15, as Phillip Rivers hit Patrick Crayton for 21 yards in a soft spot in the Pats defense. It looked as Devin McCourty dropped Crayton, but he settled in front of Sanders for the long gain. Later in the same drive, Rivers hit Crayton again on fourth and five as he appeared to lose McCourty who was playing off the line.The Chargers ended up scoring as Antonio Gates beat Gary Guyton on a crossing pattern. At 7:21 left, the Pats appeared to give the points in exchange for time off the clock. It did not work in New England's favor.

    The Chargers executed an on-side kick, recovering the ball before it reached the seemingly flat footed Patriot special team unit. The New England D gave up another long conversion on third, this time to Seyi Ajirotutu, who again was soft covered by McCourty. QB Rivers immediately went deep again, hitting Gates for 26 yards in the middle of the field. Again, it seemed the soft zone coverage of New England was designed to eat clock while giving San Diego yardage in the center of the field. The Chargers scored on a run by Mike Tolbert on third and one.  

    The Chargers then committed a series of special teams gaffes that has proven to be their Achilles heel this season thus far. Kicker Kris Brown, who earlier executed a perfect on side kick, kicked the ball out of bounds, giving the Pats the ball on the 40 yard line. The New England offense, which had sputtered all day, went what should have been a three and out. Belichick elected to go for it on fourth and one, calling a run to the left behind a double tight end set of Alge Crumpler and Aaron Hernandez, with guard Dan Connolly lining up at fullback. Hernandez sealed the end well, but Chargers linebacker Antoine Applewhite slipped the block by Crumpler. Connolly assisted Hernandez on a double team on NT Antonio Garay instead of picking up Applewhite, who made the play on Ben Jarvis Green-Ellis in the backfield. The Chargers took over on downs in excellent field position.

    The Chargers moved to within field goal range, and on third and 10 from the NE 35, seemed to be marching for the win. With 1:15 left, pressure from Tully Banta-Cain and favorite Shawn Crable forced Phillip Rivers out of the pocket, where he hit Gates on the run. Newly signed safety Sergio Brown made a nice open field tackle on the All-Pro tight end short of the first down. On came the San Diego field goal unit.  

    San Diego lined up for a 45 yarder, only to have guard Brandyn Dombrowski get flagged for a false start. The penalty moved the Chargers back five yards, where kicker Brown hit the right upright, securing the win for The Flying Elvii.

    The game overall was poorly executed for both teams. The Chargers turned the ball over four times, including a lateral that was not picked up by the Bolts, and a fumble by WR Richard Goodman. Goodman's fumble was essentially a play where he left the ball on the field after a reception and a premature celebration.

    The Pats offensively were poor throughout the day, as they were unable to generate any rhythm. NE went three and out five times. The Hoodie Disciples only had one drive of more than 3:30 min., a 17 play gem that ate up 8:35 to start the third quarter. From there, they seemed to content to hang on for dear life, and it nearly cost them. They will need to play much better, as they can't count on getting four turnovers every week. This was a game where the other team did not make enough plays, even though the Patriots gave them the opportunity. The Pats will need to be better than this, but the win will still count.

    Other Notes:
    • Tom Brady was downright mortal, going 19-32 with 159 yards and 1 TD. 
    • 6 receivers had receptions, led again by rookie Hernandez, with 5 catches. Gronkowski showed his mettle in the red zone with two catches, one for a TD. 
    • Punter Zoltan Mesko continued to show you don't mess with the Zoltan. Mesko's numbers were just average, but he did dig out some low snaps, bailing out long snapper Jake Ingram. 
    • Jerod Mayo continues to be the man defensively. Mayo was in on 11 tackles, leading the NE defense. He also recovered a fumble. 
    • Former practice squad player Sergio Brown played well in the place of injured Patrick Chung, with two nice open field tackles in key situations late. His tackle on Gates may have been a game saver.
    • Speaking of Chung, Boston Herald's Ian Rapoport tweeted Chung should be ok. 
    • The offensive line has to give The Chosen One more time. Brady was sacked four times today. 
    • Coaching needs to improve. For the kick receive team to be flat footed in that on-side kick situation is poor special team coaching. Also, Gary Guyton should not be forced to cover Antonio Gates in any situation much less at the goal line. 
    • Where was Brandon Spikes today? One tackle? 
    Photo Credit: Steve Pouliot Images for

      Friday, October 22, 2010

      Rambling Thoughts and Other Funny Stuff

      Deanna Favre was on the morning show circuit Thursday, stumping her book "The Cure for the Chronic Life". The tome is about getting past hard times and chronic unhealthy behavior. Looks like she's qualified to write on that topic. Speaking of which...

      Brett Favre, Tiger Woods on line 1.

      Anyone else see the resemblance between Deanna Favre and Jenn Sterger? I guess we know Brett's taste in women, eh?

      Kasey Kahne was released from his deal with RPM, after bitching about brake failures. Any bets on whether or not replacement Aric Amirola's brakes fail at Martinsville this weekend?

