The Greatest Holiday Party of All Time

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The Greatest Holiday Party of All Time

By Rich Levine
CSNNE.com

Yup, it's that time of year again.

Time to deck the halls, don your gay apparel and bask in the glow of more holiday-themed sports columns than Santa Claus himself could read.

Who's been naughty? Who's been nice? Who deserves what? Who's getting coal?!

Well, nobody here. You're not getting any of that from me. In fact, I don't even have to write a gimmicky column this holiday season. That's because I lived one.

Last night, atop the Renaissance Hotel at Patriots Place.

The Sports of Boston holiday party!

If you're unfamiliar, the SoB party is the annual event where all the owners, executives, players and coaches from Boston's four major sports teams convene in the name of holiday cheer. There's dinner, dancing, a photo booth. It's basically the prom which works out well because everyone already has their own private limo drivers.

So, how'd I get an invite?

That's not important. And anyway, if they didn't want people sneaking in, they shouldn't have made the air conditioning ducts so eccessible.

All that matters is that I was there.

I arrived a little early, because I'd heard the first people at the party are always the coolest. And who should I see as I walk in the door but Bob Kraft, John Henry, Wyc Grousbeck and Jeremy Jacobs, finishing up an early dinner.

It was a pretty surreal moment. You know, I just looked over at this table and thought, "Wow, they are the reason all this happened. These are the guys who made Boston a winner. What legendary owners . . . and Jeremy Jacobs."

I tried not to stare, but as I walked by could see Kraft, Henry and Grousbeck goofing around with each others' rings, while Jacobs asked the waitress for four separate checks.

"What?" he said. "I only got soup!"

The party was already getting wild and it hadn't even started. Although what did I expect, right? This was THE event of the year.

I made a quick pit stop, and then made my way through the dining room and into a lounge, where, by now, most of the guests were enjoying cocktail hour. Inside, Tyler Seguin, Devin McCourty and Avery Bradley passed appetizers (McCourty also intercepted some). Danny Woodhead walked with a sombrero-style nacho hat on his head. Aaron Hernandez and Rob Gronkowski worked the bar. And the sounds of a cappella duo "Kalish and Mesko" filled the speakers.

The rookies were doing a damn good job, and the night really started to take off. Spirits were sky high.

"OK, if everyone will please take their seats, we'd like to kick off the festivities," said emcee Don Orsillo as cocktail hour ended.

"Well, you better not kick it to Connolly!" screamed, of all people, Zdeno Chara, to a chorus of laughter.

Brandon Meriweather was so impressed that he walked over and gave Z a fist pound. (The scene is more powerful when you consider that Meriweather was wearing a 10-pound ostrich feather derby hat.)

Once everyone was seated, I was able to take a better lay of the land. The owners were still at their table. Cam Neely, Danny Ainge and Nick Caserio sat at the table next to them Theo Epstein should have been there but was up begging to the DJ to play more Pearl Jam. Next to them, you had Doc Rivers, Tito Francona, Bill Belichick and Claude Julien. Rivers and Francona were having the nicest, most friendly conversation you'd ever seen. Belichick was uncomfortably stirring a straw around the rim of his drink. Julien was just sort of looking at his shoes.

Next to them you had the head player table: Tom Brady, Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, David Ortiz, Dustin Pedroia (MVP, sorry) and a place setting that used to say "Randy Moss" but had been crossed out and replaced by Rajon Rondo. Yeah, Rondo was there too but hadn't looked up much from the racing game he just downloaded on his iPhone.

You had a special table in the far back corner for Big Baby, Nate Robinson, Jonathan Papelbon and Meriweather. A table with easy access to the bathroom for Shaq, Jason Varitek, Tim Wakefield, Mark Rechhi and Tim Thomas. You had Dice K sitting next to Delonte West and Gerard Warren (mostly just for comedic value). The rest of the players and coaches were scattered randomly about.

Dinner was provided by the good people over at Aramark.

During the meal, Orsillo moderated a group discussion on the crazy year that was in Boston. The Pats talked about the disaster against Baltimore, the drama with Randy, and how ridiculous it feels to go from middle of the pack to king of the hill in a matter of months. The Celtics talked about the pain of Game Seven, and how it still pushes them every day. The Red Sox talked about relevance. How strange it was to have fallen out of favor last year, and how this season it already feels so different. And will be. The Bruins talked about just wanting to win. About how frustrated they were with the current state of the team, but that, on the bright side, at least they were invited to the party. A few years back they would've been standing outside bitching with the Revolution about what a jerk the bouncer is. But now, positive.