      What's up with the empty high back lux-o seats in Yankee Stadium in the playoffs? Here's a tip to the marketing guys, create some demand where there is none. If they are too expensive to sell, give 'em to sponsors, buddies, friends of George, anyone. It'll make your job easier if they appear to be a hard ticket to get.

      Enough already with all the hand-wringing regarding the helmet to helmet hits. It's football. You don't want hits? To paraphrase Mark Schlereth, play soccer.

      For years we've glorified the Chuck Bednarik's, Dick Butkus', LT's, Night Train Lane's and Rodney Harrison's of the game. Now, they'd all get suspensions.

      Look at what's going on with the CBA. The owners want to have an 18 game schedule, the players say there are too many injuries. So now the NFL issues big fines in an effort to curb these huge hits. When it comes to negotiation time, the league will say "see, we are trying to protect you. Now let's play 18."

      Meriweather's hit on Heap was the only one of the week that was dirty. I like big hits, but cheap shots like that don't cut it. That hit was essentially spearing, and that's been outlawed long before last Sunday.

      Wednesday, October 20, 2010

      Odds-n-Ends for October 20

      • The Boston Red Sox announced off-season improvements to Fenway Park, to be completed in time for the 2011 season. The team will install three new HD video display boards. The video boards, Mitsubishi Electric Diamond Vision LED screens, will be placed above the bleachers in centerfield. According to the team's press release, "The largest of the three screens, measuring approximately 38 feet high by 100 feet wide, will be the main video board in centerfield and replace the existing elements of the structure above the bleachers in centerfield, which was originally constructed prior to the 1976 season. This main scoreboard structure includes a 23 feet high by 30 feet wide video screen installed after the 1999 season, the black and white statistical display, 60 feet of LED ribbon and the static rotational sponsor signs. This screen will have the ability to provide approximately 3800 square feet of dynamic video capabilities in a variety of formats." If these video screens are anything like the ones installed at Gillette Stadium, they will definitely add to the overall game day experience. 
      • The team also announced major concrete repair, seat replacement, and waterproofing of the lower right field bowl. The Red Sox will also add padded seats to the dugout and field box seats. They also announced expanded concessions at Gate D and other general upgrades to Gates C and D.
      • The official release said nothing of the proposed change to the bullpens, which would include moving in the bullpen wall 6-10 feet. As Fenway is an historical landmark, approval is needed from multiple historical landmark committees in Massachusetts. From a baseball point of view, this seems as bad idea, as baseball returns to a pitcher's league after a decade of the steroid era. If radio and TV ratings are down, it's is simply a natural contraction of the fan base. In short, Pink Hats are not loyal customers. As long as the colorful characters like Manny Ramirez and Johnny Damon are winning World Series', the Pink Hats will stick around. Otherwise, they are watching Dancing with the Stars.
      • Patriots safety Brando Meriweather was fined $50,000 by the NFL for his multiple hits on Ravens TE Todd Heap. In the second quarter of New England’s game against Baltimore, Meriweather unnecessarily struck an opponent in the head area with his helmet. Additionally, in the third quarter, Meriweather unnecessarily struck an opponent in the head and neck area. Those actions violated Rule 12, Section 2, Article 8 (f) of the NFL Official Playing Rules, which states that it is unnecessary roughness if a player uses any part of his helmet (including the top/crown and forehead/“hairline” parts) or facemask to butt, spear, or ram an opponent violently or unnecessarily.
      • Patriots head coach Bill Belichick was asked about how players are expected to make a split second decision when making hits. His answer spoke to his coaching style of "it is what it is". He said "Well, every situation is different. Every single play is different. So, it doesn’t matter what I think. Whatever the rules are, that’s what they are. However the officials call the game, that’s how the players and the coaches have to perform, is within those guidelines, whatever they are. We’ve seen lots of different ones and they come and go and they change. The same rules get interpreted differently and all that. So, you just have to understand how the game is being officiated and what the calls mean – what’s a block in the back, what isn’t a block in the back; what’s illegal contact, what isn’t illegal contact; what’s pass interference, what isn’t pass interference; what’s holding, what isn’t holding. There are a lot of gray areas in all those calls, so we have to learn what those are and hope that the officials call them consistently from week to week, which, that’s an issue too. Again, [there are] a lot of shades of gray that have to be interpreted. But, whatever it is, it is. That’s out of my control. What I can do right now is try to prepare our team for the Chargers and that’s really where my energy and focus is today and will be for the rest of the week."

      Tuesday, October 19, 2010

      NASCAR Championship: It's Johnson's to lose

      Jimmie Johnson and his #48 Lowe's team are going to be the 2010 NASCAR Sprint Cup champion. Johnson rebounded from a lap 34 spin that dropped him to 38th position to finish third in Saturday night's 400 mile race at Charlotte Motor Speedway. It is that sort of ability to deal with adversity that will make Johnson a five time champion when the series finishes up in Homestead on November 21.

      This weekend's upcoming race at Martinsville will feature Johnson battling second place Denny Hamlin for supremacy in NASCAR's top series. Media outlets will talk about the fact that Johnson and Hamlin have won the last eight races at the half mile flat oval. Read that again. Johnson and Hamlin have won the last eight races at Martinsville. There has not been a winner not named Hamlin or Johnson since April 2006 when Tony Stewart found victory lane. That is some serious dominance. Hamlin will finish well this weekend at Martinsville, a track where he's finished out of the top ten only once. Johnson has better average finishes at the remaining tracks, and that fact, plus his teams ability to overcome adversity, will be the difference  in the 2010 standings. 

      Looking at Texas, Johnson only has one finish outside the top 15 in his career. Johnson has never finished lower than 15th at Phoenix, and he has won four out the last five out in the desert. Homestead is the only remaining track he hasn't won at, and that is simply because he hasn't needed to. Hamlin is winless at Phoenix, and inconsistent at Texas. The wild card for both will be Talladega. If one of these drivers can finish well and have the other get caught up in the inevitable "big one", then it could be a battle to the end.

      Johnson leads in the following statistical categories :  Average running position 9.294, average starting position 8.3, laps led 1311, fastest early in a run (ranks each driver during the first 25 percent of laps run since a pit stop), fastest late in a run (ranks each driver during the last 25 percent of laps run since a pit stop), and fastest laps run. He's number one on fastest drivers on restarts, green flag speed, mile leaders, average points in upcoming tracks 144.8, and he is the point leader. This does not take in to consideration intangibles like having Chad Knauss on the pit box, or the "been there done that" factor.

      Jimmie Johnson
      When asked about the dominance Johnson and Hamlin have shown at Martinsville, Johnson said "I really think, kind of the way it looks right now, he's good at Martinsville, we are, Talladega is a crapshoot. Texas, I think he finished first there and I was second in the spring. Go to Phoenix, it's a great track for both of us. Go to Homestead, I think he won there last year. We ran really strong all night long and then came home, Top-5 or something if I remember right. So I think both teams are going to have speed and I think it's going to boil down to mistakes at this point. Those guys are doing a great job, solid on pit road, solid on equipment and so on. I think it's going to boil down to mistakes."

      The point leader was asked about his troubles early at Charlotte, and how his team responded. Needless to say it's not lost on the four time defending champ that this type of finish is what champions are made of. "Tonight is a night that reminds me of the last four years and what made this team champions. I hope that tonight's performance leads us to a championship" Johnson said. "There's obviously a lot of racing left. No telling what's going to happen. But when we looked back, I hope we are the champions and I hope we look back and say that Charlotte was the key point for us in the championship battle. We kept our composure.I think in the summer months, the issue we had with the car at the start of the race and the spin, frustration would have gotten the best of us and we would have taken ourselves out of contention for a good run. Tonight the team stayed in it: I did, Chad did, Earl kept us calm, pit stops were there. Everything worked right and everybody stayed focused. I hope we look back on say it was a big night."

      Other Notes
      • Jamie McMurray notched his third win of the season, finishing ahead of Kyle Busch, Johnson and Hamlin. The driver of the #1 Bass Pro Shops Chevy was asked what was the most memorable of his three wins this season "For me, I think the last lap at Indy, because even though -- it's just different at Indy. That's a race that every team puts so much work into, and not that they don't all the other races and not that it's not the Daytona 500; but Indy is just one of those races, it's in the middle of the year and everyone puts so much work in it to build this beautiful race car and there's so much extra little detail that goes into that and everybody wants to win that race. You just always hear everybody talk about that. And it takes 50 seconds to go around there, and the last 50 seconds at Indy was probably just one of the coolest things ever for me, to like savor that and know that it's going to happen." 
      • NASCAR announced that beginning in 2011, they will run a new fuel, Sunoco's Green E15, a 15% ethanol blend. Dr. Mike Lynch, Managing Director of NASCAR's Green Innovation, had this to say as to why the switch was made " NASCAR has made a commitment to being an environmental leader. Over the past several years, we’ve rolled out very impactful green programs in recycling, alternative energy and carbon reduction. Now we are announcing Sunoco Green E15 fuel – a 15 percent ethanol blend using American-made ethanol from corn grown by American farmers. The transition to Sunoco Green E15 takes NASCAR’s environmental commitment to the next level. American ethanol creates jobs here in the U.S., helps foster energy independence, and continues the greening of our sport."
      Photo Credit: Steve Pouliot Images for

      Sunday, October 17, 2010

      Patriots Rally To Beat Ravens In Overtime

      Looking very much like a playoff team, The New England Patriots came back from a 10 point deficit to defeat the Baltimore Ravens in overtime by a score of 23-20. The game featured the return of Deion Branch, who led the team with nine receptions. Branch also had a key touchdown, a reception in the back of the end zone to pull the Patriots within three with 11:08 left in the fourth quarter.