In fact, everyone was positive. It made you realize, once again, how good Boston has it. And that even though this year's had its ups and downs it's been a rebirth of sorts. In one year, the city completed the world's fastest rebuilding process. Everyone was well aware, and very grateful.

Then they all danced. Everyone. Even Dane Fletcher.

Now it was 11:59, and sadly, almost time for the party to end. But as we watched the seconds tick down on open bar, John Henry suddenly hopped on stage and screamed, "Hey! How about we extend this thing 'til 1 a.m.!?!" The party erupted, as Henry tossed a large bag of cash at the bar manager. And then, just as suddenly, Jeremy Jacobs grabbed the mic himself and yelled, "Orrrrr, how about we extend it to . . . 1:15!?" There were a few murmurs as Jacobs politely tucked 60 into the manager's pocket.

And so it went. The Party of the Year.

Or at least that's how I imagined it while procrastinating on my naughty and nice list.

Happy Holidays!

Rich Levine's column runs each Monday, Wednesday and Friday on CSNNE.com. Rich can be reached at rlevine@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Rich on Twitter at http:twitter.comrlevine33

Belichick: Players don’t have time to be coaching each other

Belichick: Players don’t have time to be coaching each other

FOXBORO - It's been an ongoing conversation/fascination this summer. With Tom Brady's four-game suspension looming, how much knowledge, support and coaching was he going to give to Jimmy Garoppolo?

Bill Belichick was asked by Phil Perry on Thursday how much he expects from veteran players when it comes to coaching up teammates. 

The answer? Be an example, but let the coaches coach. 

"I think veteran players can be a good example for younger players in terms of their preparation, and their attitude, and their work ethic, and the way they go about things," said Belichick. "We have a lot of guys that I would put in that category that when you watch them do things they do them right and it’s easy to say to a younger player ‘Do what that guy does’, and you’d be off to a good start. 

"But you know, that being said, I think everybody on the team, really their number one focus is to get ready to play football. Our players aren’t coaches, they’re players, and they need to get ready to play, and as I said, I think every player needs to get ready to play. I don’t care how long you’ve been in the league, I don’t care what positon you play, I don’t care how long you’ve coached, I don’t care what position you coach. We haven’t done it for a long time, a number of months, and now we all need to sharpen those skills up. That’s every player, that’s every coach, so I don’t really think players have a lot of time to run around and be telling everybody else what to do."

The answer is not surprising. As much as the "Do Your Job" mantra is espoused in New England, to think Belichick or his mostly veteran staff of coaches would want players monkeying with the message is a little naive. Certainly, there are things players can impart to teammates who play the same position. Things coaches might not see from the sidelines or from upstairs. And Belichick's made a point of saying that in the past: there are things players on the field know and have experienced that the coaches may not be able to articulate as clearly. Junior Seau was a resource and touchstone for defensive teammates during his time in New England. 

But there's a difference between giving helpful pointers when they are sought or being a locker room sage and coaching. 

"Honestly, there is enough that all of them need to work on individually, and that would be every single player, that’s a full plate for them," added Belichick. "I don’t really think that’s their job, and I don’t think any player has enough time to do that because they all have things that they need to do to prepare for the season. But as far as being a good example and doing things right and all of that, I mean we have a lot of guys that fall into that category and that’s definitely a good thing. But, you know, that’s what they should be doing."

For two seasons and three offseasons, Garoppolo's had a chance to observe how Brady prepares, studies, interacts and leads. No doubt they've had countless conversations about the Patriots offensive philosophy and the throws and checks that need to be made in certain situations. But the job of actually coaching Garoppolo falls to Belichick and offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels. 

Any successes of failures Garoppolo has during the four weeks Brady is off campus will belong to him and his coaches. And that's how it should be. 

 

Curran: Tom Brady/Jimmy Garoppolo relationship isn't the same as Brady/Bledsoe

Curran: Tom Brady/Jimmy Garoppolo relationship isn't the same as Brady/Bledsoe

Tom E. Curran joins SNC to discuss Tom Brady issuing his support for Jimmy Garoppolo prior to the start of practice, and whether Brady sees his relationship with Jimmy the same as when he was the understudy of Bledsoe.