      The game also featured what may turn out to be the birth of the 2010 Patriot defense. The D unit shut down the Ravens in the fourth quarter and in OT, holding them to 67 yards. The defense made key stops late in the game, with key tackles from Brando Spikes, Jerod Mayo and Patrick Chung that forced the Ravens to go three and out twice after the Patriots had tied the game. The Pats defense also forced the Ravens to punt 5 times after the Ravens went up 20-10. The secondary also played well, limiting Anquan Boldin to just four receptions. Jerod Mayo continued to show he has regained his form of 2008, as he led the Patriots with 11 solo tackles, assisting on 7 others.

      While his overall numbers did not appear to be great at first glance, Tom Brady was stellar as he completed his 30th career comeback. The Chosen One was 16 for 24 in the fourth quarter and overtime, for 156 yards and the aforementioned TD to Branch. Brady was 4-4 on the final drive of overtime, hitting newly named captain Alge Crumpler, Wes Welker, and Branch twice in setting up the winning field goal. Brady ended up 27-44 with 292 yards.

      Pats punter Zoltan Mesko
      One of the key plays of the game proved to be a punt by rookie Zoltan Mesko. With 7:26 left in OT, the Pats offense stalled at their own 16 yard line. Mesko uncorked a 65 yarder in a very clutch moment, as the Patriots could have given the ball back to the Ravens with very good field position. Instead, Mesko's punt pinned Baltimore at their own 19 yard line. After a personal foul by the Ravens on 2nd down,  the Patriots forced a three and out, getting the ball back at their own 38. Brady then drove the team to the winning field goal. It was the field position battle won by the special teams unit that helped seal the win.

      Danny Woodhead had another outstanding game, with 11 carries for 63 yards. He also had five receptions for 52 yards. His 115 yards total led all offensive players followed up by Branch with 98 yards receiving, and Aaron Hernandez with 61 yards on four catches.

      The Patriots win moved them to 4-1. More importantly, it marked the return to The Patriot Way. The Flying Elvii made the plays when needed late, and had multiple players step up and make plays in clutch time. No longer will this be the Patriots of '07 who beat up on everyone. Nor will they be the '09 squad who struggled to make plays when the game was in the balance.  This 2010 team is shaping up as a team with character, as the last two wins illustrate. They will need every once of character this coming week, as the Pats head west to take on a very hungry 2-4 San Diego Chargers.

      Other Notes:
      • Expect a big fine for Brandon Meriweather as a result of his helmet to helmet hit on Todd Heap. He could have been flagged for at least two others. 
      • How relieved is Aaron Hernandez with the win? His two key drops could have proved costly. 
      • 7th rounder Brandon Deaderick made his first start. He was credited with a sack for being in the neighborhood when Joe Flacco ran out of bounds for a 1 yard loss. 
      • Linebackers had a big day, with Brandon Spikes in on 14 tackles, and Rob Ninkovitch adding 8. Rookie Jerome Cunningham notched his first career sack. 
      • The Pats had the ball  for 32:50. They will need to work on the time of possession as the opposing offenses improve. 
      Photo Credit: Steve Pouliot Images for

        Wednesday, October 13, 2010

        33 Indianapolis 500 winners on the track

        33 Indianapolis 500 winners were on the grid at Indianapolis Motorspeedway on October 12 as part of the celebration planned for the 100th Anniversary Indianapolis 500 next May. The cars included such icons as the Ray Harroun's Marmon Wasp, winner of the 1911 Indy 500, A.J. Foyt's 1961 winning Bowes Seal Fast roadster, Al Unser's Johnny Lightning 1970 winner, and Jim Clark's 1965 winner. Add to the winning rides from names like Mears, Rutherford, Andretti, and Shaw, as well as dozens of others. It made for a beautiful picture, as seen above. It will be fun to watch what speedway officials have in store for the 100th anniversay when it actually gets here.

        Photo Credit: Ron McQueeny for

        Mobil1 Sponsors Tony Stewart

        Stewart-Haas Racing announced that Mobil1 has agreed to sponsor the #14 Chevrolet, driven by two time champion Tony Stewart. In making the announcement, Smoke said "ExxonMobil has been a part of motorsports for over 30 years now. They're very committed to excellence and winning. And we're very excited to announce that we signed a multi-year deal with Mobil 1 to be on the No. 14 Chevrolet as a co-sponsor with Office Depot. So very excited about the opportunity to work with Mobil 1 and have a partner that is so committed to not only the brand marketing but at the same time making our cars and our program better and giving us a better opportunity to win. So very excited about that."
        Tony Stewart at the announcement of Mobil1 sponsorship for his #14 team.

        In just his second year of ownership, Stewart has landed a significant sponsor that will help stabilize his #14 team for many years to come. "To have a company of this caliber believe in Stewart-Haas Racing and believe in our program and what we're trying to accomplish, personally, it feels great for me. Just having their confidence and their support and knowing that we have a partner that has such a great ability to make our program that much better is exciting. It's an exciting time for us." Stewart noted.

        It wasn't lost on Stewart how important a signing like this is, given the economic conditions that currently exist in NASCAR. " know, this is still a series that doesn't stop, no matter how bad the economy is." he said. "These teams are going to push forward and there's partners obviously like Mobil 1 that know how important not only NASCAR racing is, but racing is in general to their product. So it brings a lot of pride knowing how hard the economy is right now and how tough the times are to be able to bring Mobil 1 into Stewart-Haas Racing and hopefully the comfort that they've given us at this time of the year with helping us with our partnership, hopefully we can return that favor to them."

        Office Depot will remain as co-sponsor.

        Credit: Rusty Jarrett/Getty Images for Speed Communication

        Tuesday, October 12, 2010

        Odds-n-Ends in Sports for October 12

        • The Boston Bruins opened the 2010-11 season with a split against the Phoenix Coyotes in Prague, of the Czech Republic. Interesting that the team opted to open overseas. The NHL has certainly had trouble drawing eyes stateside, opening in Europe effectively kills any buzz there might be from pre-season. In the Boston market, the recent trades completed by the Patriots has dominated the sports pages, followed up by the MLB playoffs, and the pre-season work of Shaq and the Celtics have moved the B's to the back pages of the sports section. It will take some time for the Bruins to get back some momentum in the press. 
        • There's an awful lot of "he said-he said" regarding the Randy Moss trade and what did or didn't go on in the locker room in Foxboro. There's The Hoodie, telling everyone how great Moss was and how it was best for the football team, "hairgate", and all the other ancillary noise that has gone on with this trade. Know this, the tone will change by the time these two teams meet on Halloween in Foxboro. 
        • In a lighter note, NHMS announced the "softest wrecker bumper" on October 6. This was in light of the Clint Bowyer penalty and the Childress Racing assertion that the push received from the wrecker caused the #33 to be out of tolerances. From the NHMS press release: In light of the recent controversy surrounding Clint Bowyer’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series victory at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, officials at the speedway utilized some creative ingenuity to help ensure that “The Magic Mile” and its wreckers aren’t part of any similar debate in the future. With the new “pillow-soft” bumper revealed today, speedway general manager Jerry Gappens wants to assure all future winning race cars make it to victory lane carefully. The wrecker is the exact same truck that pushed Bowyer’s No. 33 Cheerios/ Hamburger Helper Chevrolet to victory lane after he ran out of gas during his burnout at the September 19th SYLVANIA 300, but with a new and improved soft front bumper. Completely tongue in cheek, of course. 
          The "pillow soft" wrecker  bumper in victory lane at NHMS

        Monday, October 11, 2010

        Patriots Trade for Deion Branch; More Signs of a Return to the Patriot Way

        Multiple internet reports have the Patriots trading a fourth round pick in next year's draft for 31 year old Deion Branch. Branch has struggled to stay healthy in his career, playing all 16 games only once, in 2005 his final year in New England. He had ACL surgery in February 2008 ad has had arthroscopic surgery the last two seasons as well. (as tweeted by Chris Gasper)

        Branch has averaged 44.25 receptions from 2006-2009 and has 13 receptions thus far in 2010. His average receptions per year in New England were slightly better at 53.25. He brings a big presence in the locker room, and he's well known to be very close with Brady.

        On face value, the cost of a fourth rounder for an oft injured wideout seems like a high price to pay. Look at the earlier trade of Maroney to Denver for a fourth. Now consider trading Maroney for Branch, not such a bad deal now, is it. Branch will be an on field coach for the like of Tate, Price, and the young TE's. This will be a good deal in the long run. Branch will be a reliable, serviceable wideout. He will not be a replacement for Moss, but he signals a further return to The Patriot Way.

        Wednesday, October 6, 2010

        IndyCar Championship At Homestead Illustrates Challenges For Promoters

        The Izod Series finished up the 2010 season at Homestead Miami on Saturday, October 2. The race featured some exciting three wide racing, a near;y down to the wire battle for the championship, a heated race for position between teammates, one of which is considered by many to be the most marketable name in the sport. It was attended by a smattering of fans which speaks volumes to the challenges ahead.

        Let's recap first:

        Eventual champion Dario Franchitti overtook point leader Will Power when Power scuffed the SAFER barrier coming off turn four at lap 135, ending his night in 25th position. Power, who struggled on ovals this season, commented during the broadcast "The championship is won over 17 races, not one. I'm very disappointed. I was trying to get around a couple of back markers and got in the gray. The Ganassi guys are so fast we had to start pushing hard to try and find something. We were definitely quick enough, though I thought it would be very tough to pass Dario (Franchitti)."

        The final portion of the race featured a thrilling battle between veteran Tony Kanaan and teammate Danica Patrick. The two diced for position, before Patrick edged Kanaan by .0111 seconds. The driver had this to say after her battle with Kanaan "After I crossed the line, I said it wasn't a win, but it sure felt like one. This was a great way to end the season. We have had our high points and low points, and the Go Daddy crew pulled it together for a strong end to the year. Hopefully we can continue to improve the car to be better for next year. That was a hard charge at the end, and Tony (Kanaan) and I hope we put on a good show for the fans tonight."

        Here's the rub with all of this: With an estimated 12,000 in attendance, and reports of a TV audience of less than 400,000, who is watching? This was a very entertaining race, one where the championship was decided, and there was very little interest. A shame really, to see this highest level of open wheel racing decide the championship to stadium full of empty seats. If not for the roar of the engines, you'd hear the crickets. Thank god they don't hybrids. 

        Rumors persist that the ISC tracks do not promote this series as well as the NASCAR races they covet. As the Izod Series moves away from ISC for 2011, it brings to question: how do you sell this product to race fans? The challenges are many, from low buzz around the series, poor TV ratings, and very little household names to bank on. Even the most recognizable name, Danica Patrick, has suffered a drop in her Q rating, as she struggles to come to grips with the heavier Nationwide Series cars in NASCAR's second tier.

        Franchitti clinches the championship at a nearly empty Homestead
        Individual track promoters have their own thoughts on how to combat this problem. When asked about Homestead's struggles and how he expects to promote the series, NHMS Executive VP and general manager Jerry Gappens said “We don’t comment on other speedway’s attendance and ratings however, a contributing factor may have been that it was the final IndyCar event with International Speedway Corporation.". Gappens added, "We will roll up our sleeves and promote this event very hard as we do for both of our NASCAR weekends each year, the LENOX Industrial Tools 301 and the SYLVANIA 300. We have a loyal fan base from the past 20 years and have cultivated new fans from all of our marketing and PR efforts. Not to mention the outstanding racing that recent event has brought to this great state. The entire staff at New Hampshire Motor Speedway aggressively promote and market our events. This is illustrated as our NASCAR crowds have been some of the highest in industry all year. We will do the same as IndyCar returns with a “New Breed of Speed” to New Hampshire Motor Speedway on August 13, 2011.”

        Other track promoters share Gappens' optimism. Craig Armstrong, VP of Iowa Speedway, had this to say when asked the same question, "We are very happy with our IZOD IndyCar race, which has been on the schedule since June of 2007. Primarily because the Midwest is prime “IndyCar” country, and the fact that the series’ stars and cars have put on great shows on our short (7/8-mile) oval track – particularly this year, when there were 16 legitimate lead changes in our race – we have been blessed with excellent crowds that have averaged over 35,000 spectators. Next year, for our fifth annual Iowa Corn Indy 250 on Saturday, June 25th, we will present this spectacular show at night, under the lights, for the very first time. To say that our fan base is totally pumped about “IndyCars at Night” would be an understatement."

        Armstrong continued, "Needless to say, the Iowa Corn Growers Association and Iowa Corn Promotion Board are thrilled to have this event as a centerpiece of their annual promotional and outreach programs. It was a “marriage made in heaven” when IndyCar decided to power their racecars with 100% fuel grade Ethanol in 2007, paving the way for corn-based Ethanol (which is what fuels the IndyCars at Iowa Speedway) to be showcased in an exciting and dramatic forum."

        He continued his enthusiasm " We are not so concerned about TV ratings, as they can be both confusing and inconclusive as to the popularity of a sport. What turns our proverbial crank is the strong support that we receive from the race fans that turn the stiles at Iowa Speedway continuously – year after year – when the IZOD IndyCar Series returns to Newton !"

        At the Milwaukee Mile, the Izod Series returns to the famed one mile oval in 2011. The race is being promoted by AB Promotions LLC, a joint venture between Avocado LLC and BMG Event Productions. Milwaukee has the good fortune of being on the 2011 schedule close to the Indianpolis 500, allowing the promoters to capitalize on any residual buzz from that event. When asked about the promotional challenges, Avocado CEO R. Christopher McGrath said, "For a number of reasons, some of which you alluded to and many of which we are probably not aware, Milwaukee does not suffer from "low buzz." In the past month we have consciously worked on getting in touch with our fans and working hard on our internal marketing and sales efforts.""

        "In many cases, for a lot of reasons, IndyCar events have suffered from what could be referred to as "low promotion," a combination of issues resulting in modest attendance. However, if you look at the places that have made an investment in IndyCar races, I think that you'll see that there have been some success stories in terms of increased attendance and at-track activation. There is also an increased interest in team and track sponsorship, which we have experienced at our agency in terms of the number of inquiries on the point, the size of projects being contemplated, and the seriousness with which the inquiry is made. As foundational steps, all are important."

        McGrath continued, "On television, production quality has increased, as has reference to events off broadcast and on other channels. We see these as positive signs of a developing product as well. In short, we believe in the product and we want others to come sample it, theory being that if they do, they'll enjoy it and come back for more."

        The belief here is these track promoters have challenges in front of them for 2011. Insurmountable? No. It would certainly help if IndyCar could get more network coverage, and less time on Versus. Perhaps they could take a page from NASCAR and run qualifying and practices on Vs., and then run the races on ABC/ESPN, similar to how NASCAR uses SpeedTV. Obviously, a great race in the jewel of the series, the Indy 500, would go a long way to helping these tracks sell tickets. Finding a way to market a name other than Patrick would be beneficial as well. While on the subject of Patrick, if she could find her way to victory lane again, her star would regain a little of the luster she has lost since her lone victory in Japan. Motorsport fans should give another look at IndyCar. The top open wheel series in the US offers some great racing, in many cases, much better than NASCAR.

        Photo Credit: Ron McQueeny for

        Moss Departure Signals Return To The Patriot Way.

        For the better part of three seasons, Randy Moss has been a New England Patriot. During that time, Moss has been exemplary. Check the following highlights:
          The Randy Moss Era in Foxboro is over.
        • In 2007, Moss caught an NFL-record 23 touchdown passes, surpassing Jerry Rice's previous record of 22 in 1987.
        • Moss set a Patriots franchise record with 1,493 receiving yards in 2007, topping Stanley Morgan's previous mark of 1,491 yards in 1986.
        • On Nov. 18, 2007, Moss caught four touchdown passes against Buffalo, setting a new career high and a new team record for most scoring catches in a game.
        • Moss was named to the Associated Press All-Pro Team following the 2007 season.
        • Moss had 3904 yards with 50 Td's on 259 receptions while in New England.
        Randy Moss was brought here in 2007 as one of the final pieces on a team that had come up just short against the Colts in the AFC Championship following the 2006 season. He was to be the juice that the Pats needed in order to get over the hump from the previous season. He, together with Welker, were the final players needed to turn the Pats into an juggernaut. The Patriots of 2007 still had a formidable championship level defense, and with the addition of Moss, they would have the offense that would put up historic numbers. As we know, it almost worked.

        After 2007, Moss' outstanding performance was rewarded with a three year deal. From the outside, Moss seemed to be a model citizen. He was a leader in 2008 when Brady went down, as well as 2009. Things changed in 2010, as he was not named team captain, as he squawked about contract extensions. His production dropped in the first four games of this season, only catching nine passes. It had become all about him. It was time for him to go, with a team full of impressionable young players who would undoubtedly listen to a future hall of famer. In short, Moss is not Adalius Thomas bitching. His words will carry weight.

        Moss' departure signals a return to the Patriot Way in Foxboro. Brady made sure five different receivers had catches in Monday's win at Miami. Moss had one pass thrown to him. One. The Patriots championship years were all about T-E-A-M, doing whatever it takes to win. It certainly wasn't about one player whining about his deal. If players complained, they were shown the door. Last year, The Hoodie put up with AD. Now, he has looked at the offense, along with the younger players, and decided the Pats were better off without Randy Moss. Now it's very clear that the Flying Elvii have regained form of team first. What remains to be seen is if the offense can function at a high enough level to keep the pressure off the young defense.

        Photo Credit: Steve Pouliot Images for

        Adam Schefter says it's done for Moss Trade.

        Adam_Schefter Trade is done: Randy Moss to Minnesota for a third-round pick. Details on ESPN's Sportscenter at 9 a.m.
        5 minutes ago via web

        Tuesday, October 5, 2010

        Moss Trade Rumors All Over The Internet

        Interesting, watching this all unfold on Tuesday evening. This whole "tweeting" reports really raises the ante as to who is connected and who is not. The tweets started a couple of hours ago, roughly around 8pm. I'll save you to checking and put the links up here:
        Randy Moss done in Foxboro?

        Jay Glazer on

        WEEI had Jay Glazer on the air. Here's the audio on that.

        Tom E Curran tweets about it. His story over at is here. He recaps the internet buzz as well. He also says it is not imminent.

        Gary Tanguay has his 'sources' as well.

        Don Banks over at is on it.

        Jason Lacanfora has it at

        The Herald said Moss asked for trade after week 1.

        Shalize Manza Young over at extra points weighs in.

        My take? I agree with Felger. The Pats are a better  T-E-A-M without Moss. How many Super Bowls have they won with him? Zip. He was brought in here in '07 to make up for the Reche Caldwell fiasco in '06. Moss' presence on the roster makes Brady less apt to work to find the open man, when he can force it in to Moss and see if he can make a play. I say if Route One has no intention of signing this guy, deal him now and move on.

        Photo Credit : Steve Pouliot Images for

        Other NFL Notes

        Dolphins Fire Special Teams Coach

        Tweeted from the Dolphins:

        Special Teams Coordinator John Bonamego has been relieved of his duties and Assistant Special Teams Coach Darren Rizzi will take over.

        20 minutes ago via web

        Biffle Wins At Kansas, Johnson Takes Point Lead, Chase Tightens

        Greg Biffle, driver of the #16 3M Sherwin Williams Ford, moved himself back into contention in NASCAR's Chase for The Spring Cup with a convincing win at Kansas Motorspeedway. Biffle's Roush Fenway team helped him to a nearly eight second win over runner up and new point leader Jimmie Johnson. Biffle moved from 140 points out of the championship to eighth in the standings and 85 points down to Johnson with seven races left in the Chase.

        Biffle celebrates in Kansas
        Biffle was well aware how how much this win helps his team battle back into the mix for the Sprint Cup. "You know, everybody asked us last week if we're out the Chase, have we given up, whatever the case was. The 16 team will never give up." Said the #16 driver. "We're just going to approach each race like we did today: qualify the best we can, do the best we can in practice, execute the best we can at the racetrack. We're going to go to California and do the same thing, Lowe's, Charlotte Motor Speedway, you know, see what happens. Last week, I still got a thorn in my side right in between my rib cage from Dover. We had a sixth, seventh, eighth-place car, which is nothing to brag about, sit here and talk about, but that's what we did. That's not very good for us. Normally we're better than that. We got caught by that caution. We finished 19th, you know. We passed the 13th, 12th, 11th and 10th-place car on the last run of the day easily. If we just had track position, we'd be sitting here being 30 points out of the lead for the championship right now instead of 80. We lost 50 points last week just because we got trapped by one caution. It was unfortunate for us. But, you know, a win here propelled us up there. Maybe we'll go do the same next week."

        One of the other story lines coming from Kansas was the fact that four time champ Jimmie Johnson has assumed the points lead with his second place finish. Johnson is continually asked if he feels other teams in the garage will give up, knowing the #48 is back in the lead. "I know that's a popular question that everybody wants an answer to. I don't have an answer for you." said Johnson in his post race media session. "All I can do is worry about my team, what we have to do. Again, it's early. I'm not worried about who is leading the championship right now. I know we came in second. Of course, I wanted to be leading. I could care less where the 11 was today. It's just not time to worry about that stuff. He did indicate a how strategy might unfold for teams later on in the Chase. "After Talladega, teams and drivers can work on a strategy of protecting or taking chances. We have to get deeper into the Chase to be concerned about who the points leader is."

        The #18 team works on the M&M's Camry
        The third story out of this race was the incidents between Kyle Busch and David Reutimann. At lap 53, Busch got into Reutimann in what appeared to be a "racing incident". NASCAR's have at it boy's policy was in full view, as Reutimann took out Rowdy Busch at lap 153, slamming into the left rear of Busch's car, bending many rear end components in the process. On the broadcast post race, Reutimann said "We just got run over really really early in the race and it ruined our day." but he didn't address the second incident. Shrub did address both incidents. "The guy was loose, he said it on the radio. He slid up off the bottom and I got into him unintentionally and just spun him out. My fault, 100%". Busch added "He'll be here next year, he could have wrecked me in any of the first 26 races next year, that would be fine." Busch's 21st place finish dropped him from third to seventh in points.

        Photo Credit: Rusty Jarrett : Getty Images for Nascar

        Patriots Special Teams have Special Night In Miami

        The New England Patriots special teams turned in a dominate effort tonight as the Pats defeated Miami on the road by a score of 41-14. The Pats were led by another outstanding night by the young safety Patrick Chung. The second year man Chung blocked two kicks as a special teamer, one punt and one field goal, the later returned for a score by CB Kyle Arrington. Chung also added pick-6 in garbage time, as he becomes one of the new young playmakers on the Flying Elvii. Brandon Tate ran his second kickoff for a touchdown this season, taking the opening kick of the second half 103 yards for the TD. The special team effort of a blocked punt, with TD on the kickoff and and the field goal block/TD were the first such plays in one game in NFL history.

        The game featured a nice defensive effort from LB Rob Nickovitch. Ninkovitch himself had a pair of interceptions, as well as a timely sack of Dolphin QB Chad Henne in the third quarter. The defense in general had a good game, holding Miami  to 14 points. The Pats were led on D by middle LB Jerod Mayo, who turned in a stellar effort with 14 tackles. Ninkovitch was pleased with the effort of the defense saying "It was a huge win for us. We knew coming into this game...this was one of those games that it was a test." He added "This week of preparation we knew what we had to do."

        Tom Brady
        Offensively, Tom Brady was 19-24, for 153 yards, with one TD to the diminutive RB Danny Woodhead. Woodhead, a free agent signing from the J-E-T-S and listed at 5'9" and 200 lbs, added 8 carries running the ball. The Chosen One also earned his 100 win as a starting QB, doing it in only 131 games. This bests such hall of fame names as Montana, Farve, Bradshaw and Manning.

        The Hoodie seemed very pleased in his post game presser. "Miami is a good team and I'm sure we haven't heard the last from them, there's not doubt about that. Tonight was kind of our night, but all the credit goes to the players. Those guys played hard they made plays all night." When asked about the special teams, Belichick was downright light and humorous, joking "They were alright" He followed up with "It was a great effort. Those guys really work hard, they work hard every week in practice...Those kids work really hard, they deserve it." When asked about the emotion he showed the defensive players at the end of the game, The Hoodie responded with "They played hard tonight. I mean, they beat a good football team, you know, they played hard, they deserved it."

        The criticism has been the Pats could not play well in the second half and have played poorly on the road. The 35 point effort will go a long way to silencing those critics. The Pats second half play Monday night was very good in all facets of the game, offense, defense, and special teams. The Hoodie Disciples head to the bye week at 3-1, tied with the Jets. They return to action on Sunday Oct. 17 at home, in a playoff rematch against the Ravens.

        Photo Credit: Steve Pouliot Images /